Another Man's Child - Part One
by Leon L. King
On the last Friday of August 2003, Marcus Pettis found out that the twelve-year old boy that he had always known as his son was not actually his. In every other aspect of the boy’s life he was the father. He provided for him financially, participated in any event that he was in, went to parent-teacher conferences, dealt out punishments when they had to be dealt, and had even given the boy his first and last name. Yet, another man had instead planted the seed that he thought that he’d planted over thirteen years ago.
He was waiting outside Wal-Mart when he saw MJ’s biological father. His wife Tamecka, MJ, seven-year old daughter Jessica, and he were on their way to Wisconsin Dells’ resort for some quality family time. Jordan’s weekly ten-dollar allowance was burning his pockets and he’d bugged Marcus to take him to get some Yu-Gi-Oh! cards before they left the real world, as he chose to describe their vacation. He wasn’t thrilled with the idea of spending time away from his video games and TV but he was trying to be a real soldier about it. Marcus knew that if he didn’t get his cards though, he would make a real nightmare of the weekend.
Living in Arlington Heights, Illinois and traveling west on I-90, the only exit that Marcus knew of that had a nearby Wal-Mart happened to be in Elgin, the town in which he had previously resided before moving to his present location. He let MJ go into the store by himself so that he could stay with his wife, who was seven months pregnant with their third child, and in no state of health to be walking around too much. He parked in the stall designated for “EXPECTANT MOTHERS” which was also close enough to the store so that he and his wife would be able to see their son when he came out of the store. His daughter sat in the backseat playing her Gameboy Advance and wondering aloud why she couldn’t go in the store too.
Marcus and Tamecka ignored her and instead were discussing the Democratic presidential candidates.
“Bush doesn’t stand a chance in the next election,” he said.
“I know,” she replied. “That’s because the whole world knows that he lied about Iraq having weapons. But then again, the Democrats don’t have any one worth mentioning to run against him. The only one that I know anything about is Al Sharpton and I wouldn’t vote for him myself.”
“Why not?" Marcus asked. “We should support our black people.”
“He seems shady to me. Always has. I just feel that he has a hidden agenda and that he wouldn’t put our country’s best interests as his top priority. Supposedly, he has bad credit. Can you imagine what he would do to the national deficit?”
Marcus laughed and then said, “It’s a shame that we as black people don’t have anyone to fully represent us in the presidency. Think about it… a father and son can be president but not a single black person.”
“That’s true. I never thought about it like that. I would vote for Jesse before I vote for Sharpton though.”
“DAMN JESSE JACKSON!” Marcus practically yelled. “That dummy went and had a baby by another woman. If he had been elected before, three years into his term everyone would have found out that he had another country on the side or something.”
Tamecka chuckled softly but Marcus laughed heartedly at his quick wit. She had a soft spot for Jackson’s plight due to reasons that were unknown to her husband. She looked out of her window as Marcus launched into a spiel of overused “Jackson and his illegitimate child” jokes. She rubbed her prominent seven-month pregnant stomach as she watched people go by. Her eyes went to rest on a tall slender man standing to the right of the Wal-Mart exit trying to look as invisible as possible. He was on the side of a Pepsi machine wearing a Wal-Mart vest and casually leaning against the wall smoking a cigarette while a line of shopping carts patiently waited for him so that they could get inside the store and out of the sun. He leaned with his right foot on the ground and the left foot propped on the wall. It looked as if the carts would be waiting a while.
Recognition came to her in an instant and her entire body flashed hot and then cold. Thousands of goose bumps sprouted over her arms and legs and the sudden chill she felt made her fidget slightly. She silently wished that she were somewhere else. Anywhere would do. As long as it was where the man standing in her field of vision was not.
Marcus began singing in a voice made for singing to deaf people and only deaf people,
I’m sorry Miss Jackson, I am for reeeeal…
I never meant to have a daughter by…
Another woman when you are my wife…
Jessica loudly requested that her father stop singing from the backseat. Marcus looked at Tamecka to see what type of response he’d evoked with his creativity. She was still staring out of her window and was paying no attention to what he was saying or doing. He called her name and she jumped but never turned her head or made any other indication that she’d heard him. He followed the direction of her eyes to see what could possibly be more interesting than his comedic stand-up routine.
At first Marcus thought that Tamecka was looking at a couple of teenage boys that were dressed in all black, with spiked hair and numerous body piercings. As they walked past, Tamecka’s head, nor eyes, followed them. Her eyes remained intently focused in the direction of the vending machine and that’s when Patrick also noticed the man standing against the wall.
Marcus didn’t recognize the man when he first looked at him but there was a certain familiarity to him. He had lived in Elgin for only ten years of his life but it wasn’t hard to know the face of almost every other black person in town. He assumed that it was someone that he went to school with but didn’t know that well. Tamecka obviously knows him too though, he thought. At that thought his memory became clearer. He didn’t believe his eyes. He looked away and then back again. He looked away once more, cleaned his glasses, and looked again.
