Originally intended to be a full novel & collaboration between myself and my good friend Yo’Lana Crocket, the following features an intro & one full chapter she completed before we cancelled the project. The character of Kodi was created by Yo’Lana, while the character of Tyler (who you’ll meet in Part 2 of this) was created by me.
I’ve finally received permission to share a bit of her work again, here on my site, as she’s one of my favorite writers and I feel her work is worth sharing with the world. While I don’t believe we’ll ever complete “Situations” in full, Yo’Lana and I both hope you’ll enjoy.
It was just like me to ask around for some good advice, only to turn around and do some stupid shit anyway.
In this case, it was running back to my no-good ass boyfriend when I knew he would hurt me again, and again if I let him. It was the same old song, playing out until the record scratched or broke. In this case, I didn’t know why I expected different. Or why catching him, once again, angered me as much as it had the very first time. I was used to it.
This time, I had no tears. I was all cried out. This time, I couldn’t scream or curse. I was all out of words.
My actions would have to speak, and only one thing came to mind.
In my mind, the whole scene played out differently. I grab his gun, pistol whip both them, shoot that shit up and dip with what bit of pride I had left.
And I did, left no room for half-assed apologies or explanations. Started with him and finished with her. He would hold that L, and I would go on without hearing from or about his ass again.
But, I did all that without calculating in the fact that him and his side bitch would call the cops on me once I left, once they woke up. I honestly thought he had more sense than to go and make matters worse. I was wrong, and sitting in the very last place I wanted to be.
“Riley! It’s your lucky day. Somebody cared enough to bail you out, again. Kind of sad they came so quickly. Thought I’d get to have a little fun with you.”
I rolled my eyes, flipping off the one guard that got a kick out of seeing me carted in and out of this rundown facility. He was one of those white corrections officer that got his rocks off from seeing black men and women lose their lives, whether innocent or guilty, and he always found extreme satisfaction when us ‘pretty colored gals’ came stomping through. “Next time, I’ll make sure I see you as soon as they bring you in.”
I brushed past him once he opened the cell, ignoring his words and the words of the other women shouting to and at me about what they felt was fair and unfair. “Won’t be no next time.”
I put that on my life. I’d grown tired of the antics and situations that led to moments like this long ago, and for once I wanted to follow through on my plans, to be successful with all the progress I was making to change my ways. This would be my final setback.
Outside of the police station, I was greeted a familiar yet unwanted presence. A smile crept across his face, and instantly I knew that I was indebted, once again, to someone who wouldn’t help or improve any aspect of my life.
His pearly whites flashed, his skin seemed to have an added glow as the sun shone brightly in his face. For the first time since we’d met, he was without dreads. His clean-shaven face gone in favor of a neatly trimmed goatee
He’d grown out of the gangly look that came with his tall and slim stature; exuding that calm demeanor, sex appeal and innate overconfidence men of the Carter clan were known for around the town of Port Arthur.
His tone, as he finally spoke, was one that teased me. Undoubtedly, his desire to preach to me about to take over. I would nip that in the bud quickly. “Every time I hear about you now, you’re in some kind of trouble. Don’t you get tired of causing problems, Kodi? Not just for others, but for yourself. Don’t you get tired of starting and jumping in fights, having the cops called on you, being handcuffed… outside of the bedroom?”
The sly look on his face following his last question did nothing to deter the look of disgust that etched itself across my own. “Every time I see or hear from you, you’re dipping your nose in business it doesn’t belong in. Concerning yourself with people that don’t even like you, let alone think of you enough to reach out to you for anything. Always inserting yourself where you’re not wanted or needed. Don’t you get tired of that, Raheem?”
He shrugged his shoulders, answering dryly. “I mean, I could have continued to let your bum ass ol’ man talk shit about you around town and left you in here all weekend. But since I still have a soft spot for you, I took care of him and rushed over to get you out before they decided to take you to McArthur on Monday morning. Know you can’t get outta there so easily, and you know if word got out, you’d lose much more than a weekend of freedom.” I rolled my eyes, folding my arms across my chest. “So, Beautiful, what do you say?”
