Saturday, April 24, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We stood in the kitchen exchanging information.  I needed to know as much about Diego not only for Jessica and my god daughters but for Denise as well. He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know already but he did confirm that the guy I feared was dead was indeed dead but that Diego wasn’t the main suspect. He had several enemies and a couple were more attractive for the hit than Diego.  That didn’t mean that Diego didn’t do it.
My father announced that he was tired and my mom got up immediately to grab their things.  My dad was a soldier but he knew his limits.  He had survived colon and prostate cancer but of course with all other health issues, more issues came along.  They said their goodbyes and that left Steve, Sean, Jessica, and Diego.  Fun times.
Jessica and Diego were sitting on the couch. Steve was sitting in my chair, and Sean was sitting on the floor.  I refreshed drinks but instead of soda, I gave the guys beer and the ladies wine.  I was enjoying my little dinner party not only because of the Diego and Steve saga but because Sean was there catering to everyone as if she lived there, which eased up my work and Jessica was there having a good time.  She didn’t get out much.  Never did.  She was a homebody. 
I turned on some neo soul and we had conversations among ourselves.  The only ones who weren’t speaking to each other were Steve and Diego.  Was I the only one who noticed that?  Jessica and Sean were talking about her girls.  Steve and I were talking about the music I was playing.  It was an up and coming artist, Ledisi.  My father had bought her CD along with a few others when I bought my house.  Diego joined in the conversation about Jessica’s girls.  They laughed together about something the girls had done over the weekend.  I was the godmother to Jessica’s girls but I hadn’t spent time with them since a week before my…accident.  I missed them.  I felt a little jealous that Diego was sharing in their lives.  He seemed to be really animated when he talked about them.  That thought made me nervous.  He wasn’t even taking care of his own daughter really.  Who was he to be spending time with my god daughters? 
“Diego, have you talked to Denise?”
Jessica looked at me and her face turned red.
“Yes I talked to her this morning a minute.”
“She seems to be enjoying the home she is in.  I’m sure her and Tammy would get along great since they are about the same age.”
“Uh yea, they probably would,” he said looking at Jessica.
“She has a birthday coming up.  Are you doing anything for her?”
“Actually, we were talking about having a birthday party for her,” Jessica interrupted.
“Oh really? Is it a surprise? She didn’t mention it,” I asked looking at Diego.
“Yea it’s a surprise.”
He tapped Jessica on her shoulder.
“You ready to go,” he asked standing over her.
“Yea, okay,” she said looking at me.  I knew I was going to hear about it later but I didn’t care.
I got up and let my guests out and gave Jessica a hug.
“Take care. Call me tomorrow, ok?”
“Yea okay,” she said.  I knew she would call me first thing.
Steve started laughing after I closed the door.
“You’re funny,” he said popping another beer.
I laughed and then we both laughed like we were watching Kat Williams!
Sean looked at us confused.
“Care to share,” she asked looking from me to Steve. 
We laughed again.
She got up and took Jessica and Diego’s glasses in the kitchen.
“Do you know who Diego is,” I asked her.
“Yea, he is a local dealer.”
“Well that’s the joke basically.  The drug dealer, cop, and social worker under one roof.”
She laughed too. 
“Yea and the paramedic!”
We all laughed.

Steve excused himself twenty minutes later and it was Sean and I alone again.
We cleaned up the kitchen and I heard scratching noises at the window.  I ran over to the window to let Sammy in.  Fat cat jumped down to the floor and meowed.  Milk time!  We couldn’t do anything but laugh as he sat down and waited nicely for me to pour him some milk.  Spoiled rotten.
We sat down and listened to some jazz this time and drank a bottle of wine. 
“I guess I should be leaving.  It’s late,” she said yawning.
“Do you work tomorrow,” I asked. “I’m off for a week.”
“No, I’m off for the weekend,” she said yawning again.
“How far away do you live?”
“Well I guess I’ll drop Sammy off and stay at my moms.  I live in South Park.”
