by Verna Mae Bentley-Krause

I remember Bobo courting Bertha - boy, they were sweethearts. Everyday he walked her home from school, carrying her books under skinny arms and a mile wide smile. His head swelled - it's a wonder he didn't tumble over himself. Bertha relish his courtship and with dancing, big brown eyes - brags continuously to her friends. "Bobo I loves you" inspired him to attempt conquering the world - shops in and around Coconut Grove. He boldly walks in and steals anything that isn't nailed down. He hates the shop owners, and always outsmarts or cheat them. If a shop owner is on Bobo's side of town - at sundown, he is in trouble: Many boys abused him.

Before the big mirrors to stop shoplifters, most poor people having no rights and meager pay - stole. The impoverished exist by cheating the wealthy and the wealthy exist by cheating the poor. The inhabitants of Bobo's Coconut Grove are privileged with abundant surroundings. They linger over day under huge mango, tamberine, and sea-grape trees. Nightly they stand on the corner of Grand and Douglas avenue joking and shooting the breeze. Every incident worth bragging is the corner headlines. The Tikka, Blue-Chip, Jack's Bar and Poor-Man are packed every evening. In Coconut Grove few people wear watches, but always have time for fun - stress is foreign to them. They hear birds singing over day, watch butterflies sucking sap from Gardenia and Hibiscus flowers. They eat Chinese cherries, guavas, sapadilly and hundreds of fruits freshly picked. The mating call of crickets, and lighting bugs glowing adds magic. The people are drunk with gentle breezes of honeysuckle, night jasmine and dark skys with millions of stars. To insure smaller kids remain within calling distance; adults occasionally dressed as the Boogie-Man or other monsters chased them at dust.

Sex and laughter are the driving forces in the Grove. Young ladies with budding breasts - live for courtship, dressing in airtight minis, halter and tube tops. They parade up and down the streets bouncing their well shaped behinds. The tragic, according to the wealthy - too many babies and wasted time. Babies without fathers are future thieves - this concern the wealthy, but Bobo and neighbors don't care. With all the humping, bumping and dumping, babies are born and deserted, so what: People lived, loved and died.

Bertha's courtship lasted about six months before the authorities jailed Bobo. Her stomach protruding before her ribs, she matures overnight, drop out of school and works two jobs. Her man needs a proper lawyer, and money to keeps inmates from harassing him. She lost her cherry at thirteen, got pregnant at fourteen and survives Bobo's sentence of five years in the stockade for armed robbery of the liquor store. Her love life is reduced to a quick kiss through metal bars, dreaming on fallen stars. The bimonthly visits to keep life in a dead relationship takes it toll on her heart and pocket. Every time she leaves Bobo waving from behind bars she gets cries. The bigger her stomach gets the harder to kiss Bobo, so she sticks her tongue out as far as it will go, twisting it as if trying to lick her ear. They faithfully kiss sideways twice a month, on the same day and time until Bertha no longer fit in her mother's Thunderbird. Nine months is a lifetime for Bertha under the roof with an angry mother. No one sees the pain leave her heart and go to her brain - outwardly she acts the same. No one is aware of the disappointment of Bobo's absence at the birth of their first born, but the hurts move out of sight, inside a teeny hole deep within. It is enough to drive Bertha crazy until she looks in the face of her daughter.

Years passed as Marie grows to resemble her father and develop his character. Bertha gives her everything, but to no avail. The child grows as dandelions among roses - the more she receives the more selfish she becomes. Marie's selfishness creates new holes around Bertha's heart. She is ungrateful and lies as fast as a cat winks. Looking into her puppy eyes one is deceived - unaware she steals the sweetness out of sugar without breaking a smile. Bertha promise to put her out if she doesn't straighten up. She wonders how is it possible Marie has her father's ways? He was incarcerated most of her childhood and got out long enough to get a little loving- let it go to his head - rob someone, back to jail. Four or five weeks, out of 10 years he played daddy, but Marie gives him so much love she is void of it. The poor child hangs onto the memory of the five dollar Bobo once gave her. Bertha brought Marie hundreds of toys, but she plays with Barbie, Ken and friends which her dad stole from the Zaire department store.

These trivialities send Bertha to the loony pen, but she is only there for a short time. The Marriott Hotel owners get her out. They flash money and give testimonies that Bertha is not crazy; just Bertha. The owners know Bertha spent years, breaking her butt and busting her brains to build an empire within an empire. Pouring the passion for a man she can't have into her job. Her hotel won the good housekeeping award for the past four years.

