What do you do when your child cries to you that she doesn’t want to involve the police because she doesn’t want to be the poster child for a child rape case? You wrestle the phone out her naïve little hands and call the got-damn officers anyway!
“Mom don’t…. mom please don’t!”
“Why did you call me in here if you didn’t want me to call the police?”
“I thought you were going to call someone else to come and get us!”
“To go where?!?” Times like this reminded me just how much of a child she truly was.
“9-1-1 what’s your emergency?”
“Yes, I need an officer at 16—”
I didn’t even get to finish the address when the door flew open and in stormed my father. He snatched the phone from my ear and chunked it into a wall.
“HOW DARE YOU DEFY US WHEN WE’RE TRYING TO PROTECT YOU! WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN YOU DO THIS? NOT ONLY WILL THEY TAKE TIMAYA, THEY WILL TAKE CATINA TOO! IT WIL BE ALL OVER THE FRONT PAGE! SCANDAL IN THE PASTOR’S FAMILY! SEX! LIES! PEDOPHILES! YOU SEE WHAT THEY’RE DOING TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH! YOU WANT THAT TO HAPPEN HERE?”
“I cannot believe you would put your church and your reputation before family!” I argued passionately.
“I AM NOT PUTTING MY CHURCH AND MY REPUTATION BEFORE MY FAMILY! I’M PUTTING GOD BEFORE MY FAMILY!”
“STOP LYING!! THIS IS NOT ABOUT GOD AND YOU KNOW IT!’ I ran up in my father’s face like I was looking for a fight. This whole “protect Timaya’s reputation” suggestion was bullshit. This was about them.
“What is going on in here!” The door flew open and Merline appeared in the room with Catina in tow, Derrick Michael trailed not far behind.
“I’m not going through this again.” I moved towards my balcony door. “You either let me walk out that door…” I pointed towards the door to my room, “…or I will go over this balcony….AND YOU KNOW I WILL.”
I threatened, non-verbally reminding them of the two times I’d done so before. It wasn’t a bad fall, just enough to need medical attention, and cause a scene.
“Go ahead.” Lisa came hobbling around the corner, holding onto the wall. Her face was swollen, and she appeared to have a busted eye. “Then we can lock your ass up in the psycho ward where your crazy ass belongs…”
“So that you can spin the story? Oh, hell no, if I go over that balcony you better believe everyone’s secrets are coming over with me; and I’m gone let ‘em all spill out.”
As I spoke, Derrick Michael moved to Lisa’s aid, pissing me off even more.
“Derrick…” I turned to address the father of my children. “Why are you allowing this? She’s your flesh and blood and he just…just… VIOLATED her! WHAT KIND OF MAN ARE YOU?!?!” I spat across the room. Derrick grimaced, but he didn’t offer a response.
“What they’re doing is right. I don’t want my daughter’s name, or our family name, ruined by such a scandal. Plus, just think of what it’ll do to your reputation as head of the marriage ministry.”
“Derrick Michael….” I lowered my voice, “do you really think I give two FUCKS about the marriage ministry? I DON’T EVEN GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THIS MARRIAGE!”
“What did I tell you about your lang—” DING DONGGGGG!!!! The doorbell interrupted my father’s reproof. I quickly moved towards the balcony to see who was outside. It was an officer…and…Ameya?
“OH! THANK GOD! OFFICER! OFFICER UP HERE! HELP ME! THEY WON’T LET ME OUT!”
I couldn’t see the officer – only the car – but the mere mention of a police presence was enough to send my father, Derrick, and Merline flying out the room and (presumably) downstairs.
“Aye….” Ameya yelled up. “You good, sis?”
“NO!” I yelled and ran back into the room, so I could go downstairs; but Timaya stepped into my path and extended her arms to block the door.
“Timaya, what are you doing? MOVE!”
“Timaya, this is not up for discussion. MOVE.”
“MOM! Listen…listen please! If…if you do this…y-y-you know they will kick me out of school…w-what about my scholarships? What about the Carver program? MOM!! Please! Papa is right, I would never live this down!” She pleaded her case.
“Do you want to know what you’ll never live down? Selling out your true self to protect some version of you everyone wants you to be!!” I spoke from experience.