There are some people that can never be forgotten and the man leaning against the wall was one person that Marcus wouldn’t ever forget. A flashback of his own hands wrapped around the man’s neck came to rushing back to him. After that incident, he had to look at the man for two hours and then again for three hours while sitting in a stuffy courtroom waiting for a judge to reprimand him for his actions although he felt that he didn’t do enough damage.
The man standing there in full view was Patrick Winstrom. A person that Marcus knew just enough about to dislike for the rest of his days. Seeing him again wasn’t what startled Marcus the most though. Every time that he came back to Elgin to visit friends or family, he always saw someone that he knew. What was most disturbing to him was the fact that Patrick looked a lot like his own son, MJ.
Looking at Patrick standing there made it seem to Marcus that he was looking twenty years into MJ’s future. The resemblance was helped further by the cornrows that Patrick was sporting. MJ also had cornrows: giving his best effort to imitate Little Romeo. They both also shared the same light brown eyes as well as facial features. The only thing missing from MJ were the numerous tattoos that were displayed on Patrick’s arms and neck. Marcus also knew that there were tattoos on the man’s chest and back, although the vest and a white t-shirt covered them.
A sinking feeling began to take form in Marcus’s stomach. He would have never noticed the similarities if it hadn’t been for the way that Patrick’s path had crossed his. The one question that he had successfully pushed away in the past thirteen years of his life had suddenly and unexpectedly been answered. Marcus could have gone the rest of his life without ever finding that answer. He would have preferred it that way actually, but sometimes the skeletons in the closet will come crashing through the doorway wanting to be seen.
Tamecka's fear had finally been realized. She knew that she would have to tell Marcus sooner or later, but it always seemed that the right time hadn’t come. A recurring nightmare of hers was that something terrible would happen to her son that would require an organ transplant. Marcus would gladly step to the forefront to give his son any part of his body that he may need. But, when the compatibility tests would be run, it would be found that the father and son are not nearly as compatible as they would have thought. She didn’t have to worry anymore but the sinking feeling that Marcus was experiencing was affecting her also.
She never meant for things to turn out the way they did. Patrick had been a high school crush. He was the older brother of her best friend and classmate Autumn. He was two years older than she was and seemingly inaccessible when she was still a senior in high school. He never paid much attention to her when she did see him. At the times when he did acknowledge her presence, it was usually in a passive reference when he was telling his sister to get out of his way. Once or twice he may have spoke to her directly. It might have been more times than that but Tamecka wouldn’t remember because all she could seem to do at those times was to giggle and mumble some incoherent words in response.
She didn’t think that he even noticed her in the way that she noticed him. Whenever he turned his back, she would always stare and admire his body. He stood 6’3” with a slim but athletic body honed from years of playing football and basketball. He also had the most amazing light brown eyes that could hypnotize almost any woman that was able to look into them. Autumn would always inadvertently give information about Patrick so Tamecka knew that he had numerous female friends and also a baby’s mama. The information that Autumn didn’t have she gathered from a couple of other female classmates who had actually been with him and his sexual prowess along with everything else enchanted her even more. Although she wanted Patrick badly, he was the type of boy that she could have never taken him home to her parents.
With all of good physical qualities, he chose to do as little as possible in his mental growth. He’d never graduated from high school. He dropped out in his senior year because his boys had been expelled and he wanted to hang with them. Numerous colleges had heavily courted him because of his athletic ability in football, basketball, and even track but four more years of school didn’t appeal to him. After he dropped out, he spent most of his time with his friends whenever they weren’t locked up: smoking, drinking, and whatever else society deemed unacceptable. His already long record was getting longer with every month that passed. His bad boy image both excited and frightened Tamecka.
One weekend in May of 1987, during finals testing week, she spent the night with Autumn so that they could get some studying in. Senioritis was in full effect and the amount of studying that was actually being done was practically nonexistent. Books lay open on Autumn’s bed and the floor of her room but they were being looked at by neither girl. They chose to talk about boys instead.
On that particular night, Autumn’s boyfriend, John, was the main topic. They were having relationship problems stemming from the fact that she would be attending college at the University of Illinois and he was planning to go all the way to Grambling University. They were both positive that the other would find someone else when they went their separate ways and the arguments over who would do who wrong first increased in frequency as the end of the school year drew closer. Tamecka kept trying to assure Autumn that a long distance relationship could work. But, she truly felt in her heart that their relationship would be a lost cause before the end of the first semester.
Tamecka always held her true feelings back if she felt that the truth would hurt the other person’s feelings. Quiet by nature, she was always the listener in group conversations. That night, she let Autumn vent about her and John’s situation until Autumn felt that she had to vent personally to John himself.
