Read A Taste of Honey Online

Authors: Darren Coleman

A Taste of Honey (2 page)

S
he wasn’t my real mother but that didn’t make it hurt any less watching the ending unfold before my eyes. My father was begging her not to leave. Not to leave us. Though I was standing right there in the hallway, I might as well have been invisible.

“Kevin, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t,” Frannie replied to his pleading.

“Frannie, what about Khalil? What about him? He needs you. You’re the only mother he’s ever known.” He tried everything else, now I was the pawn. True, I wanted her to stay but I had no idea how much weight I would carry with my father’s girlfriend.

Yet, now I was waiting for something. It was the first time my name had ever been brought up in an argument. What he’d said had been true. My mother had been a drug addict and neither of us had seen her in almost ten years. I was about to turn thirteen and Frannie had been around since I was six.

“I’ll always be there for Khalil, but I can’t do this anymore.”

Then my father said the unthinkable.

“The hell you will. If you leave here then you’ll never see him again.” Hearing this sent a slice of anguish through my insides. I didn’t know why he’d said something like that. “I mean it. You won’t be taking my son around any other men.”

Frannie paused and I could tell from her voice’s trailing off and quaking that she was near tears. “Kevin, that’s your decision and I’ll have to respect it.” Then she looked over at me standing there. She shook her head slowly in what appeared to be disgust before she said, “Khalil, I love you. I always will and I’ll try to see you as much as I can as long as your father…”

Cutting her off, my father stepped into our line of view. “Bitch, you don’t love him. If you did, you wouldn’t leave
us
.”

At the top of her voice she yelled as tears began to pour: “I’m not leaving him. I’m leaving you, Kevin. I’m leaving you.”

As cold as ice he walked past her and opened the door and replied, “It’s the same thing. Now go.”

She wiped her face and grabbed her bags and headed out the door. “I’ll call you to arrange to come and get my things.”

“Don’t bother. Anything you left will be in the Dumpster by the morning.”

She yelled something from the hall as my father slammed the door. He ran to the kitchen, found a bottle of liquor, and drank straight from it. Then he took a seat on the couch and called me to him. “Khalil, listen,” he said in his deep, raspy voice. “I’m sorry you had to see that, but that’s the way love goes. I did everything for Frannie and this is how she repaid me. She don’t care about me and she damned sure don’t care about you.”

I was dumbfounded as I stood there watching my father drinking white liquor as if it were water. “Dad, I can’t see her anymore?” I asked.

He was silent, sensing my pain. Then he nodded. “If she calls to see you, sure you can. But don’t hold your breath. She don’t care about nobody but herself and you’ll see how easy she forgets you. We’re better off, believe that. You’re my son, not hers and if you sit around waiting on her, you’ll see exactly what that means.”

I did. Over the next few months I learned how to make do without a woman in the house. I kept waiting on Frannie to come by or to call to at least let me know that she cared about me, but she did neither.

She let me down and slowly but surely I began to hate her just as much as my father did. Without her presence though I had no one to project the ill feelings on so I bottled it all up, until Tina came.

B
y the time I left the mall I realized that I wouldn’t make it home in time to be able to spend time with Manny. When I climbed out of the cab he was standing on his balcony waiting, looking at his watch. It was after six and my mother was already home. I looked up and smiled at him. He didn’t smile back, which made me uncomfortable.
Was he angry?
I climbed the steps, hands full of bags, and prepared to put my keys in the door when Manny’s swung open.

“Hey, what happened to you today?” he whispered.

I held the bags up in the air. “It took me longer than I thought.”

He nodded. “Looks like you burned the mall up,” he said, still sounding like he had a slight attitude. “Listen, I want you to come over in a few minutes.”

“What about Cheron?”

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll be on the balcony once she’s gone so all you gotta do is come out front. If you see me out there then everything’s good. Hurry up though.”

I frowned. He could tell I wasn’t sure about it. But that was all wiped away when he said, “Here, catch.” Then he tossed a bunch of bills folded up and wound tight in a rubber band. “I’ll see you in about twenty minutes.”

Mama couldn’t believe her eyes as she looked at the things I’d purchased for her. She’d bought the story about me finding the wallet but had asked, “Baby, are you sure there wasn’t any identification in the wallet?”

I told her a story about me finding it on the floor of the Metro bus. She couldn’t argue with that. She did complain about me spending all of it. “You always need to save something. Even if it’s a gift from above, you need to save some and give some back.” She laughed as she tried on the sandals that she’d been wanting. “Child, these things are nice. Nine West are my favorites.”

“I know, Mama.”

Five minutes later she was in her room trying on her outfits. Once I heard her on the phone bragging to one of her friends I decided to leave. “I’m going out for a minute, Mama.”

“Okay, sweetie. Don’t be too long. I’m going to fry some chicken and make you some mac and cheese.”

I tucked my money inside of my pillow and pulled out the Victoria’s Secret bag that I’d hidden at the bottom of the Foot Locker bag. I washed up quickly then took my clothes off so that I could put on one of the new pairs of panties and a bra. I loved the feel of the new bra. It was one of the new push-up ones. I was already a 32C and growing, but the new bra gave me a little extra confidence.