He laughed, shaking his head as he stepped forward. The scent of his cologne breezed past me, tickling my nose as he stood in front of me and looked directly into my eyes. “That’s it? Thanks, all bland and shit like you don’t even mean it. That’s the best you got for me?”
I threw my hands up, visibly annoyed. “What you want me to do, Raheem? Jump on you and fuck you senseless for bailing me out? If that’s what you feel I owe you, you can forget it. I’ll find some way to pay you back, with interest if I have to.”
I tried to walk past him, groaning inwardly as he grabbed my arm and pulled me back. He pulled me into his arms, wrapping them around my waist. “Why you always acting so hard? Like you can’t stand for someone to help you. Like you don’t need nobody.”
“Because most of the time you’re only helping to get something in return, not because you care. That might have flown when we were younger and I didn’t care about living recklessly but I am trying to do better and I don’t need your bullshit in my life. I’ve been doing just fine without all of it for the last six years.”
“And doing right includes you bashing some poor girl’s face in with the butt and barrel of a gun, leaving her bloody and unconscious? Okay.”
I jerked away from Raheem, walking off in the direction I knew he wasn’t heading.
Behind me, I could hear heavy footsteps. I picked up my pace, but that only made him walk faster, trying to catch up to me. “Let me take you home, make sure you get back safe.”
“It’s out your way and I am fine. Thanks again Raheem, I’ll have your money sent to you when I get it.”
“I don’t care about no damn money, Kodi. Just,” His footsteps grew heavier, and before I realized it I was in his grasp again. He spun me around to face him, his eyes pleading. “Let me help you. Let me see about you, be there for you… like old times.”
I shook my head, pulling away one last time. “How about you come see about and be there for your son? Or, is dear old Big Daddy still too concerned about his image and shunning his grandkids born out of wedlock?” When Raheem said nothing, I nodded and walked away. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
Mapping out my next moves, I put all thoughts of Raheem and the foolishness that would come with owing him money out of my mind. For the time being at least.
I had a future to focus on. I have to do better.
With my eyes trained on the knob, I fidgeted with my keys as I tried to unlock my mother’s front door. One of the few black people who trusted the world enough to leave her doors unlocked, it surprised me that I couldn’t just walk in for once.
Giving up after a full five minutes, I started knocking on the door. Knowing that at least one person was home, I started banging harder and louder. Eventually, I heard locks clicking and as soon as I took a step back, the door swung open. I was met with the fire and fury that danced in my mother’s eyes. Her graying hair hung past her shoulders, bone straight and swinging from side to side with each roll of her neck. I could tell, before she even uttered a word, that her attitude was on ten, and I had to brace myself.
Remind myself that no matter how old I was, I was still her child and it would never be right or respectful to flash out and disrespect her the way that I would with anyone else.
“Get away from here today, Kodi!”
“I don’t want to hear it!” I sighed, dropping my hands back to my side before I could lift them fully. “You talk all that mess about changing, talk a real good game and make all these promises, and what happens? Didn’t you leave here this morning saying you were going to a couple of job interviews?” I nodded. “And I find out from Sister Eugenia that you’ve been arrested, again!”
I spoke in a hushed manner, knowing good and well that my next statement would get my overgrown ass popped in the mouth one good time. “If Sister Eugenia would mind her business, and worry about her why her teenage daughter is out here fucking the whole block, she wouldn’t have to run to tell you what goes on in a whole other town. That’s just my opinion.”
My mother raised her hand but stopped herself, exhaling sharply. “I am sick of you!”
“Mama, I have been making great strides and you know it! I don’t smoke anymore, I don’t drink anymore, I’m not out here partying and hanging with the wrong crowds. I’m making better strides at being closer to my child. I am trying! I just had a setback today, that’s all.”
“A setback? You were arrested! And behind what? A man that has dogged you since the vey first day you met him? You are truly as dumb as you look.” She fanned her hand in my face, waving me off. “I don’t know why I chose to believe you would change. All that ever changes about you is the color of your hair, and the levels of drama and problems you bring. Never been shit, won’t ever be shit.”
