I Don’t Think We’re Doing This Right

“Come on, Heifer,” I yell. I wait at the bottom of the stairs. There is no response. “You’re the one who wanted to do this shit, come on.” Still nothing. I yell one more time, “If you aren’t down here in five minutes, I’m not doing it.” My daughter, Ruby, finally comes down the steps.

“What? You don’t want to go?” I ask, hoping the answer is no.

“I’m ready,” she says. We head out the door to the walking track around the corner. I have my big Hello Kitty mug full of coffee. I have my special flavoring in it, Patron. I have on my pink Hello Kitty velour sweat suit and my pink aviator sunglasses. I am unsure of the mission that lies ahead, but it never hurts to match.

We walk to the end of our street and cut through the Sunoco gas station parking lot. “Wait a minute,” Ruby says as she heads into the station. I lean against the wall and light a cigarette. She comes out licking an orange cream push up. We cross the street and are at the walking track. We are starting a healthier lifestyle today.

We begin our first turn around the track. The track is sandwiched in between a self-service car wash and an express way. There is a lot of traffic. My daughter is dressed in shorts and a wife beater. She is very, very eye-catching. We walk in silence the first time around. She’s eating her ice cream and I am drinking my turbo coffee and smoking. When we near the side of the track where the cars stop at a light before getting on the express way, men yell their approval. My daughter gets irritated quickly.

“We’re not hookers, dumb asses. We’re fucking exercising,” she hollers at the cars.

“That’s right girl, keep it tight!” one the men replies. The other guys in his car laugh and they high-five his brilliance.

“That’s not gonna stop them. Just keep walking,” I instruct.

“I don’t think we’re doin’ this right,” she says.

“What do you mean? It’s a circle, you walk around it. End of story. Pretty soon the endorphins will kick in, you’ll be all right,” I encourage her.

“En—what?”

“Endorphins. It’s a chemical your brain releases when you exercise. Makes you feel good. That’s what causes runners high.”

“Well, I’m not runnin’. How many times around is a mile?” she asks.

“I don’t know. Someone spray painted the sign, I couldn’t read it. Like twice, probably.”

We start on our second lap. “I’m hot,” she announces.

“I’m hot, too. It’s good, you’ll sweat. Maybe burn off that ice cream you just ate.”

“I’m black, mom. I get hotter than you. I think I’m gonna faint,” she is serious.

“How many times have I told you, that is bullshit? Just finish this lap and we’ll go home. Next time we’ll try to add another one,” I say. She actually looks teary eyed. We finish the lap and go home. She runs into the house and takes the central air vent off the register on the living room floor and lays across it.

“You wanna go tomorrow when I get off work? The sun will be down,” I ask her.

“No, I’m just not gonna eat as much ranch dressing. That was horrible,” she says.

I walk into the kitchen and get another cup of coffee. Way easier to get coffee high than runners high. I just won’t eat as much macaroni and cheese. Baby steps.

Can A Bitch Get A Blanket???

In most neighborhoods the fifth room is a beautiful patio in the backyard of a home. There is an outdoor dining room set, fire-place or fire pit, a pool and a shiny gas grill. In my neighborhood the fifth room is your front porch usually outfitted with a couple of plastic chairs or an old couch, an ashtray and a fifth of liquor. Thing is, mine comes with free dinner theater.

My usual routine is to come home from work, change clothes, make some coffee and sit on my porch and smoke a cigarette. Every night I have a show. The best shows are the ones that don’t star me in the leading or even supporting role. I will be honest, sometimes I am the star. But, not tonight.

Tonight it was Teddy and Ro. They live across the street from me. They are both hard-core alcoholics. I don’t think I have ever seen either of them sober. Ever. They will also do pretty much any drug available. Except crack.

One day Ro was standing on my steps talking to me. A woman, who Ro doesn’t get along with, walked by. When the woman was right in front of the porch she slowed down, looked at Ro and said, “Crack head.” Ro spun around and yelled, “That’s ex crack head to you, bitch. I been off crack for three or four years now.” She turned to me and asked, “How long ago our house get raided?” I shrugged my shoulders. She said, “I don’t know either, but it was a fuckin’ long time ago. That’s EX crack head.”

Tonight Ro was obviously upset. I heard her yelling at Teddy to give her three dollars so she could go buy another tall boy. Teddy kept telling her no and that she had had enough to drink. Ro has long, thin, stringy hair that she kept pulling at while she hollered at him. She is very thin and wears big t-shirts and baggy jeans. Ironically, the one she wears most is a D.A.R.E t-shirt. She’s usually in the same outfit for many days in a row as she doesn’t bathe much. After arguing with her for at least an hour, Teddy finally gave up and went in the house. Ro made her way to the door which was difficult in her condition. It must have been a big drinking day for her. She finally got to the front door and tried to go into the house after Teddy, but the door wouldn’t budge.

