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

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Chapter 9


It was Friday and Sand and I were headed to Tracy’s for the weekend. Late Saturday morning Tracy, Sand and I walked down the hill out of the neighborhood to the shopping complex.

Tracy was going to meet some boy who she planned to smoke weed with. We met the boy behind the store and we stood around talking as he pulled out a joint. I knew what they looked like since Momma smoked weed on the regular.

Tracy smiled “You smoking Joyebell” she asked? “I guess” I said. The boy laughed “Ain’t nothing to it” he said. He lit the joint and showed me how to inhale. He passed the joint to Tracy who inhaled deeply and then blew smoke out of her mouth; she hit the joint once more, and passed it to me. “Here Joyebell” she choked out.

I took the joint and held the end of it between the fingertips of my index finger and thumb. “Don’t pull hard Joyebell” Tracy reminded me. I inhaled and started choking and coughing at the same time; and my eyes were watering!

“No, you breathing it in” the boy said. “Suck and inhale the smoke like you do a cigarette, this way” he said, as he pointed his finger to his mouth and traced it under his chin and down his throat to his chest. “Oh” I thought, I know how to smoke a cigarette.

I started to feel pretty relaxed as I watched the joint get passed. Sand declined when the rotation came to her. “Tracy, let’s do shotguns” the boy said excitedly. “Yeah, that will be easier for her” Tracy chimed in.

The boy took the joint and stuck the end that was burning into his mouth, but started laughing when he looked at my face and dropped it. “It’s okay, I am not letting it touch the inside of my mouth” he explained.

“I hold it in my mouth and blow air through it to push the smoke out” he said, as he pointed to the end of the joint that you usually smoke from. “When I blow the smoke out, all you need to do is suck it into your nose or mouth and hold it, okay” he asked?

He demonstrated on Tracy first. He stuck it into his mouth and blew big air cheeks as a trail of smoke came out the end of the joint. Tracy stuck her face to the end of the joint sticking out of his mouth and inhaled the smoke up her nose. She held it in and then blew it out. “Come, you try” he said.

He stuck the joint back into his mouth and started to blow smoke; I placed my face in front of the smoke and inhaled it up my nose. It was easy this way! They had not told me how long to go, so I inhaled as long as my lungs would allow me. I had great lungs!

“Oh she can go” the boy said. I had been holding the smoke and finally exhaled. “Come on; do it again” he said before I could catch my breath good.

He blew and I inhaled for a long time; trying to show off with how long I could inhale. I went so long that the boy kept burning the inside of his mouth with the fire from the shorting joint; when I ran out of air I started to choke and cough. Everything went white!

I couldn’t hear or see anything but white; like I was inside a cloud. I heard far away voices. “Sand? Are you calling me Sand” I thought to myself. Movement; “Are we moving” I asked the clouds? “Yes we are moving” I felt someone holding my hand.

“Mama gonna kill me” I heard Tracy say, she sounded scared. “Joye, you okay” I heard Sand asking me, but I could not see her! “Oh my God, I am blind” I hear myself yelling! In slow motion I hear “Stop it”.

The next thing I remember is somebody shaking me really hard! “Did somebody just hit me in the face” I ask? “What’s wrong with you Joyebell” I hear someone yelling; it’s Aunt Marilyn, she was shaking me!

“Tracy what did you give her, Sanwan you okay” she asked? “We just smoked some weed” Tracy told her. I could hear better, but I still could not see anything. “Lay her down” Auntie said. That was the last thing I heard or remember before waking up the next day.

Tracy gave me a joint to take home. Momma was in an uproar when we got there; I went out in the back yard and smoked some of the joint. When I came back into the house, Momma’s voice wasn’t so big. I didn’t feel as much as Momma stomped around the house fussing about a chore that was not completed correctly before leaving to go to Tracy’s house.

When she slapped me, I almost laughed… I liked weed.

It’s late Saturday morning and Sand, Kooky and I are sitting in the den watching the Road Runner and laughing. We hear the front screen door open and slam closed… hard! We can hear and feel Momma’s heavy footsteps as she stomps towards the den; towards us!

My heart is racing, I look at Sand and she is scared too, our eyes say “I didn’t do anything, did you?” We look at Kooky who shrugs his shoulders and starts breathing hard; lightly wheezing.

I didn’t know if we had done something wrong or if we were about to be beat! Before I could finish bracing myself, Momma burst into the room “Come help your mother!” I was instantly relieved that Sand and I were not in trouble, but my heart was still racing because “Come help your mother” meant it was time to fight! It was on and popping time!

