In Atlanta XXXXII… Chapter 42

Bang! Bang! Bang!  Whoever the fuck this is knocking at my door better be ready to catch one in the lip.  Sounding like the police or something.  I swing the door open ready to knock out whoever it is banging on my door like that.  Before I can even think of swinging, Big Daddy has his pistol to my face.  My hands are up in the air and I am mad at myself for even thinking that I can bring hands to a gun fight.  I should’ve known from the knock on the door that this was some bullshit and I should have come to the door ready.  Now I am looking down the barrel of a damn pistol.  “Good Morning!  I see that you are up bright and early, Mother Fucker!  Where is Julianna?”  Big Daddy obviously didn’t come here to play no games.  Shit, Julianna aint even worth this damn hassle.  “Julianna!!  Get the fuck out of that damn bathroom!!!  Your Uncle is here!”  I look back at the gun that has not moved an inch since I opened the door.   “I see you still don’t have any God damn manners.”   I feel the butt of the gun go upside my head and a trickle of blood flows down my face.  Julianna has to know that I will kill her over this shit right here.

I hear Pocket yelling at me to come out of the bathroom.  I am still trying to get myself together.  I still feel horrible about the kids.  Maybe I can get Pocket to drive me around and help me find them.  What the fuck am I thinking.  He hates those kids.  I pull my hair into a bun on top of my head and I leave the bathroom.  Nothing could prepare me for what I was about to walk into.  Pinky is clearly in her lane and not moving.  I look up at the front door only to see Big Daddy with a gun in Pocket’s face.   Fuck!!!  This can’t be a good thing.  Especially for me.   “Julianna, get your stuff and let’s go!”  I aint stupid.  As much as I am feeling some kind of way that Pocket has a gun in his face, I know good and damn well that I need to do as I am told.  It’s as if I am seven years old again.  I run to get my things and I slide by Pocket and Big Daddy to head to Big Daddy’s El Dorado.  I can feel the burn of Pocket’s eyes on my back and I know that there will be hell to pay for this stunt that Big Daddy has stepped to him with.

Once Julianna is out of the house, I take the opportunity to confront Pocket about the kids.  “I am in somewhat of a bad mood, Pocket.  I hate feeling like this.”  I point the gun towards the sofa and invite this fool to sit on his own damn couch.  His bitch is sitting still not say a word and she knows fucking better.  I decide to sit on a chair that is in the corner of their den.  I still have the gun pointed at Pocket.  He aint but so damn stupid.  He knows not to make any kind of wrong move.  He knows that I am a damn good shot and my reputation precedes itself in these streets.  He better be ready to tell me what the hell he has done with these kids.  “So Pocket, I hear that you have been hosting ‘parties’ at my niece’s house.  I also hear that Julianna is having a hard time locating the whereabouts of her kids.  Do you know anything about that?”  I can tell that he is pissed to no end, but I don’t give a damn.  He better start talking.  “Look, all I know is that she puts the kids in the damn closet of their bedrooms. I aint touched them brats!”  To refer to those babies as brats pisses me off.  To let him know this, I decide to let off a couple of rounds above his head just to let him know that I am not the one to fuck with.  He jumps like hell and his pregnant woman urinates herself.   I tell him thanks for the info and I head to the door.    Before I exit, I let him know….  “So just so that we understand each other.  I am going to need you to stay the hell away from my family.  Stay away from my daughter Joan, my son Billy, my niece Julianna, and for your life and the life of the rest of your family’s…  Stay the hell away from those kids.  I need you to understand the fire that you are playing with…  Yall have a nice day”  With that, I am out of this shit hole of a townhouse.

I sit inside of Big Daddy’s car and a wave of so many emotions rush over me.  I am anxious.  I am scared.  I don’t know what the hell I am doing.  I don’t even know where the hell my kids are.  I try to light a cigarette, but can’t get the match to act right.  As I am all in a fuss, Big Daddy gets into the driver’s side and cranks up the car.  We slowly pull out of the driveway as if nothing has occurred inside of the house with Pocket.  “Big Daddy, you know there is going to be hell to pay for what just happened.  I know that you are known for your antics, but know that Pocket is not a punk either.  He is going to have my ass for this stunt.”  Big Daddy slowly pulls the car over to the side of the road.  “Julianna, how can a woman like yourself think so highly of a shit head ass boy.  There is nothing about him that says ‘I am a man’!  Nothing!  You have a wonderful husband that works his ass off to make sure that you and those beautiful children that you have are well taken care of.  The real question is…  What the fuck is wrong with you?”  With that statement, I take that blow to the chin.  He is more than right.  What the fuck is wrong with me?  “Big Daddy, I need help finding my babies.  Can you help me?”  He pulls off and heads towards Virginia Beach Boulevard.  “Why do you think I am here?”  With that we go on a serious search.

