I was now 14 years old and it was the end of my 8th grade year at Gaskins Middle School; and I was excited to be starting high school at Skyline that fall.
By now Michael was no longer my boyfriend. His mother had put him out of the house and Momma let him move in with us, but we were no longer allowed to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Which was fine with me, he had become so close to Kooky and the rest of the family that he was already like a brother instead of a boyfriend. And he was back with his old girlfriend named Brenda.
So now I had four brothers and Kooky had someone to hang out with when we left for Tracy’s like we did this weekend.
Sand and I were happy to be going; it was a ‘get out of jail free’ card.
I was ready to smoke and feel better, while we hung out with Tracy. Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Robert Charles were home when we got there and watching TV together; I gave them both a kiss. We got there just as Trent and Tracy were about to go walking in the neighborhood with their friend Trevor.
“They not going with me” Trent said. He did not want Sand and me to go; he thought we were too young even though he and Tracy were only two years older than us.
“They not hanging out with you, they here to see me; so they going with me” Tracy said. I stuck my tongue out at Trent; he rolled his eyes. “Whatever” he said as we set off walking.
After walking around the neighborhood for a while, I asked Tracy, “Where are we going?” “Just to a vacant house that Trevor found yesterday” she said. I got a little nervous. “What are we doing that for” I asked.
Tracy looked like I was getting on her nerves. “We just gonna hang out for a while” she said, which was code for getting high, smoking and drinking.
We don’t want to be outside; mama’s friends’ talk too much. I shook my head okay, because Aunt Marilyn did not play; and I did not want anything getting back to her or Momma!
It was hot as we walked forever. Finally we got to the vacant house and we followed Trevor around to the back side. He fiddled with the window and pushed it up; and we each climbed into the house.
The window led into the dining room area just off the kitchen. The dining room opened up into the living room that had tan carpet.
Everyone went and sat on the carpeted floor in the living room; as Trent pulled out a joint and lit it. Trevor pulled two 16 oz. Slitz Malt Liquor Bulls out his shorts pockets and opened one; he drank some and passed it to the next person.
I declined the beer and did the same when the joint rotation came to me. Everyone looked at me strange; I didn’t drink, but I definitely liked to smoke.
“What’s wrong with you” Tracy asked. “We should go” I said. I couldn’t explain it. I felt so uneasy; my ears were lightly pounding and I couldn’t sit still. “Whatever, more for me” Tracy said. “I told you not to bring her” Trent snapped.
I got up and walked around the house. I went into each bedroom and looked around, checked the windows and closets, ending up at the kitchen’s back door. “Joyebell, come sit your ass down somewhere” Trent yelled!
I stood there staring at the locks on the back door; it had the strangest double lock system and a slide chain. I had never seen a door lock like that before.
I spent the next 20 minutes or so messing with the locks on the door. I practiced unlocking them and then locking them back in place until I had it down. I returned to the living room with the others.
Everyone was relaxed, laid out on the living room floor; high as kites! I walked to the big bay window in the living room and stood staring out; watching. I walked back and forth from the window to the kitchen door a couple of times.
“Man, sit your ass down somewhere Joyebell, you blowing my high” Trent yelled at me! I kept walking. They were laughing and teasing me, but now Sand was quiet and watching me; as we made eye contact.
It was just dusk dark as I walked back to the window. As I looked out a police car pulled up in front of the house; no lights, no siren. “Police” I yelled! Trent shot straight up from the floor and looked out the window. “Damn sho is” he shouted!
Trent jumped up from the floor like ‘go speed racer’, along with Sand and Tracy. Trevor was so high he sat there laughing at us, as we all ran for the kitchen back door; Trent beat us there.
He stood there fumbling with the locks trying to get the back door open. “Let me” I said as I pushed him out of the way. ‘Snap, click, clang’ the door was open! Trent almost knocked me down, as he pushed past me and out the door; I ran out behind him!
As we ran towards the fence at the back of the yard, I notice the man next door is staring at us with his hedge clippers in his hand; mouth open. ‘Whoosh!’ Trent hopped the fence like a track star and disappeared below.
Tracy caught and passed me just before I made it to the fence. ‘Whoosh!’ Tracy was over the fence and disappeared below. “Come on Joyebell” I heard Tracy yell as her voice trailed off! I had to climb up and then jump down, and the fall was further down than it looked. Oak Cliff had backyards that sat up high and the alleys sat below; like a canal.
