Once I got used to the smell of my mama’s and daddy's house again, I was able to fall into a pretty restful sleep. It always smelled like a combination of moth balls and chicken grease in that house. At one time, the smell was a comfort to me. Now it just reminded me of a time long gone. My mama hadn't been able to safely cook in years, and Daddy was from the old school. As far as he was concerned, any man that could cook anything other than ribs on a grill was a sissy. I learned to cook out of necessity since any relationship I ever had never lasted, and I'd never been married. But Mama didn't teach me; she wasn't allowed to. I had to learn on my own. I supposed that one of the aides who took care of Mama did the cooking around this place now. Either them or Aunt Erma. But knowing how she felt about my daddy, that wasn’t too likely.
Around five the next morning, a damn rooster woke me out of my sleep. Daddy didn't have a rooster or a hen for that matter, so I knew it had to belong to the folks that lived behind our house in a little shack my daddy rented out.
I sat up on the side of the twin bed I’d slept in as a boy, frustrated and sleepy, and stretched. Then I walked the three steps from my room to the only bathroom in the small house and damn near jumped out of my skin. There, sitting on the toilet, was my daddy.
“Daddy! You scared me! When did you get here?”
“How the hell I’m gon’ scare you in my own house, sitting on my own toilet? When you get here anyway?”
Daddy had the bathroom lit up. I held my breath as I backed out of the doorway. “I’ll wait until you get finished.”
“Might be a while. Been eating a lot of pork lately. Got my bowels locked the hell up.” He emphasized his statement with a painful sounding grunt.
I thought to myself that it smelled like his bowels had definitely broken out of jail. I nodded, closed the door, and walked through the kitchen and out the back door. My bladder wasn’t going to let me wait until he finished unlocking his bowels. I faced the back of the house and relieved myself. I stepped back into the kitchen and looked around, hoping against hope that my folks had a coffeemaker when I knew better. They didn’t have a microwave, either, or even a tea pot. So I had to boil water in a sauce pan. I guess I should’ve been glad they at least had a jar of coffee in the cabinet, even though it looked like it was older than me.
I had just sat down to drink my coffee when Daddy walked into the kitchen wearing a dingy white t-shirt and faded, striped boxers. One look at my daddy and anyone could see why he was so popular with the women. Even at seventy-something, he still had the same smooth, ruddy skin, gray eyes, wavy black hair, and bone structure that made most women swoon. The story had always been that my daddy’s daddy’s daddy was a full-blooded Quapaw Indian. My grandfather could never confirm this fact, because he never knew his father. But looking at my daddy and the chiseled features I’d inherited from him, I believed the story was pretty close to the truth.
Daddy sat down at the table with a grunt and a sigh.
“Where you been, Daddy?” I asked.
He looked at me for a second. “Here and there.”
“Mama’s sick. She’s in the hospital.”
“Yeah, I figured something like that was going on when I saw her bed empty. Plus, you here. You don’t come around no more lessin’ it’s something going on.”
I sat there and looked at him and waited for him to show an ounce of concern for the woman who’d borne him two children and had been his wife for the past forty-some-odd years. I waited for him to ask about her or something. But he just sat there, grinding his teeth and scratching his head. “Any more hot water? I think I’ma make me some coffee,” he finally said.
He didn’t wait for me to answer. He stood from his chair with another grunt and checked the pot for himself. Then he pulled a coffee mug from the cabinet and started noisily making himself a cup of coffee, huffing and puffing and grunting the whole time. I cleared my throat and took a deep breath. My face was heating up, but I was determined to keep my composure. Daddy wasn’t going to make me lose my cool. Not this time.
“She got ahold of a bottle of laxatives and took all of them,” I said.
“Umph,” he grunted. “She always gettin’ into something.”
I took another deep breath. “Yeah, um, the doctor’s talking about sending her home this afternoon.”
He sat back down across from me and loudly slurped his coffee. So we sat there in silence except for his slurps.
Finally, I stood from the table. “I’ma go take a shower so I can head on up to the hospital to check on Mama. You wanna ride with me?”
Slurp. “Naw, you go ‘head on. I’ll see her when she come home.” Slurp…
I sighed. “All right, then, Daddy.”
For ladies’ man Ivan Spencer, there really is no place like HOME.
A family emergency brings former rapper and current real estate mogul, Ivan Spencer, back to his long-abandoned hometown. While there, he must deal with his confused mother, his elderly, philandering father, his flaky sister, an unreliable aunt, and a face from the past who makes him question some of his earlier decisions. All he wants to do is to get things squared away and return to his life, but as it turns out, he must deal with his own issues first.
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Adrienne Thompson has worn many titles in her lifetime–from teenage mother to teenage wife to divorcee to registered nurse to author. This mother of two young adults and one teenager currently resides in Arkansas with her daughter where she writes and publishes her stories full time.
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