I put my clothes back on and headed out the door into the humidity just long enough to find Manny up on the balcony. He
was doing curls with his dumbbells, looking fine as ever. I looked up and he waved as he said, “Come on.”

 

T
he routine was the same. He ate me out and got me soaked only to get in and bust quickly. “Dammit,” he shouted. “I don’t know what’s up.” He was mumbling to himself. “It ain’t like I haven’t had some good…”

“Is it something I’m doing wrong?” I asked. “For all that you’re doing for me I want you to enjoy yourself.”

He laughed and sat down on the bed. “Naw, precious. It ain’t you…” He caught himself. “No it
is
you, but not because of anything you’re doing wrong. I can only keep it real with you, you have got to have the best pussy I have ever had.”

I cringed when I heard the word
pussy
. It sounded so crude. “Is that why…”

“Yeah. That’s why I keep coming so fast. I can’t help it. As soon as I start to stroke it, it feels so hot, wet, and there’s something else that I can’t describe but it feels incredible. I’m telling you, Hailey, your shit is the bomb.”

“That wasn’t what I was going to ask. I was asking if that was why you keep giving me money?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I guess. But I give you money because I have a lot of it. And, plus if I’m nice to you, then you’ll be nice to me. This is our secret, I wouldn’t want this to get out.”

“Because I’m underage, right?”

“Shorty, I don’t know how old you are. As a matter of fact if you say you’re eighteen then I gotta believe you. You are eighteen right?”

The look on his face told me that I needed to go along. “Yep, eighteen.”

“Good.” He smiled before he leaned in and kissed me. Quickly he was all over me and hard again. Just as he started to get into a rhythm where it seemed like he’d finally gained control of his problem I decided to see exactly how much I could affect him.

I began to moan loudly as I humped him back and then I cried out, “It’s yours, Manny.”

“Oh shit,” he yelled back. “Ohhhhhh, shit.” His body began to buck wildly and he came again. He’d gone almost two minutes this time.

My eyes were closed as I was in some weird afterglow, feeling ultra-relaxed. Inside I was proud of what was appearing to be my superpowers. I was ready to get up and get dressed when I felt my hair being pulled as if someone was trying to literally separate my head from my shoulders. The pain came sharply and when my eyes opened and I realized it was Cheron my heart skipped a beat. The look on her face told me that I was dead.

“You have got the wrong one you little ho,” she barked.

I didn’t know what to do. Here I was, ass-naked in her bed and she was already in jeans and sneakers with a handful of my ponytail. I tried to yank away but her grip was too firm. She threw a series of punches that I was able to block with my forearms. This only angered her more as she was yelling and trying to hit me. I wondered what was taking Manny so long to intervene. When he grabbed her I noticed that he had on a pair of shorts by this point.

“Hailey, put your clothes on and go on home,” he said as he was pulling his chick out of the room. If getting dressed had been an Olympic sport, I would have set the world record. He’d barely pulled her into the kitchen when I went scurrying past them and out the door.

 

E
ven in the safety of my home I was still nervous waiting to see if Cheron was going to come for me, or worse, to tell my mother. That would have been a disaster, because I was certain that she was convinced her baby girl was still a virgin. I sat on the couch for the rest of the evening, prepared to run interference for any knock at the door. I drifted off promising myself that I’d never go near Manny again if Cheron showed any willingness to give me a second chance.

I woke up at seven in the morning relieved that the night had come and gone without incident. I watched with my eyes half-shut, feigning sleep as my mother was leaving for work at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I took my time leaving for school. It was the last week of classes and most people were skipping anyway. I was going because I had an exam and plus I wanted to show off my new clothes. Most of all, I didn’t want to be sitting around in the event that Cheron came knocking.

I stared at myself in the mirror as I prepared to leave out the door. I looked super-cute in the snug Bebe T-shirt and black miniskirt, not to mention the fresh new Jordans. On top of all that there was something about wearing new underwear that made you feel good and it was my second day in Vickie’s.

I hadn’t made it up the walk when I heard Manny’s voice behind me. “Yo, Hailey, you alright?” He was on the balcony.

I ignored him and kept on walking toward the corner where I usually met my girlfriends. I got halfway there and Manny came running up behind me. “What’s up with you, girl?”

I paused only long enough to say, “Manny, this was a bad idea
in the first place. I was up all night waiting for Cheron to come to my house and tell my mother.”

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that; she knows better.”

“Well, I don’t believe that. She was mad as hell,” I responded.

“Trust me. She and I had a talk and she understands. Matter of fact she’s going to move out for a while until she and I decide what we’re going to do, so we can do our thing as much as we want.”

“That’s just it, Manny. I’m not really trying to do it anymore. It’s not even me. I thought about it last night and it just ain’t right me taking money for sex. That’s what prostitutes do and I’m
not
a prostitute. I think I just need to chill.”

“Chill? C’mon now. You can’t get me hooked like this and then quit on me.”

“I
can’t
?” I asked.