“Oh nice.  Paramedics make good money huh?”
“Yea right.  I got a hook up kinda.”
“Oh really.  Old girlfriend,” I teased.
“Actually my parents owned it. My mom can’t stay in both places and my brother likes apartment life, so that left me or sell it.”
“Good deal.”
“Yea it’s a nice spot. Little house but big enough for little old me.”
I laughed.
“Well you could stay here if you want.  I wouldn’t mind the company.”
She sat up straight.
“Really? I would like that!”
She grabbed her cell out her pocket.
“Dammit, I forgot to charge my phone.  It’s dead.”
“You can use mine.” I handed her the cordless.
I leaned back as she checked on her mom and promised to bring Sammy by in the morning.
“He’s okay mom.  We might have to lock that cat door at night so our little guy doesn’t get really lost.”
They spoke for a few moments and then she hung up the phone smiling.
“She okay?”
“Yea my brother is there.”
“Oh that’s good.  You guys really take care of your mom.  That’s nice to see these days.”
“He’s a momma’s boy still,” she joked.            
“Then she has two momma’s boys,” I teased.
She laughed so hard tears came to her eyes. 
We talked about her brother a bit and how they both decided to go in their respective careers. Their father, though a decent provider, had never really had a “job.” He hustled all his life.  In and out of jail on small charges. Bought home from drunken binges. They loved their father but they both vowed never to be like him.  They had their mind set on “careers” since they were in elementary school and that was it.  They had careers they both loved. Now they tended to their mother and made sure that she was stable.  One thing their father had done right was invest in life insurance. Mom was set. 
Sean started falling asleep and I didn’t want to interrupt her.  I grabbed a blanket out of the hall closet and draped it over her.  I watched her for a few moments as she slept peacefully. I felt safe with her there.  For the first time, I slept in my own bed since my…accident.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Stephanie and I left the house about 12:45 and I could tell she was nervous.  From what I could tell from her file, she hadn’t seen him since they had been picked up at his cousin’s house where they had been found.  We arrived at the mall a few minutes after one and headed straight to the food court. Since the court was so big, we agreed to meet in front of the Showmars.  I saw Denise approaching and Stephanie must have saw Scott because she ran towards a good looking boy that was pointing at her.  Young love.  I let her be.  I already told her not to go outside the food court without telling me.  I kept an eye on her while looking for Sean. 
I saw Sean approaching from the street entrance.  She was wearing a pair of jeans and a black button down shirt.  Her hair was back in a ponytail and she had earrings on that I hadn’t noticed before.  She walked up to me and gave me a hug I hadn’t expected. I felt my face get warm.
Denise was watching and smiling.
“Hi Sean, this is Denise,” I said putting my hand on Denise’s shoulder.
“Hi, how are you young lady?”
“I’m good,” she said smiling at me still.
Why was she looking at me like that?
We sat down at a table and we all looked from one to the other.
“Well this is fun,” Denise commented.
“I’m waiting for you,” Sean said.  “What’s going on?”
I decided before I got there to let Sean handle this one.  I still didn’t know how to handle all that was going on between her and I.  I knew something was there but I didn’t know what exactly.  I sat back and listened.
They talked about a girl that Denise had met and thought was really “hot.” Sean and her laughed and talked like old buddies.  Sean asked her if she ever had a boyfriend.  Denise had told her once but that she was only with him because a girl she didn’t like wanted him.  Soon as the girl wasn’t interested anymore, she dumped him. They laughed at that.  I had to too.  I had done that before myself in high school.
They were having a good conversation while I was keeping an eye on Stephanie.  I saw them start to walk over to us. I didn’t want to breach Denise’s trust by allowing Stephanie to walk in on their conversation so I met them halfway. 
“This is Scott,” Stephanie introduced proudly.
“Hi Scott. I’m Toni.”
“Hi,” he said looking kind of nervous.
“What’s going on,” I asked the two lovebirds.