Autumn phoned him and lasted five minutes before she demanded that he come over so that they could talk. John made it to the house so quickly that it was as if he lived right next door instead of on the other side of Elgin. He parked in the driveway and honked his horn. Autumn had been watching for him out of her window and was already on her way downstairs to meet him.
Tamecka was left alone with the open books and zero motivation to look at any of them. She lay on the bed and began writing in a journal that she’d kept since she was in the eighth grade. After about fifteen minutes, she’d only managed to write the date and her name several times. She heard John's car start and looked out of Autumn's bedroom window to see them pulling off. She knew exactly where they were going. They were headed to the "Spot", a favorite hangout of teenage couples who had no access to a private place of their own to quench their thirsts for sexual exploration. She had been down there only twice in her life. Once with a boy named Charles that she wouldn't even kiss because of his bad breath and then on another occasion with Lester, the football jock, who was drunk and passed out before he could even make a move. Tamecka assumed that they were going to “make up” until their next argument.
Autumn and she were both still wearing the "V" sign as if it were a halo over their heads. They both were on a quest to lose that sign but none of the high school boys that Tamecka knew were even worthy of her phone number. Autumn had come closer to having sex than she ever had on several occasions with John though. She would always tell Tamecka that it had almost happened but she got scared and backed out at the very last second. So all that they did was grind enough for John to go home with a wet spot inside his pants and an urgent desire to go all the way soon, preferably before he went off to Grambling.
Even though they’d never had sex, they always talked about it as if they were experienced in all sixty-nine positions. Autumn had stolen one of Patrick's videos that he had stashed in his room and they’d watched it together. Autumn was grossed out by all of the oral activity but Tamecka had been enthralled and turned on by the sexual scenes. After watching the movie twice (even though Autumn had fallen asleep on her), she felt as if she had to get rid of the virginity shroud as quickly as she could.
The only person that she was even attracted to at the time was Patrick. Her parents had successfully kept her away from boyfriends throughout high school. Her mother didn't hold anything back when it came to talking about the evils of men and her father liked to bring their pit bull Sam around to sniff any teenage male that came to the house. Her father would always tell the boys that his dog was just looking for other "dogs". Sam was afraid of cats and wouldn't bite his own food until he was sure that it wouldn't bite him back. He looked menacing enough though and the boys usually made up excuses why they couldn't ever come by again.
Patrick didn't seem as if he was scared of anything. If her dad brought Sam in to sniff him, the dog would have probably howled and run for cover. It thrilled her to see Patrick walk in his athletic, confident swagger. It excited her to hear him talk his slang with his boys and threaten anyone who dared to challenge him.
He was in his room when Autumn and John left. He was on house arrest for something or the other which was why he was in the house on a Saturday night in the first place. His room was just across the hall from Autumn's and she could hear the bass of his stereo, pounding out a mixture of NWA and the Beastie Boys, and one of his friends’ voices through the closed door. She waited for over an hour for Autumn to return. Still not having the desire to study, Tamecka decided to take a shower and call it a night. She knew that her friend was probably going to be gone for a while.
As she showered, she began to imagine that it was Patrick's hands that were soaping her body instead of her own. She stayed underneath the hot water until it became warm because she'd used most of the hot water supply. She let go of her dream, finished showering, and slipped on a pair of panties and her Tweety gown, and went back to Autumn's room pulling the door closed just enough for her to hear what Patrick was doing.
A few minutes later, she heard him exit his room. His friend must have left while I was in the shower, she thought to herself. He went into the bathroom and she heard the shower as it began running. About a minute later, she heard the shower go off again and the bathroom door open. She thought that he was going back to his room but instead he knocked lightly on the door. She sat up on the bed, her heart racing, and said, "Come in."
Patrick came into the room wearing nothing but a pair of sweats. His bare chest was still damp. He said, "That's bogus."
"What? What's bogus?" she asked as she crossed her legs. She put her hands in her lap so that he wouldn't able to see underneath her gown.
"You used all the hot water. Now I have to wait twenty minutes before I get in."
"Oops, I'm sorry. I didn't know that I was in that long." It began to feel cool in the room to her. She couldn't tell whether it was from the light breeze that had blown through the window or if it was because of Patrick’s presence. A cool breeze and cologne always seemed to follow him whenever he passed by her. Her nipples noticed the temperature change and decided to announce themselves.
Patrick couldn’t help but notice her nipples standing out against the light material of her gown. He asked, "Are you cold?" with a slight smile on his face.
"Just a little." She knew what he was hinting at but she could do nothing about it. If she tried to cover them, she would be even more exposed below.
"What are you studying?" Patrick asked as he came and sat on the floor beside her. He rested his back against the bed and his right shoulder just barely touched her knee, setting a fire inside of her. He picked up a history book and began casually flipping through the pages.
“We were studying math and history. We have finals all next week.” She knew that he could care less about what they were studying.
