First and foremost, I want to give all honor and praises to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him, none of this would be possible. He has blessed me with so many gifts in my life, and I can't thank Him enough for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do in my life.
To my high school sweetheart and husband, Wil, you are my support. Wow, look how far we have come, babe. People are shocked we are still together. We make it look easy, but we both know it's been a roller coaster of emotions. I'm happy we have matured together. Thank you for being a wonderful father to our children. Thank you for loving me and walking this road with me, even when our road gets bumpy. Still, we always find a way to smooth things out. I love you dearly and pray our union as one will remain unbroken. With God anchoring our way, we will be okay.
To my children, you are the joys of my life. It's funny how kids can teach you a thing or two, and you all have taught me many things, especially patience. Even though you are adding gray hairs to my head as we speak, you are my blessings, and I love you.
To my mother, Rebecca, you are my rock and my voice of reason. You have been the one who tells me to never give up on my dreams. You are the woman I hope to be some day. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you and remember your encouraging words. You have the spirit of uplifting and have taught me to “Put God First.” I love you so very much. I am blessed to have you as
To my daddy, Clarence. How blessed am I to have my dad who's helped make me into who I am. We've had some difficult times and tend to bump heads often, but it's okay. You are a great example of how God can bring an individual through difficult times. Never stop telling your story of triumph. I'm thankful I have you in my life. I love you, Daddy.
To my sister, Sabrina, and brother, Clarence, I love you guys. Clarence aka Duddy, LOL, know that there is so much more to life. You are a kind and genuine man. Never change that humble spirit about yourself.
And to Brina, thank you for reading this book first, even though you called me yelling about it. LOL! You are straight up about everything (
straight up), but I can count on you to always tell it like it is, even if it does come out harsh at times. But you know what? That's what I love about you. I'm so blessed to have you and Duddy as my siblings.
To Kenneth Greene. I know I haven't seen you in years, but I pray you see my book and read this. You are the reason why I started writing. You asked me in my lowest of days, “What is something you have always wanted to do?” I told you I always wanted to be a writer. You told me to write something so you could read it. I thought you were crazy, but I did what you asked, and I had a few pages to you the next day. You read it. Then you looked at me and told me this was my “gift.” They say God places people in the right places at the right time if only for a season, and He did that by placing you in my life when I wanted to give up on so much.
Kenneth, I didn't give up. Thank you so much for being a blessing in my life and for giving me the courage to do my God-given talent.
To Minister Patricia Liggon, I want to thank you for listening and being there for me. You are so much fun, and I love talking with you. I know many might not think ministers can be fun, but God has truly shown me through you. Don't let anyone tell you different, for you are a woman of God and the spirit of joy constantly flows from you. Thanks for being so open and honest with me and sharing your words of wisdom.
To Crystal Townes, we have gone from cousins to best friends. I think I talk to you as much as I talk to Mom. It's pretty tight between you and Rochelle. LOL. My husband knows when I'm on the phone I'm talking to either you, Mama, or Rochelle, which is funny. You have survived what many may see as defeat. Don't lose that spirit of endurance. God has blessed you and will continue to rain down His goodness and mercy upon you.
To Rochelle Cicero, we started out on shaky ground years ago, but unusual circumstances brought us closer. Now we can't stop venting to each other. Our talks go from serious and tearjerking to gut-busting laughter. I'm glad we have become great friends. Thanks for reading my work and pushing me even when I didn't want to be pushed. Now it's your turn. Follow your dreams, girl. Step out on faith and do you! You have a story to tell, so tell it.
To Melissa Terry, girl, you have read every book I have written. You have been my sounding board, and I thank you for believing in me enough to take time out of your life to do this for me. Thanks for all your encouragement. I appreciate what you have done for me. I miss our girls' night out. We really need to get back to doing that again for sanity's sake. LOL.
To Andre Price, you have been such a blessing to me. I thank you for everything you have done for me when I tried to self-publish my book. You have such a patient and kind spirit, and I know God is going to continue to bless you. I appreciate you so very much.
There are so many family members and friends I could name who have supported my dream. To all my aunties, uncles, nieces, nephews, sisters- and brothers-in-law, and many cousins, I want to thank you. My family has played a huge part in my life. I wish I could name all of you, but I know if I tried I would forget somebody, and I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, so I'm going to say I love you all. I also would like to thank my friends. A lot of you are like my family. Thanks for your support.
Last, but not least, I want to thank all the individuals who took a chance in purchasing my book. My dream can't come true without you. Thank you so much and may God continue to be a blessing to you.
“Believe it! Claim it! Trust in the Lord!
And watch how your dreams will come true!”
~ Tresser Henderson
As soon as I walked up on the porch of my parents' house I knew this was not going to be a good visit. I made the mistake of bringing Zacariah with me. I don't know what I was thinking, especially since she looked like she was going to a strip club to perform in her barely-there cotton top and short denim shorts clipping her butt cheeks. I knew it was warm, but damn, did she have to dress as close to naked as she could get?
She whined, “It's too hot. Why did we have to stop by anyway? It ain't like you don't talk to her on the phone,” saying it like it stung her tongue.