Bobo is out of jail for a year when Marie is ten. Bertha, a Christian, forgives him enough to attempt recapturing lost years and awakening butterflies. Her attempt to give Marie a brother is successful. Bobo stick his chest out in search of work - proud of his expected son. Prison life hadn't broken his spirit, though sometimes he wanted to give up. He took any jobs that paid enough to buy groceries for his family. Bertha is happy he is paying some of the bills; she boasts to her friends. He determines to keep Bertha smiling, so steals an unattended purse. Officer Clark arrests him the next day. In court Marie threatens to kill the judge if he sentenced her daddy. Bertha takes Bobo's sentence routinely, she has a home, a reliable car and major credit cards. She will enjoy having her baby, and showing gratitude visits Bobo once a month plus sends twenty dollars on Christmas.

Bertha's second baby, Bo has glowing eyes, and chubby cheeks identical to Bobo's elementary photos. On Bo's fifth birthday, he and his dad connect. Bobo daily visits save Bertha baby sitter's pay and keeps her bed warm. She prays the new joy remains, but Bobo starts dipping and dabbling in coke, and hauling off her goods, whatever he can tote!

Poor Bertha settled in comfort doesn't notice half of her household is gone until one night she attempts to watch a Shirley Caesar concert. She discovers there is no TV, no video, no radio, toaster, or blender, only her engagement ring and the watch she sleeps in, remain. She is forced to make a decision that kills everything that wasn't dead, within.

"I'm sorry it came to this, but you gots to go. How can you steal from the hand that feeds you? I gave you my youth and two bad-ass children! I guess you think ‘cause you gives me a little; you can take what I worked a lifetime for! And ‘nother thing! I gots somebody else! I don't want to see you ‘round here anymore! When you wants to see your son, call my job! I will bring him to mama's! If I ever see you!" Bertha stand in the front door blocking Bobo. She exhales watching him walk away though the pain and disappointment consume her. "How could I let him bring me so low?" She stays awake nightly; heartburn, circles under the eyes and doubling in size are a few of the side effects of a broken heart. She hates herself and walks over day as if it were night.

A remnant of Bertha's and Bobo's love remains in Bo. The few months Bo spent under his father's arms are unforgettable. He continues to call his dad's name despite his mother's anger. But, he learns to keep his mouth full of food muffing the cries of his heart. A couple of months without his father Bo's cheeks nearly hide his eyes, and three rolls surround his waist.

Bertha hopes to make Bobo jealous enough to give up coke and come home. Shortly after kicking him out she moves some deadbeat in without changing pants. Tony goes to work on Bo when she goes to the Marriott: Petting and rubbing as a friend, but molesting him!

In school the children call Bo fat; boys refuse to play with him because he has tits, and the girl's name him, crybaby. His teacher swears he has a learning disability. Now his suffering is just beginning, and he will suffer more than his dad hooked on coke, and Bertha with a dead valentine in the middle of her chest. He will suffer more than Marie with two children. The first week of third grade he is sent home for molesting a smaller boy in the toilet. When asked why, he raised his shoulders to his ears, blurting, "I don't know!" Bo thinks molesting is natural after frequent molestings. Bertha spanked Bo that day for all the pain he and his father caused.

The authorities investigate after seeing Bo's bruised body and discover Tony. They insist on putting Bo in a foster home unless Tony is immediately evicted, and Bertha agrees to psychological treatment.

Bertha works 18 hours daily except Sunday - she stays in church, letting them lay hands on Bo and casting out evil spirits. She put her faith in the pastor and deliverance service to rid Bo of demons. Bo loathes his mother; she sent his daddy away, and the church services.

His resistance to three hours of sitting in church as people jump around, shouting, and falling on the floor is evil. His attempts to molest other kids, and talking to himself proves to Bertha he has an evil spirit. she does not know Bo is possessed with father longings and thinks if only his mother give Bobo another chance, he will change. His lack of understanding the hate Bertha feel towards his father keeps them at opposite ends. One day he will run away.

"If I catch you on the same side of the street with him, I'm going to skin you alive! That man has not done a thing for you since birth!" Bertha gets a restraining order against Bobo: It will not stop him from walking Bo to school or waiting for him after school. Mrs. McCray sees improvement in Bo's grade and attitude, so help him keep his dad a secret.

