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By J. Pharoah Doss

Saturday, July 16, 2011.

   “What did her daughter do now?…Girl, I wish Tangie would do something stupid like that⎯trust me⎯my daughter knows better…”

   If I know better why does she always wish stupid on me when she’s on the phone with her friends?  Like I’m still eleven or something⎯dang⎯I’ll be eleven and a half next week.  Kee Kee’s mom never wishes stupid on her.  I love Miss Simone.  She can make cookies from scratch.  I helped her make oatmeal raisin once and her boyfriend, Mr. Rick, said they tasted better than the ones from Wal-Mart.  Kee Kee said he’s a liar.  I don’t think she likes Mr. Rick.  He’s not her father.   Her parents divorced when we was in Mrs. Paxton’s second grade class.  Kee Kee told me back then they kept fighting over some stupid adult tree that money didn’t grow on.  But I like Mr. Rick.  He works at night and during the day he fixes stuff for the neighbors.   I know because when those stupid boys my older brother, Tony, use to be around see Mr. Rick leave Miss Simone’s they always say he’s off to nail something.  

   “…Tangie’s on punishment as we speak.  She’ll be in her room for the next three weekends…”

     What!  How did it become three?
   “…it was two, but I added another weekend, because she was on the phone when I told her not to be…”

   That’s not fair!  I was talking to my daddy.  She always says I can’t talk to him until he gives support, but he was talking to me about getting better grades.  That’s support ain’t it?  Some moms punish for the dumbest things.  Like Rene, next door, got in trouble for not listening to her mom’s boyfriend, then one day he told Rene to run to the store for him, so she went, then her mom gave her a beating for leaving the house before her dishes were done.   I hate being stuck in my room.  I miss Tony.  He played with me.  It seems like he’s been gone longer than three months.  Kee Kee should have known better than to believe Rene…

   “…but I told Tangie I wasn’t putting up with the same crap from her that I put up with from her brother…nope, and I don’t plan on it either.  I told his father to visit him.  That’s the least his broke do-nothing-ass can do, but I ain’t traveling seventy miles for only an hour visit…”

   But I wanna go!  I wrote a letter but she lost the papers with Tony’s address on it.  How far is seventy miles anyway?  When she didn’t have a car she complained about where she couldn’t go, or she was mad because my daddy’s girlfriend wouldn’t let him drive her places, now she gotta car and don’t wanna ride anywhere…

   “…my grandma always said you had to be harder on girls than you do boys anyway.  This is like the fourth time Tangie been in trouble at that school for fighting in the last two months…”

    This was my only fight!  I ain’t start that other stuff.  It ain’t my fault my teachers don’t like me and believe everybody else before me.  Like when Latrina asked me if I thought Josh was cute.  I said he was okay.  Then she asked who was cuter, Josh or Drayton, and I said Drayton.  Then Latrina told Tica, then Tica told Meesha, then Meesha told everybody that I said I wanted to go with Drayton, and I ain’t say that.  So when Erika found out, she got mad at me, because she knew, that I knew, she liked Drayton.  So Erika called me a twofaced, backstabbing, bitch behind my back.  When Reba told me what she heard Erika said behind my back I stepped to Erika in the gym and dared her to repeat what I heard she’d been calling me to my face.  So Erika punched me and threw me into the bleachers.  Then the gym teacher said I started the fight and I got in trouble.   I didn’t even throw a punch.  How did I start the fight?   

   “… and I ain’t raising no punching bags.  I’d told her just like Tony.  If anybody feels like putting their hands on you then you better hurt their feelings.  Just like my momma told me.  So I wasn’t hard on her those times, but the school told me Tangie admitted starting this mess with Kee Kee…”

   Oh my goodness!  I never said that.  Mrs. Lopez asked me if I hit Kee Kee first and I said yeah.  I got no reason to lie, but Kee Kee started the mess when she opened her fat mouth.  I told her she better take what she said back before I slapped her harder than Mr. Rick does her mother.  I know I shouldn’t have said that, but I had to say something.  I didn’t want to look like a punk in front of Kelly and Jodale because those two will tell everybody…

