Hopefully Beautiful - "I more than survived... I thrived."

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Chapter 4


Miss Mary was a white lady that lived on the second floor above us in Cherry Oaks apartments. I remember that Momma would talk to her from the ground floor, while Miss Mary hung out her window from the second floor. She was heavy with long dark hair, and she had two sons; James and Delbert.

James was a pale super light skinned little boy, with thick black curls. Delbert looked like an Indian, with his olive brown skin and long straight dark brown hair; they were cute little boys. We played with them when Momma visited their mother.

The first time we saw them, James and Delbert were jumping up and down on their bed, in just their underwear; Delbert had a smashed banana peel stuck to his drawers. How were we to know that they were our future step brothers that would come to stay with us each year at Christmas.

Miss Mary liked to party too! She and Momma would drink and smoke while listening to music. A tall man was always hanging around Miss Mary’s apartment. James said it was their daddy. His name was Cornelius, but everyone called him Corn.

He sat quietly around drinking with Momma and Miss Mary. I saw him watching Momma when Miss Mary wasn’t looking. When they danced to music in Miss Mary’s living room, Corn watched Momma’s body move. He even smiled sometimes as he watched her dance. He seemed to like my Momma’s round plump body; unlike daddy Presley who complained about it all the time.

I even saw Momma smile at him, she smiled a lot whenever he was around. Soon Corn was doing little things for Momma; running errands to the store or giving her rides whenever she needed one. He seemed to look for reasons to stop by and check on Momma.

Momma stopped going to Miss Mary’s house after a while, but Mr. Corn was still coming by to give Momma rides that we were hardly ever allowed to go on. I watched Sand and Kooky while she was with Corn. Daddy Presley was never home and when he did come back, he was so drunk that he never really cared that Momma was not home. He was probably glad he did not have to fight for being drunk and I was sure he had spent all of his money.

Momma soon started complaining and never stopped; that she no longer wanted to live in Cherry Oaks apartments because we were still living in the projects and that she wanted her own house.

Daddy Presley called grandma Bertha like he did for everything and she took us all to look at a house near the fair-grounds off of 2nd Avenue that Momma loved! Grandma Bertha used her credit to rent us the house in South Dallas.

3711 Carl Street

The house was a duplex that had been turned into a single house; it was huge! It had a full length front porch with four columns across the front. It had a huge window running along the left side of the front porch, with one front door to the right of it; then two tall slimmer windows with another front door between them that ran along the right side of the front porch.

The left front door opened into the living room that was connected to the dining room. The dining room had two entrances; a doorway off of the right of the room that led to the den, and a doorway straight ahead that continued to the kitchen. The kitchen also had two entrances; one straight across the kitchen from the dining room doorway that opened to a room at the back of the house. This room was the width of the house, minus the small back porch that the room’s back door opened to; this room became my and Sand’s room.

To the right of the kitchen, there was an entrance that led to a small hallway outside of the bathroom. The hallway served as additional entrances; one to the den, as well as, the second doorway into my and Sand’s bedroom. The right front door opened to the room Momma claimed as her and daddy Presley’s bedroom.

This room had two entrances too; one to the living room and the other to the den. The den had two large tall windows that you could see part of the backyard and the front drive way from; and had three entrances. Momma’s room, the dining room and the bath-room hallway. This became Kooky’s room; he slept on the pullout bed at night.

There was a small back porch, large back yard with a giant tree and a large storage shed.

Momma was obsessed with the house. Almost every Saturday was Spring Cleaning day. We got up at 5 am and started cleaning until EVERYTHING in the house shined, including the base boards.

Everything had to be done a certain way; every day. Clothes had to be folded to her specifications, towels had to have their sides folded inside with the ends matched even; the pillows on the chairs had to be placed perfectly.

Dishes had to squeak when she ran her fingers over them to check if they were cleaned properly. She ran her fingers across tables and shelves; and floor base boards to check behind our work.

She took her shoes off and walked across the floors feeling for crumbs; as she scanned the carpet for crumbs and lint. She pulled out dresser drawers for neatness; and she checked for wrinkles in our sheets and covers.

If she found anything not up to her liking, she made us hold our hands at our side while she slapped us in the face repeatedly. We lived daily in fear of Momma being upset about something being wrong with the house.

Momma would rage so badly that her yelling would scare our new dog Frisky. Frisky Mae King was a miniature Mexican Chihuahua; she was our baby. She looked like the Taco Bell dog.

I used to crochet ballerina dresses with the matching panties, booties and hats for her. She looked like she would be prancing when she walked in her outfits. Sand and I washed her up in the mornings with us; washing her face and brushing her teeth every day.

Momma would be screaming and yelling; and Frisky would start to move slowly creeping out of the room as if trying not to be seen with her head down and her tail between her legs.

Frisky would be trembling and nervous so bad that sometimes she peed on the carpet; which made Momma furious! So Sand, Kooky and I were always trying to clean-up behind Frisky without Momma seeing it, but we could not always hide it.

Momma would yank Frisky up by her little collar, take her to the front door and drop-kick her off the front porch like a football.

Frisky would land on the concrete walkway yelping; sometimes she shit the steps! Momma did that so much that Frisky started having seizures; stumbling from side to side with severe trembles.

Every time Momma hurt Frisky she hurt us; she may as well have been kicking us off the porch onto the sidewalk.

Momma and daddy Presley continued to fight and daddy Presley stayed out later and later; and Mr. Corn was picking Momma up more and more.

A couple of months had passed since our move. It was a Friday night, and daddy Presley hadn’t come home from work yet; but he never came home on time on payday. I heard a knock at the front door; I looked out the window and then ran to tell Momma that Mr. Corn was at the front door.

Momma looked excited and hurried to answer the front door. Corn came in the house with a large bag and sat it down on the living room floor; Momma closed the front door, turned to Corn and they hugged and kissed.

I am shocked! Sand and I are just standing there looking at them. Momma offered no explanation as Corn followed her from the living room into her and daddy Presley’s bedroom, through the door that connects their bedroom to the living room.

After about five minutes they brought bags of clothes out of her room and sat them on the front porch. Wait? Are those daddy Presley’s things!

Daddy Presley came home late and drunk as usual, but he could not get in the house; Corn had changed the locks. Sand and I sat in our back room with Kooky, who was crying; as we listened to daddy Presley cry and bang on all of the windows and doors to be let in the house. It was awful! I had seen him cry before, but never like this.

“Go away Presley” Momma yelled. “You don’t live here anymore” “Getcho shit and get off of my front porch” “You aint no man”. Daddy Presley finally left crying and yelling; and grandma Bertha soon called Momma on the phone.

“I’m tired of Presley shit” “I aint taking it no mo”, Momma is pacing back and forth, she stops, shifts her weight to her left hip, “He f*****g everybody and don’t come home” Momma yelled into the phone at grandma Bertha! “You need to come and get your drunk, sorry ass mama’s boy”.

Momma seemed heartless and did not care; once she was done with something, she was done, especially if she felt like you had done her wrong or she was getting something she wanted in the process.

We started calling Corn daddy right away…

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