My junior year of high school started and I signed up for fashion design; if I could not buy new clothes, I would make them.
I loved the class, but I especially liked two of my new classmates. Not many people spoke to me at school, I had successfully managed for the most part to be invisible my 9th and 10th grade years at Skyline. But this boy named Brian Evans and a girl named Theia Turner were nice to me! They smiled at me and everything!
“My name is Brian” he said to me the first week of school; I liked him right away! Theia did not speak much the first week. She was regal; she walked with her head held high and sat really straight in her chair. It was like she knew something I didn’t know.
Brian brought the three of us together in class; and now she talked to me too. Brian was cool and confident; he knew he was going to be a fashion designer. That was all he talked about. He helped me with my patterns all the time, he said I sucked at it; and I did. He would take the time to explain fashion things to me; he was great!
But more importantly, he and Theia spoke to me outside the classroom. When I saw either of them at school, they smiled or spoke to me; and my whole world would change in that moment. I did not feel alone!
“You want to go with me to the South Oak Cliff football game; my cousin is marching in the band” Theia said. “What’s his name” I asked? “Daren Darden, but we call him Diebaby” she said.
I paused; I had not been to any of the school activities before. “Yes, I will go; you gonna pick me up” I asked? “Yeah, me and my cousin Woo will pick you up” she said. I gave her my address and told her how to get to my house in South Dallas.
They picked me up and we headed to Oak Cliff to South Oak Cliff High School. I was excited and nervous; but ready to see the game. Finally half time came. I was excited; this was my first live marching band!
The drum line had me bouncing, as they marched out onto the field. “That’s my cousin Diebaby, he plays the trumpet” Theia said, as she pointed him out. She counted the rows and line members, to make sure I knew who she was talking about.
He was tall and proud; he looked strong, as he marched with long legs that snapped up and down with the rest of the band. He had a trumpet tucked tightly under one of his arms; with his other arm snapping up and down with the rest of the horn section. It was cool the way he pulled his horn to and from his mouth; he was sharp!
After the game, Theia introduced me. “Diebaby, this is my friend Joye” Theia said. “How you doing” Diebaby asked, as he smiled? He tried to be really cool about it, but I knew he liked me. I could tell by the way he showed off with his cousin Woo.
I gave him my phone number and he said he would give me a call.
“Who were you talking too on the phone just now” Corn asked as I hung up the phone? “Diebaby, my new boyfriend” I said. Corn looked at me funny and then walked closer to me and stopped. I backed up and went the other direction.
I went through the kitchen into my bedroom and grabbed the clothes I had laid out. I needed to take a bath and get dressed; Diebaby was about to be on his way to the house. As I walked into the hallway to get to the bathroom Corn is standing in the doorway.
“Where you going” he asked? “Nowhere, Diebaby is coming over for dinner; Momma said he could” I said and kept walking. “Humph” I heard Corn grunt as I closed the bathroom door.
Momma was still cooking when Diebaby arrived. She was all smiles, really nice to him; I was expecting her to be mean or rude, but she wasn’t. She asked him a ton of questions and then said that it would be another 45 minutes or so before dinner was ready.
We left out walking and ended up at my favorite park with the Rocket Slide. He was really sweet and even climbed to the top of the rocket slide with me. We talked and I sang Luther Vandross songs to him. I was always singing Luther Vandross songs. Right before we left the top of the Rocket Slide he kissed me! Sweet and gentle, he kissed me! We headed back to the house for dinner.
He ate at the table with Sand, Kooky and I in the kitchen; by now Michael was living full time with Brenda. He said grace with us before we ate, we always blessed our food; so I loved that he believed in God too. He loved Momma’s food and he seemed to enjoy himself. Corn even liked him.
We continued to talk for several more weeks; he came over every Friday for dinner and we hung out at the Rocket Slide, where I sang to him over and over.
I was in my bedroom changing my clothes and looked up and Corn was standing in the doorway watching. That was it; I had had enough of everything! Momma was back to hitting me and Corn had been watching me for weeks with those eyes. I was leaving tonight before he made his move. Out there was better than in here.
Corn turned around and left the room. “Please don’t let him come into my room tonight” I thought as I quickly started packing some of my clothes in my backpack, until I heard someone coming. I shoved the backpack under my bed, grabbed a book and lay across the bed like I was reading. It was Kooky going out the back door; I continued to act like I was reading while I plotted my escape.
Throughout the rest of the day I packed the rest of my clothes that I was taking, stole food out of the kitchen and packed it in my backpack and by the end of the day I was packed and ready to go. I tried to act normal but it seemed like everyone knew I was up to something. I put pajamas over my regular jeans and t-shirt; and I tried to be patient, while I waited for everyone to go to bed.
I awoke sometime around 3 am in a panic; sat up in my bed and looked around in the dark. I had fallen asleep. Sand was sleep in her bed, as I slowly and quietly climbed out of my bed.
I pulled my pajamas off and put them in my back pack and put my tennis shoes on; it seemed like my every movement was on ‘supersonic loud’ and could be heard. I quietly pulled my backpack out from under my bed and slipped my arms through the straps of the backpack.
I couldn’t go out the back door. Sand would get blamed for helping me, so I was forced to go out the front door. It seemed so far away from my room, as I slowly creep towards the front of the house. The floors squeaked loudly and it felt like it took forever. My heart was pounding as I crept past Momma and Corn’s bedroom door entrance. I managed to get the front door open, stepped out and just as I sat the suitcase down to close the front door… “Who is that” Corn yelled!
My heart hit the floor, as I pulled the front door closed fast and hard. As I let go of the door knob, I heard Corn and Momma’s feet hitting the floor and movement in their room. I almost cried out in fear; but I take off down the porch steps and start running up Carl Street towards 2nd Avenue, as Corn hits the front door yelling for me to stop.
I ran with all of my might! I can hear Corn’s car start, as I am half way up the street.
“Joye bring your ass back here right now!” I could hear Momma yelling, as they were getting in the car.
I hear the rumbling of the car as it is coming up the street. I see the car lights coming, so I jumped into the bushes with my backpack. Momma is yelling out of the car window “Bring your ass back here right now Joye… Joye!”
The car rode past me and turned the corner. I jump back out of the bushes and continue to run in the direction that they had just went and made the same right. I figured they were circling the block, so I needed to get over to the other side of 2nd Avenue. I crossed 2nd Avenue and I ran for another block or two and hid in another set of bushes.
That black evil car passed me again; Momma is still yelling out the window, but she is threating to kill me now because she is mad, but I am thinking “Humph, you got to find me first” they turned the corner, I took off running.
I walked all the way to grandma Bertha’s house. I knocked on daddy Presley’s window; and he finally woke up and let me in. He knew the routine by now and I hid out long enough to regroup and find my next place to stay.
Daddy Presley said Mr. MacWilliams, who owned the house that Momma and Corn rented on Carl Street, had a vacant house located about a 10 minute walk from grandma’s house. It had no lights or water, but it was clean and looked almost new on the inside. Best part was that it was within reasonable walking distance to a Skyline school bus pick up spot. I was set up there by Monday.