“Maybe you should just hear her out. The child is wiser than you think.” Lisa lazily chimed in from the bed, where she’d made herself comfortable. You could tell she’d been through a fight and come out on the losing side; not that I felt bad. She deserved every lick; hell, she needed a thousand more.
“Maybe you should shut the fuck up.” I wouldn’t even acknowledge her with a glance. “…and while you’re at it, don’t even speak…no, don’t even look my child’s way. You can get your ass up and go too.”
“Iaint doing a’damn thang right now!” She slurred her words like a drunk woman. “I’m going to lay right here like Dr. Henry ordered and let these drugs do their thang!”
Lisa threw a hand in the air and rolled across the bed…clearly under the influence of some prescription drug. Ahh, that explained it.
I leaned in close and whispered, “You better be glad there’s an officer downstairs or I’d smother your ass where you lay.”
“YOU AINT GONE DO SHITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT” Lisa sang in a familiar funny tone and started to laugh. I ignored her and returned my attention to Timaya who was still blocking the bedroom door.
“Timaya. Move out of my way, before I move you myself.”
“Mom. Just…hear me out.” She used her hands to help articulate each word.
“Mom. Please, just hear her out…please.” Catina spoke up from where she sat huddled in the corner of the room. I didn’t even realize she was still in the room.
“I don’tttt want to beeeee a spectacle! I didn’t say anything when all of this was started because I was ashamed so what makes you think I want to—”
“She LYINNNN, sheain’ say nothin’ ‘cause she liked it!” Lisa volunteered.
“Aunt Lisa, please stop.” Catina put her hands in her head as if she was two seconds from losing her shit.
“Shittttt…..she d-did!” Lisa continued talking with an intoxicated voice, “Sheain’t as innocent asy’all thank! Da apple ain’t fall far from dat freaky-deeky tree!” She laughed and placed her head on the pillow closing her eyes. She mumbled something I couldn’t make out and laughed again. I didn’t have time to engage in her inebriated games.
“Move child.” I brushed passed Timaya and made my way into the hallway, where I heard laughter coming from downstairs. What in hell was there to laugh about and why was Ameya still downstairs?
“MOM! I SAID NO!” Timaya’s voice was loud and abusive. It was the kind of voice that, growing up, would’ve ensured my demise – or at least a broken limb.
“EXCUSE ME?” I stopped and spun around on my heels to address the offense.
“Look…” She rolled back her shoulders and held up her chin in a nervous attempt assert herself. “I-I don’t want to do it this way, mom, I really don’t. B-but if you tell, then I-I’m going to tell t-to!”
“…honey, I’m GROWN. WHAT you gone tell on me that I ain’t already told on myself?”
“Aunt Lisa told me all about you and your lies and dad’s arrangement…and we both know Catina’s not my full sister! I knew that before she even said it in the room. I’ve known a long time.”
“Yea…me too.” Catina confirmed.
How in the hell? And they had the nerve to say nothing! I didn’t know if I should be alarmed or proud.
I hurriedly pushed Timaya back into the room while she continued to spill my truth, ““I ALSO know that if he found out, he could divorce you and take everything you have…including me and Catina, and all of your money, this house, EVERYTHING!” Her voice trembled as she spoke.
“Are you…” I stumbled, “…are you serious right now?” I had to ask. I needed to be sure this was happening. “Are you really blackmailing your mother to keep your rape a secret?”
“STOP CALLING IT THAT! It wasn’t that bad after I got used to it.”
“OH, DEAR GOD….” I felt like I was going to throw up. This was much worse than I thought. They didn’t just damage her body, they’d damaged her mind. She was brushing this off and making it OK and that frightened me. I’ve seen what this does to girls who move on like it’s “OK”.
Part of me wanted to grab her, hug her, and tell her that she was not a reflection of the things that happened to her. Still, another part wanted to beat her the same way I’d beat Lisa’s ass. I didn’t know this child. The child I knew didn’t switch on tears like an Academy Award winning actress just to get out of a room; and she damn sure didn’t blackmail her mother to keep secrets she didn’t want expelled!
