WHO SAYS I GOT TO STAY IN YOUR HOUSE?
I slammed the door behind me as I rushed outside. “I hate you!” I screamed upstairs to my aunt, who had custody of me for the past twelve years.
My mother was doing time in the Virginia Women's State Prison for child neglect. One night after a three-day stay at the crackhouse, she came home frustrated and shook my little brother to death. She would often come home fien'in' once her monthly welfare check was gone and there was no more money for drugs. This particular time, Momma was so sick that the constant cry of my five-month-old brother drove her insane.
I was hiding under the table, which faced the bedroom my brother and I shared. My mother couldn't see me because it was extremely dark in the house. We only had candle lighting because the electric company turned off our services due to non-payment. I remember my mom yelling, “Shut up, boy! Shut up!” as she shook my brother until he was silent. Once he was quiet, she laid him on the mattress we had for a bed in the middle of the floor, and she pulled out a cigarette. I peered at her as she left the room to go lie on the couch. It wasn't until then I felt safe enough to come out. I crawled into the bedroom to lie beside my little brother. I cried silently as I touched his still hand.
“Wake up, little Jay. Wake up,” I whispered. But there was no response. I wrapped my arm around his little body and fell asleep.
Beep ... beeep ... beeeep!
I woke to see red, orange, and yellow flames all around me. It was amazing that I could still see the fire because the air was filled with thick smoke. I panicked once I realized I couldn't breathe. I didn't know where to find my mom and little brother.
“Mommy ... Mommy!” I yelled frantically as I felt my way to the back door.
I managed to get outside the house, where I saw all my neighbors standing by, looking at the scene, but my mom and little brother weren't out there. It also seemed that no one knew there were people in the house because they all seemed surprised once I came out. As soon as the firemen pulled up, I begged them to save my brother and mother. Within minutes, they were out. They both lay still as the paramedics tried to resuscitate them. My mom came around shortly after, but my brother's body was covered with a white blanket. That was my signal that he was gone. Everyone figured it was from smoke inhalation, but I knew the truth. To this day, no one knows that my mom really killed little Jay. That will be a secret I'll take to my grave.
The only reason my mom was arrested was for child neglect. The neighbors had reported her to child protective services a number of times, and this time, when she fell asleep with a lit cigarette, was the last straw. It didn't take long for the paramedics to realize she was high. She got a fifteen-year sentence to the Women's State Prison, and that's where she'd been for the past twelve years of my life.
In those years, I'd blossomed from a timid five-year-old kid to a rebellious teen. The constant bickering between my aunt and me let me know she was just about sick of my mess.
“If you hate it here so bad, then leave!” my aunt yelled after me. I could hear her coming down the stairs as her shouts got louder. “Where you gonna go? Don't nobody else want you,” she continued to yell as she opened the screen door.
“I hate it here. I'd rather be dead than live here with you,” I shouted back. I knew that answer was only going to lead to one thing, but I was so sick of the foul treatment, I didn't even care.
My aunt's huge hand swept across my face. “You better watch your damn mouth, little girl. You gettin' a little too hot for your damn pants.”
I jumped up without thinking and smacked her back. In matter of seconds, my aunt's 250-pound frame was all over me. I screamed, hoping my grandmother would come to my rescue.
“Grrraaaaaandmaaaaa! Help! She's trying to kill me.”
My grandmother was out the door, pulling my aunt off me in no time. I was big for my size, but my 150-pound frame was nothing compared to the strength of that beast.
“I'm packing my bags!” I shouted as soon as I was free. I ran up the stairs.
I pulled out my Polo backpack and stuffed it with toiletries, underclothes, a pair of Daisy Dukes jean shorts, a white wife-beater, slouch socks, and a fresh pair of white Air Force Ones. I planned to stay at my girl Gina's house. Her mom worked the night shift, 7
, at the hospital. We would always have a ball at her house. It was right around six o'clock, so I knew her mom would already be out of the crib and on her way to work.
“I'm out,” I yelled one last time as I ran back down the stairs.
“BJ.” I could hear my grandma yelling.
That was the nickname the family had given me. My name is actually Jasmine and everyone called me Jay, but when my brother was born, he was named Javon, and we called him Jay too. So, to distinguish who was who, they began calling us Big Jay and Little Jay. Eventually, Big Jay turned into BJ.
“Yes, Grandma?” I stopped at the back door to hear her out.
“Don't go out there getting in trouble, ya hear?”
“Okay, Grandma. I'll call you.” I loved my grandmother and hated for her to worry, but I just had to do me for the time being. I exited the back door and jumped the fence.
A couple of blocks later, I was in the projects. I was cautious as I walked to Gina's place. I was out of my territory, and there were a lot of chicks that didn't like me out there. I dominated the twelveth grade with my fully developed body. I kept my weave tight, nails done, and always had the newest sneakers and hottest gear. Needless to say, all the attention was on me, and not too many girls appreciated it when their boyfriends lusted over me.
I knocked on Gina's front door. I knew she wouldn't be able to hear me because I could hear the music blasting from her bedroom window.
“Yo, Gina!” I called out.
I unsuccessfully attempted to get Gina's attention as I yelled through the open window. So, then I tried the obvious and twisted the doorknob.
“Open says me!” I said out loud.
The door didn't budge. I guess I didn't possess the magic of the many magicians who say those famous words. I headed toward the back door to get the key Gina always left hidden under the mat. As I grabbed the doorknob to insert the key, I noticed the door was open.
