Essays W/ SA

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills

“True love can come more than once.” –Tyler Perry

 

As a single father I can’t believe to begin the story that I am about to tell you, but this is what happened.

My wife, Sinclair, ran off about three months after our twins, Selena and Malaki, were born. I was a bit devastated but I accepted it. I always knew the day that we weren’t going to work was coming, my sister was always in my ear telling me things that I didn’t necessarily want to hear like, “that woman is a whore, Henry.”

I denied it for quite some time until I came home and found my babies screaming at the top of their lungs in the play pin by themselves, she was nowhere to be found. It hurt for a while but I didn’t allow it to get the best of me, told myself that the best thing to do was just raise my babies and keep it moving along.

That’s what I did. I needed to buy them some more formula because they were running low. If they ran out of the damned powder then I was in for the problem of my life. I called over their babysitter one evening in late October when I got home from work, her name was Flora. She lived only about five minutes away. She came to keep them while I made my way to Kroger. I was just trying to grab a couple of things that they needed like diapers, formula, and some vegetables for myself. I was just strolling up and down the grain aisle when I saw this beautiful, I mean beautiful woman.

She was brown-skinned, no tattoos, natural hair, and warm eyes. She had a soft smile, the kind that you knew was nurturing just by the way the corners of her mouth rose up slowly lifting up those soft velvety cheeks. It was something about the way she looked into my soul that sent my stomach churning. I loved it.

I approached her, slowly, because it something luxurious about her warm brown skin that I didn’t just want to touch, rather, enjoy. I tried my hardest to not seem as if I was drooling over her, but in my head, I knew all of the things that I was fantasizing. “Hello, my name is Henry, and you are?” I gave her a moment to answer.

“Beverly.”

“Beverly, like Beverly Hills?” I asked her with a witty smile

“Something of the sort, more like, Beverly Andrews.”

She smiled and giggled, just a little, and I knew that I was in there. I took out my phone and asked her to place her number on the inside of it. I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for our future. She seemed to enjoy talking to me just as much as I did to her and everything seemed to be just fine.

I knew I had to hurry home to my pups, they were back at the crib waiting on me. I locked my iPhone and didn’t say anything else to her as I made my way to the counter.

Once I checked out I sent her a text as soon as I got in the car and she responded. It had been at least a week that went by where we were trading messages back forth and then phone calls every so often. I would be interviews, she would text me something flirty, I would smile, and my day would be made.

I’ll never forget that this is how the beginning of the story went.

She made it clear to me that she was a school math teacher for fifth grade students that lived some miles away, I thought that was sweet, especially with her warm eyes, she had to be the perfect teacher for them. She talked to me about her love for numbers, how she dreams of one day opening her own math academy, and then later moving to a different state for a fresh start. I supported her dreams.

 

***

When I was 14 years old I was stolen from my family. I don’t really know what was to come of that time because I was taken all the way to a different state where I was forced to strip at night after having to escape on my own. It was hard. I can’t believe all of the things that were happening to me and now that I’m 26 the only thing that I long for is love and support, but there’s no one to really give that.

That is, until I met Henry. He told me about his wife, his twins, and the financial predicament that he was in because of his divorce, student loan debts, and not being able to find a job within the last last six months due to having to raise his babies. I knew it was hard for him, but it was more difficult for me, emotionally.

I wanted to tell him that at night I dance, but how could I dare get those words out when I knew that he would be disgusted with a woman like myself. Let’s face it, his family are all Catholic and I’m just a silly street whore with no background of how to begin to be “proper.” When I met Henry, I knew that he was different from all of the other men that I spend a lot of time around. He was soft, sweet, and overall, loving. The kind of man he is deserves a good wife and warm plate, something that I can’t provide. I’ve always sexualized men, just not him. He seems like a friend.

He’s been texting and calling me, I’ve been creating this story about being a teacher, but I can’t tell him that I dance. I want to tell him, but it’s been so much easier just sharing my aspirations, and creating this person that I wish I was than to reveal this ugly reality that I face. A reality that I didn’t create for myself. I hate my life.

***

I thought it would be a nice idea to have dinner with Beverly and the babies especially because I’ve been telling her so much that has been going on within the past couple of months. I thought she could be the beginning of a new start. So, one night I called her up and invited her over.

I was nervous, of course. When my wife left, the house hasn’t been the same. Everything was dirty, the linen wasn’t washed the same way, my furniture seemed to feel run down. I just thought it was nice to have her over so I tried to clean the best way I knew how.

I cooked mashed potatoes, zucchini, asparagus, and steak. I poured us both glasses of wine while Flora took care of the babies. As soon as Beverly came into the house I could feel the electricity run from my feet to my neck bone, boy it was a chill. She came over dressed in this nice all black jumpsuit, her hair was straightened, the makeup she wore was nicely done, not overworked. I was amazed with what I saw.