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I was finally able to pick out an outfit for the day.  I am putting the final touches of lipstick to my lips when I hear the telephone ringing.  I stop to answer the phone and I hear my sister Angeline on the line.  She calls me Lea, which is short for my real name Leactrice.  My mother had her way with names.  I sigh, “Why Angeline, what do I owe the pleasure of receiving a phone call from you.”  I wait for her to go through her thoughts of how great life is with the “Good Doctor”.  I know that this is some bullshit, but she does this to make herself sound better than what she actually is.  Everybody doesn’t have a “Big Daddy”, so I usually let her just go through her antics.   Halfway through her rants, I decide to ask her about Julianna and the girls.  Just curious to see if she was just oblivious and caught up in herself so much that she didn’t care.

“Angeline, glad to hear all is going well with you and the Good Doctor.  Have you heard from Julianna and the girls?”  There is somewhat of a pause and I take that as if she knows something but doesn’t want to air out her dirty laundry.  “Well, Lea I really haven’t spoken with her in a few days now.  Maybe I will ride by her house to see how she and the kids are doing.”  This act of hers is beginning to piss me off.  I take a More cigarette and light it.  “Angeline, are you going to cut the shit or do I need to tell you what it is that you don’t want to tell me?”  The line is quiet again.  So I start in on her.  “Do you know that Julianna can’t find the kids?!  Do you know she left my house with that no good Pocket?  What the hell is going on?”  I can tell that she is frustrated.

“Listen Lea, there is a lot that I am sure is just a misunderstanding.  So don’t go judging me and my family.  I bet you are over there talking with the enemy as we speak.  I am sure my husband’s ex-wife is filling you up with a bunch of lies.  It is a damn shame to have a sister who listens more to other people than she does me!”  What in the hell is she talking about?  What does Mignon have anything to do with this.  Don’t get me wrong.  I really like Mignon Garrett.  I think what happened between her and my now new brother in law was really messed up.    Angeline was just stupid enough to blurt out her obvious news.  “So Angeline, you mean to tell me that you don’t know what is going on?”  “Look all I know is that Ms. Burris called me saying that the kids were home by themselves when she went over to clean and that Julianna wasn’t there.  I told her to wait on Julianna and that was that.  I am sure that Julianna is back at home with the kids now.”  How big of a bitch can you really be?  I don’t understand how we even have the same parents.  There is no way in hell.  I mean no way in hell I would receive a phone call like that and not be in my car on my way to get my grandchildren.  I am so fed up, I just hang up.

“Momma, the social worker is telling me that I need to get a good lawyer.  It doesn’t seem like they are just going to let me walk out of this place with Jacinta and Jordan.”  By this time, Jordan has fallen asleep.  “Well then Joseph, we aint leaving here without them.  I am going to sit right here with my babies.  No one will ever leave them again.  Not on my watch.  Find a comfortable chair.  Get a good night’s rest as best you can.  Tomorrow you get up and find that good lawyer.  Get ready.  I am going to take these kids and protect them going forward.  We are going to do this as a family IN ATLANTA!”

In Atlanta XXXXI… Chapter 41

I feel the tapping on my arm.  I can also feel the sunlight that is trying to creep through the blinds of my bedroom window.  I allow myself to snooze some more only to have my arm tapped on again.  My eyes start to flutter and I am focusing on the silhouette that is standing on the side of my bed.  Her figure is robust and the tapping on my skin is so soft and delicate.  Once my eyes focus, I see that Goodmomma is waiting for me to get up.  “Hey momma, what’s going on?  How did you get here?”  Instead of answering my question she pulls at my arm to get up and she is clearly ready to go downstairs.  I look over and Chico is snoring softly.  Maybe this is why she isn’t saying anything.  Once we are in the kitchen, Goodmomma starts her rituals.  “Ok baby, what are we cooking today?”  I know that I am hungry, but at the same time, I have no idea as to what I have a taste for.  I tell Momma to just fix whatever she felt like fixing.

“So baby, here is the thing.  I need you to be strong and do something for me.”  Goodmomma should already know that I would do anything, so there is no need to set up a pitching conversation.  “You name it and I got you.”  She starts sifting flour which lets me know that some kind of cake will be made today.  “Jacinta, I need you to bury me again.”  My heart sinks.  Why would she want me to bury her, when she is so needed here.  If God wanted her in heaven, he would have seen to it that she was buried properly.  “Momma, I think that you are mistaken.  If you are alive then there is no need to bury you.  Aren’t you fine here with us?”  I can tell that she is pondering my question.  “I know that this sounds confusing and strange, but I need to be put to rest.  I need you to understand that I have to go and be with the Lord.  So I ask you to please set up my funeral arrangements.  I really don’t want any talk back.”  Tears flood my eyes.  Why she would want to leave me again is beyond me.  I was heartbroken the first time and I truly believe that my heart won’t allow me to attend another funeral with her being in a casket.  It is just not something that I want to do.  It is something that I can’t do.