“Nothing, just wanted you to meet him,” she said still beaming.
“Well thank you.  Its nice to finally meet you.  I’ve heard a lot about you,” I complimented looking at Stephanie blushing.
He nodded his head and smiled shyly at Stephanie.
“Can we walk to the Gap over there,” she pointed to the store on the other side of the escalators.
“Sure but come right back.  We will be leaving soon.”
“Okay thanks.”
The two of them rushed off holding hands.  Young love was so beautiful. But I’ve seen it get really harmful too.  I definitely was going to keep a close eye on Scott.
Denise and Sean were still talking, having a good time.  I listened as Sean told her about her first boyfriend and how she knew right then she was gay. 
“He was the best looking dude in the school and I still couldn’t get with him.”
Denise laughed hysterically.
“I feel you!”
The girl Denise was talking about was a girl from her cosmetology class.  She was white and Denise and the girl had started off being working partners in class.  The girl had a car so she drove Denise home some time and she really liked her.  She told Sean that the girl kissed her yesterday and it was the best kiss she ever had, which wasn’t a lot but still the best.
Sean listened, focused.  I was really admiring the way she was handling Denise. 
I saw Stephanie and Scott heading towards our table again.  
“Um, Denise.  One of my other clients is here visiting with her friend.”
“Oh, okay,” she said turning around in the direction I was looking.
“I know her,” Denise said standing up. 
“Oh my god! How are you,” Stephanie squealed.  The two girls hugged.
As I listened to them squealing and catching up in thirty seconds, I figured out that they knew each other from middle school.  They had been good friends once but lost contact after they went to different high schools. What a small world, they both said laughing.
We all sat down at the table and Sean and I went to grab drinks leaving the kids at the table.
“Thank you so much for coming to meet Denise.  The two of you are really hitting it off.”
“Yea, she is a cool kid. Reminds me of myself at her age,” she smiled proudly.
“That is a good thing for her because you turned out okay,” I said smiling at her. 
I really did think she was a great person. Her personality was contagious and everyone seemed to like her so far.  I wondered for a split second what my parents would think of her.
“Thank you Toni. That means a lot to me.”
She was looking at me so intently, I wasn’t sure whether to continue walking or stop in my place.
She sat the drinks down she was holding on the table closest to us.
“Can I ask you something?”
I replied slowly, “Of course…”
“I know you are going through a lot right now but I'm attracted to you.”
I didn’t know what to say so I kept quiet.
“I just want to be there for you when and if you need someone to talk to or hang out with. Is that okay with you?’
“That’s easy. I think I can do that.”
I sat my drink down and gave her a nice tight hug.  I wanted her to know that I was okay with how she felt and I didn’t want our growing friendship to be awkward. 

On the way back to my place, the placement coordinator called me and said they had a bed at a girl’s home near Stephanie’s school.  They could take her immediately.  I explained to Stephanie what was going on and she got upset very quickly. 
“I can’t keep going to different homes. Why can’t I go to Stacey’s?”
I hadn’t thought about that.  Stacey was the woman who cared for her originally. She had been sick but she was still licensed.  I called her privately to talk to her.  She was more than happy to have Stephanie.  When I told Stephanie, she started crying and hugged me.  We went to my house to gather her things and then I dropped her off at Stacey’s and left a message with the placement coordinator of her whereabouts. I had to go back in the morning to take her to court. 
I drove back home and settled in, cuddled on the couch with a bag of popcorn.  I wanted to call Jessica but I wasn’t ready.  I promised myself I would call her tomorrow.  I thought about the day I had with Denise, Stephanie, and Sean.  I had really enjoyed myself and thought again about the possibility of having kids myself.  It wasn’t totally out of the picture.  I could adopt if I didn’t get married before I turned 40.  I was still young and I felt that I could be a good mother.  I was already getting plenty of practice with my clients.  I had faith, though, that my child would not ever have to endure the pain that my clients had.