“Where did Autumn and Nerd Boy go?” John was a little bit too soft for Patrick’s tastes so he called him Nerd Boy to upset Autumn when John wasn’t around and felt it was a crime to say anything to him when he was.
“I don’t know where they went.”
“Yes you do. I do too. They went to the Spot, didn’t they?”
Tamecka’s silence served as the answer to his question. Patrick asked, “Have you ever been down there?”
“No,” Tamecka lied.
“Why not? Don’t you have a boyfriend?”
“No. What makes you think that?”
“I asked Autumn and she said that you did. She also told me to stay away from you.”
“She did!” Tamecka exclaimed. She was more surprised that Patrick had even thought enough to ask a question pertaining to her than she was at Autumn saying that she had a boyfriend and to stay way. Autumn was just looking out for her own welfare because she knew that Tamecka was vulnerable to Patrick’s advances because of her crush on him.
“Yep,” he replied. “Why does she want me to stay away from you? Are you poison or something?” He rose to his knees and turned to face her as he asked the question.
“She doesn’t want me to talk to you because we’re friends… and no, I’m not poison,” Tamecka blurted. She didn’t know what she was saying. Her head was getting light just from being closer than she’d ever been to Patrick.
“Aren’t we friends?” he asked, as he looked her directly in her eyes.
Her eyes met his and her mind was immediately under his control. “Yes,” she half mumbled and half nodded.
“Do you want me to stay away from you?”
She shook her head to tell him no. He placed his hands on her knees and began rubbing softly. Without saying anything he leaned forward and began kissing her.
Tamecka had experienced only a few kisses in her life. The high school boys that she had kissed had always left her feeling like she needed to wash her face to get rid of all the excess spit that they’d left behind. Patrick’s kiss was much different. His experience showed in the way that he didn’t force his tongue inside her mouth but instead let her tongue come to him. He gently kneaded her thighs as he kissed her, working his way slowly upwards. She was helpless to stop him. Her mind screamed no, but her body had taken complete control.
She was finally able to regain a bit of her composure and moved her hands in position to stop him from going too far. His hands stopped before they could reach her special place and began working back down to her knees. As his hands moved down, his lips found other places to explore. He moved to her ears, once again exhibiting his experience and grace. He slowly moved to her neck, nibbling here and there, making every place that his lips touched a weak spot. Tamecka breathed heavily and her heart threatened to jump out of her chest from beating so hard.
Patrick gently pushed her back until she lay on her back. His hands were still in motion. She didn’t try to stop him as he slid them up the seams of her gown until they rested on her hips and his tongue found hers again. He grabbed the gown’s hem and slowly worked it up until it was above her breasts.
He left her mouth and went to parts of her body that had rarely been explored by anyone but herself. She’d thought that her ears and neck was her weak spot. She found out that night that she was very wrong. Patrick began kissing her on her breasts, the part of her body that she was most proud of. He didn’t just dive into them though like the other boys tried to do when they were trying to touch them. He took his time as if time were waiting on him. He kissed and licked around her nipples before he gently took one in his mouth, causing her to inhale deeply from the exhilarating new feeling.
He sucked and nibbled her breasts for what seemed an eternity to her but was only a few minutes. He then began slowly pulling her panties off. She was aware and yet unaware that it was happening. Her stomach fluttered as Patrick slowly moved his mouth across it, rendering her powerless with every flick of his tongue. She knew where he was heading and she didn’t try to stop him. She didn’t want to.
When he first kissed her inner thigh, she thought that she was in paradise already. At the first touch of his tongue on the folds of her womanhood, she knew that she had been elevated to a plane above and beyond the paradise that she’d always dreamed of.
Although she had no experience in oral sex besides what she’d seen on a tape and heard on the streets, she knew that Patrick was good at what he was doing to her and for the first time in her life, she had an orgasm. She exploded inside with so much force that she didn’t think she’d live through it. Through the orgasm and her moans of pleasure, her body convulsed and Patrick kept doing what he truly had a gift for.
She heard a car pull up at the back of her mind. Patrick heard it too and was gone before she could even open her eyes. He closed his door, leaving Tamecka alone on the bed and wallowing in pleasant memories. She heard the door slam downstairs and then she was in action too as she grabbed another pair of panties and fled to the bathroom.
Autumn made it upstairs just as Tamecka started the shower. She knocked on the door and yelled for her to hurry up. Tamecka showered quickly all the while imagining more than just Patrick’s hands on her body. She was already looking to the next time that she would be with him.
Autumn rushed past her into the bathroom when she exited and quickly locked the door. Tamecka assumed that she had to pee urgently. She heard the shower start and she settled on the floor to wait for Autumn to tell her about what her and John almost did. She hated that she wouldn’t be able to share her experience with her best friend but she knew that some secrets are better left hidden to preserve a friendship.