   “…Supposedly Kee Kee said something about me… I don’t know what she said.  That’s not even important, because Tangie’s too old for some stupid crap like that to bother her.   Maybe it was different coming from her best friend…but Tangie got a mouth on her and I know she teases kids too because all kids do…”

     But I never called Miss Simone a ho!  I would never do that.  Best friends aren’t supposed to joke like that, and even if I did, I wouldn’t say it in front of Kelly and Jodale because those two are trouble makers.  Jodale asked Kee Kee why she was talking bad about my mom and Kee Kee said Rene told her the day Rene stayed home from school that Rene seen Mr. Rick go over my house and heard Mr. Rick and my mom through the wall.  Then Kelly said she don’t know why Rene would lie about something like that.  Kelly got some nerve.  She beat up Rene, at the bus stop, for telling Jodale that she called Jodale’s mom an alcoholic.  Rene’s always starting stuff between best friends because she doesn’t have one anymore.  Even if Mr. Rick was over my house so what!  He fixes things.  Just last week when I came home from school I saw Mr. Rick leaving my house and my mom said he fixed the washing machine…     

   “…get this, Simone confronted me at the gas station and said she don’t ever want Tangie at her house again and, you know how she tries to talk all proper because she’s going back to community college, said she would appreciate it if I conducted my affairs with individuals she didn’t know…”

   What!  Miss Simone wouldn’t say anything like that!  She knows me and Kee Kee fight sometimes.  That’s what best friends do, as a matter of fact, that’s how we became best friends after that fight we had in Miss Paxton’s class, well, it wasn’t a fight, we kept pulling each other’s hair, and Miss Paxton’s paired us together in art class so we could learn to get along, and that’s been my girl ever since.  Miss Paxton paired Kelly and Jodale too.  That’s why they’re so tight.  And Miss Paxton paired Rene with Chrystal.  They were the tightest pair until those child service people came and took Chrystal and her brothers and sisters away from their mom, and Rene never saw Chrystal after that…

   “…everybody knows he’s only with Simone’s fat ass because she got a job with the county and he can drive her car whenever he wants…I don’t give a damn what Simone thinks she knows or who told what to who…he ain’t married, she can’t prove it, and, even if she can, that’s her problem, if push comes to shove, I told him he got a place to stay until he gets on his feet…if she lost some damn weight maybe he wouldn’t be sneaking off…but she ain’t got to take it out on my daughter…if she can’t be a woman about it⎯fine⎯then Tangie won’t go over her house and Kee Kee ain’t allowed at mine…”

   That’s not fair!  Kee Kee has my CD’s and I have her DVD’s.  What about our science project?  Miss Simone said she’ll buy the stuff so we can make our solar system, because she knows my mom never gets me stuff for school.  And I always have to remind Kee Kee to feed Miss Simone’s fish.   What if Kee Kee forgets for a couple of days?  Mr. Rick doesn’t care about those fish.  I’ll be so mad if something happened to them.  And Kee Kee helps me with my word problems since Tony got arrested.  I suck at that, and she’s the best math student in our class.   We we’re going to sign up to be little league football cheerleaders this summer.   And we were going to double date when we were old enough, be on the high school basketball team together, go to the prom, go to the same college, and be roommates.  Now we’re not even allowed to be friends anymore.  Dang!  I swear moms punish for the dumbest things.   Rene’s mom needs to tell her like my mom always tells me that grown folk’s business ain’t got nothing to do with kids.  I can’t wait till I get off punishment and see Rene.  If she thought Kelly beat her bad, just wait, I’m going to bang her nappy head off the sidewalk for telling Kee Kee that lie.  Then I’m going to write Tony and tell him all about it.  He’ll understand.  That’s why he took that brick and cracked that boy across the street’s head open for starting that lie about Mr. Rick and our mom.  Dang!   I hate Rene.  This is all her fault.

J. Pharoah Doss was born in Pittsburgh in 1975. He attended Geneva College. His writing has appeared in The New Pittsburgh Courier, The Shepherd, and Commonline/The E Journal.

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