Keagan sticks his head inside the door. "Knock, knock." He slides inside of Councilman Ford's office and shuts the door.
Councilman Ford is seated on his couch reading over some documents. He peers over his glasses as Keagan enters. He removes them and places both the documents and the glasses on the coffee table. "Ah, just the man I've been waiting to see."
"Just got your headcount from your secretary. There are approximately 300 guests expected. If you do the math then you know where that puts us financially." Keagan takes a seat on the edge of the Councilman's desk.
"300 guests have paid, huh?"
Keagan can't read Councilman Ford's expression at the moment. He watches as Councilman Ford stares blankly as if lost in thought. "Yep. 300 confirmed payments."
"And that's -"
"That's minus campaign donations that last I checked a couple days ago total somewhere around 100 grand."
"Hmmm..." Councilman Ford retrieves his glasses and documents from the table. He resumes scanning over the material. "And what's the latest on the Millford project?"
"That remains up in the air. But the investors are moving forward despite the tenants... well, not actually the tenants. Just that one lady - Sturdevant. She's taken the helm at the buyback. But the others really don't seem that motivated. So I doubt she'll be successful at it."
"I wonder what the plans are for the money that's already been collected if the project fails. Who's their guy working this deal?"
Keagan looks puzzled initially. "She's either got some guy pro bono or from one of those agencies that provide those comprehensive services to subscribers kind of deal."
"No one on our team, huh?"
"Not any of my associates. We wouldn't touch it."
"Keagan, this really goes without saying. By this time last campaign season we had already put quite a sizable dent in our funds initiative. That was in anticipation of upcoming negotiations regarding the expansion of this area. Things have moved forward and promisingly so. However, at this stunt by those tenants it seems that my constituents have chosen to exercise more restraint with campaign donations. I believe Sturdevant needs to understand what a compromising situation our support of them has placed us in and how imperative it is that there not be a shift in leadership until they've salvaged their building. I'm sure you get where I'm coming from."
Keagan gives a sideways smile as he makes his way to the door. "Got it."
"Good. I'll expect to know something in a couple of days."
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
“THIS PARTY IS BANGIN’!!!” Lissa is yelling above the noise from the speakers so her friends can hear what she’s saying.
“We ain’t even think you was gonna get out the house. Maria must be sloppy drunk again?” a friend inquires as she tugs at the hem of her tight form-fitting and way-too-short dress.
“Not this time, believe it or not. I managed to slip out while she was napping, though. Good thing I had Kylie bring my dress and stuff.” Lissa’s dress is equally as tight, form-fitting and arguably inappropriate for her age. She’s using her compact to apply some cosmetics. She checks her hair one last time before returning the lipstick tube and compact to her clutch.
“That’s a cute shade, girl! Where’d you get it?” Kylie has joined Valissa and Larque in a corner of the house party just off where the more mature action seems to be taking place (in a den). Kylie is wearing spandex leggings and a strapless halter.
“Thanks. I got it online, but it ain’t nothin’ like the shade in the pic. I guess I got “Catfish-ed” by Cover Girl.” The girls laugh in unison, their laughter interrupted by an unexpected comment from a stranger.
“How in the world did ya’ll get in here?” A mature looking young woman seems to tower above them.
Lissa and her girls try to refrain from looking intimidated or as though they’ve been caught.
"Just 'cause you don't know us don't mean we wasn't invited," Kylie snaps back. "How the hell you get up in here?"
"Oh, no. I'm not about to be disrespected by some high schoolers dressed like hos up in MY PARTY! It's time to go." She points toward the exit.
Valissa and her friends try to hide their shame.
"Hold on. I invited them." Dennis is standing behind them. They've never been so happy to see their former schoolmate as they are at this moment.
"As of now it doesn't matter who invited them. I'm not gonna be dissed in my own house. Besides, what you tryin' to do? Get me arrested? We got liquor and adult activities going on up in here." She redirects her attention back to Lissa and her friends. "Ain't no babysitters in here tonight girls. Goodbye."
"A'ight. I'll walk them out then," Dennis volunteers.
"Thank you." The host folds her arms and watches as the girls almost form a single file line and follow Dennis towards the door. "And don't be tryin' to take them out back to hang out either and think you gonna sneak them back in here! If I catch them still here I'll call the police myself!"
