Shu and Sara are still looking like deer in a headlight. They know something and I am going to get it out of them one way or another. “Yall, if there is something that you think I should know or if you think Joseph should know, you might as well tell me now. I have to be able to think straight and be able to do the right things. I can’t do that if I don’t know what’s going on. I need to be able to fix whatever is going on. Joseph is out to sea” When I mention Joseph being out to sea they look at each other again and this drives me crazy. I see I am going to have to treat these two as if they are one of my kids. “GET TO TALKING!!!” I don’t think they saw me getting loud on them. With this kind of aggression, Shu spits it out like a canary. He still has a thick ace t and I am trying to truly understand the words that he is saying. “It is none of our business, but Julianna tends to have a lot of friends and parties when Joseph is out of town. They are wild parties. All of the neighbors are complaining about the noise and the drunk people hanging outside at all times of night. They even party during the middle of the day.”
My eyes are at a fine slit. I know he just didn’t say that this woman is partying up in my child house all the damn time when he ain’t here. Joseph is gone pretty often and when he leaves he is gone for long periods of time. Sara is the one that hasn’t said anything but I know she is the one that has the big secret. I decide to play my position with her using guilt. “Ok. Shu, can you come and unlock the door? We need to go in and see if I can find my grandbabies. Sara, you come with us too. I know you might not feel up to this, but I need witnesses.” I start walking through the grass and up the front steps. I have both Sara and Shu in tow. Shu gets the key and is having a hard time getting the key into the lock. “Child! Give me this damn key!” I take the key and I am unlocking this door as if my life depended on it. In reality, it does. My life does depend on what is on the other side of this door.
The minute I open the door, there is a rotten smell that hits me face on. This makes Sara retrieve backwards and as soon as she is off the steps, she is throwing up in the bushes. Shu runs to her and he is holding her hair. I tell him to take her home and come back over once he gets her settled. I feel bad for forcing them to walk this house with me. Especially when I already know that the kids aren’t really here. I just have to see what the hell done happened. Not to mention, the van that Julianna drives is still parked in the driveway. If you didn’t know any better, you would think someone is home. I get a handkerchief out of my purse and I place it under my nose. Sara’s reaction to the smell in this house is real. I am mad and sad at the same time. My will to understand and find out what is happening is pushing me through it. I was under the impression that Joseph had hired Ms. Burris to help with cleaning the house. If I was her and saw this shit, I would quit. It is probably what she is thinking right now as we speak.
I go straight to the girl’s room and I take a look around. It is not clean, but it is not as bad as the rest of the damn house. There is a smell in here that makes me gag. I look under the cover of the bed, I look in the trash. There are a pile of dirty diapers just sitting there. They smell, but it is something stronger. I keep looking. I open the door to the closet and my heart faints. There is shit and piss every damn where on the floor of the closet. Its like my feet are glued to that one spot. I can’t move. These kids were in their own closet. They were obviously unattended to. I hear footsteps and this unlocks my stance. It is Shu. He also has a look of disgust and disappointment on his face. “Mrs. Jones, my wife and I would like to invite you over for tea. ”
We finally made it to Lake Edward. I leave the stash house that Pocket has and I walk over to where the townhouses are located. It is only a ten minute walk. I get to Joan’s house and I start to knock on the door as hard as I can. Joan works for the Ford plant. She works different hours and when she is home, she is either sleep or playing cards. If she is sleep then it will be hell trying to get her to wake up. She has a Rottweiler in her fenced in back yard. The fence is damn near falling apart. Chance is pouncing on the wooden door that leads to the back yard. I yell at Chance to hush. He doesn’t stop barking. It is Chance’s barking that woke Joan out of her deep sleep. He is my saving grace.
Joan comes to the door rubbing her face. When she opens the door and sees me, she appears relieved. “Hey! What’s happening? What you doing over here and who you with? You came by yourself?” I tell Joan that I was rolling with Pocket. We go into her kitchen and we sit at her kitchen table. She grabs her pack of Newport cigarettes and gives me one. We are both puffing and talking at the same time. “Julianna, when is Joseph suppose to be back?” I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. It isn’t like he doesn’t give me a date. I just don’t remember what he said. “Joan, I have fucked up and I have fucked up something terrible. I can’t find the kids.” Joan has a long pull on her cigarette and then puts it out in the ashtray. She finally looks back up to me and says, “You want to run that by me again?” Tears start to fall from my face. I go to my purse and I pull out a vial of powder that I keep. I place a small amount on the top corner of my hand and I take a snort.
Joan is not going to judge. In fact, she gets up and fixes her a gin and tonic. It is still morning, but I guess it is five o’clock somewhere. “Joan, I have got to find my kids. I have no idea where they are.” She is still shuffling around the kitchen and then sits back down. “Julianna, when you left the house, where were the girls?” I am still feeling bad about the situation, so I tell her that I had the girls in their room with the door closed. Joan has been to my house when I am having a party. She can see straight through the statement about the girls being in their room. She knows that I put them into the closet. The reason I do this is because I don’t want them to get in the way. I don’t have a baby sitter and God knows Pocket can’t stand them. I put them in the closet so that they wont be in the way and nobody, including Pocket will have access to them. It might not be the best idea, but it works for me.
Sara and Shu have really nice China. I can tell that it is probably a family heirloom. They clearly don’t believe in sugar around here. I don’t see any and there damn sure ain’t a drop of it in this tea. I am not rude though. Given the circumstances, I know that they haven’t invited me over for tea just to chit chat. Sara takes a sip of her hot tea and then she closes her eyes. I don’t know if she is savoring the tea or if she is saying a silent prayer. Either way, I don’t take my eyes off of her. I need her to tell me what it is that she knows. “Mrs. Jones… I don’t mean to instigate anything, but there is something weird that is going on next door.” No shit! I am hoping that she just hurries this shit along. I don’t have all damn night to get to the bottom of this situation. I need to find my grandbabies. “Sara baby, just spit it out.” She looks at Shu and he gives her a nod of encouragement. “I think that Julianna is having an affair with her drug dealer, Pocket. I think that he has her having these parties so that he can sell drugs out of her house. We know Pocket sells dope. He and his friends come into our restaurant several times a week. The whole city knows who he is. I am sorry to have to tell you this. We love Julianna and Joseph. I can’t understand what she could see in a guy like Pocket. I saw them kissing one day in the driveway. She only has her parties when Joseph is out of town.”
Did she just say “Pocket”? Shu starts to speak. “I told Joseph that I would look out for the family and the house when he was away. I feel like I have let him down. What can we do to help you?” I am still on the fact that Sara has said the name “Pocket”. Pocket… Pocket… Pocket… Where have I heard that name before? Oh shit!!! Pocket is Julianna’s cousin!!! Or at least, that is what she told us. My poor Joseph has been getting screwed behind his back in his own house. Ain’t this some shit?