“Well, I don’t want you to. And don’t tell me that you don’t like all the shopping you’ll be doing.” I had no reply. “Nothing has to change. Just call it me taking care of you. I took care of Cheron. It’s no different. And that’s another thing. I checked her about her going off like that. She won’t be saying nothing to your moms.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. “Good.”

“Hey, baby, why don’t you come on back and spend the day with me,” he said, grabbing my arm gently.

I made an attempt to pull away. “Nah, I got a final today.” I didn’t notice but Rorrie was walking down from the corner. I was sure part of it was nosiness. I hadn’t breathed a word to her about Manny.

When he saw Rorrie he let my arm go and said, “I’ll be waiting on you this afternoon, alright?”

I didn’t respond but headed for the corner. It felt good to be desired by him, but I was beginning to feel unsure about the whole thing. I had no idea where it was heading but a big part of me was excited about having an older man who was so interested in me and about the possibility that the money might continue to roll in for doing something that most girls were doing for free.

The whole day was going great until J.D. came to my table during lunch while I was trying to get in some last-minute studying for my biology exam. “So, where you been, Hailey? I’ve been calling you but I’m not getting no answer.”

“I been busy, J.D. Trying to get ready for my finals.”

“Too busy for your man?” J.D. stood over me. I looked up at him. He was only five foot five, an inch taller than me. He was trying to appear imposing but it wasn’t working. He had a baby face and the softest eyes ever. A lot of people said that we looked like brother and sister, mainly because we shared a Hershey-chocolate complexion, high cheekbones, and similar Chinese eyes. The only difference was that mine were hazel and his were dark brown. We both had fine hair and he always talked about how pretty our imaginary child would be.
Imaginary
, because I never really gave a thought to having a child with him or anyone, at least not for a very long time. Rorrie and I both wanted to go to college to become doctors. I also loved fashion. Everyone always told me that I was pretty enough to do some modeling as well, almost forcing the thought to enter my mind, but more than the modeling I dreamed of having my own boutique.

“J.D., please. I have to study. I don’t have time for this.”

“What about today after school. Can I come over for a little while?”

“For what?”

“What you mean ‘for what’? It’s been a while since you gave me some. You don’t want me to be looking nowhere else do you?”

When he said that, something came over me. I folded my book and looked up at him. When I looked into his eyes and saw that he was dead-serious, I knew one thing was certain. It was over between he and I. The craziest part of it was that I suddenly felt sorry for him. I grabbed my books and stood up before I responded, “J.D., you can do what you want. I don’t know what makes you think that I was gonna keep having sex with you for free.”

“Huh?” he said as the look on his face turned to one of astonishment.

“You heard me. What am I getting out of the deal? You come over, eat our food, climb on top of me and come in a minute. What’s in it for me?” He didn’t say anything, so I delivered the death blows. “Exactly, nothing at all,” I yelled. “I’m through with that. If you’re a minute man then it’s gonna cost you. And since I know your stacks ain’t like that, J.D., you ain’t got to call.”

I began to walk off and he followed behind. “So, Hailey what you saying? It’s over.”

“Yeah.”

“But, I love you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“What can I do?” he begged.

“Nothing that you’re capable of,” I said as I turned the corner. He stopped with the last comment. As I made my way toward my biology class I walked with a new confidence. I knew I’d crushed J.D., but oddly, I didn’t feel bad about it. Manny had definitely
provided me with a new way of thinking. Why should anyone get it for free, especially if they weren’t pleasing me? In this situation I already knew for certain that J.D. didn’t have any money. Half the time he begged me for half of what I had.

I aced my test, found Rorrie, and headed for the bus stop so we could ride home. We took our seat in the back as usual and Rorrie started immediately. “So what was up this morning? I waited all day thinking you were going to say something about ‘fine-ass’ Manny. You didn’t tell me you talked to him.”

“Oh, it wasn’t nothing. He was asking me about Cheron and if I’ve seen her around.”

“It looked like it was more than that. You sure you ain’t holding out on me?”

I looked her in the face and burst out laughing. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. For the rest of the ride I told her everything about Manny and I. She was so shocked that I finally had to say, “Girl, close your mouth before you catch a fly.”

We laughed as we climbed off the bus. “Girl, you wasn’t scared when Cheron walked up in there?”

“Hell no. I told Manny you better control this chick before I go off.”

“Daaaaannnnnggggggg.” Rorrie was mesmerized. “Now he done thrown her out.”

“Yep. I’m heading over there right now.”

She shook her head in disbelief. “Well call me later and give me the details.”

“I will,” I said, watching Rorrie as we parted ways at the corner. I walked hurriedly down the block to my building. When I got there Manny wasn’t on the balcony so I stood on the walk for about five minutes, waiting. When he never showed, I knocked
on the door for the next few minutes. When Cheron answered I backed away slowly. She didn’t say a word but the look on her face said everything. Manny walked up behind her and slammed the door shut. I heard yelling and I turned and went to my apartment. It was the first time I’d ever been lied to by a man and it hurt. Not because I was in love, but because I trusted him.

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