"Ya'll blew it. What'd ya'll say to her?" Dennis holds the door as the girls step over the threshold and onto the back patio.
"She just showed up from nowhere askin' who invited us. We didn't know who she was," Lissa explains with something of an attitude.
"Well, ya'll didn't exactly do a good job blendin' in with them clothes. I guess I shoulda hit you up on the dress code," Dennis snickers as he steps back and gives them another once over. "This a house party, not a club."
Lissa and the other girls look embarrassed.
"What we gonna do now? We ain't ready to go home," Larque inquires.
"Knowing her, she'll be full in about 30 minutes. If ya'll can hang quietly back there out of sight you can stay a little longer." Dennis points to a gazebo on the side of the house. It looks like there are two couples over there hugged up, but enough space for them to chill without crowding them out.
"I thought she told you -"
"She can't stand it over there. She ain't gonna check there." Dennis interrupts Kylie.
The girls give him a puzzled look.
Dennis begins to explain. "When we were kids we were playing over there and she messed up and got into a pile of ants. Simple thing that happens to most people at least once in their life, but she has some kind of phobia about goin' back over there. Trust me. Just hang out over there and chill. I'll come get you when everything is cool."
"Well bring us some grub and something to drink since you gonna hide us around back," Lissa demands.
"Don't trip. You lucky you gettin' to hang out with us. Nothin' here but grown-ups. All college-aged young adults," Dennis guides them closer to the gazebo. "But I'll try to bring something by." With that he turns and goes back toward the house.
Lissa and her friends notice some couple lip-locked in the shadows. The other couple is all in each other's face and sharing a cigarette. They slide into the gazebo and are seated adjacent to the others, giving them their space.
Larque stares into the darkness trying to get a better focus on what's going on adjacent to them.
"Y'all must be some youngsters," a heavy voice with a thick southern accent bellows. "Ain't nobody ever told you it's impolite to stare, young'un?"
Valissa nudges Larque out of embarrasment and whispers, "Please don't get us thrown out of the party a second time, Larque."
"Y'all must be some youngsters," a heavy voice with a thick southern accent bellows. "Ain't nobody ever told you it's impolite to stare, young'un?"
Valissa nudges Larque out of embarrasment and whispers, "Please don't get us thrown out of the party a second time, Larque."
"I wasn't staring," Larque whispers. "I was just resting my eyes."
"Girl, don't be answering them stupid questions," Kylie interrupts. "That fool know it's much too dark to see your hand in front of your face, much less what's goin' on way over there."
Kylie's sudden burst of maturity is startling. Larque and Valissa give each other a look of astonishment before turning their attention toward Kylie.
"What y'all smokin' on over there?" Kylie inquires.
The stranger lights his cigarette lighter. The flames shows a group of four huddled together just to the left of them. They draw back from the flame, their eyes glazed over. "This party over here ain't for any teeny-boppers. We grown." He gives another bellowing chuckle.
"Excuse me, but weed isn't necessarily considered a 'grown' folks' drug. Anybody can get a hold of that. including a few 'teeny-boppers.' Kylie's tone is calm and full of sarcasm. Larque and Lissa are speechless.
"Fo sho? But... you don't know nothin' 'bout how we roll with this." He pulls a joint from his pocket and flaunts it between his fingers.
"You can say anything, man. But talkin' ain't never been proof of nothin'."
"Is that right?" The man looks startled at how sassy Kylie is, but keeps his cool. "Why don't you come over here then and find out for yourself." He practically pushes the two sitting beside him off the bench to make room. "Yeah. Bring your friends on over here, too. We can all get better acquainted."
Without a word, Kylie gets up and takes a seat beside the stranger. He lights the joint for her and takes a toke before passing it to her. She inhales like a pro.
Lissa and Larque remain in their seats, this not being what they had in mind when they thought it'd be fun to crash a house party.
"What y'all waitin' for?" Kylie asks, extending the joint. "You'd better get in on this before the fun is over."
Monday, May 5, 2014
“CINCO DE MAYO!!!”
Jun and Beth receive a spirited greeting as they enter their favorite restaurant to enjoy some Mexican cuisine. After being seated, Jun takes notice of the waiter smiling at Beth. He slides their menus on the table.
