Enough to Love-Chapter 2
by K Love
I can't stand my daddy. Lazy son-of-a-bitch. Right now, I'm sitting outside Stylz 4 Less waiting on my momma and baby sister, Isha, to finish school shopping for Isha's first week of school. Same as last year, my deadbeat daddy didn't have no money to buy her school clothes, so I had to foot the bill. I couldn't see my baby sis go without, so I gave my momma $500 to buy her some new gear. My momma promised she would pay it back, but I won't count on it since I still ain't got back the $300 I gave her last year.
I went by to drop off the money this afternoon after I stopped by the bank. It was a good thing I had worked overtime last week or I wouldn't have had the money to give. I been working as a Field Adjuster with Home Safe Insurance for the last 5 years. Last month, I was promoted to Senior Claim Representative. One thing I did learn from my daddy was to do your best. He was always on time to work, didn't call in unless he absolutely had to, shit, most of the time he didn't even use his vacation days during the year. That is until he became a lazy bastard.
I like my job sometimes, but I just get sick of these complaining ass people who think being in an accident is like winning the lottery. And the stupid ones who run out and get an attorney for an injury and they don't even have a scratch on their car really irk me cause they're usually a brother like me or a Mexican, except he's unemployed and he's signing over 1/3 of his settlement to some attorney who don't do nothing for him except collect his medical bills. But it's a living. I didn't even know what a Claim Adjuster was until I started working for Home Safe. I don't know anybody who goes to college to come out working for an insurance company. I know I didn't.
When I graduated from college, I just knew I would be able to get any job I wanted. Especially since my basketball career was down the drain. It didn't work out that way though. For one, nobody hands a black man a job on a platter, especially when he's big and black and it don't make a damn bit of difference if he does have a college degree. We have to get lucky or do magic tricks or know somebody inside. I'm not sure which. And when you have a degree in general studies, you have even a harder time finding a job. I thought I was being smart by specializing in nothing in particular. I put in so many applications after I graduated, my hands would cramp up from writing. And the applications all ask you the same thing. Name, Address, Education, Past Experience. My point is what is the purpose of having a resume if they are going to ask you to write out all of the same stuff on a form? I couldn't even get a job at Sizzlers. Not enough experience, too much experience, you need a sales background, your grade point average is too low. I heard every excuse out there, but shit, I finally ended up taking a job working part-time as a telemarketer. I was making $6.50 an hour and was ready to kill my manager cause he thought he was the shit just cause he was called the boss and was making $9 bucks an hour.
I might still be working there if I hadn't run into my homeboy Lance Walker in the mall. Lance works as a recruiter for Home Safe and told me to fax him my resume. I faxed it to him the same night and he set up an interview for the next week. When they offered me the job, I couldn't believe I was going to be making $28,000 a year. Now I'm making $52,000 a year and have 12 grand in my 401K, and as soon as I have $20,000 saved up, I'm using half of it as a down payment for my Bemmer. I work out of my home and set my own schedule. Shit, most days I can even hit the gym for a workout before I have my first appointment.
As soon as I opened the screen door at my momma's house, who was the first person I saw? My lazy ass daddy laid up on the couch in a dirty wife beater and some holey boxer shorts. His hair was matted to his head and as usual, there was a cancer stick hanging from his dry, crusty lips.
“Hey, what's up, Junior?” He barely even looked up at me as I walked through the door.
Sure the hell ain't you, I thought, but mumbled, “Hey, Pop. Where's momma?” The plastic covering the flowered colored chair immediately stuck to my arms as I sat down. My parents had the same furniture since I was a kid. Shit, they even had the same shower curtain in the bathroom and my bedroom was pretty much the same as it was when I was a kid except now they have a computer set on a folding table against one of the walls.
“Oh, she told me to tell you to wait here for a minute. She over at Gloria's.”
“I told her I've got some other stuff to do today,” I sighed. I wanted to leave, but there was no way I was gonna leave some dough with my old man. He would drink it up so quick our heads would spin.