Bertha credits the change in Bo to the weekly laying on of hands ceremony and prayers. But, she knows Bo is getting better because of his dad. She envies Bobo and disdains her ungrateful child, but seeing Bo progress closes her eyes and mouth.

A month after seeing his dad Bo spells his name, knows his home address and telephone number. Bo is the teacher's pet and a "B" student. Everything is great between father and son, and if Bobo stay on track, maybe he can get his family back. Bertha gets the restraining order revoked, in matrimonial hope. Her financial status tempts Bobo on one side and Bo on the other; she is bound to walk down the marriage lane.

The lives of Bo and his father is as imperfect as it gets, but love connects them. Bobo is not tempted to rob or do anything to endanger seeing his son. He checks into the YMCA and enrolls in a drug center vowing not to allow his emotions or lust to overrule. Bobo's parole officer helped him apply for a summer job with the Mayflower moving company. He may take Bo alone on the weekends. He and Bo traveling - a dream comes true, so he invites Bo and Bertha to the Carver theater to share the good news. She cleaned and perfumed expecting a ring; a ring will stop the gossip of being Bobo's fool.

"Bert I am glad you came along; I got something to ask you." Bertha's eyes bulge, "I say yes, whatever it is!"

"Really, you don't know what I want to ask."

"It doesn't matter; my answer is still yes! We waisted so much time and made lots of mistakes, but Bo and I need you. I say yes!''

Bobo look at Bertha and Bo smiling.

"I intend to drive for Mayflower; they need long distance drivers. It will be great to take my boy along, on the weekends. I can show him the nation."

"W-w-what do you mean show him the nation? Is Miami too small? NO! You are not taking my son anywhere without me! I-I thought you would ask something else! I don't want him being a jail bird like you!"

"You said YES to whatever I ask! Don't go back on your word!"

"I-I, y-you, I-I thought you would ask something ‘bout US!"

"You already ask me about US a million times! I'm talking about my son, if you don't mind!"

I'm talking about him too: He is just as much my son as he is yours! I don't want him traveling without me, and that's the bottom line! ‘nother thing I will take and get him from school. Restraining orders can't STOP YOU! BET I CAN!"

The parole officer makes arrangements for Bobo to leave Coconut Grove until Bertha cools down.

"Sir, I understand you, but you don't understand me! My son needs me, and I need him! How in the world am I going to see him if I'm not in the Grove? Hell, I'm here and can't see him!"

Bobo look out of the window praying for a safe landing. A slight smile thinking how Bo always hugged him tightly until he begged for relief. Sorrows replace his smile as the narrow escape of Bertha's marriage proposal and outstretched arms chills him. He exhales knowing he can never meet her expectation. Yes, he felt the pain in Bo's large, watery eyes, but must leave Miami or risk incarceration. This time he will make it, his son depends on him. Bobo review his life through the turbulence. Yes, he owes Bertha a great deal; she gave up her youth to nature his children. He is grateful beyond expression, but hates the way she looks. Her Coca-Cola figure is replaced by a size twenty; she speaks with thunder, and has a mustache. Her once flawless skin is covered in blackheads, now seeing her kills his passion. Contrarily, prison workouts keep his six-pack tight.

He arrives in Dulles a bit shaken, but hearing his sister's call forget himself. Shirley hugs him, shouting and laughing. "Oh Bobo how was your flight? Boy, you doing something right. You look better than new money - honey! You ready for a good time?"

"Well, I'm glad I look good to you, say, you don't look bad yourself. I would look a whole lot better if I wasn't hiding from Bertha and that stupid restraining order. Man, sure glad to stand still for a moment; I've been running like a fox. I refuse to let a piece of paper stop me from being with my son; nothing is going to stop me. I can't believe how mean Bertha is. I plan to get Bo up here for the summer, and she's not getting him back."

"Sorry, but if Bo come for the summer he will definitely return to Miami. You are a new addition; I don't think Tom will go for your son. Maybe he will consent for the summer, but that's all. Come on we must go to deck #1."

Bobo smile ear to ear entering his room, "Is this all mine? Man, it's so big I might get lost in here. Ha ha! I love sliding glass doors, and the forest! Yea, I love it. I hope getting a job will be this easy!"