I finally turned and looked at her, thinking,
Will you please just shut the hell up for five minutes?
She rolled her eyes saying, “Don't be looking at me all crazy. You know I don't like coming over here anyway. Your mama doesn't like me, so I don't know why you insist on bringing me with you. I'm not going to pretend everything is cool between the two of us because you know that ain't me.”
“Would you please be quiet? Like I told you in the car, we were in the neighborhood, and I wanted to see how my mother was doing. If you want to go back and sit in the hot car, go right ahead,” I said, pointing in the direction of my automobile.
“Fine! Give me the keys,” she said holding her hand out.
“Because I'm going to turn the air conditioner on. It's hot, and I'm not about to sweat these curls out on my head,” she said, pointing to the spirals brushing her shoulders that she just had done at the beauty shop.
To avoid anything else with her, I reached in my pocket and handed her my keys. She popped her chewing gum and stepped off the porch.
“And hurry up because I don't have all day.”
I shook my head watching her strut away. With her I knew I couldn't say anything because it would just lead to an argument. I wanted so bad to tell her, “You can sit under the tree until I get back,” because I didn't want her burning my gas up. Was she not aware of the price of gas these days? Come to think about it, she probably didn't know since I was always filling her ride up for her.
I don't know how our relationship ended up here. It's been four years, and we're going at each other's throat about every little thing. In the beginning, things between us were good. That was, until I found out she cheated on me. I've had a hard time trusting anything she did and anything that came out of her mouth after that. She told me it would never happen again, but somehow, I couldn't bring myself to believe her. Zacariah only cares about herself.
How I fell for her still astounds me. We met at church. I was attending morning service with Mama, and she was with her best friend Essence. I know that sounds crazy, but Zacariah did attend church. Her smile captivated me, but her body called out to me. My mama raised me to treat women with respect, and I try to, but I'm still a man.
When I saw Zacariah looking the picture of beauty standing five foot three with her coffee-colored skin and a body that made men whip their heads around, I had to speak. Once I got up close and personal, I saw her small waist and a bootie that made you want to smack your mama. Not that I would ever smack my mama because she was the woman I loved most in my life. Plus, I wanted to live. But Zacariah was slammin'. I must have been blinded by her smile. No. I think it was her hips that hypnotized me. Those hips are what got me hooked as they rocked back and forth on my Johnson the first time we ever had sex, and I have been addicted to her ever since.
It only took a couple of months to find out Zacariah's true colors. They say opposites attract, and it couldn't be truer in our case. I'm more of the laid-back, reserved type of guy, where Zacariah is loud and disingenuous. Her attitude kicked in like a tornado dropping down on a sleeping town. She turned into the most snobbish person I had ever met. I still can't understand how I didn't see this sooner.
Zacariah turned her nose up at so many people, especially the ones who do not fit into her category of slim, lovely, stylish, and established. By established, I mean having money. And I didn't mean her own money. I mean somebody else's hard earned cash. Who else was going to keep her nails and hair done all the time? She never pays her bills on time, but she always looks like a million dollars wherever she goes. She chooses getting her hair done over keeping the electricity on in our home. Selfish, which is what describes the woman I fell in love with, and stupid is what you can call me.
Shaking my head in frustration, I opened the screen door to my parents' home and walked in. Cigarette smoke hit me in the face as soon as I stepped in. I waved my hand hoping I could bring some fresh air to my nostrils, but it didn't work.
“Daddy, you need to quit that bad habit,” I said looking at him playing chess with one of his old buddies.
“And you need to stop telling me what I need to be doing, son. I'm a grown man in case you forgot.”
“I know, Pops, but in case you forgot, cigarettes kill. Secondhand smoke is just as bad, and Mama doesn't need to be inhaling this toxic smoke.”
He looked up at me, peeking over the black-rimmed glasses hanging on the tip of his nose. Steadily puffing on his cancer stick he said, “Your mama isn't complaining.”
“Pops, Mama has been trying to get you to quit for over twenty years.”
“And she still with me. She must not have too much of a problem with it, or maybe it's the way I put it down on her,” he said, eyeing me again with a devilish grin.
That was my cue to leave the room. Pops knew what to say to get me out of his face. I held up both hands, smiled knowing there was no reason to argue with him, and went looking for Mama.
I went into the kitchen where I knew she would be. That short walk brought back great memories of me growing up in this house. I pictured dinner around the table with home cooked meals, and holidays when family would come over to celebrate the season, and nights when Mama snuggled next to me when I was little, talking to me about how I could be anything I wanted to be as my eyelids got heavy with sleep. I smiled as I remembered my wonderful upbringing as I moved closer to the sweet smell of Mama baking something.
When I entered, she was washing up some dishes. I felt like every time I came here she was doing something. She never stopped, and her house was proof of her impeccable efforts. Lucky for me, she instilled those same cleanliness habits in me too.
“Hey, Ma,” I said giving her a peck on the cheek.
“Well, hey, baby. What brings you over this way?”
“I was in the neighborhood and thought I would stop by to see how you and Pops were doing.”
“Well, it's a nice surprise,” she smiled, drying her hands off on her apron. She came over to me and wrapped her arms around me.
