Another Installment from my upcoming novel THE ROAD TO ASTROWORLD
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“Where you going, goose?”
Promise stopped. She had run through the gates of Paradise Gardens and was walking briskly down Lyons Avenue with her head outstretched. Her Uncle Bobo and other men loitered on the porch of a shotgun shack. The porch sagged like the inside of a boat. Two columns that held up the porch’s roof leaned together. Her uncle rested on his elbows between the posts stroking his chin with one hand as he eyed Promise. He held a Styrofoam cup in his other hand. His pals in frumpy church clothes gathered around him grinning at her. One fellow wore a bus driver’s black coat. His silver badge gleamed like a razor blade. A bright green bottle sat on the banister shining under the sun’s rays like a jade offering. The men had filled their cups from the bottle. Their eyes were bright and lustful. Promise put her foot on the bottom step. The air was scented with rain, sweat, and the ripe fruity aroma that drifted out of the bottle. She looked at the grinning men and felt big inside. She put her hands on her hips and looked her uncle straight in his reddish eyes.
“Don’t call me no goose.”
“You was stepping mighty fast there, Pee. Big Mama ain’t riding her broom behind you is she?”
“You don’t see her do you?”
“I ain’t got to see her. I can tell she around by the way you flying down the street like a goose.” Her Uncle stuck his neck out and flapped his arms. The men laughed and slapped their legs. Promise looked at her Uncle’s big belly shaking like a pillow. His thick ginger colored neck pushed open his shirt collar and the collar opened like tiny wings around his face. When he laughed, his round face squashed his neck. “Pumpkin head,” Promise thought to herself. Her older brother Bobo had been nicknamed after this uncle and had the same big head. She was glad she wasn’t named Bobo or else she might have a huge head too she thought.
Promise looked over at her uncle’s scooped-up-in-the-back red car parked in front of the house. The back tire was missing a hubcap. She went over to the car and peeked through the dark windows. There was always a box covered in a sheet on the back seat. He had promised her since her birthday a month ago that he was going to buy her a CD player and a huge Sugar Face poster. As she peered through the window, Promise saw a shiny commode leaning over.
“Why you have a commode in your car, Bobo?”
“That’s grown folk’s business,” her uncle answered. The men snickered.
“Where Mr. Fritz’s car? He done fired you for being drunk?”
The men looked at Bobo and laughed. “Bobo, I didn’t know you was married,” one of them said.
“Watch out, Pee, I’ll take my belt off.”
“You do and your pants going to fall down. Where my Sugar Face CD?”
“It’s coming, Pee just like an ass whipping from Big Mama.”
“Big Mama says she going to whip you if you come to the funeral smelling like wine.”
“I’m a grown man little, lady. Big Mama ain’t beat my ass in thirty years.”
“Well she says she going to if you come drunk.” Promise turned her nose up at the commode in the car and sat on the porch’s bottom step.
“Where you supposed to be going anyway?” Bobo asked her.
“Down to Kwong’s to buy some roses.”
“Roses for what?”
“Mama’s going to put them in the casket with Jonathan.”
“Marsha and her ideas.”
“It was Jonathan’s idea.”
Her uncle looked at her for a moment. He shrugged his shoulders and poured himself another drink. As soon as he sat it down another hand reached for it.
“Bobo, I sure am sorry about your Brother.”
“Thanks, man. Yeah he was a good kid. Just got caught up in the wrong lifestyle.” Bobo looked like he was going to spit.
“How he catch the AIDS?” Promise blurted out. Bobo cut his eyes at her and then at the men. They looked down at their feet and then up at the sun as if they were trying to figure out what it was. A woman in tight pants passed by and the men craned their necks at her as if she was something they had never seen before. Far off down the street there was a wailing of sirens. The men refilled their cups and looked at each other to see who had something to say.
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