Two weeks after Bobo's departure Bertha assures Shirley Bo may visit, providing he is obedience and get good grades. Bo's grades improve when he hears the news. But, the absence of his father and the constant asthma attacks weakens him. He retires to bed at six, hoping to hurry summer and waits for Saturdays when his dad calls. Hallo and goodbye are the only words Bertha hears from Bo. Worried, she contact the social worker after watching him converse with his dad as if present. The aid spend a half of day with Bo before concluding "Miss. William Bo needs to see his father. I tried talking with him, but he only answer after conversing with his dad. I am sure he will stop when he sees his father." She paused then looking into Bertha's eyes continue. "Bo has to be with his father. I think his health, and sanity depends on it

"Oh God! Please let Bobo be successful even if we don't get married. Lord, just give him a chance to get this boy off my hands. Please Lord, I'm so tired! Maam, Bo's father is no longer in Miami."

Bobo works for a maintenance and landscape firm and meets Jezebel. Her long curly black hair fascinates him. Her deep olive skin begs seduction, her flashing eyes see everywhere, but straight. She looks into Bobo soul and divine he needs her. He; green as grass, falls head-over-hills in love with her. Jezebel snapped him up as a snake snaps up a frog, he marries her with three children. Whatever she spit in his eyes must have been strong, it blinded his heart. Bobo and Jezebel rent a large apartment for their family. His support and care of a beautiful wife and three girls are distracting - months later he realizes Bo is in Miami.

Bo talks to his dad continually though the phone no longer rings. But, he and the moon knew his dad was present and the three of them talked nightly.

Three months in Virginia Bobo's senior sister dies; he must attend the funeral. Bo insists on meeting him at the airport, he will hold his dad and never let go. One week Bobo walks his son to and from school, take him shopping, and three times to the movie. He promise Bo no one or nothing will prevent him calling at least once a week. This time he will convince Jezebel to accept his children as he accepted hers, but one call from Jezebel and Bobo leaves.

Bertha and Bobo's sisters claim Jezebel used voodoo to conjure his quick departure. They agreed it was a wonder he wasn't walking on his head after eavesdropping on his telephone conversation. Christmas comes with Bo praying to Santa for his dad; he gets a phone call. The sadness in his voice convinced Bobo to do something fast. Around January, he bribes Jezebel to receive his children. She doesn't want him around Bertha so agree to let them visit for the summer. In June Marie drops three children off at her grandmother's house and leave Miami.

At the Dulles Airport she is met by her father and step-mother. She hates Bobo's wife, but running towards them show her teeth. Jezebel also hates Marie; she looks so much like Bertha and Bobo, and is shaped like an hourglass. Jezebel is now aware the two babies she secretly aborted would have looked better than Marie. She is more attractive than Bertha, maybe one day she will give Bobo a child.

Marie's arrival signals the end of peace; Jezebel complains constantly. Daily, after work Bobo undresses and lay across the bed, listening at her shouting about Marie. He closes his eyes until she calms down then attempts to talk to her, but she stops her ears and tightens her lips as a wooden indian.

"Listen woman I don't know what I did wrong, but you sure acting funny. You say you like Marie, but you been acting funny ever since she got here. You have not spoken one nice word for months, and we got ice in bed! If you like Marie why don't you show it? Talk is cheap!"

Jezebel lips break the ice, but her frozen heart convinces Bobo Marie's selfishness is the problem.

"Don't you remember how nice it was before she moved in? Remember we laughed about everything. Honey you know I love that child, but she just won't accept me and the girls. What should we do, beg her for love? Or maybe we should just lay down and be a foot mat for your precious daughter! No, she has to go, or were're moving out!" After pouring out her heart Jezebel close her legs tighter than the walls of Jericho.

Bobo is a prisoner at home, trying to balance love between his children and new family. The guilt of not being there for Marie and Bo hangs over him burdening his heart and concealing his pearly teeth.

Summer approaches as Bobo lament disclosing his plan of getting Bo. There is no way he will leave his son under the domain of Bertha's new Christian boyfriend. He tips around Jezebel as if she were a rare piece of art, and gives her children extra money to win their love. Jezebel stop shouting long enough to hear Bobo's thoughts; after hearing about Bo, she makes his life hell. Marie move out, but not before threatening to cut her stepmother to pieces and throw her over the balcony

Jezebel cleans her house thoroughly insuring nothing remain from her stepdaughter, but before clearing her mind of Marie - Bo stands in the Dulles Airport, a spitting image of Bobo, with chocolate and grease stains on his new J.C. Penny, blue, double breasted suit. The satisfaction of hugging Bo brings tears to Bobo's eyes.