“Oh, no. We don’t need menus,” she smiles and slides the menus back toward the waiter. “I don’t think I’ve noticed you here before. You new?”
“Si. New specials, ici.” He nods and points toward the chalkboard with celebration dishes written on it.
Beth and Jun giggle. “No,” Beth says, now shaking her head. “You special? I mean –“ she makes a funny face – “You new here?”
The waiter looks puzzled at first. After a second he seems to understand their question. “Ah, si. New,” he says using his pen to point to himself.
“Well, como te llama?” Jun’s 9th grade Spanish is further butchered by her lazy American tongue. She hopes not to be offensive.
The waiter smiles and nods as if approving of her effort. “Juan.”
“Juan, that’s like Jun but with an ‘a’ in there!” Jun seems to have gotten a buzz before her usual margarita cocktail with lots of silly laughter. The waiter is smiling blankly, still unsure of what she’s saying. She notices his confusion. “My llamo Jun.” She points to her friend. “Her llamo Beth.”
Beth grabs a hold of Jun’s arm. “Jun, you’re being rude. It looks as though you’re poking fun.”
“I’m sure he isn’t that sensitive, Beth.”
Beth turns toward the waiter. “I’m gonna have my usual chimichanga with chicken and a side of queso.”
The waiter starts scribbling on his notepad, seemingly glad to hear words he understands.
Beth continues her order. “I’d also like to have a glass of water and… what the heck, a 32 oz margarita.”
The waiter makes a couple of gestures implying that he likes to drink. They share some polite laughter.
“Cinco de Mayo, right?” Jun chimes in. “I’ll have a taco salad with chicken and a large bowl of queso. And I don’t like to have my friend drink alone. But I’m also the designated driver. So, I’ll have a virgin pina colada. But bring a big one so I can at least pretend I’m getting the booze.”
Suddenly a noise from the patio disrupts their conversation.
“Sounds like all the fun’s going on out there. Can we move to the patio? Is there any more room?” Jun points to the outdoor patio at the back of the restaurant then looks at Beth for confirmation. Beth smiles and nods.
“Si,” Juan replies as he escorts them to the back patio. They notice a huge piñata dangling from the pergola as they are seated. Juan holds up his notepad. “Drinks,” he says indicating that he is about to put their drink and lunch orders in. Jun and Beth smile and nod as they take in the ambience. Their communication is slightly awkward. Once he is out of earshot they laugh.
“If he could speak English the two of you might make a nice couple. He’s a cutie,” Jun teases.
“That’s correct. Operative word ‘IF,’" Beth giggles.
Jun has a sobering moment and stares at Beth. “It’s so good to see you smiling again. It’s been such a long time.” Jun reaches over and rubs her friend’s hand, reassuringly.
Beth’s smile turns to a grin and she gives a nod of agreement. “It feels good to just… just be… to not have to worry about what’s gonna happen after the night is over, you know. What kind of mood I’ll have to deal with when I get home.” Beth pauses. “Am I wrong to feel this way? I mean – “
“Absolutely no guilt. Done,” Jun interrupts. “The way things ended was horrible, but it’s over. Your life is from this moment.” Beth smiles in agreement. Jun begins fidgeting around with the items placed in the center of the table.
“So, what about you? Did you decide to relocate or are you still ‘saving the building?’” Beth is exaggerating Jun’s new cause. Without her to worry about Jun’s put all her efforts into trying to save the Millford.
“Actually, there is still a chance that we can buy the building. I haven’t given up just yet. Getting that done could mean having to find some other people who have the money and are willing to take the risk, though.”
“Does that mean the Councilman is on board?” Another server different from Juan drops a basket of complimentary appetizers on the table and vanishes just as quickly as he appeared. Jun and Beth dig in.
“He’s isn’t totally dissuaded, but you know how that goes. Whatever’s gonna make his light shine a little brighter is his best option.” Jun sprinkles on some of the spices that are placed on the table.
“Why can’t you guys just get a letter-writing campaign or make some phone calls or go over his head. I mean, unless you make a little noise nobody’s gonna take you guys seriously.” Beth continues munching on her unseasoned portion of the appetizer.
“I just can’t seem to get a fire lit under anybody. There’s the old lady, but I think she’s making plans to move in with her boyfriend. Then there’s that lady that just recently got divorced –“
“and nobody’s sure she’ll stay sober long enough to do anything,” Beth interrupts.