I hear some stirring around downstairs and that alerts me that someone is up.  I have been up since about 4:00 this morning.  Even though I am retired, my body is still on Taiwanese time.  I slip on a pair of jogging pants and stat my trek down to the kitchen.  I am ready for a hot cup of coffee.  I get hallway to the bottom of the stairs and it is happening again.  Jacinta has all of the pots and pans on the counter.  The mixer is turning with nothing in it.  The only difference this time is that flour is all over the kitchen counter and parts of the floor.   I don’t want to startle her, so I decide to make a little noise to alert her of my presence.  “Good morning baby, you ok?  You look like you have been crying.”  She starts to weep again and I grab my child to hold her.  “Daddy, why she keep asking me to bury her?  I can’t understand why she would want to leave us again.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Instead of telling her that she is having an episode, I just continue to rub her head and let her cry it out.  “Baby, I just need you to know that Daddy is here.  I got your back.  Always have and always will.”

It saddens me to see her going through this.  How much can a person grieve?  How much pressure should a person have on them about a deceased love one?  Why is my child feeling responsible for taking care of my mother?  My head starts to spin with all of the things that is going on now and I simply just don’t know what to do.  I think about what my mother would do if she were here in real life.   It takes me back to when we were in the hospital with those children.  Momma insisted that if the children were required to stay there, then we were required to stay there too.  I truly believe that this is why we won over the social worker.  It was Momma’s insistence and dedication that held us together during that time.  I would give anything for her to be right here right now so that she could help us again.  But that is thinking selfishly.  We have to learn how to fly on our own, no matter how old we are.

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“Excuse me Mr. Jones, may I have a word with you in private?”  Ms. Gardner is gesturing me to step outside into the hallway so that we can have a conversation.  My mother is now holding Jordan and Jacinta has gone back to coloring in her coloring book.  I feel relieved knowing that she is there.  At the same time, she is watching me like a hawk and ear hustling like it is no tomorrow.  “I can see how much you love these kids Mr. Jones, and I really want to work on helping you get them back.”  Again, this woman is trying me by telling me that I won’t possibly have my kids going forward.  My brows start to meet in the middle of my forehead indicating my disapproval of her statement.  “Ms. Gardner, let me stop you right there.  There is no way in hell that I am leaving my children.  There is no way in hell that I am about to let the state take my children.  Now, I realize that you have a job to do, but keeping my kids from me is not the right thing to do.  It just isn’t!”  She gives me another sympathetic look and sighs.  “Listen, I understand your concern, but again it is not left up to me to allow these children to leave with you.  I just wanted to tell you that I have already submitted my report and I have asked if we can expedite a custody hearing as soon as possible.  I will tell you that Social Services will be conducting a thorough investigation.  This will include interviewing your neighbors, school teachers, the housekeeper, etc.  In addition, a Social Worker will be coming to your house to review the conditions of the home.  The children will more than likely have to report into Social Services on a daily basis and will be monitored by Social Services going forward.  I just wanted to let you know what you are facing.”  My hands are on my hips and my brows are still stuck together.  “Ms. Gardner, given everything that you just told me, what would you do if you were me?”  I don’t care that this woman is seeing the tears roll down my face.  I need her to have a heart and understand that I can’t allow anything else to happen to the children and they damn sure need to understand that there is no way that I am leaving them.

I take some mental notes of what I overhear between Joseph and Ms. Gardner.  To Joseph’s point, he is right.  How are they going to hold this situation against him if he was away at work.  This wrong doing is not on him.  It is all on Julianna.  I find myself frustrated.  Jordan must sense this and starts to whine.   I slowly rock her in my arms and she is back to cooing.  I look deep into those big brown eyes and for the life of me, I can’t understand why someone would hurt these precious angels.  Moreover, I don’t understand why Ms. Garret is here and not Angeline.  Angeline should be here too to help us convince this Social Worker that we need our kids back.  I always knew she didn’t give a damn.  I will be dealing with her ass sooner versus later.  Especially if what Ms. Garret has told me pans out to be true.  There is no way in hell someone would call me and tell me that my grandchildren were left abandoned in a home and I not be there within minutes.  The devil is a lie!