“What was that for?”
“Is there something wrong with wanting to hug my only son?”
“Never,” I said smiling. “I see you cut your hair.” Her short cut took off at least five years from her age. Not that Mama needed time removed. For fifty-two, Mama looked great. Her skin was flawless, her smile was bright, and her energetic spirit made people think she was in her thirties.
Bringing her hand to her head, she rubbed her hair saying, “I like it too. It's so easy to maintain. I thought about coloring it because I got some gray coming in, but I decided to let the gray show.”
“It looks good.”
“Thank you, baby. Go ahead and sit down at the table and let me fix you a glass of tea. Are you hungry? I got some leftover meatloaf from last night and a cake in the oven. It should be ready in a few minutes.”
“No, I'm good, Mama. I just had something to eat with Zacariah.”
“Um,” she said in that motherly way, letting me know she didn't like her. “Is she with you now?”
“I guess she too scared to come in.”
“Mama, she knows you don't like her.”
“And she ain't lying.”
“Son, I told you before I don't care too much for that girl. She's disrespectful, loud, and sometimes just straight up ghetto.”
“And I know you're with her, but I wish you would leave her alone. You should've left her when she cheated on you the first time, and I say
because there's going to be a second, that's if she hasn't cheated on you again already. She proved then she's not to be trusted,” Mama said, setting the glass of ice tea in front of me.
“But that's for us to work out. I appreciate you trying to look out for me, but I know what I'm doing. Plus, I love her.”
“Right now, you are lusting over that girl with all them breasts and tail hanging out all the time. I can tell she's a freak.”
Sipping on my tea, Mama's words caught me off guard, and I almost spit the tea halfway across the kitchen.
“You okay, baby?”
“I'm fine. I'm just wondering what you know about freaks?”
Her eyebrows arched, and I knew then I had put my foot in my mouth. I should have left the subject alone.
“Son, I may be old. Let me rephrase that. I'm not old. I'm mature, and I know a whole lot about freaking, which is why I can recognize a freak when I see one.”
I wanted to rip my ears off my head and stuff them somewhere deep so I wouldn't have to hear about my mother being a freak. No son ever wanted the words “freak” and “Mama” in the same sentence. It is hard enough when my parents get all lovey-dovey with each other. Of course, I'd frown, and they would laugh and say, “How do you think you got here?” Everything in my stomach would want to come back up. No child wanted to know their parents had a love life of any sorts. Especially the type where freaking was involved.
“Okay, enough about that, Mama,” I said laughing as did she.
“Look at my baby boy getting uncomfortable with his mother.”
“It's just the topic of conversation, Mama. Can we change the subject? Let's talk about how you and Pop have been doing. Are the two of you making it okay?”
“We're doing good. Your father is working some, and I'm still getting my disability, so we're making it. It's just the two of us, so we don't need much.”
“If you need any money, Mama, you know I got you.”
“I know, baby, but we're doing fine. God is taking really good care of us.”
I nodded in agreement. That's when I heard a knock at the door and Pops said, “Come in.”
I knew it was Zacariah. Mama gave me that look, and then went over to the oven to check her cake. Zacariah spoke to Pops, and then came into the kitchen where Mama and I were.
“Hello, Ms. Shirley.”
“Hello, Zacariah,” my mother said not looking in her direction as she took the cake out of the oven. Zacariah looked like she wanted to roll her eyes, but she decided against it when she saw me glowering at her. She knew when it came to my mother, I didn't play.
“Are you ready to go, Derrick?” she asked, sounding impatient.
“I was just about to come out.”
“It doesn't look that way to me with you sitting here drinking a nice cold glass of tea,” she said sounding aggravated. “I wish I had a sip of something to quench my thirst.”
Zacariah looked in Mama's direction and was ignored like I knew she would be.
“I guess I can't have any tea, huh? I guess I'll continue to swallow my spit and hope that will satisfy me.”
I gripped the glass with both hands trying not to lay her out in my Mama's house, so I pressed my lips together trying to think of something to say, but Mama beat me to the punch.
She came back over to the table with me and sat down eyeing Zacariah's barely-there attire. Clearing her throat Mama said, “He'll be out when he's finished drinking his tea, okay?”
“Well, hurry up, Derrick, because I'm tired of sitting in the car. You know I got somewhere to go later, and I need to start getting ready.”
Mama looked at the clock on the wall which showed 6:48
. She then looked at me, and her face told the story. Mama was doing well by maintaining herself, but I knew in a matter of seconds she was going to be all over Zacariah.
I stood and said, “Give me a few more minutes and I'll be out, okay?”
“Just hurry up,” she said walking out of the kitchen. I didn't want to look back at Mama because I knew I was going to hear it.
“That girl needs to learn some respect. Coming up in my house almost naked. Your daddy and his friend got an eye full of her goods. And you know she dressed like that so men can drool all over her.”
I sipped my tea.
“And if she comes up in my house one more time acting like I'm bothering her, I'm going to lay her behind out. It's been a long time since I've been around a person who makes me want to lose my religion, but that child right there is aching for a tongue-lashing from me.”