“Exactly. And the young lady who catered the event… well, she’s probably too young to think about this kind of thing, you know. Just startin’ her career. No kids. No tellin’ where life might take her for her to be seriously making a commitment to purchase a building.” Jun almost sounds hopeless.
“Actually, that’s no excuse. I understand what you’re saying, but she can always lease or –“
Cheers and jeers from the bar and table adjacent to theirs again steals their attention.
“Sounds like all the fun’s over there from what I can tell.” Beth practically spins completely around in her chair. “Looks like they’re doin’ tequila shots.”
“If I didn’t have to go to work in the morning I’d have half a mind to join them.” Another server brings drinks and entrees to the table, again leaving just as quickly as they came.
Beth turns and looks back at Jun. “Don’t you have some time saved up that you’re about to lose?’ Beth has a mischievous grin on her face.
Jun lights up at Beth’s implication. “Are you suggesting-?’
“I’m suggesting,” Beth nods. “I do believe that I’ll probably develop a nasty stomach flu during the night that’ll render me unemployable for a period of no less than 24 hrs.”
“Say no more. Let’s get in on the fun.”
The two grab their food and slip over closer to where the fun seems to be going on.
Friday, April 4, 2014
Alesandra has completed the final touches on a new recipe and cuddles up on her chaise. Her plate has a generous portion of some concoction smothered in cheese, just the way she prefers. She clicks on her brand new HD 46” TV and starts her Friday night entertainment watching her favorite sitcom.
“Mmm. Mmm. He is so fine. They only made one of him. That’s just wrong. His momma and daddy so stingy. They coulda had twins and saved one of him for me.” She takes a bite of her dish. “Ooo, good. Needs some salt.” Just as she places her plate on the table to make a dash for the kitchen her cellular rings. Tish’s face lights up the display. “This girl’s timing is so inconvenient!” She picks up the handset and answers the call as she makes her way to the kitchen.
“There must be some emergency. Some urgency that you had to call tonight when you know I’m watching my show.” She grabs the salt from the counter, scurries back to the chaise and retrieves her plate.
“Business before pleasure, my dear. And I’ve just landed an account for you to the tune of somewhere around $10k. Sound urgent enough to interrupt your little show that you’re probably saving on your DVR anyway?” Tish sounds tremendously proud of herself.
“You say 10 grand?” The forkful of food that Alesandra was about to eat falls back into the plate.”
“Yes. Minus my commission and founder’s fee, of course. Enough for you to get yourself moved since your living arrangements have become kinda iffy.”
“OR enough to help with the buyback. But anyway, what kind of function we talkin’ ‘bout, here? Wedding? Corporate event? How many attendees? I need all the dets!”
“No, dear sister. I have gotten wind that Councilman Ford is planning a formal fundraiser to start his campaign. We’re talkin’ approximately 250 guests. And the gig is all yours. All you have to do is come up with a couple options for a 5 course menu and be ready to present and sign contracts. You get half upfront and the other half upon completion.”
“That’s it. I of course had to make it seem as if you’re like high in demand and busy, busy, busy. So, his assistant is waiting for a call to confirm in the a.m. Should I go ahead and schedule a date?”
“Of course, by all means,” Alesandra was genuinely speechless at this point. “I’ll start workin’ up a menu in the morning.”
“And I’ll plan on stopping through to discuss all the details. Love you, sis.” Tish hung up.
Alesandra set her phone on the table and stared blankly at the wall, visions of what a recommendation like this could mean for her flooding her mind. Without a second thought she got up from the chaise and moved swiftly to get settled on her kitchen barstool. Her pen and notepad were always within reach. She grabbed them and began to jot down ideas for what was sure to be the first among the most important meals she’d ever prepare.