I looked at my mother, seriously considering if I wanted to call her out for her own horrid behavior and lack of parental skills in mine and my siblings youth, but I kept my mouth shut. As others had been telling me for years, I had to stop blaming her actions and old ways for the mess I was causing in my own life.
Still, her words stung because she was far worse than I’d ever been; and just like me, she sought for others to give her chance after chance until she finally pulled herself together.
Before I could gather my words, to say something that wouldn’t lead to me being kicked out, I heard the sweetest voice growing in volume as the little body it belonged to came charging down the staircase behind my mother. “Nana, I hear Mommy’s voice, is that her? Is she back?”
Though I knew it bothered her to do so, my mother stepped aside. Instantly, I threw a smile on my face, bending down and opening my arms just in time to catch my son.
He knocked me back, hugging me tightly before planting gentle kisses on my cheek. “Mommy, I missed you. I missed you so much.” He pulled away momentarily, opening his arms wide. “I missed you this much. That’s a whole lot, so you know it’s real.”
I laughed, hugging my baby tightly. “It was just a couple of hours, Elijah.”
“That’s a long time.”
I nodded, holding on to Elijah as he clung to me. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing would ever feel as great as this. It meant so much because as terrible of a mother as I’d been his entire life, my son still loved me unconditionally. The light in his eyes, when he set them on me, never dimmed.
No matter what, my son still believed in me, trusted me to take care of him. Only saw the good qualities in me, motivated and encouraged me to keep pushing forward. He even prays for me, had been doing so ever since I explained what a prayer was and the power behind one.
I lived off that, thrived off that, made it a point to turn my life around because I never wanted that love to go away. “How’d today go, Mommy?”
Glancing up at my mother, I saw her standing with her arms folded across her chest as she leaned against the doorframe. “Not so well, Elijah. But, tomorrow will be better. How was your day at school?”
“It was awesome. And, I got my report card. I’ll go get it.” He removed himself from my arms, rushing off.
Standing up, I brushed off the back of my jeans. “I don’t know why you come here and get that child excited like that.”
“For the same reason you used to do it to Tyler, Myliek, and I. Only, I stand behind and keep my promises to my child.” I sighed, saying what had been on my mind and heart for some time now. “Mama, if you don’t want me to stay here anymore, just say so.”
“Did that come out of my mouth, Kodi?”
“Nah, not those exact words. But since my key didn’t work, my guess is that you’ve changed the locks, which means I’ll find my clothes tossed beside the garbage can next. Just tell me to go. Elijah and I will be out of your hair.”
She scoffed, standing up straight. “If I were kicking you out, you damn sure wouldn’t be taking that little boy with you. You don’t have two nickels to rub together or a pot to piss in, and I refuse to let my grandchild be moved around, hopping from couch to couch with you. This is my last time telling you Kodi; get your life together.” My mother stormed into the house. She was speaking to herself but speaking loud enough for me, and the neighborhood, hear. “Between you and your sister, I don’t know who does the most to raise my blood pressure. You go to jail behind men, she snivels and whines behind men that wasn’t hers to begin with. Just pathetic, dumb all your lives. God gave me one good child, and took her away after your fast ass turned her on to that horrid lifestyle, left me with Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. Hurry up and come inside, letting all my good, cold air out!”
When she was out of view and earshot, my face fell straight into the mug I’d been holding back. The sarcasm and disrespectful tone I’d pushed back dripped all through the words that left my mouth. “Thanks Mama. You’re totally awesome, Mama. I’m so lucky to have you for a mother, Mama. You’re everything I aspire to be as a woman and mother, Mama.” I closed the door behind me, heading straight for my son’s bedroom. It would be the only place I find peace in this house.
The following morning, I awoke to whimsical music and generic voices saying great job and ohh yeah repeatedly. Looking over my shoulder, I spotted Elijah sitting next to me with his long legs stretched out, munching on a cereal bar while he played a game on my phone.
“Boy, that phone had been dead for a week.” I left it that way on purpose, avoiding all things and people that didn’t mean me any good. “Why do you have it?”