My father, Leon Williams, Sr., used to be a clean and sober, hardworking brother. That's why my momma, Debbie Williams, fell in love with him when they were both nineteen. From the pictures I've seen, I am a spitting image of my old man. 6'5”, dark like mahogany, thick, tight, curly midnight black hair, dark brows with big eyes and long, curly lashes. My father's eyes are what my momma always said she loved the most. Shit, she probably still did. She used to call him Bambi when they were alone and it was just me around.
I was an only child up until I was 9. Up till then I remember my daddy going to work every day, washing the car and taking me to the park. I remember when I was about 5, I loved it when my daddy let me help him cut the grass. I walked in front of him, just barely reaching the handle and pushing with all my might to make perfect rows in our front yard. When we'd go inside, daddy would always make me go wash my hands. Then momma would make me a bowl of chicken and stars, a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk. She'd pour my daddy a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade filled right up to the top. Then momma would make me take a bath before my nap, but I could never sleep cause my momma would start giggling so loud behind their closed bedroom door.
Something happened to my daddy when my mother got pregnant with Isha. I know I was happy to finally have a little brother or sister, but daddy started bugging out. He started staying out all hours of the night and when he did come home, him and momma would fight till the sun came up. Not too long before Isha was born, he lost the only job he'd ever had with the Natini Water and Light Company. He'd been reading meters for the past 7 years, bringing in a good living for our family. But then all of a sudden it seemed like drinking was the only thing that mattered to him. He became withdrawn and distant, and then he became a man I no longer knew. My momma has always treated him the same. That is, when she ain't cussing him out. She still fixes him breakfast in the morning before she leaves for work and dinner as soon as she gets home at night. She does get angry with him from time to time, but after all these years, she still ain't put his ass out.
“What's up, cuz?” The dark frame at the screen door scared the shit outta my pops and me.
“Lil Ricky, is that you?” My daddy rolled off the couch and went to the door. My stomach was tightened up and I was ready to fight. Little Ricky. I hadn't seen my little cousin since he was twenty. He'd been locked up for the last 3 years for slanging dope. He looked good, but the black circles around his eyes told another story.
“What's up, nigga?” I went to the door and put my arms around my cousin and gave him a tight hug. “Come on in, man.”
Lil Ricky is about 6'2” and real fair skinned like my mother's side of the family. He is my aunt Trina's only son. He came in and sat on the couch next to my pops making my father sit up for what was probably the first time in weeks.
I sat back down and said, “I heard you was out.”
“Yeah, it's been about a month.”
“Damn, nigga, you done got big!” My cousin looked like he should have been a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.
“Man, lifting was the only thing that kept me going. There were days I didn't know if I was gonna make it.”
My father startled us both and stood up suddenly. He left the room so quick he looked like a shadow fading.
Ricky looked at me and said, “Same shit, huh?”
“Hell yeah. A normal motha fucker would a taken this as an opportunity to rap to his son and nephew about life and shit. Not that lazy bastard.”
My cousin could tell I was pissed. He stood up and said, “Come on nigga. Show me that motha fucking Expedition you got parked out in the drive cause I know it's yours.”
I said, “You know, you know,” and pimped out the door. Lil Ricky busted out laughing. As we walked out the door, I could hear my momma's voice over the 7-foot tall shrubs planted in front of the house before I could see her face.
“Come on, girl. I told you he was here.” My mother's loud voice greeted us at the porch. Like sun-glazed honey, my mother's loud deep voice warmed me like a wool blanket.
As we rounded the shrubs, Ricky said, “Aunty Deb? Is that you?”
“Lil Ricky!” my mother screamed when she saw his face. Lil Ricky was really like my little brother when we was growing up. He was always at our house during the summer, and during the school year, he always stayed the weekend. Momma treated him just like he was her own son, shit sometimes better than she treated me. Ricky's momma was only 15 when she had him and raised him like most teenage mothers raise their kids today. She didn't. I remember when he came over, the first thing momma would do was give him a bath. He's little face would be so dirty. She'd change him into some of my pajamas until she had a chance to wash his clothes.
I remember when we were kids, we used to stay up late playing my Atari. Lil Ricky is 4 years younger than me so sometimes I would let him win at Space Raiders. And when we were older and I left home to attend Howard University in DC, he used to call me more than my own momma did. I know he was running up somebody's phone bill. Before long, he called less and less, so I wasn't surprised when I was a sophomore, Isha called and told me Ricky had hooked up with some niggas and was selling crack outta his momma's house. By the time I graduated and moved back home, Ricky was so deep in the drug game, there was nothing I could say to bring him back. I just hoped that now that he was out, he wouldn't get caught up again.
