Authors: Pepper Pace
“You ain’t so bad … especially when you’re not around.”
He tugged her short hair gently and she swatted his hand away playfully.
There had been a time when the sight of him would nearly enrage her. It was back when she would try to attend the house parties that her other friends always bragged about.
She could never make it to the best ones because Scotty would always be there glaring at her. Sometimes he’d be the only white guy in a sea of black and Hispanic faces. He’d watch her suspiciously, silently demanding that she split. She’d glare right back at him. He was only a year older than her and she would be damned if he would tell her what to do!
Then Scotty would continue dancing with whatever chick he was with at the time, but his eyes would never leave her. He’d sell his dope while glaring at her and despite how much she wanted to be able to ignore him it was hard to do.
And if a guy asked to dance with her Scotty would actually start a fight with the dude! Scotty wouldn’t let her drink, if he saw her try he’d knock the drink out of her hand and try to haul her out of the house. If she kicked him in the shin he’d let her loose but would just smirk at her.
She knew what that look meant—if she stayed he wouldn’t let her have any fun, wouldn’t let her talk to a dude or dance or anything. So in a huff she’d just leave. It got to the point that if she walked into a house party and saw Scotty she’d just turn right around and leave.
One day when Scotty was locked up she finally made it into one of the better parties. Phonso was there but he was too busy having fun to care about what she was doing. Besides, she was pretty sure that she could beat Phonso in a fair fight-she was older and bigger than him.
At sixteen Beatrice Tremont was that type of fine that everyone else wanted to be. Although part black and part white she wasn’t light skinned but a medium brown complexion. She kept her golden brown hair cut short like Anita Baker’s and she didn’t need the fake contacts that so many others wore to make her eyes hazel.
Someone had once told her that she was built like a brick-shithouse (though she didn’t see how that was any type of compliment), and she knew that she could pass for much older even if she wasn’t all that tall.
Boys liked her and she liked boys. Boys Beady knew how to handle. But not men …
She shuddered at the thought of a man touching her, but sex was something that called to her—even if she didn’t let a boy put it in her.
Sometimes she just needed to let him extinguish her desires before she dismissed him and his needs. Sometimes she would give in but it was rare for her to allow boy’s penis on or in her.
One day while Scotty was locked up she had finally made it into a decent house party.
The music was blasting down the street and although it was BYOB there was plenty of beer. She and her girls were dressed fly and they looked better than the older broads who were trying to get the attention of the coolest guys.
The crowd was older than her, which was cool since she looked older but she didn’t really know any of the people. They weren’t the same crowd she knew from when she used to live in the projects.
Phonso was there doing the hottest dances and selling mass weed. She avoided him on the off chance that he wanted to emulate Scotty. Beady began to enjoy the party, the beer, the music as well as the boys that noticed her.
But before long some guy started dancing up against her. Not only was he old enough to be her daddy, he was loud and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Even when she walked off the dance floor he followed her and cornered her, still talking smack. She finally had to tell him that she was sixteen and still he wouldn’t get it into his over-indulged mind that she had no interest in him.
Beady had been terrified. She liked to control the boys she dealt with and being a girl used to the streets she handled herself well. But this was a grown man and he wouldn’t leave her alone—not until Phonso popped out of nowhere and began slicing the man with his switchblade. Phonso kept cutting the fool until he scurried out of the house with blood streaming from several wounds.
Beady finally understood that she might be one tough bitch, but she couldn’t handle every situation.
Scotty paused outside of the bathroom door and Beady gave him a crooked smile.
“Thanks,” she said simply.
The smile fell from his face instantly. “What happened?”
“What. Happened?” His nostrils were flaring.
She shook her head and gave him an amused look. “Are you some type of mind reader? Nothing happened. But now I understand why you stay on my ass so much. But it’s all good, ‘bro.”
“Beady,” he warned but she headed back down the hall and down the stairs calling over her shoulder.
“Hurry up so we can eat! Grandma’s been cooking all day!” And then she disappeared.
Scotty closed the bathroom door, now more sure than ever that he was not going anywhere.
Miss Gloria cooked as if she was still living in Alabama and dinner consisted of ham, southern cheese grits, collard greens, hot water cornbread, red-eye gravy, crowder peas, sweet potato casserole and roast chicken thighs. Instead of one simple desert the older woman made everyone’s favorite so there was a lemon icebox cake, a peach cobbler and because Scotty had turned eighteen while in prison—a birthday cake.
Miss Gloria didn’t like family to thank her for making dinner. For her, the way to show your appreciation was to fill your plate over and over again with food.
And Scotty did just that.
After dinner he checked that the bills were paid and saw that the bank account was as low as it had ever been. Miss Gloria was a thrifty woman, shopped at Findlay Market and bought the kids clothes from Sears, but Ginger’s school cost three thousand dollars a semester and that wasn’t covered by any of the vouchers offered by the county. Also, the house was a big old rambling three- story home and every bit of the space was necessary in order to accommodate them all. The property taxes took a hefty chunk of money and had to be paid twice a year without even factoring in the rent, which Scotty had sank the last of his funds to pay up for half a year before being locked up.