Autumn came out of the shower with a smile and glow that made Tamecka instantly know that her friend’s “V” had been taken forever. Autumn closed the door and dived on the bed and began talking about how “it” was before she even landed. She held a one-sided conversation because Tamecka was still speechless. If it weren’t for Autumn’s own personal story, she would have noticed the dreamy, faraway look in her best friend’s eyes.
Tamecka had high hopes that she would be able to get with Patrick again, whether it was in secret or not. But, the next time that she saw him he acted as if she didn’t exist and that nothing had transpired which hurt her deeply. She never managed to be alone with him again although she tried. It was as if she had been used and thrown away like an old dirty condom. High school ended and eight seasons passed. Patrick had become only a very vivid, recurring memory.
She met Marcus while she worked at Border’s bookstore. As she was putting away books, she saw him wandering aimlessly through the aisles. She could tell that he needed help with finding something but when she asked him, his face flushed and he said that he was just browsing. A few minutes later she saw him at a kiosk. She walked up behind him and said, “People usually only use the kiosks when they’re looking for a particular book. I can help you find it.”
Marcus’s face flushed again and he whispered, “I’m looking for a book named Brown Spice.”
Tamecka giggled, adding to his embarrassment of asking for such a book. She knew that Brown Spice was a book of erotic short stories written by black authors. She said, “That’s a good book. I have it at home.” She looked him up and down and added, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t look like the type to read that kind of book.”
Marcus pushed his glasses up on his nose and smiled shyly. “I heard about it from a friend,” he said. “I looked for it at the library but they didn’t have it.”
Tamecka was immediately attracted to his shyness. She couldn’t say that he wasn’t her type because she was still fairly new to dating and hadn’t developed a certain type of man that she preferred. Since the episode with Patrick, she had dated only one other person who was an absolute waste of her time and had done nothing but finally steal the “V” away from her. Marcus looked like he was a college student with his Dockers’ pants, Polo shirt, glasses, and brown loafers. He was about 5’9” with a slight build and chocolate complexion. She’d never seen him before but it was unlikely that she would have remembered his plainness even if she had.
She took him to the section that his book was in but there were no more copies available. She wanted to offer to let him borrow hers but he surprised her by asking if he could borrow it first. She said yes and that began their friendship in which they discussed books and shared their dreams. They began hanging out together and spending time alone, talking for hours about everything from politics to comic strips. Marcus was never the boldest person in the world and she had to initiate the evolution from a simple friendship to relationship.
Marcus quickly fell head over heals in love with her but she couldn’t match his enthusiasm. He was a good person with a giant heart but she couldn’t think of him as the person that she would spend the rest of her life with.
A little over a year passed them by. To Tamecka, her relationship with Marcus was going nowhere. She knew that he was in love with her but she could not force herself to reciprocate his feelings. She stayed with him because of the pressure she felt from people who were on the outside looking in. Both of her parents adored him and were already hearing the wedding bells. Marcus was what they’d always wanted for their “little” girl and only child. He was polite, soft-spoken, and well on his way to having a career and not just a job. Her father took Marcus in as if he were his own son and even let him spend the night (in another room, of course) on several occasions. Autumn, her one true friend, listened to her but even she couldn’t understand why Tamecka was so miserable.
Tamecka agreed with Autumn and her parents. She knew that the choices of men surrounding her were not good in comparison to Marcus. The men that approached her always had games in their agenda, something that she had no time for. Since she’d started dating Marcus, she’d given her number out to a couple of other guys but usually after the first phone conversation it was evident that sex was the only thing on their minds.
Sex. That was another huge obstacle in their relationship. Since Patrick, she’d never experienced the pleasure that she’d felt that night at Autumn’s house. Marcus frowned upon oral sex and had even stopped her when she tried it with him. He still had the high school mentality that it was nasty. His closed mind in the area of sex bothered her because she needed excitement to be satisfied and reach that peak that she truly desired. Marcus had failed to bring her to orgasm each and every time that they’d been together. She’d reached a point where to find any pleasure, she had to sometimes imagine that Marcus was actually Al B. Sure lying on top of her.
Tamecka tried to talk to Marcus about her feelings. She told him that she needed time to herself. Time to herself meant breaking up to Marcus and he failed to understand what she was actually asking for. No matter how much she pleaded her case to him, he always thought that flowers and candy would change her mind.
On June 10, 1990, the paths of Marcus, Tamecka, and Patrick crossed for the first time in their life. By the end of the day, each one of them had touched each other in ways that would scar their minds for the rest of their life. Each participant in the triangle unknowingly let events lead him or her to the same place at the same, if not wrong, time.
On the afternoon of the day that her life would change forever, Tamecka was at Autumn’s apartment. Tamecka was still frustrated with the way her relationship was going with Marcus. Although Autumn didn’t agree with her feelings, she was still the only person that Tamecka could vent to. As she reiterated her frustrations for the thousandth time, Autumn was folding clothes that had been recently washed. When she was finally fed up with Tamecka’s rants, she stopped folding the clothes and held her hand up to signal Tamecka to hush.
