Friday, September 21, 2012

The Road to Astroworld (an excerpt)

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The following is an excerpt from my novel in progress THE ROAD TO ASTROWORLD. In this letter, the main character Promise is recalling the time when she and her childhood girlfriend played husband and wife in the kitchen on a rainy day. The rain has always played a role, good or bad, in Promise's life.

The Road To Astroworld....

Dear LaKeisha Ann:

Do you remember that rainy day, when the rain trapped you in my house, (when the rain was to me like Christmas tinsel and not razor blades), and we played husband and wife?  Do you remember that day?  My Big Mama dozed in front of the TV as Another World flickered in front of her closed eyes. Eric snoozed on his sickbed. The sheets formed a tent from his erection. We watched that tent rise and fall in time with his breathing. You wanted to touch it, but I wouldn’t let you. I didn't know then, but now I know why we all of a sudden wanted to play husband and wife. The rain fills people with romantic notions.  That's why I can forgive a certain bus driver.
We argued over who was going to be the husband coming home from working hard on the job. You won when you said the husband had to be a boy. Why I thought a girl could be a husband, I don't know. I knew I didn’t want to be no boy.

You wore my Mama’s vegetable strainer for a hard hat and a Ninja Turtles lunch kit was your tool box. You looked more like a knight than a construction worker. You went outside on the front porch and stood for a few minutes while I pretended to be the wife inside the house washing dishes. You kept coming in before your time and I had to keep sending you out.
"Wait a minute, boy . . . I'm washing dishes . . . No you can't come in yet, I'm watching The Young and the Restless . . . Okay now you can come in 'cause I'm cooking your supper . . ."
You came in and pecked me on the cheek, looked in my make believe pot at the imaginary beans and rice I was “cooking” and said they smelled good.  Then you said you had to get out of your wet clothes.  I said, “You can't get naked in the kitchen. You got to go in the bathroom or the bedroom.”  And you said, “Where they at?”  And I said, “Silly husband, you don't know where your bedroom or bathroom is?” You twisted my arm and made me tell you. The “bathroom” was behind a big blue vinyl dinette chair where my Big Mama kept her flower pots. You said you had never seen a red commode.  I said, “Pretend it's white.” Our “bedroom” was underneath the kitchen table.
You went into the "bathroom" and took off all of your clothes for real and pretended to take a shower. I stopped cooking to look at you.  You said, "Woman, you can't see when I'm taking a shower because there's a wall there."  I said, "The wall fell down.  Our bad children knocked it down."  You said, Okay you was going to whip them when you got out of the shower.  So you got through showering and put a dish towel around your waist and came back into the kitchen and asked which one of our children knocked down the wall?  I pointed to my Raggedy Ann doll and said she did it. You called me a liar and picked up Sweetie Pie my favorite doll and said she probably did it because that was my favorite and the baddest. You grabbed Big Mama’s strap off the nail, pulled Sweetie Pie’s panties down and started to whip her. I grabbed your arm and tried to stop you, but you kept on hitting her. You didn’t stop until I bit you. You dropped Sweetie pie on her head and looked real mean at me.
Then you tried to whip me with the strap. But I told you, that you couldn't whip me like that because I was a grown woman and your wife.  You said okay, but I got to beat you 'cause you let the children tear down the wall and you don't have my supper ready, and you bit me. And I said okay, but a man beats a lady with his fists.  You pushed me around and pretended to give me a black eye. I found a Magic marker and drew a half moon under my eye.  After you beat me I went out on the porch and acted like I was crying. You came out on the porch still wearing our dish towel.  I forgot we was playing and said, "Girl, you can't come out on the porch in a dish towel!"  You said a man can go on the porch in a towel or his drawers as long as he ain't naked.  I said, Okay.
I pretended to cry some more.  I said I was going to go to a woman's shelter. You said, baby come back in the house. I'm sorry I beat you.  So we hugged and made up and we went back into the house. You said, “Let’s go in the bedroom and make love like they do on TV. I took off all of my clothes. We grabbed each other around the waist and rolled back and forth under the kitchen table. The hard floor hurt my bones and I bumped my head. We kissed. Your lips tasted like bubble gum. We heard footsteps and got real scared, but it was just Nettie shuffling in. I jumped up and clucked her upside the head and made her go back to my Mama’s room where she slept. And I finished cooking your supper.  You sat down at the table in the dish towel.  I said hold on wait a minute, you can't sit at the table in a towel in front of the children.  You said I’m a man, I can do whatever I want.  And I said I'm the woman of the house, and I say a man has to be dressed when he eats in front of the children.  You never see the daddy on the Cosby Show eating in a towel in front of his children.  And he don't beat his wife.  You said yes he do when nobody's looking.
I started to cry for real and said, "Please LaKeisha Ann, play fair!  You never want to do things the way I want to do them.’  And you said, "Shut up, silly bitch. I don't want to be your husband anyway.  Next thing, you'll want me to put a carrot between my legs and poke you in your pussy."
You whipped off the dish towel, put on your clothes, and went home.  The sun came out and turned the dreary kitchen golden.  But all I could do was sit down at the table and cry.  I cried and the dolls cried too because they wanted their Daddy.  And ever since that day I've been curious about carrots.  They served some here the other day and it made me think of you.


PS. I told the story to Big Fingers and he said a carrot is a poor substitute for a man, but he like the part about us playing husband and wife.

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