We are now cruising down Virginia Beach Boulevard riding towards Pembroke. Aunt Lee or Mother Grand as we call her, lives in Dominion Lakes. Jacinta and Jordan love being over here. Mother Grand spoils them rotten and any snack or candy they think they may want is right there in her kitchen somewhere. Mother Grand is not the matriarch of this family. However, she might as well be. She serves everything hot and cold at the same time. No chaser. She is married to Uncle Marion, who prefers that we call him Big Daddy. Their house is nothing short of elaborate. It is like walking into an episode of Robin Leach’s Rich & Famous. Mother Grand has her house decked out and filled to capacity. There isn’t enough clothes or fur coats in the world that could satisfy this woman.
We pull into her driveway and just as we suspected, the lights are still on. There are two Cadillacs in the driveway which indicates that Big Daddy is home from one of his three jobs. It takes a man with a ton of ambition and drive to keep Mother Grand in her fancy lifestyle. Mother Grand on the other hand, lives comfortably as a elementary school teacher and Tidewater Socialite. We both get out of the car and head towards the front door. I am sure that ringing the door bell this time of night, doesn’t even phase these two. Big Daddy comes to the door and the biggest smile spreads across his face. He is still in a fancy suit. “What do I owe the pleasure to see my two girls!! Where are my babies?” He is looking around us to see where Jacinta and Jordan are. Joan slides pass him and says, “that is why we are here Big Daddy” A look of confusion crosses his face. He closes the door and just as he does, the glamourous Mother Grand appears at the top of the stairs in her night gown and robe. Her Daniel Green house slippers are clicking as she comes down the stairs. Hair is perfect, not a strand out of place and her make up is flawless. It is as if she has put on a fresh face just in time for Big Daddy to get off of work.
“Why Joan and Julianna!!” She is just as excited to see us as Big Daddy. It warms my heart to know that regardless of what was ever going on in my life growing up, these two were always the parents that you wanted to have. They had your back no matter how messed up you were and they defended you as if your life depended on it. The time of night is no indication of anything being wrong. It is as if we are just happening to stop by. I don’t ever remember these two ever being unavailable for anyone. Anytime was always a good time. “You two want something to eat? I was about to dip myself a bowl of red beans and rice.” Big Daddy was Creole. Born and raised in Pensacola, Florida. He spent a great deal of time in New Orleans with family being spread out on the Gulf Coast. His cooking was everything. For the first time today, I find myself hungry and take him up on his offer to get some beans and rice.
“Julianna, where are the kids? Who is watching them?” I can’t help but hold my head in shame. Mother Grand cuts her eyes at Joan who is giving her a silent indication that we have a problem. Mother Grand ushers us to sit at the kitchen table. She grabs my hand. “Julianna baby, what’s wrong? Are the kids ok? Is Joseph home?” Tears trickle down my face. “Oh my! Darling, you are scaring me. What is wrong honey? You know you can tell me anything.” Big Daddy is in the kitchen and fixing all of us a bowl. He is very much in tuned into this conversation. He is just allowing Mother Grand to work her magic and then he will intervene once he gets all of the specifics himself.
Through my sobs I start to speak. “That’s just it. I don’t know where my children are. I had a few friends over the other night and the kids were in their room. When I woke up I wasn’t at home. I was over to Pinky’s and Pocket’s house. When I realized that I wasn’t home, I rushed back to the house and when I got there the kids were no longer in their room. I don’t remember leaving the house. I guess I had too many drinks and I must have passed out or something.” I see Mother Grand look up at Joan. Joan turns her head. Another indication that they know it wasn’t just drinking going on in that house. “Julianna!! Please tell me why you insist on hanging with that Pocket! He is a true son of a bitch. I don’t understand why he is lingering around you all of the damn time.” She stops herself from fussing and realizes that her chastising is not helping the situation at hand. She takes a cigarette from her pack of More’s. She lights the long dark cigarette and smoke fills the air. “Darling, I think I am going to need more than some rice and beans. Can you pour me a Scotch?” And just like that Big Daddy is waiting on his woman hand and foot.
Joseph is the same kind of man as Big Daddy. It isn’t until this moment that I am seeing so many of their similarities. Joseph doesn’t deserve this. My children don’t deserve this. I just can’t explain why I am the way that I am. My nerves are bad and I get a Virginia Slims out of my purse and start to smoke away. “Ok, Julianna, we have to think. Who else was at your house for this ‘get together’?” The truth is, I really didn’t know many of the people there. “Pocket just had a few of his friends stop by and they brought some other people and next thing I know, I am having a full on party.” You can tell that Mother Grand is disgusted at the sound of Pocket’s name. She is Team Joseph all day. Big Daddy comes into the room and places a glass of Scotch in front of Mother Grand. She is truly the queen around here.
“You know Julianna, it isn’t a good thing to have these random people around your house and your family. I know that you need a break from being a mom at times, but when you do you need to get someone to watch the kids for you. I am certain that Joseph doesn’t know that this is going on in his house and the reality is that none of this is safe for any of you. Joan, this includes you too. I am sure that you are partying wherever Julianna is partying.” Big Daddy lets that statement sit right there and he goes on about cleaning the kitchen. Mother Grand has the same facial expression as Joan when she is in heavy thought. “I will put out a word and see what we can come up with. We don’t need the Police or any other authority involved just yet. We don’t want anyone coming and taking the kids away. We are going to find them, I promise!”
I am finally in JFK International Airport in New York. It feels good to be back in the States. I wish that this wasn’t such a stressful trip. I would usually take time out and see what type of trinkets I could pick up for the girls and Julianna. Not on this trip. I don’t even know where my family is. I just know that in another three hours, I will land back in Norfolk. I have never been a praying or spiritual man. I am a man of science and religion has to be proven. At this moment in time, I really am hoping that there is a God. I can’t imagine what the hell is going on with my family. I will fix this no matter what. They are mine to protect.
When Joseph called the house, I was really hoping that it was Julianna calling to say that she and the kids were fine. Even if she is out running the streets, I need her to bring my grandbabies to me not now, but right now! I don’t have time for whatever games she is out there playing. I love Julianna. I truly do. I was thrilled when I first met her. She was so sweet and beautiful. My Joseph was smitten. I could see how happy she made him. The kids were the over the top icing on the cake. I didn’t have the heart to tell him about what Shu and Sarah discussed with me. He has enough on his plate worrying about this situation from a far. I need him to be focused, not devastated. Either way, this Pocket character better hope he knows what family he is dealing with. One word and all of Atlanta will be here.