Flora, only eighteen, noticed the grown woman at the door and instantly placed Malaki down in order to greet her. I hired a sweet, sweet high school senior who was pretty good with kids. She always wore green with ribbons in her afro. She said that she wanted to go to college for Forensic Science, I treated her like she was my daughter as well.

But, I did notice that there was something between Flora and Beverly at the door, they greeted each other but Beverly seemed to have a bit of disgust for the young lady. I told her not to worry, she’s only my sitter, and then a wave of calmness came over her. I wondered what it was about, but then again, that’s women, right? They’re always so territorial.

We sat at the table and ate dinner, she began to elaborate about how tiresome children can be, the long lesson plans that she needed to create, and how tiresome of their attitudes she was whenever she would come home. I told her that I wasn’t ready for my days as being a lawyer, the time can’t come quick enough, but whenever it does I don’t think I’ll be ready for the backseat. We laughed.

Afterwards, she hugged the babies and told them she loved them a lot and made her way to the front door. She kissed me good night and promised to come over again later.

That dinner really hit a cord for me. A smart woman with an amazing conversation was all I needed in the middle of my world while I was dealing with everything that I had going on. I knew that it was the best thing for me. So, what did I do next? I invited her over, I thought maybe we could have a lover’s night.

Within the next three days I had the date all hooked up, I told her to be over by eight, the babies would be with my mom about an hour away, and we could cuddle up on the couch together. I reassured her that there was nothing to worry about as far as Flora and that there would be more than enough food (partially a lie, but I wanted her comfortable nonetheless).

***

The first dinner with Henry was amazing. Granted, I had to become a completely different woman, but I must have done it well because I got invited back to spend the night with him. I couldn’t do it. I knew what it would lead to. He was the one man in my phone that I wasn’t sleeping with, so what did I do? I stood him up. I know, I was wrong, but standing him up was better than giving him HIV.

I decided to dance that night, instead. At least I wouldn’t have to walk away with a kind of guilt that I couldn’t shake at all.

***

Beverly agreed to come over. I was excited, although I didn’t plan on sleeping with her, I just wanted to hold her in my arms and maybe give her a kiss.

I can just think back to when I was waiting and waiting for her to come, but she never showed up. I should have known. A woman with that kind of intelligence doesn’t just agree and then follow through. I was married to my wife for about five years and dated her all throughout high school, I almost forgot the games that women play.

Well anyway, I was disappointed and ended up going to sleep. The movie was blaring on the TV screen while the wine drunk, from Merlot, held me all throughout the night.

When I woke up the next morning I was a bit sad and I waited for her to text me, but days and days went by and there wasn’t anything coming to my phone that was in her name. I was trying to figure out what was happening but I couldn’t seem to make sense of it all.

I called her to ask if she was alright, there was no answer. I felt dismayed. I kept calling and calling but there was nothing.

***

Stacy was the kind of woman that I didn’t ever want to share the stage with because she was an attention whore. I remember whenever she would work alongside me not only would I leave with less than what I made but she would always push me to the side as she did dirty things in my spot. She played dirty.

T.O. was the man over us. He was always in charge of everything, and he noticed just how rough she likes to play so I was trying my hardest to not think too much about it. I told myself, you still going to make this money. That’s what I did. After the show, about a day after I ditched Henry, T.O. caught me in the back room yelling at Stacy. I took the money off of the floor and threw it in her face as I yelled, “I’m never coming back again!”

He walked in, a huge, gruffy kind of guy with muscles for days, and he said to me, “Baby, baby, calm down. I got you.” Then he took out his gun and shot Stacy in the stomach. He turned to me and said, “You’re the only one I need anyway.” He then kissed me on my face and took me into the backroom.

We don’t discuss the things that happen in the back room because we like to keep stuff private, but what I will tell you is that T.O. and I got so high that I don’t remember half of the night. I swung my hair to my back and licked all over him until I couldn’t feel my tongue anymore.

Now, as you can assume, I don’t have a home, there is no apartment or house to go back to. Usually it’s hotel after hotel after hotel and occasionally a shelter home. I do not have the paperwork to identify myself as having a high school education, I can’t tell you how to pay a bill, but what I can say is that I know the streets in and out.

I was taught to be smart enough to count the money I make, articulate enough to read, and well enough to dance. Those are the rules. When T.O. and I spent the night in the backroom I can’t tell you how I woke up next to a dumpster.

My body was stiff and I couldn’t find my phone. A police officer startled me, “Excuse me, excuse me, Miss.” Those were his words. I didn’t have any identification and he took me downtown. He asked if I knew of anybody that would take care of me, the first person that came to mind was Henry but I didn’t have a phone to call him. I said no, and I was taken down to holding. Later, when I was released, I walked back to my club and waited for the sun to go down in order to dance again.