“I plugged it up and let it charge so that I can play the games you have on it. There’s no good cartoons on today, and I was bored, and I didn’t want to go in Nana’s garden.” He took another bite out of his cereal bar, a cinnamon toast crunch one, and proceeded to swipe his finger across the screen.
His smile that followed was wide and bright, beautiful like him. It still amazed me that I had a hand in creating someone so special. Thankfully, I had a physical reminder, a marker that would let the world know he was indeed mine.
While he had almost all my facial features; he was a gorgeous, dark skinned young man like his father. If I had to be honest, everything else about my child came from his father. From his personality to his demeanor and the way he acted and carried himself.
“Just don’t answer any calls, don’t open any messages if they pop up.”
“I’ve been ignoring them the whole time, Mommy.”
I faced the wall again, sighing as I looked at the clock. It was only eleven a.m.. While I should have been out of bed, somewhere across town rushing around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, I was informed late yesterday evening to cancel any and all plans I had. Because I chose to participate in an incident where police were involved, I lost out on four more job interviews I’d secured earlier in the week.
“Mommy, how are you feeling this morning?”
I thought to lie, but my son could sense true feelings and moods. And most often, he would attribute the negative ones to his own behavior if he wasn’t given a reason as to why I felt a certain way. “Depressed, Elijah.”
“Being an adult, sometimes, is just very stressful. Sometimes it makes me sad, makes me wish I could go back to your age so that I wouldn’t have to worry about things like not having money or a home of our own. I wouldn’t be in so much trouble, wouldn’t get myself in so much trouble. Except for having you, I would go back and redo my entire life if I could. If it meant I wouldn’t have to feel sad and depressed or angry over choices I’ve made.”
I heard Elijah sigh heavily, no doubt having lost whatever level he was on before the whimsical music started again. “Nana said that depression is something that’s made up, an excuse people use when they don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions.”
I closed my eyes, choosing to keep my personal thoughts and sly commentary to myself. Just like with Elijah’s father, I made a choice to never bash my mother or air her dirty deeds in front of him. Whether I wanted to admit it or not, and though it made me a little jealous at times, my mother was a far greater grandparent when it came to my son and my late sister’s daughter. They adored her, and I could never deny that she gave them all that they needed and wanted.
While she had never fought to stay clean for my sisters and I, she fought daily for them. The Holier-Than-Thou attitude came along when she was granted custody while we were both out running the streets. Her attitude became increasingly unbearable when my older sister, Myliek, took on the very habits my mother had beat. Where my sister proved to be weaker, my mother took every chance to pounce and make her feel worse, rather than helping her through the addictions the way her church friends had done for her.
And when she turned to a vice that even my mother had strayed from, she made it a point to dog my sister and her means of survival every chance she got, to any and everybody that would listen. Anytime Myliek thought she wanted to sober up, to get out of prostitution, to fight for her life and her child; my mother talked down to her, got it in her mind that she would never succeed. My mother would never admit those things though, just go on with her incorrect belief that I, the younger of us two, dragged my sister through alleys and drug houses against her will.
One would have thought her attitude would have changed after my sister overdosed. Her death only made my mother feel like her point had been proven, and she soon set her mind on breaking my spirit.
I snapped out of my thoughts, finally sitting up. Elijah handed me my phone, stating that he kept losing his game because someone kept calling back to back. “If no one answers the first time, you would think that means don’t call back.”
He climbed out of my bed, announcing that he was going to get something to drink and see if his cousin was awake yet. I shook my head, looking down at the screen as it began to flash again. Raheem’s name popped up, causing me to roll my eyes. Sliding my thumb across the red icon to ignore, I tossed the phone aside and laid back down. My phone began to ring again. And again. And again, until I finally got fed up. Picking it up, I answered and put him on speaker phone. “What the fuck do you want?”
Raheem chuckled, no doubt squinting his eyes and stroking his chin. He’d always found that shit to be cute when he talked on the phone, as if the person on the other end could see his ass sitting there looking weird. He spoke low as well, which drove me up the wall and sent him into a fit of laughter anytime I yelled for him to speak up. It was no different now. “A man calls to check on you, and you answer with a nasty ass attitude?”