"Son, it's wonderful to see you! Man, you almost tall as me. Hope your flight was better than mine." Bobo hug his son for an eternity, enjoying a sacredment of fatherhood until Jezebel interrupts.

"Hum... Hum, we need to get his luggage." The ice in her voice did not interrupt father and son.

"She can bite her tongue and keep smiling; this our summer together! You my blood, and I'm going to take care of you!"

Jezebel grins disguising smoke; the stains on Bo's suit, and the grease around his mouth boils her blood. She hates his fat jaws, and dark skin. Yes, he may live under the same roof with her for summer providing he doesn't touch her or her girls.

Bobo doesn't see the hate seeping out of Jezebel's eyes, or the grimace replacing her smile. He spent too much time with Playboy bunnies and other magazine women. He never made major decisions, nor accepted responsibility. His ghetto charm of bribing women into bed or spending their money, works: Ignorance is his friend, and pride his guide. Bertha claims he is not worth what the birds left on the clothesline. But, minus his children, he is a king to Jezebel.

Bo days are filled with fun, food, and money. There are several boys in the building his age and the refrigerator and freezer are stuffed. Every morning before going to work Bobo wakes him with a kiss on the forehead and pocket change. "Son here's a little something for you."

"Daddy I'm sooo happy! Can I stay? Please, please don't send me back to mama and Henry! They got a new baby! Please daddy let me stay with you for ever and ever! I promise not to make trouble!"

"I already promised to send you home after summer. Maybe you can convince your mother - she might listen to you."

One day Jezebel saw Bo stuffing his face and got sick; he must go. "I do not want him around my children, eating like a pig!"

Bo's paradise turns to hell as Jezebel and her daughter's torture him. But, their mistreatment does not deter his love and he never complains. He happily empty the trash, keeps the floor spotless, and smiles with his new family ignoring their reaction.

Once Bobo was home ill, and received a telephone call from the basketball coach wanting to know why Bo missed training the past two weeks.

"Hallo this is coach Jones. Am I speaking with Bo's father. This is the fourth call. Is your son going to be on the team?" Jezebel lied, she forgot about the calls, but suddenly her heart poured from her lips, and she stands with hands on her hips.

"Hell! He is not my child! You know he is missing something upstairs. Somebody messed his head up! It's enough work keeping up with mine!" Her eyes pierce accusingly.

"Well, I guess you are right! It's my fault, I was wrong thinking you would love mine the way I love yours. Forgive me for imposing on you, but didn't you say you will love my children the same way I love yours? I guess Marie was right: You were just pretending. Yea, now I see you!" Bobo calmed down, not wanting to get kicked out with Bo to witness his downfall.

Every morning for the past two weeks Bo left shortly after his father, supposedly going to the Verrick Park Youth Center. But he walks towards his dad's job until exhausted, then he retraced his steps and went home. After weeks of not reaching his dad he ask strangers, to take him towards the big golden ball (water tower) where his Dad worked. A good samaritan stopped and seeing Bo a minor, drove him to the police department. They called Bobo to come and get his son.

"Bo why was you hitchhiking? Suppose you get in the car with someone who don't like children! You are no longer in the Grove: In Virginia bad things happen to children everyday! That's why your coach called. I thought you loved playing basketball what happened? Man, how am I going to keep you up here if you make problems? Let this be your last time! When you leave the house make sure you go where you supposed to go! Do you understand me?"

Bo wanted to spend a few minutes with his dad alone. He wants to sit on the fish creek and see who makes the biggest waves when they throw rocks in the water. He wanted to go to Burger King and watch, A Thousand and One Dalmation with his dad. "Daddy I just want to be with you."

Jezebel opened the letter from the police department and flipped. "Why didn't you tell me your son went to jail! Like father like son that's why I do not trust him! I hope he does't steal from us!"

"Woman, what you talking about? Bo did not steal anything, he was hitchhiking! The boy is scared to come home! Why?"

"Don't blame me for your son's problems! I told you he is not right, upstairs. I have not done anything bad to him. He is just crazy!"

