continuation of CeCe 1
CeCe walked into Room 233 of the Budget Inn & Kitchenettes, dropped her purse and keys by the door and kicked off her shoes before the heavy door could click closed behind her. She flicked on the light, which never seemed bright enough to her; but thought maybe that was a blessing since the dimness prohibited the stains on the carpet from being quite as visible. Despite the air fresheners she had dispersed around the room, it still smelled like old smoke and mildew.
Room 233 had been her home for the last three months; and although it was located right off of the highway in a sketchy part of town, CeCe felt safer there than she had in her home with Blake. Since her escape, he had called her everyday – each time leaving a scathing message. Every now and then, when he clearly had too much to drink, he would call crying and apologizing, but somehow even on those messages, you could still hear the anger in his voice. CeCe fell in love with him because he was solid; there were no soft spots. She walked away from him because she realized that he was indeed solid–like steel. There were no soft spots–not even his heart. CeCe wanted to turn off the phone and get a new number, but she had put that number on the over 50 resumes that she had submitted. Also, it was the one bill that Blake still paid for her – she assumed he did so to ensure that he would still have access to her.
Blake, unfortunately, was about the only one who called regularly now. Her friends were disappearing as quickly as the money out of her accounts. She knew that being married to the mayor gave her a certain level of power—ability to get reservations, decent seats at any event, sales people who catered to her; but she had no idea that so many of her friendships were predicated on it. Brenda was the only friend who called regularly. CeCe appreciated her calls because Brenda treated CeCe as if nothing had really changed: she just talked about the gossip around the church and the social groups to which they belonged.
“Girl, you should have seen Martha’s new weave on Saturday. Hun-nay, it was so ridiculously long that I thought the kids from the choir were going to come down and use it to play jump rope at the end of the service. Since that woman’s husband died—God rest his soul—she has lost every piece of good sense God gave her,” Brenda laughed then continued. “Even Henry noticed how crazy she looked. He said that he thought she was taking the “stretch” in the St. John suits she wore to such limits that St. Luke, St. Paul and St. Matthew were concerned. At that point, both ladies would fall into a fit of laughter. Those calls from Brenda reminded CeCe of who she truly was. Sometimes– lately– she wasn’t so sure.
Of course her Aunt still called every Sunday, but for the first time, CeCe found her conversations with her to be a burden. “Baby, I know that man hurt you sometimes, but you is a child of God and you made a commitment to him when you said your vows. Now you keep praying and you will find a way to get through this rough patch and to get back to your husband where you belong,” she would sermonize.
“Yes, ma’am,” CeCe would respond barely above a whisper; although in her mind she knew that she would never go back to Blake again.
CeCe took off her suit and hung it up in the little closet by the front door across from the bathroom. She took off her spanx, slipped on her old, pink terrycloth robe, and drew the heavy curtains with maroon and teal flowers on them (that may have been sylish in 1980). It was only 3:00 but she crawled into the uncomfortable, lumpy bed, and fell asleep until she was jolted by the jarring sound of an alarm.
In a daze, CeCe reached her hand over without looking and started hitting the buttons on the hotel alarm clock to turn it off, but the annoying sound kept ringing.
“Damn,” Cece fumed, sat up on one arm, and turned on the lamp on the night stand. It wasn’t until then that she realized that the alarm wasn’t coming from the alarm clock, but was the hotel’s fire alarm. Simultaneously, there was a frantic knocking on the door and a man’s frenzied voice, “We must evacuate.” And then you could hear him move down the hall to other doors. CeCe slipped on her black Ugg boots, tossed her laptop in her purse, scurried out the door and followed the throng of people. It wasn’t until then that she smelled the smoke.
Her eyes burned and started to tear as she quickly jogged down the stairs in the herd of other guests. Someone opened the heavy metal door that led to the side parking lot and they all filtered out. At first, CeCe looked for her loved ones to let them know that she was okay, but realized that no one was looking for her. No one that she knew had any clue what was going on, which made the tears flow more quickly—now from emotion, no longer from the smoke. CeCe walked to the furthest part of the parking lot and sat down on one of the white lawn chairs from the little rectangle pool and watched all the chaos—blue and red lights swirling off and on her from a distance.
“Crazy huh,” questioned a deep voice, startling CeCe. She looked up and saw one of the largest men she had ever seen: 6’6”, approximately 300 pounds carrying one of the patio chairs over to sit next to her with a large smile on this face, and a bag of groceries slung over his arm. He sat the chair about six inches away from CeCe’s, placed the bag on the cement, and bent down to dig through it. He pulled out two cans of Heineken, sat up and gestured towards CeCe, “Beer?”
Cece couldn’t remember the last time she had a beer, but it sounded perfect right now. She smiled, took it, twisted it open, and took a big gulp before saying thank you.
They sat in silence and drank two beers each, watching the commotion of the night. Around 45 minutes passed and the other guests started to gather around what appeared to be the hotel’s general manager. “Should we go see what’s going on?” Mr. 6’6” questioned.
“I guess so,” Cece answered.
They got up and walked over to the crowd where they learned that there had been an electrical fire in the West Wing of the hotel. The hotel wasn’t safe for anyone to even go in to retrieve their things until the fire department was able to do a thorough inspection of the property tomorrow. They had made arrangements for people to stay in hotels throughout the city for the night. Guests would have to pay the hotel cost, but The Budget Inn and Suites would reimburse guests in 10 -14 days as long as guests provided a receipt.
The gentleman, who CeCe had learned was named Jeff, looked at her and said, “I think I’ll head up to the Courtyard up the street. What about you?”
“I’m going to go to a friend’s house, who lives only about 6-7 miles from here,” CeCe responded.
“Alright, be safe.”
Knowing that she had just lied to Jeff, CeCe walked over to her truck, got in and started driving towards downtown. The lights from cars and buildings blurred in front of her as tears dropped down her face. Over and over, she ran the numbers in her head: she had prepaid Country Inn and Suites for the month, any hotel she stayed in for one night would be at least $100 and she wouldn’t get reimbursed for another 2 weeks. Bottom line: she couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel tonight, if she wouldn’t be reimbursed for 2 weeks. That $100 was grocery money. She didn’t know when she was going to get a job and she needed to be smart.
CeCe drove to the Fox District, which was essentially a maze of warehouses. She drove to one of the back lots that was somewhat lit and parked her truck at the corner of an orange painted warehouse that had decent lighting, but no visible outside cameras. She climbed to the 2nd seat of her truck, reached to the back where she housed several coats and grabbed a few to make herself a pallet on the seat. She checked one more time to make sure that she had locked the doors, cocooned herself in a red puffer coat, clasped her hands tightly and attempted to say her nightly prayers, which were unique every night and usually flowed. Tonight, her mouth was dry, her heart was vacant; so, she recited the only prayer that she could remember–the childhood prayer that she used to recite on bended knees, by the side of her white-lacquer bed every night–
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
if I die before I wake,
I pray for Lord my soul to take.
[sommaire-chapitres livre=3 affiche_infos=true titre=true]
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