Eggs had gone up 22 cents in 2 weeks. James thought about not buying any, just for the principle of the thing; but he knew that Dorothy would complain. Actually Dorothy didn’t complain, she sermonized. She fussed like her soul’s destiny depended on it –- shaking her head, pounding on the laminate kitchen table, even getting tiny beads of sweat on the bridge of her wide nose, sometimes.
James hated her nose—always had. It was wide and flat, with nostrils that flared out at the very ends like old Chevrolet car lights. It was a nose that would have been better suited for a bull, James would always think, when she was fussing about something, with her wig shaking, hand pounding and voice screeching. Sometimes, he’d imagine her face on a bull, when she was yelling at him and then she’d hear her scream, “Do you hear me talking to you, man?”
If she didn’t call him “man”, James would’ve thought that she had forgotten that he was one. She never called him James. “Man, bring me my robe.” “Man, where are you.” “Man, I want to have relations,” before she would get on top of him and wiggle for 3 or 4 minutes, begin to wail, and roll off and begin snoring. James would look at her and think of how much she really looked like a bull now with spittle draining out a side of her mouth and her head titled back in an angle that made her nose even more unflattering.
At first, James didn’t notice how ugly she was. Actually James didn’t notice her at all. She was one of her sister’s friends. Unlike James, Carla, his sister had all of her wits, was pretty and popular so she always had friends coming by. James learned early on that neither she nor they wanted her slow older brother with the severe stutter hanging around, so he usually just sat on the porch looking at comic books or playing Jacks.
One day, Dorothy, in a polyester yellow dress, sat down next to him, grabbed the red, rubber Jacks ball and started playing. This agitated James. First of all, she didn’t ask and secondly, she started with twosies—skipping onesies altogether. Who does that?
James didn’t complain because he knew that his stuttering would be even worse now that he was upset. So he stayed quiet. He stayed quiet the 6th or 7th time that Dorothy came over to play Jacks with him and took him in the shed, raised her dress, pulled down her panties and his pants and tickled him. At a certain point, James figured that they were friends. He had never had a friend before and he figured that it was a good thing.
Then one day, when Dorothy came over her Dad and Mom came too. By the time they left, it was decided that James and Dorothy would be married — since she was 5 months pregnant. Dorothy would now collect the check that James’ parents received to help take care of James. It was settled.
But no baby ever came. 22 years later and no baby, still. Even James knew that even the slowest baby should’ve been here by now. It would’ve been nice to have another friend. James had decided quite some time ago that Dororthy wasn’t a good friend, after all. He should’ve known it when she skipped straight to twosies.
“Ya doin’ alright, James?” Mr. Wilson the owner of Barrett’s Corner Store asked while putting a warm hand on James’ back.
James smiled. Mr. Wilson was always nice. James walked to the counter and bought everything Dorothy sent him to buy: a loaf of bread, starch and a dozen eggs.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more