“I didn’t ask you to check on me. On top of that, you were interrupting my son’s game and he doesn’t like that.”
There was a silence on the other end that lasted a little longer than it should have. I should have hung up right then and there. “Elijah had your phone? Why didn’t he answer?”
“He don’t know you. Anything else?”
“Yeah. Can we talk? Without the attitudes, the petty remarks, and lip smacking? Let’s cut the antics and talk like adults.”
I guffawed at him attempting to be stern and raise his voice at me, talking like he held some type of significant position in my life. Like his thoughts and ideas or suggestions mattered. “Unless you’re talking about finally meeting your seven-year-old, setting up visitation if he chooses to be around you, and creating a bond with your child; we don’t have anything to discuss. See, I knew it was some bull with you, it always is. And if bailing me out had you thinking you were going to be able to call me all day every day, harassing and trying to keep tabs on me; then you should have left me in there. I don’t want anything to do with you. I don’t need anything from you, don’t need you. Hell, I want to be the type of bitch to say your child don’t even need you, but that’s not my place and I have no right to deprive him of that relationship.”
There was more silence, tension filled. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I just see this as my way of getting back in, getting close so that we can start over. Possibly work things out. I truly want to be here for you, support you. I want things between us to be good again.”
“Negative.” He sighed, but I truly don’t know what he expected or why he expected it. Our relationship hadn’t ended on the best terms, and he hadn’t proven himself to be the man I thought he was.
My choices in life weren’t all right, but at least I didn’t have anyone dictating my life or how I handled what went on. No one controlled me, made decisions for me, or kept me away from my child because he didn’t fit a society approved appearance. My choices were my own, and I owned up to every one of them. I wasn’t the greatest person, but I still tried my hardest to do right by those who mattered to me.
And most importantly, even during my days of running the streets nonstop; I was still in my child’s life. He knows me, can identify me, can tell others about me and the few things I’ve done right. He can call me, can count on and depend on me to come through no matter what. He knows his mother, and he knows I’ll love him and give my all for him until the day I die.
The same couldn’t be said for Raheem Carter, and he made no strides to make himself known to our son. Why? Because his father doesn’t approve of outside children and wanted nothing to do with Elijah. Raheem allowed that choice to be made, on his behalf, and he went right along with it. “Do you want to be in your son’s life or not? And make the correct choice; meaning, don’t say yes then turn around and make excuses for what your trash ass father will say if you bring Elijah around. It’s going to be a ‘yes’, or a ‘no’, and if it’s a ‘no’ then you need to leave us both alone.”
“Yes Kodi, I do want to be in his life, I’ve always wanted to be in his life. It’s just complicated.”
“There’s nothing complicated about it! Man, fu-” I stopped myself, taking a moment to collect my thoughts. “Don’t even worry about it, Raheem. Because what I won’t allow you to do is something that I haven’t even done. Which is jumping in and out of my child’s life. I’ll never say I’m the best mother, but I am consistent and dependable. My baby doesn’t know you, and I’m not going to let you play around with his emotions, feelings, hopes, and dreams.”
“Thought you weren’t going to deny me the right to a relationship with him.”
“I’m trying not to, Dumbass! I just gave you an opening, and you say it’s complicated. What’s complicated? I want you in his life, he wants you in his life. What do YOU want? Are you really that afraid of losing your parents support and money?” Raheem cleared his throat, letting me know that I’d hit the nail on the head. “That’s sad. As much as we need it to get by, to get most of what we need to survive; money means nothing. It damn sure won’t mean anything when you’ve reached old age and you’re all alone, wondering why your child or loved ones aren’t around when it matters most. But, since your real focus is the money, let me hurry up and get a job so I can pay you and your parents back. Goodbye.”
I ended the call, shaking my head as I fell back against my pillow. Blowing my hair out of my face, I found myself wishing that I’d made a better choice when it came to Elijah’s father.