Vouchers and WIC just wasn’t enough.
His head ached when he closed the ledger. Later he would talk to Phonso about how much money he had.
He joined his brothers and sisters in the family room, happy at least that they wouldn’t have to worry about these things.
After Magnum P.I. went off everybody went off to bed. Miss Gloria had already fallen asleep in her reclining chair and Phonso had left to take care of some business.
Scotty leaned forward closer to his sister who was curled comfortably at the end of the sectional.
“I saw J.C. when I was in Lebanon.” Scotty said. She rarely referred to him as ‘Dad’ since she knew who her biological father was.
Her hazel eyes moved from the large television set to rest on her brother. “Oh my God, that’s messed up,” she grimaced. “Like some movie of the week where the long lost father and son find each other in jail.”
“I agree with the messed up part, but the long lost—not so much.” They always knew where to find the man if necessary.
“How’d he look?” She asked curiously.
“Good, actually. He asked about all of you. I told him about Mom.”
Beady sighed. “I’ll go with you next time you visit her. I haven’t seen her in a few months.”
Scotty nodded. He never looked forward to visiting Tracy but felt that he should keep in touch. She had been a terrible mother but she had stuck around and that counted for something.
He swallowed knowing that he was about to bring up an unpleasant topic. He didn’t like bringing up Tino considering what their brother had done to Beady, but Scotty figured that she had a right to know.
“J.C told me that Tino’s in Lebanon too.”
Beady sat up and stared at Scotty. “He’s in prison …” Her mouth parted and her brow gathered. “Do you know how long he’s been there?”
He shook his head watching her. “I have no idea.”
“Damn. I always wondered why he just disappeared,” she said quietly. “Do you think he’s been locked up all this time?”
Scotty looked away. She still didn’t know about the hammer incident.
“I don’t know.”
Only Phonso, EJ and Erica knew … and whomever else Tino told because Scotty had never brought up the incident again. But he would have thought that one of the others would have mentioned it to her.
The three of them had helped him clean up the aftermath—and not just the broken pieces of furniture but the blood that had splattered against everything.
Scotty hadn’t succeeded in killing his brother—but not for a lack of trying. He had then dragged the nearly unconscious young man out the front door and admonished him to never return. He should have picked up a hammer or a knife or a gun long before then and killed the bastard. It would have ended so much of the ensuing heartache.
He remembered back when they had first discovered that Beady had been sexually abused. He had wanted to go after the bastard that had done it but Tino had convinced him not to worry about it, had told him that she was better off living with her grandmother. Now he knew why. He hadn’t seen Beady again for several months and by then he knew that at least that part was true.
But in Vanessa’s case it had been different. He had seen the look on her face after their brother had touched her. Scotty tried not to remember her terrified expression when he saw her running from his apartment.
By then he knew that he loved her … but she wouldn’t even allow him to comfort her. She ran from him too. When he’d gone into the apartment he saw Phonso’s angry tear streaked face and he told Scotty what Tino had done, how he’d kissed his own sister, how he had put his hands on her. And all the while Tino just sat there looking smug and Scotty had picked up the hammer …
“Did you see him?” Beady asked anxiously.
His attention snapped back to her. “No,” Scotty replied simply.
Beady sighed. “I guess he had his reasons. But … I thought he cared more. I hated him for a while for disappearing on us like that.”
“He was an asshole-“
Beady shook her head. “Not really. He just didn’t know any other way to be.” She was quiet for a while and Scotty was uncomfortable enough that he had nothing to say either.
She drew in a deep breath as if coming to a difficult decision. “Back when that shit went down with the … molestation …” she glanced at her grandmother checking that she was still asleep in her armchair.
Scotty cocked his head and listened with a silent nod. They had never discussed what had happened when she was thirteen. Child protective services had removed her and sent her to live with her grandmother permanently when they had discovered that she had been sexually abused.
Scotty had wanted to kill the muther fucker that had touched his sister—little did he know that it was his own brother.
“He came to see me,” Beady continued.
Scotty shook his head and then ran his hands through his long blond hair. It fell right back into his face, his jaw clenched angrily.
“Beady I wish you would have told me-“
“No. I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell him either. He begged me to tell him. He even cried and he punched the door. But he didn’t get mad at me, he just kept telling me that he was sorry and asking for a name.”
The blood seemed to flow from Scotty’s face.
“What-?” he whispered.
Beatrice sighed. “I shouldn’t have brought it up. It’s just that Tino seemed like he cared and then he just disappeared right after-“
Scotty shuddered. He moved to the edge of the couch and rose to his feet. Beady looked at him curiously.
“Tino didn’t touch you?” He asked just above a whisper.
She gave him a surprised look. “Tino? No! Are you crazy?” She shook her head at him. “Did you think--?”
He walked toward her and knelt until he was inches from her face. Her eyes grew wide at the anger she felt wafting from him.
She didn’t speak.
“I damn near killed Tino because … I thought it was him. Beatrice, who raped you?”