Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Litter Of Snakes

    Grandma Terry had died three days before my birthday. She had fallen down the stairs and her syringe used for diabetes was hanging from her neck. She was nice to those that didn't know her, but I knew better. I remember when I was eleven and started my period. I had used tissue because mama had taken my only twenty dollars, a woman in church gave me for sanitary pads, to buy heroin. Grandma Terry had to watch me until mama came back, whenever that was. Once Grandma Terry saw that I had tried to flush my makeshift pad down the toilet, She never addressed me, instead she called her gossiping friend and talked about me while I sat on the couch crying. Mama always left me over there. I hated Grandma Terry. That night when Grandma had her accident. I called the police, but told them that mama had more information, hoping they would find her. Mama never came back.

    A week after Grandma's funeral, the insurance check came. All twelve of her children lined up like piranhas. They all agreed to cremate Grandma Terry against her oral will. Fire was not a friend of grandma Terry. Her late husband Harold had died in a house fire years ago. Grandma Terry never forgave herself for leaving the kerosene heater on while she was away at church also leaving her convalescent husband alone. Grandma Terry's written will stated that half of the money be divided among the twelve children. That averaged out at $4,166 per child. The other $50,000 was seized by the government for back taxes before the check was even issued. I had never heard that much cursing in one sitting. When mama received her portion, I asked if we could go out and enjoy a well cooked meal for once. All I was used to was microwave dinners that tasted like cardboard.
      "I ain't got nothing to wear to no fancy restaurant!" I could tell mama was annoyed. Clothes were not a priority, but we had never been out to eat. So what mama didn't have clothes. Neither did I.
      "Well can we get a decent television and cable?" Mama slammed the money on the unstable kitchen table which resulted in it crashing to the floor.
      "Now I guess your uppity ass want a new table!"

     Mama would stay gone for weeks at a time. There was nothing in the house to eat. Jesse, a member of Grandma Terry's church came by to see mama. They had grown up together and shared the same drug habit. Jesse, repented and had been clean for seven years. Part of his rehab was due to a stint in prison because mama had led the police to his house to avoid jail herself. Before he left, Jesse told mama where his stash was. But mama had other plans for that money. Jesse and I talked for an hour. I asked him if I could borrow his cell phone to order Chinese food. The next day Jesse came by looking for mama again.
     "She's not here as usual." I hoped that Jesse wasn't going back to drugs. Mama knew every drug dealer around town and before Jesse went up state, she was his connection. He had only been out of prison for three weeks. Again, Jesse gave me twenty dollars to eat with. Jesse came in and we shared a pizza and wings.
     "Is it normal for Heather to disappear for this long?" Smacking on the large slice of pepperoni pizza. Jesse had the most beautiful lips I had ever seen on a man.
      "Yeah, she'll turn up when she runs out of money." Indulging my chapped lips into the delicious pizza.
      "How have you taken care of yourself for this long? It's been three weeks!" Jesse wiped his mouth and sipped on his cola.
      "She'll turn up."

     As I lay on the floor inside my makeshift sleeping bag. Which was just two blankets stapled together, I heard loud knocking on the flimsy front door. Peeping out of the window in my bedroom, I saw that it was the landlord. Rent was due and mama was already a month behind. He knocked again then went away. About an hour later another knock fell upon the door. This time when I peeped outside, I saw like five police cars. My heart fell into my empty stomach. Rushing to the door, I was greeted by two men in dress clothing like they had just came from church.
    "I'm Detective Conway and this is Detective Ginn. May we come in and speak with you?" The last run in I had with the police ended with them lying and me in jail. At least that was my story. Sitting on the molded sofa mama had stolen from an old white woman, the detectives began to ask me a multitude of questions.
     "How well do you know Heather Taylor?" Detective Conway reminded me of a hippie stuck in time. His mustache was long, covering his small pink lips.
     "Yeah I know her really well, why?" Mama always got herself into jams and played the victim so she would be rescued. Staring directly at me, the detectives began to ask me crazy questions about mama. Was she on drugs? Did she have any enemies? When was the last time I saw her? My only answer was the obvious,
    "I don't know." Mama was such a whore and addict, who knew how many families she wrecked or dealers she pissed off. After ten minutes of nonsense, the detectives finally told me that mama had been murdered. She was found that morning behind the abandoned railroad tracks a few blocks up. Autopsy reports show that she was stabbed in her heart and repeatedly slashed across the throat.
     "She wasn't the best mother in the world, but no one deserves to die like that." My mouth and brain were saying two different things. Just to get them bastards to leave, I would have said anything. In the back of my mind, she got what she deserved.

     Questioning continued for another hour. The police could not get more information from me. They had told me that mama was killed then raped. They had a motive of drugs since there was a syringe at the scene stuck in the veins of her neck. The money she had from Grandma Terry's insurance was stolen. After the detectives left, I called Jesse with the cell phone he had bought me. He said that we should keep in touch. I didn't know if that was because I had given him a blow job, or that he really cared. My Uncle Kevin had delivered the insurance check to me after mama's funeral, which I did not attend. It was a huge surprise, I didn't know that mama had an insurance policy. Uncle Kevin said that  Grandma Terry took a policy out on all her children and when they were old enough to pay their own premium, she left it up to them. Mama was never responsible enough to pay her own premium, hell she could barely pay the rent. Like I said before, Grandma Terry and I didn't get along that well, but she looked out for me. I found a television sitting on the side of the road. As I was dragging it into the shabby apartment, Jesse walked up with dirty jeans on. He sat on the porch waiting for me to bring the heavy television to the yard. From there, he took it in the house and hooked it up.
      "What in the hell happened to you?" Without saying a word, Jesse lit up a cigarette and stared at Kevin's gut. For him to be ex military, Kevin sure let himself go.
       "Now you know you gon need an over-seer for this check. Your mama ain't have a will, but you is the beneficiary. I'm the next of kin and I am obligated to care for you. So come on and get your stuff." There was no way I was living with the devil himself. Kevin was the one that called child protective services on mama when I was six. They took me from her and placed me in a family that liked to make "movies" with little children.
     "Go on and do what your uncle says Ariona. Call me when you get settled." Jesse stood up and threw his cigarette in the patchy brown grass. Kevin cashed the $50,000 check and withdrew $10,000 for remodeling his home. He told me that there was nothing I could do since he was in charge of my money. When I called Jesse and told him what was going on, he asked to speak with Kevin. That night Jesse called and asked if Kevin had giving me any money. I said, "Yeah, everything is cool. Can I come stay with you though, Jesse?"

      Things were finally coming together. Jesse was really nice and he never kept anything from me. Not even the death of Uncle Kevin. He was found in his living room recliner with a syringe pierced through his neck. Jesse laid on the chair snorting lines of cocaine that he brought with my money. He was now my over-seer. When he gambled my money over the years, I decided to open my own account since I was eighteen. Jesse didn't think that was such a good idea and that I should just trust him. Well every time there was money involved, trust went out of the window. Before Jesse could rip me off anymore, I grabbed a syringe from mama's case that I carried for my heroin addiction and stuck Jesse in his neck.


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