Momma said, “Come here and give me a hug, boy!”
Ricky leaned down and put his arms around my momma. Seeing the two of them together, I realized he looked more like my momma's son than I did. They shared the same light honey complexion, sandy hair and freckles. I guess my daddy's genes were so strong I came out looking just like the bastard.
I said, “Hey momma. What's up, Isha?”
Momma answered, “Hey, baby boy. Sorry to keep you waiting.” She couldn't tear her eyes off Ricky and her arm was still around his waist. I couldn't front. I wish she looked at me like that.
Isha said, “What's up, big brother. Thanks for the money, man.”
My little sister looks like a shorter version of my momma. She is real pretty with hazel eyes. Her hair was in some fabulous style that one of her friends had concocted with some twist starting at her forehead and going back into a red and blond ponytail. The dress she had on looked like it belonged to one of my little cousins, and it was so tight Isha looked like she had sewn it on. My little sister was thick and beautiful like a ghetto queen.
Isha asked me with a knowing look, “Why you looking at me like that?”
I said, “You know why. How many times do I have to tell you to stop wearing them short ass clothes?” My sister had made a habit of wearing the shortest shorts and skirts she could get away with and t-shirts three sizes too small with phrases like “Call me”, “Princess” and “Beauty Queen” across her chest. My sister probably, no definitely, got her sense of fashion from my momma. Shit, today momma has on some black leggings that a woman her size don't have no business wearing and a black see through shirt with a black bra on underneath. She has the shirt tied in a knot at her waist, but the knot is lost somewhere between my momma's stomachs. Nearly 5'10” and weighing well over 250 pounds, my momma is a big woman. I just hoped she hadn't worn that to work.
“How many times do I have to tell you, you ain't her daddy? He's in the house. Now leave her alone.” My momma had to put in her two cents. She always had something smart to say, especially to me. Unless she wants a favor, then she is sweet as pie. It's like I remind her too much of my daddy or something. She should be directing her attitude towards him, not me. But no, she let the bum live in our house all these years without contributing a dime. After his unemployment ran out, he ain't brought in another cent. We never went without though. Momma has worked as a bank teller for Natini Bank and Trust since she was 18. She never went to college so she has been the Assistant Manager for her branch for the last 10 years cause her boss claims a management position requires a college degree. My momma doesn't care though, as long as she is still bringing home a paycheck.
I ignored my momma's comment and said, “Well, here's the money, momma.”
My momma got this innocent look on her face. “You think you got time to run us over to the mall? That car is running funny again.” My momma always did this. She should be using this money to get that car fixed. Just like keeping my daddy, my momma has had the same car way too long. Her 1990 Ford Tempo is always on its last leg. It isn't like I mind doing stuff for momma, but she knows good and well that she wanted me to run them to the mall before I even stopped by. I guess my plans don't matter, shit never mind that I got something to do. I was only going to get a second workout at the gym before I went out tonight, but that don't matter. Shit, I'm a grown man now. Just be considerate, that's all I've ever asked her.
I just said, “Well, let's go, cause I got some other stuff I need to do today.”
We watched Momma and Isha walk in the house to grab their stuff and Lil Ricky and I climbed into my Expedition. I started it up and turned the air on full blast. Ricky was like a kid in a candy store. He leaned the passenger seat back as far as it would go, turned on the lights, pushed buttons he had no business pushing and settled on changing the radio stations back and forth.
Ricky finally relaxed in the seat and smiled. “Man, I gotta get me one of these.” We were bouncing our heads with the Bose system I had put in last week. I just smiled. I'd only had my truck for 3 weeks. I hadn't even registered it yet.
I said, “So, what you getting into tonight?”
Ricky shook his head and ran his fingers through his finger length dreads. He had started growing them right before he got locked up, so it is strange to see him with so much hair. Shit, I might try to grow some myself, but I don't know how the customers would react. Ricky said, “Nothing man. I gotta go by and scoop up my son. Probably take him by to see my momma. You know she still got that nigga living in her house?”