Friday, March 14, 2014
Maria is scurrying around rearranging random décor with nervous energy. She hasn’t had a drink in about a week. She also hasn’t been outside her apartment since that incident at the fundraiser. Too embarrassed to face the other tenants. There have been a few knocks at the door and some phone calls. She’s dodged them all. She hasn’t even talked to Gabe. Any updates he’s been getting have been through Valissa. She listens closely to make sure that he isn’t planning to spring any surprises on her. This would be the perfect opportunity for Valissa to move back with Gabe. She knows exactly how that girl is thinking. As silly as she is, she doesn’t realize that if her dad really wanted custody of her he would’ve taken initiative to do just that. She loves her dad so much. Idolizes her dad. But doesn’t realize the business side of Gabe. Being a single parent has no place in his world. Had she and Valissa been that important to Gabe, he would’ve made them more of a priority instead of working and being away from home so much. And then with her getting into trouble so much at school… he definitely doesn’t want to take on single parenthood with a problem child. But Valissa can’t see that because in her mind Maria is the only problem. She’s too immature to assess how her behavior plays a part in the entire predicament. But right now, she’s desperately trying to come up with a way to appeal to Gabe for money to relocate. If there’s any way she could become one of the investors in the purchase of the building, that’d be good too. Or if they manage to pull off buying the place it’d be much easier for her to continue to rent than to have to move. But after that incident she doesn’t have the slightest idea how she could ever persuade Gabe to help. She sighs and takes a seat on the couch. Her head and palms are sweating. She has so much nervous energy. She sits there staring at the phone, wondering whether or not she should go ahead and make the call. Just as she is about to reach for the phone, she hears the door unlock.
Valissa slides inside the door and drops her backpack on the floor chanting with whatever is blaring on her iPod. Maria notices she’s carrying something. Valissa shuts the door then turns around. She’s slightly startled to see her mother seated on the couch in the dimly lit room and draws a hard breath.
“What the crap you sittin’ in here in the dark for!” She unplugs her right earbud. “Them folks have sent another basket of crap,” she scoffs referring to the neatly wrapped package in her arms. She places the basket on the table. “You gonna have to say somethin’ to them folks ‘cause I’m tired of them stopping me everyday asking about you.” She walks over to the window and opens the blinds. “Did daddy call?”
Maria picks up the basket and examines the contents. The card reads “The Epicurean” with “hope you’re feeling better” scribbled on the opposite side. “Gabe hasn’t phoned yet,” she replies. “I was just about to call. Has he mentioned anything to you about –“
“ I won’t be doin’ your dirty work for you, Maria. Ask daddy yourself.” Valissa sits on the ottoman to the left of the coffee table and starts digging through the basket. There are several neatly packaged baked goodies. She begins unwrapping and sampling.
“Wait a second, you don’t cut me off! You have no idea what I was about to ask!” Maria scoffs.
Valissa looks startled for a second, then folds in the corners of her mouth. “Ok then. Has he mentioned what?”
Maria looks lost for a second but doesn’t want Valissa to know she’s caught off guard. “Never mind since you have such a stank attitude. I’ll do just that. I’ll ask myself.”
“Mmm Hmm.” Valissa resumes rummaging through the basket and sampling the contents.
She notices Maria’s sweating and trembling. “I don’t believe it. You really haven’t been sipping.”
She notices Maria’s sweating and trembling. “I don’t believe it. You really haven’t been sipping.”
Maria looks at Valissa with a frown. “Mind your own business, Lissa.”
“Ha! I’m all up in this. Can’t help not to be if I wanted to.” She laughs and takes another bite of some knick knack. “You know, I read somewhere that when you’re used to drinking you can’t just quit cold turkey. You s’posed to decrease the amount you drink or you’ll like go into shock or something. So…” Valissa gets up from the ottoman and goes toward the “secret place” where she knows her mother stashes her liquor. She takes out a bottle and turns to go to the kitchen, peeping at her mom from the corner of her eye. Maria watches her wide-eyed. She emerges from the kitchen with a glass. “I bet you ain’t know I knew about that, did you?” Valissa laughs referring to the hiding place. She returns to her seat and sits the glass on the table. She watches her mom’s reaction as she opens the bottle and pours some of the liquor into the glass.
Maria’s mouth moistens almost instinctively. She watches the liquid as it spills from the bottle and fills the glass, trying not to appear too anxious. She doesn’t realize just how much her body is responding to the knowledge that she’s about to take a drink. She’s trying to suppress the flood of emotions that have awakened within her at the thought that in a few seconds the glass with meet her lips.
Valissa stops pouring, recaps the bottle and places it on the table. The glass isn’t even a third of the way full. She scoots the glass toward Maria.
“I … don’t want anything to drink,” Maria looks away. She can’t even believe what she’s saying.
