I decided to take it upon myself to go and pick up Donald. I am certain that Alton had already left heading over to Lil Bill’s house. I figured Don was already dipping into his “Coca-Cola”, even when it was just the top of the morning. Neither myself or Sue Bone ever drunk or smoked. I can’t say that I can say the same for all of my children. All of them were respectful in never showing us their vices, except for Don. “Hey Daddy, I’m shoal glad you came through. I ain’t put no gas in that Lincoln of mine. You know how that is.” I just shake my head and keep listening to what are some truths and some lies. This is the only child of mine that actually wants me to believe that it is just Coca- Cola in that damn bottle that he is carrying around. When I ask him what was in his shirt pocket, this fool sad numbers and pencils. I know good and damn well that is a pack of Pall Malls… Crazy. “Listen Don, don’t make any extra noise on this trip. Joe and your momma are depending on you boys to help them out.” He is steady going through his pockets as I am trying to talk some sense into him. We finally pull into Lil Bill’s driveway and just as I suspected here we go… “Hey Daddy, I need you to spot me some change. I didn’t think I was going no where and I ain’t been to the bank. You know I’m good for it.” That grin spreads across his face and I just shake my damn head. I already knew that shit was coming a mile away. I pass him a couple of bills and tell him that he better spend it wisely, because I am going to need him to run me my change the next time I see his ass. He knows that I am dead serious, but he takes the money anyway and tells me that I am a great father. Where did this child come from?
I go to the window to see exactly where Julianna goes. She doesn’t take her car. That is still in the garage. There isn’t anyone or a cab outside waiting on her. In fact, she isn’t even carrying a bag or a purse. She is just briskly walking as fast as she can. My first thought was to run after her and make her stay. But something in me said, “let that sleeping dog lie!” If she ain’t trying to be here, then all she is doing is making my decision about the kids easier. As I see Julianna fading away in the distance, I notice the Chinese neighbors pulling in. I am actually glad to see them. I head out and ask if they have any empty boxes that I can have.
Sugar dropped Al at my house only ten minutes before Daddy pulled up in the yard to drop off Don. I loved my entire family to the bone. Even though most people considered Don a fool and a con, I loved being around him. He was not just my brother, he was my best friend. We were closer in age than any of the other siblings, so we were two peas in a pod. I could see the foolery that could have already transpired in the car ride with Daddy and Don. I don’t know why he keeps on trying Daddy. One day, Daddy is going to whip his ass for sure. Especially about running him his change back.
Daddy was a natural born numbers man. He wasn’t educated. In fact, he had only gone to school through the eighth grade. I guess for his generation that was like graduating high school. Nevertheless, Daddy ran the rackets in East Point and now the Collier Heights sections of Atlanta. He knew all of his customers and he knew how much money they had on the books, who owed him, who he owed, and how much. He even knew the dates of each transaction and he had this all in his head. You would never catch Daddy without a pencil and some paper, but be certain he knew your bet. “If you can count money, then you obviously know how to do math”. This is a creed that he lived by and stuck by no matter who you were. Once when I was a teenager, he sent my younger sister Mary Ann to the store. When she came back, she handed Daddy his items and walked away. “Hold up May (That’s what he would call her for short). Where is my change?” Mary Ann being much younger said that she had used the penny to buy a cookie for herself. Daddy made her pay him back for that damn cookie. He has gotten better in later years, but this dog still hunts.
“Bill!! What’s happening?! Al, yall ready to see some fine looking white women on this flight?” All I could do is shake my head. Al just laughed Don off and walked to the car to put the rest of our bags in the car. We had a hour and some change before it was time for us to get on the next flight to Norfolk. It was the last flight going to Norfolk today. I knew one thing was for sure…. We can’t miss this flight! With that being said, we all pile into Daddy’s Pontiac Grand Prix and he takes us to the airport. The only one doing most of the talking is… You guessed it… Don! “Daddy and Al, me and Bill work out here everyday, so this shit ain’t new to us. You would be amazed at how many men out here are dressing up like women. I mean Daddy, it is a damn shame. I saw this one woman that had a bruiser body. I mean bad! When she turned around, damn if I didn’t see that Adam’s apple up her that wig she was wearing.” Alton and I are laughing and Daddy is steady paying attention to the road and not paying any attention to Don at all. Classic family time. I know that we are laughing and jiving right now, but we all really know that Momma just didn’t ask us to come up there like this if nothing wasn’t wrong. I truly believe that Don used jokes and stories to help us get our minds off of things when we thought they were bad. The look on my Daddy’s face right now still shows that he is worried sick and this puts me on high alert. This is for damn sure. In the next few hours, we would know what was really happening and sooner versus later, we would all be back in Atlanta.
Being in Atlanta meant you were safe. Being in Atlanta meant you had a family that was going to help you come hell or high water. No matter what the circumstances are, we are all we got. Momma drilled this into our heads day one. I just hope it is nothing tragic, especially for Joe. I would lose it if something would happen to anybody in my family. Alton as quiet as he was, didn’t play that shit neither. Don, biggest fool I know, didn’t play that shit. My Daddy, on the other hand, took it to the next level. Nobody wants to see that person. I mean nobody. So I know that whatever it is that is going on up here, we got to get it straight before that person we don’t like comes to pay somebody a visit. It damn sure as hell ain’t gone be on my watch.