“I’m sorry, Tamecka,” she said, “but I just can’t find it in my heart to sympathize with you. What you keep telling me that’s wrong with Marcus is exactly what most other women would find right. Marcus is a good man. He doesn’t have any kids, he has a good legitimate job, doesn’t have a record, doesn’t live at home with his mama, looks nice, isn’t gay, and so on. I could keep going but I’m sure that you get the picture.
Tamecka said, “Not having any kids, a job, a record, or where a man stays doesn’t mean that he’s not a good man.”
“Fair enough,” Autumn replied. “I will put it this way then - he is a good man without the issues.”
Autumn went back to folding clothes, leaving Tamecka alone with her thoughts. She knew that Autumn was right. Everybody was right when it came to Marcus. The most obvious fact was that he was a better catch than ninety-five percent of the men in Elgin.
As Tamecka pouted and became lost in her thoughts, Autumn’s phone rang. Autumn casually rose to answer it. Tamecka knew that she really wanted to run to the phone but Autumn had to put on a show for her instead.
John and she were still dating but their relationship had been on the rocks during the past few weeks. Autumn had called her a week ago and made a teary confession that she and John had just had a big argument on the phone and she’d ended up hanging up on him. He hadn’t called her since that day and she was trying desperately not to call him. However, she’d broken down and called a couple of nights before but she’d gotten a busy signal and hadn’t tried since.
Tamecka knew that every time the phone had rung since their argument that Autumn hoped that it was John calling. Whenever she called Autumn, the phone barely got through the first ring before she answered. Tamecka could always hear the disappointment in her best friend’s voice when she found out that it wasn’t John who was calling.
Autumn slowly (but fast enough to make it before the answering machine picked up) strolled to the phone and answered midway through the fourth ring. Tamecka watched and listened to see if it was indeed John.
After Autumn said hello, a deflated look appeared on her face. Tamecka knew instantly that whoever was calling: it wasn’t John.
Tamecka heard Autumn exchange brief words with the caller regarding coming over and getting something. As Autumn was preparing to hang up the phone, she said, “Later, Peanut.”
“Peanut” was Patrick’s nickname that only Autumn and their mother used. At the possibility that he would be coming over, Tamecka decided that it was time for her to leave. Patrick still had an effect on her whether it was the mere mention of his name or a glance at one of the photographs that Autumn had around her house. She hadn’t seen him in almost two years thanks to a recent stint that he’d served in a prison downstate.
The memories of the night that she’d almost lost her virginity coincident with Autumn still played a repeat track in her mind. She didn’t know how she would react if he came in while she was there but the tingling sensation that was coming from between her thighs told her that the reaction wouldn’t be normal.
As she was gathering her things to go, Tamecka spotted a blouse that she’d let Autumn borrow. It was lying on top of a basket of recently washed clothes that hadn’t made it to the dryer yet.
“I’ve been looking for that blouse!” she exclaimed as she lifted it from the basket.
Autumn smiled sheepishly. Each of the women had clothes of the other’s that they’d borrowed at some point in time. Sometimes they kept the borrowed items so long that it was difficult to decipher whether or not it was their own.
Autumn said, “I think that just may be yours. Since we’re on the subject, can I get my stonewashed miniskirt back?”
Tamecka laughed and said, “We can trade. Once you dry this blouse, you can bring it over and then I will give you your skirt.”
“Okay. I have to run some errands anyway. I’ll drop it off.”
Tamecka said okay and hurried out of the door. Later on that night, when she thought back to that life changing moment, she would wish that she’d never asked for the blouse to be returned to her.
Tamecka was long gone by the time that Patrick made it to Autumn’s apartment. All of the clothes were now dry and Autumn was folding the last remaining pieces when he pounded on her door and yelled, “Open up! It’s the police!”
Autumn knew who was at her door. She could never understand why he did that when he considered the police his mortal enemy. He’d spent two years in the system and was having a hard time finding employment at that point in his life. At least that’s what he told her. She knew that he was still hanging with the same corrupt friends that he had before he was convicted and that he wasn’t very far from hustling again.
He’d asked her if he could borrow twenty dollars and she’d told him yes. She did almost anything that she could to keep her big brother out of trouble. It hurt her to see him locked up even though he’d broken the law and deserved it. Instead of saying no to his almost weekly requests to borrow money that he had no intention of ever paying back, she let him have it just so he wouldn’t obtain it by other means.
She let him inside and he hugged his sister with one of his long arms and then headed straight for her kitchen to raid the refrigerator. He left the smell of weed and beer in his wake. Autumn wrinkled her nose and sat back down in the living room to begin folding clothes again.