“Oh, please. If you hadn’t intended on having another drink you’d’ve gotten rid of that stash. Besides, it’s like I told you. You have to or you’ll like pass out or something. They call it DTs. Detox. That’s what’s making you sweat and shake and stuff.”
Maria continues to look away, trying to deny her impulses. Valissa is almost impressed.
“Look, the last thing I need to do is to come in here and find you passed out or something. So, drink up. I mean, I’m proud of you for refusing and all. But… you can look it up for yourself.” Valissa grabs the bag she’s been nibbling from and gets up from the ottoman. “I’ll get started on dinner.” She stops and picks up the mail before going toward the kitchen.
Once Valissa is out of sight, Maria turns and looks back at the drink. She wants it. Every fiber of her being wants that drink. What’s kept her from taking a drink since that incident has mostly been embarrassment and pride. Too proud to expose her vulnerability in front of her daughter. Too embarrassed to risk being caught drinking among the other tenants. But right now, there’s nobody here. And she’s done seven consecutive days without taking a drink. That’s proof. She can quit whenever she wants to. She has control, not the alcohol. That thought is all the reassurance Maria needs. She’s talked herself into believing that she can take that drink. She retrieves the glass from the table and tosses it back quick as lightning. The taste . Smooth. Not nearly enough to warm her soul as a full sized drink. Yet that small quantity of liquid is like the essence of life as it trickles through her body. “My old friend,” Maria whispers. She feels slightly relaxed, but not nearly as at ease as a full drink would make her. This seems like just a taste. Hardly takes the edge off. Slowly she sits the glass back on the table, staring at the bottle, and stretches herself out on the couch. She takes a couple of deep breaths and within seconds she falls asleep.
“Maria, how do you want –?” Valissa enters the room to ask about dinner then realizes Maria is sleeping peacefully. She looks at the empty glass then the bottle, realizing that Maria only drank what she poured for her. “I guess sometimes a drink helps.” Valissa grabs the phone and checks the missed calls. No missed calls. She looks back at Maria and wonders if she’ll sleep long like she does after she’s been on a binge or if she’ll only take a nap. Doesn’t matter. She grabs her purse and eases out of the front door.
Friday, February 28, 2014
Quincy and Geneva stroll arm in arm on a busy street in the crisp afternoon air, oblivious to the chaos surrounding them.
“My home is only a few houses further,” Quincy informs Geneva before gently removing her arm and facing her. “Now, Gloria’s bark is much worse than her bite. Trust what I tell you. She and my wife had become very close and… truthfully they didn’t really warm up to each other until after we were married the better part of about 5 years. Now, I don’t want you to be nervous-“
“I’m NOT nervous, Quincy. You on the other hand are on the verge of a panic attack.” Geneva and Quincy laugh.
“I know. It’s just that I’ve not had anyone else in my life since Loretta died. And… I’m really excited about you, Geneva.”
“And I couldn’t be more thrilled about meeting your family, Quincy. I’m sure it won’t be nearly as awkward as you’re anticipating.” Geneva smiles at Quincy and gently strokes his face.
“Well, we’re definitely about to find out.” Quincy holds her face and kisses her forehead. They rejoin arm in arm and continue towards Quincy’s home. Within what seems like seconds they are about to climb the stairs of a beautiful brownstone.
“Watch your step. I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve fallen twice.” Quincy wants to usher Geneva up the stairs, but needs both hands to keep balance. Geneva seems to understand.
“Here goes.” Geneva begins her climb up the stairs with Quincy following behind. “On-lookers must be laughing it up at two old farts trying to make it up these stairs.”
“I’m too busy concentrating on not falling than to care anything about that.”
They arrive at the doorway. Quincy rests his cane on the beautifully etched glass door frame and begins fumbling in his pocket for the keys as Geneva looks around. The clicking of the door latch from the other side grabs their attention. The door creaks as it cracks open just enough for a pair of eyes the size of golf balls to peak out at them from the inside.
“Eh, Gloria it’s Quincy. Got my lady friend. Remember, I told you she was coming.” Quincy retrieves his cane.
“Umm Hmm,” a deep, thick hum seems to moan from behind those bulging eyeballs. The door slowly opens to reveal a woman of about medium height and build with brown hair gray at the roots. She stands there looking Geneva over.