“Who is it Momma”, Sand and I are both asking at the same time. Momma did not respond as she stomped into her and Corn’s bedroom. She reaches into the closet and pulls out Corn’s shotgun; then reaches for the box of bullets and loads them into the shotgun! Kooky is standing in the bedroom doorway that leads to the den looking, he turned around and went back into the den, sat down and continued to watch Road Runner.

Momma handed the shotgun to Sand, as we walked out of the bedroom towards the front door. She stops. “Sand you keep this gun pointed at Miss Debra and don’t you let nobody else jump in the fight!

Keep your back to them bushes and can’t nobody sneak up on you; Joye you know what to do!” She kicked the front screen door opened and we followed behind her, down the front steps to the end of the driveway and made a left.

I was shocked; Miss Debra was the lady that lived three houses to the left of us with her wife Miss Mable. Miss Debra was a big woman, bigger than Momma; taller too! She moved about slowly throwing her heavy hips from side to side when she walked.

Miss Mable, Miss Debra’s wife, was a big lady too, but short like Momma. For the most part she was a happy lady; always laughing and smiling when she was at our house, which was a lot.

They would come over to drink and smoke weed with Momma several days a week. They would get drunk off of Johnny Walker Red and dance in the living room, which meant Momma was in a good mood.

They seemed to be the best of friends, so Miss Debra had to really have done something wrong since Momma wanted to fight her now.

We fought dirty, but even I was scared about this fight. Momma is walking in the front; I am in the middle and Sand is in the back with the shotgun pointed towards the sky.

As soon as we got to the driveway of Miss Debra’s house, Momma looked at Sand and pointed to the bushes; Sand backed up until her back touched the bushes, she then lowered the shotgun into shooting position.

The shotgun seemed to be as big as Sand. She had one little hand towards the front of the gun, and her other hand near the trigger ready to shot on Momma’s command; it had to be heavy.

I was standing next to Momma in Miss Debra’s front yard, as she came sashaying out onto her front porch yelling. “Oh you brought yo daughters!” She laughs, “What the fuck ya’ll gon do? I’mma fuck you and yo daughters up” she said as she came down her front steps.

Momma is standing next to me talking out the corner of her mouth… “Don’t go nowhere” ”Stay right here, stay right here” ”Let her come down the stairs” “Not yet Joyebell… you ready…GO!”

Just as she is almost to Momma, I start walking towards her saying “Please don’t hurt my Momma, please don’t hurt my Momma”, which lets me get close to her.

As soon as I am close enough to reach her, I grab the collar of her shirt and with all of my might I pull down and lay my dead body weight on the ground; which causes her to bend over and puts her at fighting level with Momma.

She is trying to get me to let go of her shirt so she can stand up to fight Momma. “Joye let go of my shirt” Miss Debra yelled. I am crying now. “I can’t let go, I’m so sorry” “I can’t let go” I wail!

While she is bent over trying to get loose, she is now at eye level with Momma. Momma is beating her in the head with all her might; no mercy! “You wanna hit people in the head with trash cans” “I’mma show you” she said as she hit Miss Debra like she was a man.

“You mad cause you want this and can’t NEVER get it” Momma yelled, as she beat her in the head.

As I am holding on and Momma is beating her, I hear the gun cock… BOOM! All three of us jumped and stopped, Miss Debra fell to the ground.

I looked back at Sand and she is pointing the gun at the porch, Miss Mable has come out of the house. Miss Mable stops, Sand is crying… “Don’t make me shoot you, please don’t make me shoot you”.

Miss Mable backs back into the house, Sand points the gun back at Miss Debra; Momma raises her foot and stomps Miss Debra in the face. “Come on Joye” she says as she waves at me and walks backwards to the driveway to where Sand stood; I ran over.

She takes the gun from Sand and pushes us behind her as we backed our way back down the drive way. As soon as we hit the side walk Momma yelled “Run home”!

Holding the gun ready to shoot, she quickly walked backwards to our house; turned and ran inside and locked the door! Momma took the gun and placed it under Sand’s mattress in our room.

Someone had called the police because the next thing we knew they were knocking at our door. Momma answered the door and the police said… “Step outside ma`am”.

Momma told them that she was defending herself from Miss Debra, who was making advances. Momma had told them no and cussed her and Miss Mable out in their front yard.

As she turned to walk out their yard, Miss Debra picked up their tin trash can and hit her in the back of the head with it.

Momma denied us helping her fight and told the police that it is was crazy to think that she would jeopardize her babies by having us fighting grown people or giving us a gun.

The police said that he was taking both of them in for battery, so they both dropped charges on each other; Miss Debra for hitting Momma in the head with the trash can and Momma for fighting her after the fact.

Miss Debra and Miss Mable moved off Carl Street shortly after that.

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