They talked to each other about nothing of importance as he sat at the kitchen table eating her food while she stayed in the living room. The phone rang again and Autumn jumped to answer it. She couldn’t care less if it was Patrick who saw her anxiety.
She said hello and a smile spread across the width of her face. She leaned against the wall and began toying with the cord as she spoke in a hushed tone.
Patrick knew who she was talking to. She had the same smile that she always had whenever she talked to Nerd Boy. He also knew that their conversation would be a while. He finished his sandwich and walked into the living room. He cleared his throat to get Autumn’s attention. When she turned to look at him, he held out his palm and pointed at it.
Autumn said into the phone, “Hold on.”
She went into her bedroom to get the money and in her good mood decided to give Patrick a little extra. That’s if he performed one small favor.
She returned to the living room and said, “I will give you ten more dollars if you do something for me.”
Patrick assumed that she wanted him to wash her car or something. At the thought of ten more dollars in his pocket, he was game. “What do I have to do?” he said, feigning a lack of interest.
“I need you to take this blouse and drop it off at Tamecka’s place for me. Do you remember her?”
He couldn’t help but remember who Tamecka was by name but her face wasn’t clear to him. Autumn said something about her almost every time that he was in Autumn’s presence for more than one minute. Making a delivery seemed easy enough to him though.
“Bet that,” he said. “But how am I supposed to get over there?”
“You can drive my car as long as you come straight back.” Autumn had quickly forgotten about the beer smell that he had on him.
“Okay. Where does she live?”
Autumn wrote down the address and gave him the blouse. She hurried back to the phone, apologized to John for keeping him on hold, and shooed Patrick away.
Patrick walked out already thinking about whom he could go see while he had access to a car. He was feeling good with the aid of a full stomach and money in his pocket. He got in Autumn’s Dodge Shadow and began searching through her tapes for something that he could cruise to. He found a Too Short tape and turned the music up louder than his sister had ever done.
He struggled to place Tamecka’s face as he drove. He barely remembered what had occurred between them. He knew that something had happened. Exactly what it was, whether it was just a kiss or a quickie, he wasn’t sure about. She was just another one of the countless conquests that he’d had in his life. Whatever had happened was because he’d known that she was interested in him. He gave up trying to remember and instead focused on how much of a profit he could make from the thirty dollars that he had in his possession.
When he made it to the apartment complex, he had no trouble spotting Tamecka’s brand new Blazer, a gift from her parents to their only child. It was parked in the stall designated for the apartment number that he’d been given and also had a personalized license plate that said MEKA71. he parked in the empty visitor stall beside her truck and hopped out of Autumn’s much smaller vehicle.
He went to the front of the secure building, searched for the apartment’s call button, and pressed it.
As Tamecka had driven home (a.k.a. Marcus’s apartment), she reflected on the things that had been said by Autumn. Their conversation hadn’t done anything for her state of mind. Autumn had reinforced the idea that letting Marcus go would be stupid and that she could only go down from there. She felt the constant pressure by all of the people who were on the outside looking in. As usual, she succumbed to the pressure by staying in a relationship that was only making her miserable.
There were some good men around, but just as Autumn had said, most of them had some issue or baggage that they carried wherever they went. The men, or boys, that she knew couldn’t offer her anything more than what they had between their legs. Without that part of their body, all the men that she knew would be lost and unable to hold even the simplest conversation.
At that thought, she began thinking about Patrick and how he would look now. A warm feeling began to rise within her. She was in the middle of visits from her monthly friend and it was at those times that her sexual libido increased threefold. The memory of Patrick was acting as a catalyst to send her hormones almost over the edge.
When she made it to Marcus’s apartment, he was still at work just as she knew he would be. She needed him at that moment for one thing and one thing only. His absence succeeded in frustrating her further and she decided to let off some steam by going running.
After running, walking, and then running some more, she still had that sexual urge. She would have to wait another three hours for Marcus to get off before she could get off. Until that time, she decided to take a warm shower and use her imagination.
She heard the intercom buzz in the middle of a wet daydream that was not just due to the water of the shower. She remembered that she’d told Autumn to come by and hurriedly jumped out of the tub. She threw a towel around her wet body and ran out of the bathroom and to the window to look in the parking lot for verification that Autumn was downstairs. She saw Autumn’s car beside hers and ran to the speaker.
She pressed the talk button and said, “Hey girl. Come on up. I was in the shower. I’ll unlock the door.” Before a reply could be made, she’d buzzed the security door, unlocked the apartment door, and was leaving a wet trail back to the bathroom.
Patrick tried to say something but Tamecka was gone too soon. He walked into the building and felt the slight arousal of an erection at the thought of her in the shower as he went up the stairs. When he made it to the door, it was unlocked just as she had promised and he walked in.