“Teddy you mother fucker, that’s my money too. Give me three dollars. You’re not the boss of me. I’m a grown ass woman. Teddddy!” she yelled banging on the door. She waited a few minutes and there wasn’t any movement in the house. She turned around and sat down on the front steps. She stared at the walk leading up to the porch for about ten minutes. Then, she got up and walked to the door again. This time instead of banging on the door she knocked.

“Teddy, I know you can hear me,” she said a little more calmly. She waited a few minutes and there was no response. “I just want one more beer. Just to help me sleep tonight. Teddy? Teddy?” She knocked on the door again, still no response. She was teetering back and forth. “I don’t tell you how much to drink, ya asshole!” she yelled. She punched the door and  turned to walk back to the steps. She stared at the cement again. She sort of swayed and it did seem like she was going to fall asleep. She waited another ten minutes. She got up from the steps. This time it looked like it took more effort for her to stand. She walked to the door. She stood there for a few moments. Then she knocked very softly.

“Teddy? Aren’t ya gonna let me in, Teddy? You expect me to sleep out here, on the swing?” she asked motioning to their porch swing. Still no sound from the house. I suspected Teddy had passed out. She stared at the swing then she swung her head around to face the door again. It knocked her off-balance and she nearly fell. Then I heard her ask meekly, “Can a bitch get a blanket?” Still nothing. She walked over to the swing and laid down.

I went into my house and went to sleep, too. In the morning, when I walked to my car I glanced over to Teddy and Ro’s porch. For the record, a bitch can not get a blanket.

Some Shit Only Poor Mothers Say

“All I need is a pig, a flute, a ticket to Italy and I’m golden.” Trey says, appearing very sincere.

“Say something normal for fuck’s sake. Jesus, do you want to stay in here?” I ask through gritted teeth. I am looking straight ahead at the Judge, trying to keep my voice low and my lips from moving. My son is standing next to me at the defendants table and his lawyer is next to him.

“What?” my son asks me. “She asked what I wanted to do with my life. I want to hunt morel mushrooms in Italy. Are you saying I should lie?”

“I’m gonna whip your ass when you get out of here.” I’m so mad that my lips may have moved a little. His lawyer puts his hand by the microphone sitting on the table in front of us and says in a sing-song voice while smiling at the judge, “They’re recording.”

This is Trey’s usual approach to life. On the surface he seems to be going along with the program, but he is really being a complete pain in the ass.  All I know is, this is the third time this week I have had to take time off of work to deal with his bullshit. Pumpkin, that’s what I call Trey since he spends most of his time in the county juvenile detention center’s orange jumpsuit, is not your typical sixteen year old thug.

He ignores me and turns to the judge again.”If that doesn’t work out, I would like to adopt a Chinese baby, move to New York and become an actor,” he says. The judge just stares. “Phillip Seymour Hoffman moves me to tears,” he continues while nodding his head for emphasis.

This time I turn and say to him plain as day, “I can’t stand your ass. I’m your momma and even I want to whip your ass.” His lawyer sighs and looks at his watch.

The Judge finally breaks her silence, “What have I told both of you about swearing  in my courtroom? Trey, are you ready to take this seriously? This is your life, you are only hurting yourself.”

“Oh yes, Ma’am. I am willing to do whatever it takes to be successful,” he says obviously lying.

“Good because I am releasing you from detention today. You will be on house arrest and must abide by the community control rules which your probation officer will explain to you. If you break any of the conditions of your release it will result in a new charge or charges. Do you understand?”

“Yes,Your Honor, I understand. I am anxious to get back home and to start school again,” he says.

Once it’s read into the record he can be released the guard takes him to processing. I go sit in the waiting area for him to come out. I hope it doesn’t take long and I can get back to work. But, I end up waiting two hours.

There is no Wi-Fi, so I listen to the conversations around me. There are the first time mothers. They are usually crying, saying their son isn’t bad and it’s all a big mistake. There are the mothers of the boys who have been accused of serious crimes. They are usually quiet and look scared. Then there are the mothers like me, who have been down here a thousand times. They know it’s no mistake and their kid did do it. It’s either a misdemeanor and they aren’t worried that their son will get a lot of time or sent to the adult prison or it’s serious but they’ve sat here so many times they’re just tired.

I hear the buzzer for the door and instinctually look up to see who’s coming out for the hundredth time that day. There is Pumpkin, walking towards me smiling. I stand up and give him my  ‘I’m serious, I’m not playing with you, Boy’ face. Then he does what he always does, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out my favorite candy bar. He saves his points while he’s in and gets me a candy bar in commissary. This is the ultimate jailhouse show of love. Fucker.

I smile despite myself, stand up and give him a hug. “All right, where you want to eat?” I ask.

“Applebees,” he says.

“You got a cigarette?” he asks.

“Of course,” I say.