I fell when I hit the ground; but I was over the fence! I jumped up and saw Sand climbing over the fence; I took off running! “Joye help me I’m stuck” I heard Sand yell! I stopped and looked back. She had made it over, but her shirt was caught on the fence!
As I ran back to the fence, I could see the flash lights moving inside the house; they would be out the back door soon! Sand still had her feet inside the holes on the gate, trying to balance herself; and with the top of the fence so high in the air, I could not reach her shirt to tear it! We both looked at the man in the next yard with the clippers in his hand; “Please” Sand pleaded!
He leaned over the fence, reached out his clippers and cut Sand’s shirt free; sending her falling to the ground. She fell so hard on her back that I thought she was hurt; but as soon as she hit the ground she bounced right up! One of her shoes was still hung up in the fence, along with the piece of her shirt. Sand kicked off her other shoe and we took off running into the darkness of the alley together.
Once we made it to the street, we walked stride-for-stride hoping they could not see Sand’s bare feet as we walked up the sidewalk; a police car drove past us looking for the trespassers. “Thank you Jesus” was all I kept mumbling as bare foot Sand and I walked back to Aunt Marilyn’s.
As we approached the street before Foxboro Lane, we saw Trent and Tracy sitting on the corner; “Where ya’ll been, we been looking for you” Trent yelled with his arms wide and in the air! They knew they couldn’t go home without us; we laughed all the way back to Aunt Marilyn’s house.
The next morning Tracy fired up a joint, while she waited for the curling irons to heat up. She turned on some music; as we headed back to the main bathroom, that had a long large mirror and counter, the length of the bathroom. We were in the mirror dancing to the music and curling our hair.
Aunt Marilyn came in the bathroom smiling, happy and laughing at us. I am trying to curl my hair, but my curl is not acting right. Auntie told me to let her do it for me.
I handed her the curlers and she was curling my hair with the best curls ever. I was watching her through the mirror when all of a sudden I heard SWOOSH in my ears! Everything turned white and I fell backwards!
Auntie caught me while managing not to burn me in the process. I stood back up and Auntie asked me if I have been drinking and I say no. She asked me if I have been smoking and I say yes.
The whole time she asked me questions she stared at me through the mirror, making me uncomfortable. “Are you okay” she asked. I shook my head yes.
She started back to curling my hair, while watching me through mirror; I swayed again! She looked at me, “Joyebell, you pregnant”? I looked embarrassed and mad at the same time; I shake my head ‘No’! “Ok”, she said as she stared at me and finished curling my hair.
Sunday morning Aunty got me up out of the bed while the others slept and took me to the bathroom to take a pregnancy test. We waited, Auntie never said a word; she looked at the results and it read positive, I was pregnant!
I looked at Aunt Marilyn and started to cry. She held me tight and told me that I had to tell Momma or she was going to do it for me. Aunt Marilyn dropped me back home later that day; kissed me as I got out of the car and told me that everything would be alright.
I was pregnant, I couldn’t believe it! Sand and I immediately started saving our lunch money for me to go to the clinic, if I could save the money, I would not have had to tell Momma.
But it was not working, we could not save the money fast enough; I had to raise all the money before I was 12 weeks.
I waited for Momma to finish watching her show ‘Hee Haw’; she was usually in a good mood after watching it and she had smoked her joints while she watched. I came into the room, sat on the chair across from her and I told her that I was pregnant.
She paused, cocked her head to the side, leaned forward with her elbows on her thighs and she started calling me names, and getting louder with each name!
Corn walked in the room. “This slut done got herself pregnant” Momma told him. Corn never batted an eye, he just looked at me and turned and left me alone in the room with Momma and all her rage.
She started pacing back and forth, cursing and yelling at the top of her lungs! “Slut Puppy” “Bitch” “I told you you wasn’t good for nothing but laying on your back”. I stood up in front of the chair.
She swung and I dodged her fist. “Put your hands at your side or I will kill you!” I put my arms at my side and braced… Momma hit me with both of her hands back and forth! “Whose baby is it?” she asked over and over as she hit me. My head was ringing, the room went black…
On Friday Corn came into my room and handed me an envelope with $400 dollars in it, “Go take care of that” was all Corn said, as he walked out of the back room.
Another week passed as I debated back and forth about what to do about the baby. Momma was giving me a hard way to go. And if she had company over, she always tried to find a way to lead conversations in the direction that she could let everyone know that I was pregnant. She wanted to embarrass me every chance she got.