Maybe those magic words work after all. I grinned as I slowly entered the house. When walking through the doorway, I noticed the door frame was broken. A huge knot formed in my stomach as I looked around. I wasn't sure if I should run up the stairs or out the door.
“Gina?” I timidly called my best friend's name.
There was no response. My heart began to race as all type of scenarios ran through my mind. I knew I couldn't leave without checking to make sure Gina was okay. In a desperate attempt for protection, I rushed to the kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife.
It's either do or die, I said silently as I crept up the stairs toward Gina's room, praying that she was okay.
When I got to her bedroom, I busted in, ready to stab the first thing moving. “Aaaahh!” We both screamed at the top of our lungs.
“Oh my God, Gina. What the hell are you doing?”
Gina jumped up, pulling the covers over her naked body. The smell of sex and weed filled the room. I laughed at her and Duke as they both struggled to get dressed.
Duke had been a friend of ours since elementary school. He'd gotten into a little trouble and was sent off to South Carolina for a few years, but he began doing big things once he returned. Although he was nineteen before he managed to graduate from high school, no one could take away the fact that he made it through.
Duke and Gina always argued and fought with each other during school and even as kids. They had me convinced they hated each other. I had no idea they were actually doing the nasty. Gina was my girl, but since she conveniently kept this juicy detail from me, I attempted to place shame on her with mockery.
“Ah-ha! I blew y'all spot up! I knew something was up with y'all. Ain't no way in hell two people could hate each other as much as or as long as y'all two have,” I said as I continued to laugh.
I noticed Gina didn't think it was funny at all.
“Why didn't you knock first? How the fuck you just gonna run up in my shit, BJ?” Gina got on the defensive.
“Actually, I thought something was wrong with your ass since the back door is damn near off the hinges. I was trying to come to your rescue, bitch!” I snapped back then rolled my eyes.
I figured she was embarrassed that her secret was out. I became kind of jealous myself. I had no idea she was having sex.
Duke took his time getting dressed. I noticed him eyeballing my breasts as he massaged his penis. I gave him a seductive grin and returned the favor as I checked out his nice-sized equipment. I'd never noticed just how sexy Duke was until then.
Duke stood a perfect six foot with washboard abs and flawless chocolate skin. His body was decorated with ink, and each tattoo seemed to lie perfectly, complementing his thug sexuality to the tee. Gina quickly interrupted our flirting session.
“Duke, I think you should leave. I'll call you.”
Duke agreed without a fight.
“A'ight, momma,” he said before kissing her on the cheek and exiting the room. He gave me one last glance and a nod. I was flattered, so I quickly responded, “Bye, Duke,” and grinned.
Now it was time for me to confront Gina. “I always thought we both were virgins, and that when we decided to have sex, we would let each other know. Why didn't you tell me, Gina? And why the hell is the door jacked-up like that?” I asked question after question.
“Why you all up in my grill, BJ? If you must know, Duke broke the door. We had a heated argument earlier in the day and I'd been ignoring his calls, so he decided to come over, but I wouldn't let him in. And you know Duke and his temper. It didn't take but one warning. He told me one time if I didn't open the door, he would kick it in. Although I know his ass is crazy, I didn't think he would actually kick my mom's door in. Well ... as you can see, he's even crazier than I thought,” Gina explained as she shook her head.
I had to shake my head as well. “That boy is a damn fool,” I said, although the thought kinda turned me on.
“So, I guess that heated argument quickly turned into make-up sex, huh?” I said sarcastically to force the conversation in the direction I wanted it to go.
Gina obviously answered the simplest question first in hopes I would forget the rest. But oh no! There was no getting out of this one.
Gina looked away as she answered. “I haven't been a virgin for a long time, BJ, but the first time was out of my control. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I can't.” I could see Gina wipe the tears from her eyes. I hugged her tightly.
“You can tell me anything, Gina. I won't think any different of you. You're my girl.” I tried to reassure her as we talked.
Gina still refused to share. I figured it was either too embarrassing or too hurtful for her to share, so I left the situation alone and allowed her to cry. After minutes of silent tears, Gina finally spoke. “It was Bubba, BJ. It was Bubba.” She forced the words out between a huge cry. Bubba was Gina's mother's boyfriend. I couldn't believe what my ears were hearing.
“Bubba? You had sex with Bubba?” I asked. “Yes. One night he came home drunk after the club. Of course my mom was at work, so I was here alone. He came in my room and started to pull my pajamas off, forcing his hands inside me.” Gina stopped in the middle of her statement and began to cry. It was too unbearable to speak about.
“Its okay, Gina. You don't have to say anymore.” I hugged her. I could feel her pain. I never experienced being raped, but I'm sure it has to be a painful experience.
“He raped me, BJ. He raped me, and my mother called me a liar when I told her about it. I don't know what hurt more, the rape or my mother's disbelief.”
I had no idea Gina had so much pain and hurt inside. There were no words that could heal the pain she felt, so instead of speaking, I just listened and consoled her as she released all the misery she held inside. The room was silent as we sat on her bed. I listened to her constant sniffle as I rubbed her back.
“Its okay, Gina. It's okay,” I said softly between rubs. I laid her head on my shoulder and hugged her tight. At that point, I knew not only did I have to do something to get out of my grandmother's home, but I had to get Gina out of her mother's home as well. We were both alone. Although Gina had a mother, she was no longer in her heart. Her mother had deceived her and chose a man over her. And my mother had deceived me in an equal way. It was at that point I made a personal vow. No matter what it took, I would get us both out of this situation. As soon as the opportunity arose, I was jumping aboard, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop me.