Bo plays extra hard on the basketball court and stays in his room when home. He loses weight without complaining though hungry. Jezebel always left his lunch on the counter before locking the kitchen door. Bo is in trouble if he misses a meal; he goes to bed hungry. His etiquettes change: Jezebel takes away any food he put around his mouth instead of in it.

There is no help for Bo; his father work two jobs and his stepmother hate him. He is afraid to upset her; she can kick him out as she did Marie. Every night he sleep in terror of separation from his father. Bo is an orphan with a roof over his head, so he closes his bright inquisitive eyes in acceptance of what's put upon him. A few moments with his dad before bedtime gives him courage to face each day. He welcomed a family that didn't give a nod of approval or a kind word: Virginia is better than being with Bertha. He remembers her going crazy and beating him mercilessly, sometimes he couldn't go to school for a week.

Bobo figured leaving Bo with his new family and seeing him smiling, they were bonding. Four weeks without complaints, he pats himself on the back, unaware of Jezebel's hate list with Bo's name topping it. He didn't notice Bo lost weight until he took him shopping.

"Good son, I see you lost lots of weight. You look almost as good as me. I told you basketball was good. I used to play two or three times a week." He raise his shirt "See you going to look like this by the end of summer."

Jezebel gives Bo the same affection as one gives a stone and the plan to get rid of him by summer's end preoccupy her thoughts. She counts the days for his departure and promise her little darlings the time of their life when he leaves. She blames Bo for not leaving the house after work. He broke dishes, stopped the toilet, and burned the wallpaper behind the toaster. She refuses to be seen publicly with him. "It is difficult keeping him out of my friend's sight, but we will not have card games or grill parties until he leaves."

Centuries ago, Jezebel's family lived in palaces where the common man dared not enter. Her ancient royal blood line prohibited accepting Bo. In India, he is considered an untouchable.

Bo spoke his heart when he and his dad were alone. "Daddy I'm so happy you got me ‘way from mama. She is crazy! Sometimes she just started beating me for no reason. Once I tried to change baby Ree diaper; mama rushed in the room screaming don't touch my baby; she beat me with her fist. Daddy I never want to go back to Mama. Please daddy, even if you go back to jail, I want to be with you. Daddy I don't care how your wife treats me; least she don't beat on me. Please daddy, I just want to be with you! If I say that ‘round mama she gets mad, and say I'm just like my dame daddy."

"Son don't worry about a thing; I'm going take care of you. I know how to handle that woman of mine. She sound worse than she is, but I'm the man of the house! And if I don't argue with her, she'll cool down."

Bo falls asleep in his father arms. Bobo hear the door close but thinks nothing of it; he never suspected Jezebel or her children to spy on him.

Midsummer found Bo having the time of his life, at the swimming pool as his daddy worked. Jezebel encourages Bo's going to the pool, but won't allow her daughters to go without adult supervision. No one can blame her if haphazardly Bo drowns; it is easier than convincing Bobo to send him home. Yes, she swayed lots of Bobo's decisions, but he is no fool. He will pridefully refuse if she demands Bo leaves.

Bo learned to tell time on the Mickey Mouse watch his dad brought him. During the week, he rises early to walk out with his father and goes to Sam's house. He usually ate breakfast at Sam waiting for him to dress. They play as little boys, without adult interference. After the pool Bo has much fun at Sam until five thirty. Then he shut down as a machine, hurriedly put his shoes on and runs home to spend a few minutes with his dad. Strangely, Bo is on time with or without a watch, so around five often Sam offers a game of throwing to the line, tick-tack-toe, or marbles in hopes of keeping Bo preoccupied. But no game, no sweets, baseball cards, or anything will keep Bo from meeting his father in the parking lot.

June rolled into August and Bobo waited on his son's school transfer papers. Sherri, the oldest daughter signed for the brown envelope containing Bo's papers weeks earlier. Jezebel opens the letter, and is shock that Bobo attempts to keep Bo for school. Her evil mind, plans and plot as tough Bo was an enemy. She offers her daughters a trip to Disneyland if they come up with a way to get rid of him before school starts.

Mama snakes have baby snakes, and baby snakes are equally dangerous. Sherri is the first to come up with a plan after the great promise. "Mama all we got to do is pretend Bo tried to molest me! Everybody knows he's sick." Sherri's pride came out of her mouth and sat upon her breast to watch her mother digest the idea.

"Yes that is a great idea! Now you are thinking! But, we will say he tried to rape baby Jean. You know Bobo is crazy about that girl."

