Daddy Presley was still showing up to the house drunk wanting to see Kooky. He would bang on the door; drunk, yelling for his son and always ending up crying. Momma called either grandma Bertha or if she was in a bad mood, she called the police.
Momma told grandma Bertha that she would let daddy Presley see Kooky if one, grandma Bertha was there; two if daddy Presley was not drunk when he picked up Kooky; and three, ONLY if they took all three of us.
They had to let us all come over to be able to see Kooky. Momma would say, ‘if you can’t love them all, then you can’t see Kooky’.
So when Kooky went to visit, Sand and I went with him to grandma Bertha’s house. Kooky would hang out with daddy Presley in the back, Sand would drift from the TV in the living room, to the back room with daddy Presley, she seemed angry to have to be there and did not seem to like grandma Bertha that much, but I practically stalked grandma Bertha, sitting with her in her room.
Grandma Bertha, like daddy Presley, loved to drink and was very social. She kept on her night stand next to her bed, what I first thought was a glass of water, but learned the hard way that it wasn’t by nearly choking to death drinking from the glass!
She would be sewing the outfit that she was planning to wear out that evening. I watched her, trying to learn how to sew; while she listened to jazz music, scatted along with the singers and drank vodka. When you entered her room it was magical just like her!
To the right of the room was a king sized bed with pretty sheets, and a huge closet with more clothes than I had ever seen before; shoes hanging on the doors, shoe and hat boxes on the shelves and on the floor.
To the left of the room were dress forms in her size that had fabric and patterns pinned to them. There was a sewing machine and a huge dresser cabinet that had so many little drawers that she kept sewing things in; I would spend hours in her room going through them. There were magazines everywhere and torn magazine pictures tacked on the walls.
She always had jazz playing and Ella Fitzgerald was her favorite! Grandma Bertha would get drunk and jump up and down on the bed with me, Sand and Kooky singing Ella songs!
“Yadatda yadatda dayat yat” “Come on Joyebell, you can keep up”, she would yell to make me keep up with her and Ella; that’s how I would learn to scat, love jazz music and to love fashion; my grandma Bertha! I LOVED HER! I felt quiet on the inside around her.
So every other weekend at grandma Bertha’s became the norm, I was happy to go.
Sand came home earlier in the week sick and before I knew it, I was sick too; I had caught what Sand had. By the end of the week Sand was feeling better, but my cold had settled in my chest and it was hard to breath.
That morning Momma rubbed Vics vapor rub on my chest and placed some under my nose so I could breathe. I rested in bed and slept most of the day away. I awoke later that evening to Corn standing over me.
Sand and I had our beds side by side with some space in between them. Corn was standing between the two beds, standing over me with medicine and the Vics in his hands. He gave me some cold medicine first. He then told me to raise my shirt so that he could put the Vics rub on my chest.
As he spread the rub, he kept rubbing my breast area. My ears started pounding!
He stared at my chest funny for a long time. He just kept rubbing the Vics in over and over on my chest, staring and not saying a word. When he was finished he pulled my shirt down and left me in the room, with my chest burning from all the vics he rubbed into my chest.
Sand and I stood in two kitchen chairs at the sink; washing dishes and playing in the suds. Sand washed and I rinsed and dried.
We finished washing the dishes and went back to play in our bedroom. We heard Momma’s heavy footsteps as she entered the kitchen.
I heard her open the refrigerator door and then place something on the table. She came into view as she walked to the cabinet and pulled the cabinet door open, and pulled out a plate. She looked at the plate, as she turned to walk back to the table, but stopped in her tracks.
Sand and I looked down at our toys when she looked in our direction. My heart and ears are pounding! “Com’mere Sand” Momma growled low. Sand’s face looked like she was in pain, as she got up and walked into the kitchen and stopped.
“Come here” Momma said slowly, pointing to the spot on the floor directly in front of her. Sand clasped her hands in front of her, with her arms stretched straight down as she moved forward.
Sand flinched extremely hard, throwing her hands up to protect her face from a blow; but Momma only shoved the plate closer into Sand’s face. “Why is there food on this plate? Why?” Momma yelled!
“Don’t you move” Momma said. She walked over to the table and in one motion, picked up the big heavy beige and tan ceramic salt shaker; turned, grabbed Sand by the back of her neck and slammed the salt shaker down on Sand’s forehead! The salt shaker shattered!
She let go and Sand hit the floor, but Sand was slowly standing back up; as I stood frozen in the doorway of my bedroom. I can see blood pouring to the floor.
As she straightened up, she looked at me and I start screaming; blood was all over Sand’s face and was dripping onto the gold and tan swirled linoleum in the kitchen!
Sand screamed with me and then looked at the blood in her hands; her scream morphed into the most painful sound! I could see the meat hanging out from the cut above her eye! My screaming made Momma angrier.
“What you hollering for” Momma yelled at me! “You done made it worse than it was, she hollering cause you hollering” Momma said as she grabbed me by the hair!
“I’ll give you something to holler about” she growled as she punched me over and over in the face and head! She shoved me back into the bedroom and turned and picked Sand up who was now laying on the floor in her own pool of blood.
She took Sand into the bathroom and cleaned her up and brushed the salt out of her hair. Momma held a cloth against Sand’s forehead, but she could not stop the bleeding.
Momma and Corn took Sand to the emergency room where she got 12 stitches over her little eye; Momma told them Sand fell and cut herself on the edge of our kitchen table.
Sand and I stayed home for more than a week until my bruises were almost gone and Sand was better.
I opened my bedroom door to go in my room and Sand almost jumped off the bed. “What’s wrong with you” I asked Sand?
“I thought you was Corn” Sand said with a strange face. “Why your face look like that” I asked her as I sat next to her on the bed. I already knew but wanted her to tell me.
“He keeps coming in the bathroom when I am using it” she said. “Who, Corn” I asked? “Yes” Sand said as she lowered her head. “He keeps standing in the door way looking at me” she said. “Me too” I said! “What else he do” I asked?
Corn had been touching me every chance he got since he rubbed Vics on my chest when I had a cold. Sand wouldn’t say anything. “Is he touching you” I asked? Sand shook her head “yes”.
Corn had been getting worse lately. He wasn’t only opening and staring from our bedroom and bathroom door anymore; he was now touching.
He said he was making sure that I was wiping properly while using the bathroom or giving me long hugs with his hands low and squeezing my bottom; he even kissed me on the mouth.
After each time, I said I was going to tell, but I was afraid of Momma getting mad; and then after a period of time had passed, I just pretended it didn’t happen. I blinked back from my thoughts and looked at Sand.
“We gotta tell Momma” I say to Sand. Her eyes grow large and my heart raced at the thought of telling Momma. She was going to be mad! “Not tonight, but we will tell her okay” I said to Sand?
She looked relieved, as she shook her head ‘ok’.