Slightly uncomfortable, Geneva extends a hand. “How do you do. I’m Geneva.”
“Yes, I suppose you are.” She looks disapprovingly at her. Then redirects her attention to Quincy and does the same. They stand there in awkward silence.
Quincy finally breaks the silence. “Geneva please pardon my sister, Gloria. Mind isn’t that good. I guess now would be a good time to go inside so the two of you can get better acquainted.” Quincy places his hand on Geneva’s back and begins to lead her through the entryway. Gloria refuses to budge.
“I don’t need you making any introductions nor excuses on my behalf, Quincy. I’m perfectly capable of speaking for myself. And I have every right to examine just who you’re trying to bring into my house.” Gloria snaps back.
Geneva stares at her in disbelief. Quincy tries to suppress his impatience. “Well, if you’d rather we stand in this doorway in this cool afternoon air so you can end up bedridden with pneumonia like about this time last year I believe it was, then yes let’s have company right here. Or better yet, Geneva and I will leave and return once you’ve decided to behave more like an adult –“
In mid sentence Gloria turns her back and walks inside before Quincy can complete his statement. “Why don’t the two of you come in and close door before the city ends up owing us for heating the outdoors,” she declares as if Quincy’s not said a word and disappears toward the back of the house.
Geneva and Quincy make their way inside. The house is warm and has an inviting kind of charm despite the seemingly unwelcomed introduction given by Gloria. Geneva gives the place a once over as Quincy helps her out of her coat. She unties her scarf and neatly folds it before placing it in her pocketbook. Quincy neatly hangs her coat on the coat rack and proceeds to remove his coat and hat to do the same.
“Oh, please have a seat. Make yourself at home.” Quincy very gentlemanly ushers Geneva towards the sitting room.
Geneva walks very delicately, almost as if she’s uncomfortable. Quincy takes a seat on the davenport. He fluffs a sofa pillow and props it then pats the seat next to him, inviting Geneva to sit down. She eases down, clutching her pocketbook. “I should never have doubted you, Quincy. Your sister definitely has quite an air about her.”
“Is there something you’d like to say?” From nowhere Gloria has appeared holding a tray with a tea set.
“Oh, no. I was only telling Quincy that he was right about you. You’re very… eh, lovely.” Geneva smiles nervously, trying not to offend Gloria.
Gloria glares at her as she places the tray on the coffee table. “Not very honest, is she Quincy? My dear, Quincy and I have been brother and sister all my life. Lovely is never a word he has nor shall ever use in any sentence offering my description.” She eases back from the coffee table and sits in the beautifully upholstered Victorian chair adjacent to the sofa. Gloria crosses her legs and begins to bounce one on top off of the other.
Quincy tries to laugh to ease some of the nervous energy forming. “One thing is true, Geneva. Gloria is best there is at boiling water than any other form of cooking she’s ever tried!” He eases toward the edge of the sofa. “Would you like some tea? She’s got green, oolong, and that plain stuff.”
“Certainly, Quincy.” Geneva smiles as Quincy pours her cup and carefully passes it to her before preparing his own. The awkward silence is a loud indication that they aren’t hitting it off as nicely as Quincy had hoped.
Quincy takes a sip of tea and clears his throat. “Ah, where are those old photo albums? I promised Geneva I’d show her some pictures,” Quincy asks Gloria. “We kind of want to make sure we aren’t related before we… get serious.” Quincy and Geneva snicker like giddy school kids.
Gloria looks down her nose at them. “Get serious? Hmmm.” She places her cup on the saucer and returns the saucer to the coffee table. Geneva notices that her movements are very careful and proper. She reminds her of those old socialites from her youth, back during the time that the only people black folks were better than were each other. For a brief second it’s as if Lucinda Forbes is there suggesting that she wear a hat if she can’t afford to get her nappy edges pressed in between routine visits to the beautician.
“Dare I say that at this point it wouldn’t make that much a difference anyway. That is, unless Geneva is still having her monthly visits.” Geneva watches Gloria get up from her seat. Seems that someone so prim would take better care not to let her roots go that long without coloring them. And her comment would’ve gotten a laugh, but she hasn’t been that impressionably funny. Quincy gives a soft chuckle, more out of politeness than anything else. Gloria goes to a credenza and extracts a few old photo albums. She walks over to Quincy and hands them to him before returning to her seat and continuing to sip her tea.