***

I had been waiting by the phone for at least a week and a half, I can’t tell you what was to come of her. She finally did call me and laughed. I asked, “What’s so funny? I haven’t heard from you.” She didn’t say a word. She just kept giggling and giggling, then I hung up on her.

Beverly. Man, that woman. I just didn’t know what to think about her. The babies were alright, still not enough formula or work to create the household that I wanted to have, but somehow I was clinging to this woman for my joy. Beverly called me back, again, “Baby, I’m sorry.”

She had a thick southern accent, from time to time, but nothing that I hadn’t heard before. My family hail from South Carolina. I didn’t say anything except, “It’s alright, can you come home?”

She said yes, she would be by as fast as she could. I noticed that the number she called me from wasn’t the one that I had her name saved under, but I didn’t think twice to question it. I just minded my business and waited for there to be a knock at the door.

When she said as fast she could I thought she meant a hour or two later, but she didn’t show up for another week or so, by now it’s early December and I understood how busy it can be with preparing for the last tests and winter break. I didn’t pressure her. But, God almighty, I longed to see her.

Beverly knocked on my door late, late one night, crying. She wore some regular jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt. She looked neat, but disturbed. I asked, “What’s going on with you?”

“There has been a death in my family, that’s why I have been away for some time.”

We hugged and since it was raining outside I sat next to her on my couch. I asked her what exactly was going on, how did the person die, and who was it? She told me that her grandfather passed away and that he died of Cancer, she had been going back and forth from the hospital to take care of him, and she didn’t want to be at her house due to all of the family so she asked if she could stay at mine. Of course, I agreed.

I promised that I would be there for her.

“Forever, always, and no matter what?” She looked me dead in the eyes, and I said, “Yes, no matter what.”

We kissed. Boy, that was the first time I kissed her and next thing I knew I took her into my room and we made love all night long. The next morning, I felt like a new man.

I made her breakfast and then we started the day. I suggested that she should bring some clothes over and stay a while, but as you might suspect, she declined. Instead, she got dressed to leave sometime around noon, and once Flora was able to come take care of the babies I went for a long drive. I wasn’t quite sure if having sex was the best idea, but it make me feel happy to know that I have a woman all to myself.

***

The truth is I didn’t mean to have sex with Henry, I knew I would infect him, but I just couldn’t tell him “no” in the moment.

Guilt. The feeling of dreading what I had done settled all into my stomach and the only thing that I could do was live with it.

Such a nice, nice, man but now his opportunity to be with a more wholesome woman was stripped away because of my sneakiness. I don’t know that I can live with myself anymore.

***

I should have seen the future coming. I didn’t, I just hung by the phone line waiting and waiting for that number to call back. It got to the point where I was answering for all the unsaved numbers that were calling my phone. That should have been a tell tale sign, but I ignored it, just thinking that I had it all figured out.

She never called. I was taking care of the babies during the school hours and then at night I kept going for long, long drives, hoping that I could take my mind off of everything that was happening. I knew things weren’t adding up but I just kept giving her the benefit of the doubt.

It was one night, maybe two or three days later, I was rocking Selena while Malaki was already sleep, Selena wouldn’t stop crying, and then I heard a knock at my door. Man, it had to have been around three in the morning. I can remember because the babies always had distinct feeding and sleeping times, they still weren’t old enough to sleep through the night.

When I heard the knock I carried Selena in my arms to the front door and there she was. This is the night that I wanted her to do a lot of explaining but I was so passive, man, I was a wimp. Her clothes hung off of her shoulders, her hair was thrown all over her head. She had on these clear heels that whores in movies wear, her lips were smudged in old lipstick, makeup running down her face. At the sight of her I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.

My stupid ass asked her the most obvious question a man could wonder, “What happened to you?”

She stared at me in my eyes and then began to cry, “I got into a car accident on my way home.”

Granted, I wanted to ask where her car was, or the keys, or if she had called the cops but instead I told her to come in, but to be quiet because Malaki was sleeping.

When she got onto my bed I wanted to kiss and have sex with her but I stopped myself, I pulled her off of me and looked into her eyes and said, “Do you need money for insurance?” Something told me that she wouldn’t have it to pay any deductible or fees, but the guilt was weighing in on my heart over not being there for her financially like I had my wife.

She said yes and only asked for about three hundred. I took out my wallet and gave it to her, but on the inside I could feel myself praying to God that I would be reimbursed because the babies wouldn’t have money from their mother until after some of these court cases surpass, that is, if she even appears in court.