“TIMAYA…. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I AM DOING WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU!”
“Mom, it’s a little too late for that. Don’t you think. The only thing you can do now is keep my secrets the same way I’ve kept yours. Now what’s it going to be?”
“She stole ‘em frommeh… youain’kno? I had him first!” Lisa continued slurring her words as she lay across my bed.
“LISA YOU TOLD THEM ABOUT CATINA? YOU TOLD THEM ABOUT ME AND DERRICK? WHAT COULD I HAVE POSSIBLY DONE TO YOU TO MAKE YOU HATE ME LIKE THIS?”
“EVER’THANG AIN’T ‘BOUTCHU, MYA!” Lisa spat back as best she could and made a poor attempt in rolling her eyes. “WELL…IT KINNA IZZZ.. YOU ALWAYS GET ER’THANG I WANT…BUT I GUESS I GOT GOD TUH BLAME FADAT….”
What did Dr. Henry give her? She sounded like an illiterate fool. She couldn’t keep her mouth closed as she struggled to keep her eyes open, “YO’ CHILD A DEVIANT WHO WANTED ER’THANG SHE GOT! Ain’t nobody force her azz. …AND WE AIN’T BEAT HA’, WE AIN’T DRUG HA, AND WE AIN’T RAPE HA… SHIII…SHE came tuh’ mah’ bed and opened her MOUTH AND HER LEGS willinnnly…willinnnsly…williilininglings…aw hell you know what I mean…” Lisa gave up on trying to pronounce the word, WILLINGLY and laughed.
“AMAYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Ameya’s voice screamed up the stairs. “CAN YOU PUH-LEAZEEE TELL THESE PEOPLE YOU ASKED ME TO MEET YOU HERE TODAY!!”
I’d forgotten I’d asked Ameya to stop by, but I was glad I did; I needed an ally in this, no matter how unfamiliar they might be.
“AMEYA COME ON UP!” I yelled back, cursing myself for not going down. I needed a minute to come up with something to counter their plan to tell Derrick about Catina. I felt like shit for selling out my own child for my secrets, but what good would I be to her if I lost everything and she ended up with the father who didn’t care enough to seek justice in the first place?
At least that’s the lie I fed myself to make me feel less guilty.
In reality. I was no better than everyone else I was judging. When faced with the release of yet another one of my secrets, I chose myself. Turning in Deacon Tompkins and my sister could cost me not only the bulk of my material things but also my girls. Fighting for custody in a state that looks on gays and lesbians with disdain was not something I was prepared to do. Especially when Derrick Michael would have the full weight of my money, a good legal team, and no shortage of character witnesses to swear to his ‘amazing moral character’ as a husband, father, and man of God – my father and alleged “mother” included. If only I he had a few secrets of his own….
“So, you going to the po-pos orrrr no nos?!?” Lisa was now spreading her arms across the bead like she was making snow angels as she spoke. I didn’t bother with a response.
“Awww…I guess her virtue ain’t mo precious than yo lies, huh?” She sneered.
“Shut up, Lisa.” I didn’t need her rubbing salt in the rooms, why hadn’t she fallen asleep already?
“…y-you know what? You know what?” She stuttered trying to catch her thoughts, “I fine-it ironic-AH” She stressed the C and added an AH on to the end of the word, “…izzz ironica dat…dat you tryna beat mahazz for dis child…”
She pointed towards the headboard, Timaya was near her feet.
“….an s-she, an she black-mayelin you tuh…tuh keep tha damn secret I wuz tryna help ha keep in da furs’ place!”
“Lisa, I said shut up!” I was tired of listening to her broken English and hazed words.
“Amya, you need to come downstairs and tell this woman to leave. Now is not the time for visitors.” Derrick peeked his head around the door to unload his command.
“She’s not a visitor she’s family.” I snapped, turning my attention back to Lisa.
“Whatever she is you need to come downstairs and ask her to leave, now.” Derrick reiterated with an attitude, then disappeared as quickly as he came.
“Catina, go downstairs and get your Aunt Ameya…and you…” I shooed Timaya, “…go with her.”
I waited until they exited the room and closed the door.