All I said was, “It must run in the family,” as I watched momma and Isha walk towards my truck.
We dropped Ricky off at his baby's momma's house. His little boy, Ricky Jr. was already 3. He was born while Ricky was locked up, so the little boy barely knows him. We all got out, but Ricky Jr. was scared of all of us except for my momma. He kept crying every time Ricky even looked his way. Ricky looked so hurt, but hey that's the breaks. I told him not to mess with that girl anyway. Isha said Quanita was sleeping with every little boy on the block when she ended up pregnant. I was ready to go as soon as I heard my momma ask Lil Ricky a little too loudly if he was sure the baby was even his.
I stretched out my legs and rocked my hips from side to side on the hard wood bench. I was tired of waiting on my momma and Isha. They have been in that store for over an hour. Not once did either of them come and say they were on their way out. No, that would be too much like right. I would be doing some shopping myself if I didn't have to take care of my daddy's business. So I decided to people watch. The mall was pretty busy. There were lots of teenagers prancing around with their hormones all out of control, giggling like they done lost their damn minds. This little white lady cracked me up. She was about 4' tall and weighed about 10 pounds. She had her purse clutched under her arm like it was full of money. When she walked by, I leaned forward just to mess with her and she almost tripped over her feet trying to move away from me.
My cell phone rang and before answering I checked the caller ID. Monica. I let the voice mail take the call. When I left my apartment this morning, I knew it was over. I wouldn't really call Monica my girlfriend, but she was someone I have been seeing exclusively for the last six months. That's the problem. She wants more of a commitment than I am ready for. Shit, she started leaving her stuff at my crib, trying to move in on the sly. I'm not ready for that right now. And my momma would kill me. Monica Lopez works in my office at Home Safe as a loss taker. Her mother is Hispanic and her father is white. My momma would kill me if I brought home a woman that wasn't black. It don't matter that Monica is darker than my momma and has a better body than most sisters that I've dated. Her big booty is just like jelly too, but she works out at the gym so she keeps her body tight. All that don't matter to my momma though. My momma made it real clear when I was growing up that marrying a woman that wasn't black was unacceptable. I love my sisters, so that isn't really a problem. Monica is just ready for a real relationship and I'm not in love.
We met at a happy hour for a brother we work with, Andrew Stone's, birthday. I really hadn't even planned on going to the happy hour, but I just happen to be at the office one Friday afternoon and Andrew is my boy so I decided to stop by. We were all drinking and hanging out. Andrew is one of those brothers that white women love- light skin, soft spoken and whipped, so all of the Caucasian females had come out to celebrate. I met Monica before in the office, but when I saw her talking to some sisters near the bar, I had to holla. She must have went home to change after work cause she was wearing a form fitting black dress that was low in the front and barely there in the back. I went by their table to say hello and offered to buy them all a drink. One sister, Veronica, was all up in my grille, like I had stopped by for her. I hated to dis my sister, but I made it real clear that I was interested in Monica. I don't think Veronica has spoken to me since the happy hour and she rolls her eyes at me when she sees me coming, but Monica and I have been kicking it ever since.
This morning I had to put an end to it though. Monica spent the night last night. She didn't stop by until after midnight, so we did our thing and I went to sleep. I woke up twice cause I'm a light sleeper and Monica had the TV up too loud. She woke me again at 3 a.m., but this time I heard her crying.
I sat up in the bed and said, “What's wrong with you?”
“I just don't understand you.” Monica was lying on her side facing the wall.
“What did I do?”
“You never take me out. You call me late at night and want me to come by your place, but you never come to my house.” She was crying so hard the bed was shaking.
“You know I'm busy working.” I laid back down cause this wasn't the first time we'd had this conversation.
“Leon, you know how I feel. Why are you doing this to me?”
“Doing what? I was sleep and if you close your eyes, you'll be sleep again too. Monica, you know we have to get up in the morning.” That was only partially true because my first appointment wasn't until 11 so I planned to sleep in and go to the gym around 9.
“I love you.” She was really crying now, so I reluctantly put my arms around her. This is what happens when you let them spend the night.