Beverly landed a kiss on my cheek and just put the money in her pocket, we rolled over and went to sleep. When I woke up she was gone.

I felt desperate.

 

***

Henry, as loving as he is, is probably the stupidest man I’ve ever dated. I think I understand why his wife left him, I think it has a lot to do with how naive he can be and never saying no, she probably got tired of dealing with a hopeless romantic who places himself in bad situations.

The guilt that I had felt was gone after that night. I started to believe that he was just a pathetic man that I could always have my way with. I snorted that three hundred and I don’t feel bad about it, those highs were amazing.

T.O. and I had a blast together, although when he asked where I got the extra cash from I just told him it was from a friend of a friend that owed me some debt.

I have never prostituted, I tried it once but my body felt overtaken. I never did it again. But, what I have done is lie my way towards money; Henry wouldn’t have been the first time. I thought about what it would be like to save, but because I feel like an immigrant in my own country I could never open an account. If I could, I would save to get my GED.

I told T.O. about my dream and he got mad at me. “I shot that bitch for you to tell me that you want to leave?” Then he punched me in my jaw. I was use to it, being beaten.

“You ain’t never going nowhere, bitch, there’s no GED for you to get, this is your life.”

This is my life. Those words rang through my skull like a bell. This is my life. I could do nothing but think about my future as he tossed me all over the room, he beat me and beat and beat me so bad that by the time he was done I could barely remember how I was thrown from corner to corner.

My body had bruises all over it.

And, the next morning I woke up with my clothes off next to the very same dumpster.

***

Something told me I was wrong for giving her the money but I couldn’t help it. I knew that she needed it. I also felt as if there was no car accident to begin with, but I didn’t owe it to her to judge. I had made a promise to always be there no matter what, that’s what I wanted to stand by.

Thoughts about her weighed in on me so much that whenever the babies would cry I thought about their mother and wishing that our marriage had gone differently. I started to compare the two women and what I realize is that the woman I married changed over time, I asked myself whether or not I had something to do with that transformation.

Sinclair went into college being the woman who enjoyed art, she majored in Art History looking to be a curator at various museums. I knew she had her hiccups with some of her grades but by the time we graduated and she ran off to grad school her self esteem was depleted. I questioned whether or not my personality made her second guess herself.

I never understood why my sister thought of her as a whore, I knew that from time to time she would wear baggy clothes, or show some cleavage, but from what I knew of, she wasn’t sleeping with anyone else.

It never made sense to me why she had abandoned our babies. I knew that the art she loved to do deal with contemporary artists who commented on political themes but never the fact that she would stop loving her kids.

I guess Beverly is the kind of woman that I deserve, after all. I guess when I had a good woman that would dot every “i” and mark each “t” I took it for granted. Although, now that I think of it, Sinclair didn’t do half the things that Beverly did.

Did I change? Did I become a doormat in my own marriage as well? I pondered these things all through January and February while I went through another withdraw from not having Beverly around.

Abusive. That’s how it felt. It felt like all the little games she was playing was a trick to win my heart for all eternity, but what could I do?

What I did was let her back in my house one evening when she came over severely beaten. I began to realize that she was a whore, but I didn’t judge. She wasn’t the kind of whore that my sister made Sinclair out to be because Sinclair was nothing like Beverly.

I put her on my couch, nursed her back to life. Around the same time I caught a cold from the babies. I began to hack and hack.

It got so bad that I was coughing up blood, meanwhile, Beverly was staying with me. This time, she managed to bring a bag.

***

T.O. was beating on me every night. I thought it best to go into hiding, I ran to Henry’s house and stayed there for about a month. I was washing my same clothes over and over again, it got to the point where I told Flora to not come back over until further notice.

I grew close with the babies, they became my own. Until one day I looked up and a woman by the name of ‘Sinclair’ was at the door.

Henry wasn’t home, but I told her that me and him were engaged, she never returned. She gave me money for the children, but I never told Henry about it. I just used it to buy more lines.

When she started calling the house phone I blocked her number. She said that she only wanted to see him in court, but there was no need for a court date. Maybe, now that I look back on it, I should have let her meet with him outside of court just so that I could keep receiving the money, but I decided to allow only a police officer to stop by every once in a while, soon a Marshall, and then later he taken into custody for some time.

I stayed at home with the babies, we were merely in the dark.

***

I never thought I’d end up in prison for the decision of sheltering a prostitute but my choices were a bit too late to take back. Remember when I said that I was coughing up blood? I found out about a week or two later that I was HIV positive.

There was no chance of going back to the life that I wanted to live with my babies and Sinclair, I couldn’t even be a lawyer if I wanted. My twins were placed in foster care, my house was foreclosed, all because I had been chasing God’s version of love for as long as I can remember. I thought that true love was real.

 

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