“Ohhhhh, you gone kill me na?” Lisa smiled weakly, while resting her eyes.
“Maybe.” I lied. I wasn’t…the threat of spilling my secrets had sobered me from my anger enough to think rationally, not violently. “That depends on if you tell me what I need to know.” I decided to take advantage of her intoxicated state.
“….an wasdat’…” The way she was dozing, I didn’t appear to have much time before the medication took its toll.
“What’s the deal with you and Deacon Tompkins?”
“Why are you…protecting and…helping him? And why Timaya?”
“Ion kno…” She told the truth, “…’cause I luv ‘em I guess.”
“Yea, he izzz da father of mah firs’born.”
“Yuu herd me.”
WHOA! This was a revelation I did not know. Our late-in-life baby brother? Well, he’s actually what I call my ‘brophew’ (brother/nephew – nephew being his blood relation). Lisa told us she got drunk at a party and had sex with some guy she did not know. It wouldn’t be the first time that happened, so it was an easy story to believe.
“…has he been doing this since you wer—”
“I meannnuhh did get prega-nant….” Her words were slow as hell now. “with…with….with umm….shit, you kno his name, when I wuz jus fourteen”
“…but you said you didn—”
“Iknowwwwww what I said…but dis da truth… I luv ‘em. And he usta love me…” She nodded like an addict in the thrones of the best high. “…well dat’s what I thought…TILLLLL…TILLL LIL MISS SNOW BLACK COME ALON’ AN’ SNATCH EM AWAYYYYY.” Lisa agonized while she fumed, “…lookin’ lika yung vision of me…” Bitterness spewed from her lips like venom.
This grown ass woman was jealous of a twelve-year-old kid! This man hadn’t done this to my child, he’d done this to my sister too and who knew how many others! He DID have a problem.
“Lisa, are you saying that man got you pregnant when you were a child too?!”
“GIRLLLLLLLLLLL” Lisa struggled to sit up and speak with some sense, “I’m sayin’ Maya gone be OK. I kno ‘cause I was her, duhhhhhhhhh!” She moved her head like an adolescent child.
“’Cept I kno how to keep mah shit private! Y’all ain’ kno’ nothin!” She smiled like a proud momma. “We was right under y’all all dem years n’ ain’t nobody kno nothin!” She wore a shitty grin on her face and fell back against the bed, closing her eyes. I rubbed my hands against my temple trying to sort through all the damn lies.
“Lisa…Lisa wait..” I tapped her face a tad too hard to wake her up.
“Damn Myaaaa whaaaaaaaaaaaatttt….you already beat mahazz can you jus let me rest?!”
“Just…tell me why you let him do this to Mya? Why didn’t you stop him?”
“STOP WHO?!!? TOMPKINS? Hell, youaintgonestophim! What HE WANT, HE GET. Trus’ me, he was gone have her…I jus… I jus made it so he took his time an’ did it …..gently.” She yawned and pulled a blanket up to her neck. “If he…if he’da took ha’ tha way he took mey….” Lisa voice trailed into a light snore.
Lisa jumped, “I SAVED HA!”
“SAVED HER?!” I shrank back, “You didn’t save a damn thing. You let him use her…”
“I let a man do whatta man gone dew.…” She snuggled deeper into the covers preparing herself for sleep. “…I know that might be hard fa you ta unda-undastand cuz youon like men dat way, but even at twelve a lil’ girl can learn ta like it. Jus ‘cause youain’t don’t mean she d…do…” She didn’t finish her sentence, it was for the best.
That anger I’d felt subside was rising again. Whatever sympathy I might’ve felt for her went out the window with her insistence that my child not only played a role in this, but that she somehow liked it. Just because she was a childhood whore doesn’t mean all little girls are that way.
“I am sorry though…” Lisa rolled over leaving me to talk to her back. “DA ONLY reason I THANK HE EVEN lookt her way was ‘cause I got pregnant an’ ya husbend promised ta leave you if kept tha child.”
“BITCH WHAT?” I shook my head unsure I’d heard what I’d heard.
“…yea, I sh- sh—” Her sentence was cut short as she fell into a comatose sleep, leaving me alone with a truth that would ultimately set me free.