He could hear the sound of the shower and saw Tamecka’s wet footprints leading from the bathroom to the window, then to where he was standing, and back to the bathroom again. He surveyed the apartment for a couple of minutes looking for something that he could slip into his pocket. She has a nice place, he thought to himself. I could rest easy here and probably sport her ride. Instead of stealing something small, he decided that he would go for everything.
It never once occurred to him that she might have a man. Most of the pictures that were displayed in the living room were of her. In his arrogance and experience with numerous women who would gladly do anything for him, he assumed that if she was interested in him once, then she would be interested in him again. He began following Tamecka’s footprints to the bathroom.
The bathroom door wasn’t fully closed. When Patrick was close enough to reach and open it, the shower suddenly stopped and he could hear the shower curtain being opened. He paused and listened as Tamecka hummed a tune that was vaguely familiar to him.
After a few seconds of listening, he realized that she was humming Sweet Thing by Chaka Khan (or B Angie B at the time). He pushed the door open and said, “I like that song too.”
Tamecka was bending down drying her feet when he opened the door. Although her mind told her that Autumn’s voice sounded nothing like the one that she’d just heard, she still began to call Autumn’s name as she brought her eyes up and at the same time instinctively cover herself.
“Au-!” she began to exclaim but never made it past the first syllable. Her eyes almost jumped out of her head when she saw the hulking figure of Patrick filling the doorway.
She was too shocked to scream. Like a white girl in a scary movie, her voice left her and went on vacation when she most needed it, and the scream was caught in her throat.
Patrick said, “I brought this to you,” and held the blouse up. As he spoke, his eyes casually probed her body as if she was his wife. Tamecka felt naturally uneasy but that fire that she’d managed to calm was quickly flickering back to life inside her.
Her mouth went dry but another place, much lower, went in the opposite direction. Her mind lost its sense of time and place and she was transported back to the spring of 1987 as she felt Patrick’s eyes touch her body once again. His eyes met hers and she subconsciously felt her grip loosen on the towel that she was covering herself with.
Patrick spoke again because she could not. “Did I catch you at a bad time?” he asked. No answer came from Tamecka. “I will go if you want me to. Do you want me to go?” He held his eye contact with her as he talked, hypnotizing her as he had three years before.
When she didn’t answer again, he said, “I guess your silence means that I should go.” He turned and disappeared from Tamecka’s view. He walked slowly toward the door but he had no intention of leaving without a fight. After all was said and done, he didn’t.
Tamecka stood in the same place; the only movement of her body was the trembling of her knees. The fire inside was an inferno and she made the worst decision of her life. Before Patrick could make it all the way to the door, her voice abruptly returned and she was able to utter a choked, “Don’t go.”
Patrick did an about-face and walked back to the bathroom. He approached Tamecka and took the towel away from her without any resistance. He threw the towel on the floor and then dropped her blouse that he was still holding on top of it. Just as easy as it had been the first time: hardly any words were needed as he leaned down to kiss her.
Tamecka knew that she was wrong but she had no control over her actions. Her body was doing all the thinking for her. She felt Patrick gently guide her to the vanity and then lift her until she was sitting on its cold surface. Her hands went back to support herself and she knocked the items that had been resting there in disarray. As he kissed her, he grinded against her spot and she could feel his erection through his jeans. The feeling was driving her crazy.
He stopped kissing her and began to work his way down. He kissed and sucked her breasts, sending her mind even farther into the depths of madness.
She dimly heard his knee pop as he knelt all the way down tracing a line with his tongue. He threw her left leg over his shoulder and went to work with his tongue tasting her sweetest spot. She hadn’t had that feeling since their first encounter and it felt as if Patrick was starting where it all had once abruptly ended.
His tongue, lips, teeth, and head motions combined to send her soaring to a height that she’d only been to once before. Thanks to him again. She exploded for the second time in her life. Thanks to him again. She felt her body fly in a thousand different directions as she began moaning and then screaming his name to thank him out loud, again and again.
As he worked on her, he’d undone his belt and pulled his sweatpants and boxers down. When he heard the change in the timbre of her exaltations, he lifted his body and deftly plunged deep into her.
Tamecka’s flew open in surprise and then fluttered closed again as she felt the thrust of a man that was shaped differently than what she was accustomed to. Patrick’s different curve and contours touched parts of her that had become neglected and she lost herself again. She wanted to stop and tell him to put on a condom, saran wrap, or a bread sack, but she decided to give him a few more strokes so that he could give her a lot more pleasure.
Patrick didn’t have four kids (that he knew of) for nothing. He was a pro with his tongue because he was never able to practice long in other areas. He was a “less than minute man” and if Tamecka had known better, she would have known that a few strokes were all it ever took for him to get his.
He let go inside her. In Tamecka’s sexual insanity, she didn’t feel his pulsing throb as he came. She was almost at that height where she would explode again when the slam of the apartment door sent her crashing back down to earth and reality.