Anonymous said: Interesting submission today.
:-) please check out and critique my submission.
My first memories are soft like the fluttering of a moth’s wings. I mean they are there; strong enough to stay aloft, but I have to concentrate to recall them in any clarity. For instance one the earliest things I remember is memorizing; and learning to say, my prayers before bed at night… “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take. God please bless my Mother, my Father, my Lil-Brother, bless Big Momma and Nanna”……. You get the picture.
I also remember being around four; or so, and having this silver-dollar savings jar. If you came to visit my parents I exacted a toll from you. No ifs, ands, or buts, my dad was the enforcer and he made sure I got paid! I guess in a weird way my first years were ideal. Two parents in the house and they in the process of purchasing the home where we lived, in a decent area of Newark, NJ with neighbors I was familiar with.
Oh did I mention I was black or african-american or a nigga? Depends on your cultural philosophy what terminology you use. Whatever floats your boat. With me it just depends on what period of life I was in as to what I called or how I viewed myself; but for now I’m gonna focus on putting this bit of personal history down on paper… everyone else can deal with the politically correct terminology issues on their own or send me threatening emails or… whatever.
One of the neighbors I was real familiar with in our neighborhood was the woman who lived up the street on the corner of our block. I will call her Pearl. It took me time to live life and understand a few things and after becoming a young man I realized Pearl was a minor queen pin so to speak. She was the local major marijuana dealer. My mom visited her regularly and my father often sent her. Don’t worry this isn’t exactly that type of urban fiction novel. It’s just a truth that needed stating.
What I remember most about Pearl; during that time, was not the fact that she supplied my parental units with “party-favors” (my parents used to have major house parties) but, two different things. First is whenever my mom and I went over to Pearl’s house we would be there for a few hours and I got to be by myself with the T.V. which meant I got to watch whatever I wanted to; and two, I remember going down the hallway in Pearl’s house, once, to ask for something, I don’t remember what; I was always told to stay up front largely because of the funny smell in the air from the samples my mom was always given. Anyway, on this day I remember approaching the half-closed door at the end of the hall and looking through the crack in the door into one of those big mirrors mounted on the back of dressers and seeing the reflection of Pearls naked butt in the smokey air with the rest of her in between my mom’s legs… yes my mom was naked too. I watched and listened not knowing or understanding what I was seeing or hearing but instinctively I knew I needed to keep my mouth shut and not ask any questions about it. Somehow I knew my mommy was being bad and I didn’t want to see her get in any trouble or for her to be mad with me. So I never said anything about that day… till now.
My biggest; and clearest, memory before five was of one of those house-parties my parents were famous for. Nice crowd… the silver-dollar toll business was booming and everybody was feeling swell because my dad sent my mom (and me) to Pearl’s earlier that day. I remember that it was a really late night for me. My mother came into me and my little brother’s room (he is barely two which is why I haven’t mentioned him) to put me in bed. She tucks me in after kneeling with me and saying my prayers. It’s different though she has that I am upset with you hardness to her mouth and her attitude isn’t exactly party like. I realize now in my adulthood, she was lit, loud, high, stoned and bombed. All of the foregoing terms for being under the influence apply and all at the same time. Please, use whatever terminology you choose. Usually when she is buzzing hard she is laughing, funny and quite silly. That night she is all business. Serious. Curt. Brusque.
Shortly after she tucks me in… my little brother is already asleep, I hear loud screaming and hollering… cussing and things breaking. I jump up, running, heart beating hard; scared, into the living room where about twenty people. I see my father standing in front of my mother. She is going in on him hard. I hear the name Pearl and then it’s like a slow motion picture and everything starts to move frame by frame. In my mind’s eye my mom is cussing and spewing anger and hate out of her mouth I only remember a few words, but I can see the spittle flying slowly through the air hitting my father drop by glistening silver drop on his face, neck and on his clothes. I can see how those little flecks sit on his shirt shiny and glistening then being slowly dimmed as they are absorbed in the fabric of his shirt like little silver suns going out. I feel the passionate fury my mom is emanating its like a white-hot heat. While I am registering these minute details its like I turn or pan mid scene; but the reality is that I see everything all of it at once like every atom in the room are my eyes. I notice my fathers face has the look he has when he is reading… that calm interested absorbed look like when he is doing the crossword puzzle, and even though he has this look I notice that his right arm is coming around in the prettiest hook my eyes have ever seen thrown to this day; it is moving so slow its like it makes course corrections to its target, I see the muscles in his forearm twitching… watch as the fingers of his fist loosen slightly and tighten up again. My mother does not even see it coming so engaged in her rage is she.
When the punch connects its like things start skipping frames. Fist to jaw contact. Now I lay me… Blackness. My mom halfway to the floor in mid-fall. Down to sleep…. Blackness. My mom on the floor face already swelling. I pray the Lord…. Blackness. A bright thin red stream of blood pouring out of the corner her mouth. My soul to keep…. Blackness. I look at her eyes they are open and glassy. If I should die…. Blackness. She does not move, not a single twitch. Before I wake…. Blackness. I think she’s dead and I scream it out loud “my mommy is dead!!!” I pray the Lord…. Blackness. The entire planet is silent. Suddenly I realize she is snoring softly and it grows in volume until it’s rattling the walls like it does when she is sleeping in their bed. As she exhales the pool of blood under her face ripples and bubbles like a small pond. My soul to keep… Blackness.
And then oomph! Everything is electric light and loud and moving fast and people screaming and it’s all a blur like with afterimages burned into my eyes and brain. My father’s boys surround him like he is the first black POTUS and whisk him away down the steps into a car waiting with the doors open…. they all seem to get in the car at the same time and the car speeds away out of my line of sight all I hear is the roar of the engine and the doors slamming shut. Thousands and thousands… no millions of hands pick me up and carry me off somewhere….. God bless my mommy and my daddy….. Blackness. Blackness. Blackness.
Seconds, minutes, hours or days later I don’t know how long anything was or lasted I just remember doing what came naturally saying the only prayer I knew over and over again in my head like a nagging ear worm from a really bad song or corny commercial. I do remember visiting my mother in the hospital once and seeing her with metal plates and screws and suction tubes going into and out of her wire filled mouth. My mother’s two blackened eyes that seemed so sad and to be running with all the world’s tears looking at me with love and pain from a pile of pillows.[How do you even get two black eyes from one punch in the jaw?] But…….. What I remember most was the smell; the rust and iron like odor of blood her entire body exuded when she hugged me and for just that one time ever my mother did not smell like my mommy.