Bo never questioned why he is encouraged to play with baby Jean, without supervision. He happily receives acceptance, but ironically, his happiness last a couple of weeks.

Bobo and Jezebel wake the neighborhood, shouting. Bo lay in bed listening at his dad defending him. There has to be a mistake; he did nothing wrong. But, no matter what the problem is, he and his dad will straighten it out at breakfast.

Saturday mornings usually Bo watch TV, eat cereal or wait for his dad to make pancakes. This morning he stays in bed, hoping his dad comes to him. His breath is heavy because of recent asthma attacks, so he breathed through his mouth, slow and easy; not to disturb others. He longs to hug his dad, to break the silence. A couple of sprays of asthma medicine calm him.

Something is wrong, almost ten o'clock and his dad is not in the kitchen. Bo jumped up running out of his room. He check the bathroom and kitchen before heading to his father's bedroom door.

"Maybe they did something bad to daddy, I don't hear him." Near the master bedroom he smells cigarette smoke.

Bobo stand on the balcony pulling long on his cigarette as Bo approach the balcony door rushing towards him with open arms. "Careful son, don't get burn. Just finishing a cigarette before stating breakfast. You hungry?"

Bo looks at his dad then bury his head in the middle of Bobo's ribs squeezing with all his might and wishing to hold him forever.

"Daddy I heard you screaming last night. Did I do something bad? What's the matter, I thought they liked me. I didn't do nothing wrong! You can ask Sherri, she let me play with Baby Jean and said I was a good brother. What's wrong? What did I do? I won't do it again: Just tell me! Please daddy, tell them not to be mad at me; please, please give me ‘nother chance!"

Bobo know Bo is innocent, but his heart is divided. He will never have peace as long as Bo is with him. He turns to his son with a heavy heart. "Bo please don't lie to me: I can't help if you lie to me! Do you understand.

"Yes sir."

"Everybody is saying Sherri caught you trying to molest baby Jean!

Is it true? Look at me son when I talk to you! Didn’t sleep a wink last night. Man, I don’t believe you tried to hurt her: I want to hear your side of the story! What happened?"

With his heart pounding, eyes blinded with tears and asthmatic breathing, he began. "Daddy, I know I did some bad things ‘fore, but I swear on a stack of Bibles, I didn’t do anything to baby sister. When her diaper needed changing I ALWAYS called Sherri to do it. Daddy I love my baby sister! Daddy you got to believe me; I’m not lying!" Bo drops his head until Bobo gently lifts it. But looking in his fathers eyes he sees fear. He pumps asthma spray in his mouth then slide to the floor. as a piece of paper.

"Son you have nothing to be afraid of, get up and hold your head up high! After we finish breakfast, get dress, we going fishing."

Three weeks later Bo is still in Virginia sitting under his dad’s arm. They watched Bugs Bunny when suddenly Jezebel entered the room carrying a bucket of boiling water. Seeing the steam Bobo sprang from the couch, pulling his son under him. Bo has a few minor blisters on his arms, but Bobo has second-degree burns on his heels, and back. "Bo you okay?" He released his son in pursuit of Jezebel. She threatened to call the police if he didn’t stop running against the bedroom door.

"You can call the Army, but nothing going to stop me. Open the door before I kick it down!"

Jezebel didn’t mind a few slaps - it was a small price to get rid of Bo. She and her family gladly serve Bobo keeping him preoccupied.

Bertha is irate, she sent Bo’s school papers to Virginia, in hopes of getting rid of him. "I promise I will give him up for adoption: He is not coming back here!"

Bo cannot adjust to living without his dad. A month in Miami without school and daily abused, he withdraws. His Asthma attacks worsen, and Bertha swears they are Bo's way of punishing her Miss Mattie called the authorities after seeing Bo’s swollen eyes. The state takes Bo from Bertha and places him in the Bellamy Center for unwanted children.

Bo is eleven and full of mistrust his only friend is the night maintenance man. Charlie talks to Bo and takes him fishing. He treats Bo to Kentucky Fried Chicken or Burger King and allows him to spend the night. Bo look forward to the bubble baths followed by warm oil massages. Since meeting Charlie Bo is partly happy, and though still a little confused he is not alone.

In a couple of years we will know more about Bo, but he needs time to grow. Be assured we will keep you posted.

Boby Verna Mae Bentley-Krause

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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