“Monica, you know I care about you, but I am not ready to settle down right now and you know that.” I finally got her to calm down so we could go back to sleep by telling her we could discuss it in the morning.
I woke up before she did. I had already showered and dressed for the gym before she started to wake up.
“What time is it?” Monica rolled over when I turned on lamp next to my bed and wiped the sleep from her eyes.
“It's 6 o'clock.” I finished tying up my white Jordan's and then took my green and black gym bag out of the closet.
“I'm sorry about last night.” I could tell she was embarrassed from the tone of her voice.
“It's ok. I'm glad we got this out in the open.” I took a pair of khakis and a bright blue oxford shirt from my closet, folded them and put them in my bag.
She sat up and looked concerned, “What do you mean?
I stopped packing and looked at her. “Monica, we want different things. I am not ready for a relationship. You are. I think it's best that we know this now so there are no hard feelings.”
“Leon…I was just tripping. Really, we can keep things the way they are.” Now I felt embarrassed for her.
I sighed, sat down on the bed and said, “That's not right. Right now I just can't give you what you need. You're a good woman and you deserve a man that's going to be there for you. I'm not the one.” I finished packing my bag and walked over to her. She was still naked from last night, the sheet was just barely covering her honey colored breasts and I could see the dark neatly trimmed hair between her thick thighs. I ignored my dick jumping, trying to get in one last dip. I heard myself say, “We can still be friends.” After I said it, I knew it sounded lame, but I had to say something to end this. I kissed her on the cheek and told her to make sure she didn't forget her gym shoes in my closet.
I looked up in time to see this caramel coated beauty as she was walking towards the mall entrance of Macy's. Her hips sashayed from left to right like a salsa dancer getting her groove on. She ran her fingers through her hair and held her head up as she crossed the threshold to enter the mall. She was so sexy. She had deep dimples in her cheeks even when she wasn't smiling. It was one of those moments were I knew I was gonna look like a player if I approached her from a bench in the mall. It was a risk I had to take.
As she passed me, I called, “Miss?” I stood up, moved towards her, but left about 3 feet between us cause Player Rule #10 is not to come into a lady's personal space until she lets me.
She glanced back and said, “Yes?” She swung her head towards me slightly, but she kept moving.
I kept up with her and was surprised at how pleasant she looked. I was expecting that “Leave me the Fuck alone look.” Her perfectly arched eyebrows were raised and she looked down at her expensive watch.
I said, “May I ask you your name?”
She said, “Hi, I'm Laila Johnson.”
“You look so familiar. I… just don't want to look like a sucker by approaching you while you're out shopping.” I gave her my best insurance adjuster look.
She said, “Oh, it's ok.” She finally stopped walking, but I realized it was because we were standing in front of the shoe store she was looking for. She looked at her watch again and said, “I work in the entertainment business. I am a talent representative for Jacob's Talent. I also promote a lot of parties in the area. We may have run into each other somewhere. And you are?” She smiled, but her tone was all business as she reached out her hand to shake mine.
We shook hands and I felt light headed. I think all of the blood in my body suddenly rushed to the tip of my dick. I had to think of something quick cause I got the feeling she was in a hurry. I just hated to ask the sister for her number cause you only holler at a female in the mall if you're still in high school.
I said, “My name's Leon Williams.” Player Rule #3 is do what ever it takes to get the digits so I lied and said, “Oh, that's why you look so familiar! I work in the entertainment field too.” I patted my shirt pocket and said, “I don't have any cards with me, but maybe I could have yours. I have heard a lot of good things about Jacob's Talent.” I had never heard of Jacob's Talent, but I could work that out later. She was so pretty when she smiled at me like she didn't know if she believed me or not, but she only hesitated a second before she whipped out her cream colored business card.
Laila Johnson, Senior Talent Representative was written in gold cursive letters. She turned toward the store and said, “Well, I really have to be going. It was nice meeting you, Leon. Maybe we can discuss the business sometime”
I smiled down at her card like it was a hundred dollar bill and I just found it on the morning before pay day. I said, “It was nice meeting you too, Laila.” I watched her sashay into the shoe store. I looked down at the card again and smiled. I started back toward Stylz 4 Less. I was going in that store to get them, I thought, shaking my head when I looked at my watch and it read 7 p.m.