“Ah, let’s look here. That’s Gloria. We’ll set that one aside for now.” Quincy thumbs through the first quickly then sets it aside before moving on to the next. “This… Yes, this is mom and dad. We can start with this one.” He hands the photo album to Geneva, who’s barely taken her eyes off of Gloria but welcomes the distraction.
“Thank you, Quincy.” Geneva opens to an old photo of Quincy’s parents. “My, what a handsome couple!” Next to their photo is a family tree with names of both families written on lines from the branches. Some names have small photo inserts beside them.
“Gloria, I might as well bring things a little closer to home.” Geneva looks up abruptly from the photo album at Quincy. He slides more comfortably into his seat and eases his back into the chair. “I was hoping things would go a little smoother with the two of you…eh, so much for hoping.” Quincy has been lenient in his description of his sister. He’s decided to change the plans he and Geneva had previously made about when to discuss this topic with her in hopes that including Gloria now just might encourage her warm up to Geneva a bit more. “It’s possible that Geneva’s building will… well, she could have to move soon.” Quincy looks at Geneva and reaches for her hand. Geneva extends hers and they lace their fingers together. “Right now she lives alone. Oh, with the exception of PomPom.”
“What’s a ‘PomPom’?” Gloria scoffs. “An animal? Quincy, your allergies!”
“Surprisingly, I think I might have found one species of feline I’m not allergic to. I’ve not had any problems being close to Geneva although she owns a cat.”
Geneva feels flushed. She feels a little itchy. Quincy squeezes her hand, reassuringly. That relieves some of her uneasiness, but not too much. Does he know?
“Well, at our ages living is troublesome enough without having to move. The price of everything steadily increasing. And what you get is a gamble unless you’re planning on giving up your independence and moving into one of those homes or something or the other.” Quincy gives a light chuckle as if trying to ease his own anxieties about saying what he wants to say. “These new places… this world… well…it just ain’t much accomodatin’ they do for us old folks. So, we have to look out for each other.” Quincy scoots up to the edge of his seat and reaches for his cup of tea. He takes a quick sip and sighs before placing the cup back to its rightful position. “I was… ah, I was thinking that… well, we have the extra room. And it’d cut down on our expenses if we accepted Geneva for a live-in.”
“Absolutely NOT, Quincy!” Gloria abruptly responds almost in anticipation of what he was going to ask. “I will NOT agree to animals domestic or otherwise runnin’ around this house. And we DON’T have a spare room. I was planning to use that room –“
“You’ve had no plans for that room beyond this moment!” Quincy’s tone is stern and Geneva can tell that he’s upset.
“If that’s the only problem, I’ll make other arrangements for my pet.” Geneva has spoken before she even realized what she was saying. For the first time she’s actually come to terms with how much Quincy’s presence in her life has really come to mean to her. Quincy releases her hand and rubs her shoulder.
“There. Problem solved.” Quincy takes another sip of tea as if things have been made final.
Gloria glares at them both. “I will NOT allow you to bring some strange woman into my home and move her in here as if I have nothing to say about it. This isn’t some bed and breakfast or residence of convenience. This is my home!”
“OUR home, Gloria!” Quincy stands and the chair gets pushed back slightly, startling both women. “I contribute to a little over half the expenses here. And if you won’t be more open-minded about my request, then perhaps it’s you who should spend what’s left of your years alone and miserable.” Quincy’s tone has quieted, but remains fiery. He reaches for Geneva’s hand and helps her to her feet. They move toward the door. “Geneva and I will make plans to find a place to live together… elsewhere.”
“What?! You can’t do that! Why, momma and daddy would never approve of such an arrangement, and they’re –“
“Dead, Gloria.” He helps Geneva put on her coat. “12 years now buried side by side in the cold ground.” He opens the door and Geneva carefully steps outside the threshold. “But together.” He looks back as he steps outside the door. “And when it’s my time to go in the ground I’d like to know that there is someone else laying to rest on the other side, just like momma and daddy.” Quincy shuts the door.
Gloria stares as if she can see beyond the closed door.
“Dammit, he can’t leave,” she mumbles. “Just goes to show what that ol’ fool knows. He pays ALL the expenses and then some. Hasn’t been a mortgage on this place in 2 years.”