In This Alley with Nothing
by Henry Hardee
Bare foot and in an alley around Clark and Belmont Odessa is crying. She is looking the way she looked before she backslid. Her head is hanging down. Sitting on the ground she closes her eyes and imagines she is sitting on one of the five porches of Bethesda waiting to be healed. She thinks she hears the cock that called Peter to repentance. She feels her burdens begin to roll. She thinks she hears the tempest lower. She feels a stream of water like she is being dipped in a healing pool. When she opens her eyes she sees it’s just a wino urinating on her.
[Talking to herself and God]
“Oh Lawd! I remember that Sunday evening when I fell from grace. I was on my way home from church when the devil put a temptation in front of me and I found myself in the midst of a storm. I had passed that store a thousand times and nothing ever happened before. Something made me go look in the window of that shoe store. A demon came out of no where and jumped inside of me. I tried with all my might not to give in to it Lawd but I couldn’t fight it.
The minute I saw those shoes my whole world changed. The minute I saw those shoes the Prince of Evil entered me and took me over. Those shoes worked up the perversities in me. My right mind told me to get away from there cause this was one of Satan’s tricks but I didn’t listen to it. I couldn’t help myself..I-I-I couldn’t move. I started to worshiping those shoes like that idol the Hebrew children made when Moses was on the Mount. When I look back it’s funny how all the other shoes in that window were $19.95 But the shoes that were calling me were on sale for $6.66-(Hallelujah!!!)
I didn’t know it then but those shoes were full of sin. Those shoes were full of lust that I was weak for. They had power and authority over me. The heels were the horns of the devil and they were made out of the skin of serpents. A blindness came over me. Confusion came up on me and the next thing I knew I had broke the glass and was running down the street with those shoes under my arm.
Those shoes made me think of the times when I had to put cardboard in some of my shoes to cover up the holes that were in the bottom of them because I had worn them so much. Those shoes made me think of the times when the dead skin on the bottom of my feet got so hard I could step on a piece of glass and I wouldn’t even bleed. Those shoes made me think of the times when my mama would buy me a new pair but made me wear the old ones until they were run over and people thought I was crippled because I walked funny in them.
Those shoes struck a chord in me and I couldn’t get them out of my eye. I knew stealing was wrong but I stole anyway. My adversary had surely provoked me. I didn’t understand why You waited Lawd until I was a grown woman to make me steal. I asked myself why were you doing this to me? I asked myself what were You trying to show me?
Those shoes started a burning fire down in my soul. I felt like I was being cast in the lake of fire and brimstone like the beasts and the false prophets. All the time that I had put into being holy was gone. All the suffering and sacrificing I did so I could wear golden slippers in heaven was in vain because I couldn’t wait to put those tools of Satan on my feet.
All I wanted to do was buy shoes. I was on my way to wild ardent living. For the first time in a looooooong time I wanted to have sex. I started going into the religious store on Halsted and Jackson and buying “John The Conquer Floor Wash” and that pink lotion with the red label on it that promised me (if I wore some everyday) that I would find me somebody to love that would appreciate how I looked in shoes.
All my longings were in shoes. They were the men I kept away from me because I was keeping myself for God. Those shoes were their caresses, their kisses and their pre-ejaculations. Shoes were Denzel Washington” on the cover of “Essence” magazine half-naked. Shoes were the fine looking brother in “VSOP (Privilege) Hennessey” advertisements. Shoes were the black male modes in those “Duke Hair Pomade” commercials that showed off their enticing waves. They were a high-yellow black man in a wool double breasted tuxedo with satin peaked lapels by Karl Lagerfeld. They were a black, bald headed, strapping chested man wearing a pair of white mesh boxers made by “Nubianwear” with his hard-on showing.
I wanted the men in those shoes to run their fingers through my hair and tell me how soft if felt. I wanted them to tell me how good I smelled and that my butt was just the right size. I wanted to get it on with them to make up for the thirty years I went without giving up no nookie.
I was building my house on sand. My shoe addiction and lust for men were foretelling my doom. I knew I was supposed to be clothed in righteousness but all I wanted was to have a pair of expensive shoes on my feet and a hot sexy man between my sheets. I had to put on some silver stilettos, gold and black patent leather heels, chocolate and black-and-white loafer so I could see how they felt. I had to give myself to a chiseled bodied bmw (black man working) that knew how to ring my bell and hit my g-spot so I could feel complete.
Shoes changed the way I thought about myself. I believed that with the right style of shoes on men would want to look at my breasts and butt. I went and got a make over. I cut the damaged ends off my hair and gave myself a saucy deep-set bang with flipped ends. I softened my eyes with brow lightener. I put neutrals on my lids and under the crease of my brow. I double coated my lashes with black mascara and eye liner. I played up my skin. Put honey cream foundation on my face and dusted it with loose powder. I gave my lips an enchanting stain of “Port-Au-Purple lipstick, put on some shoes and I was ready for nights of fantasy spritzed with “Vanderbilt’s extra long lasting Eau De Parfum!
I had turned from loving God to loving the way I looked, what I had on my feet and what a brother had swinging in his pants. I learned to shake myself when I walked so all the brothers (with jobs) would look at me and bite their bottom lip. I learned to take money from men. I learned how to sell what I had been saving for God-(Lawd have mercy). I found me a man who had a foot fetish, sold shoes, wanted me to move in with him and lived a few blocks down from a shoe factory that gave discounts to women who lived in the same neighborhood—I was in heaven.
I was so busy in my fornicating shoes that I couldn’t see that that man and those shoes owned me. I was brought back to reality when men and my man got into an argument. He was jealous of my shoes. He told me that he was going to take them away from me if I didn’t show him more attention. He told me that if I didn’t start spending more time with him instead of going shopping and spending his money on shoes he was going to throw me out!!!
I looked at him like he was a fool. Those were my shoes and how was he going to kick me out cause nobody could wear shoes like I did. I found out that those shoes were not mine and that he could kick me out when the police came. Since my name wasn’t on the lease and I didn’t have one sales slip that said I bought any of those shoes it was let the door hit ya where the good lawd split ya !!!
I’m out here on the street and in this alley with nothing. God is having that man piss on me your way of pulling me back into the fold?