Again I know that Joan knows something and isn’t saying anything.  I watch her finish her half eaten breakfast.  “Big Daddy, I am going to go home and get ready for my shift.  I will call you when I am on my break to see if any progress has been made.”  I kiss her on her forehead and she leaves.  I hear my wife stirring around upstairs.  I am sure she has tried on her third outfit for the day and still hasn’t made her decision.  I’m distracted in my thoughts when I hear the telephone on the wall ringing.  I answer and it is Books calling me back.  “Mr. Mosely, I don’t know much about the party situation that you asked me about.  I did some digging and there were a couple of guys that had gone over to your niece’s house a few days ago.  They admit that there was a party, but they don’t recall seeing or hearing any kids in the house.  I was able to get Pocket’s home phone number for you if you want to call him.”  I thank Books and tell him that I appreciate him following up back with me.  I don’t need Pocket’s phone number.  Hell, I know where he stays.  With that thought in mind, I put my cap on and I am out the door and cranking up my Cadillac.  I guess I should just face this shit head on and get some answers out of Pocket.  I swear if he has done anything to hurt those kids, it will be his ass.

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Ms. Gardner and I are still going back and forth about the next steps regarding the kids.  It is like she gets it and she understands, but she is not helping me.  She just keeps saying that I won’t be able to take my kids with me from this hospital.  “Mr. Jones, you asked me if this was me, what would I do?  I would find myself the best family lawyer that money could buy.  You are going to need it….”

In Atlanta XXXX… Chapter 40

Miss Gardner has come back to the private waiting room to escort us back into the children’s ward of the hospital.  I am having to pull myself together so that the kids don’t see me upset.  I don’t want to upset them any more than what they already are.  Jacinta is in a child’s bed and Jordan is in a hospital style crib.  Jordan has a bottle and Jacinta is sitting up coloring in a coloring book.  She was always being creative, even at such a young age.  It breaks my heart to see them and yet I am over joyed that they appear to be ok and that they will be ok.  I am just hoping that seeing us will make them happy.  My mother squeezes my hand and it presses me to speak.  “There goes Daddy’s babies!!!”  I say this with the largest smile that I can muster.  Jacinta looks up and she screams.  “Daddy!”  She runs to me and throws her arms around my knees.  Jordan is still being greedy she is looking, but she is not letting go of that bottle.  I pick up Jacinta and I head to the crib and I pick up Jordan.  I hold them tight and I can’t help it.  The tears continue to escalade from my eyes.  I am seriously weeping.  I feel my mother behind my back.  She is kissing my baby’s cheeks and telling them that Goodmomma is here.

Jacinta lifts her head and notices me crying.  This starts her to cry.  I am not even sure if she even knows why she is crying.  Her heart is built different from most.  If you were to fall and hurt yourself, Jacinta would cry.  Even if it didn’t bother you.  She was extremely and has always been really sensitive.  Because Jacinta is crying, Jordan decides to join in the fun and cry too.  I sit down and the kids are in my lap.  We cry together.

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Ms. Garrett has taken this opportunity to pull Miss Gardner aside to have a conversation.  “Ms. Gardner, I think you can see the love that this family has for these kids.  I truly don’t believe that they will be in danger if given custody to their father.  I am not sure about the mother of the children, but their father is just that.  He loves these kids and I am certain that he will take extremely good care of them.”  Ms. Gardner gives me a look of understanding.  I know that personally she agrees with what I am saying and what is being shown to her from Joseph and the kids.   Joseph has pulled himself together and now he is tickling the two girls as they burst out in laughter.   “Ms. Garrett, I know that this is a difficult situation.  Trust me, it is hard to be in the position that I am in.  However, I have to abide by state protocol.  Given the circumstances, we will have to get a judge to determine where these kids will be placed until a thorough investigation of both parents have been completed.  I will do my best to show favor to Mr. Jones, yourself and Mrs. Jones to the court.  I can not however, promise any kind of outcomes.  It is the state’s responsibility to ensure the safety and the care of these children.  Either way, they will be here in the children’s ward a few more days for observation.”  I look over at the children and Joseph.  My heart sinks.

“Julianna!!!  Get the fuck up!  I swear you ain’t worth shit!  All you do is get high and pass out.  You aren’t even fun any more.  You letting yourself go.  Maybe I need to let you go too.”  I hear Pocket talking, but I truly don’t understand a word that he is saying.  My vision is blurred, but I know enough to know that I am passed out again on the floor of Pocket’s and Pinky’s townhouse.  Through one eye, I can see Pinky sitting in her chair fuming at the fact that I am always in her home being paraded around her as if she doesn’t exist.  It seems like whatever Pocket has just said, seemed to appease her.  I really don’t give a shit what she thinks.  She is irrelevant to me.  Married or not, I know that I am Pocket’s bottom bitch.  There is no question about that.  So even if he is mad with me, I am still number one.  She will just have to get over that shit.  I am not even worried that she is currently pregnant.  Even with her stomach sticking out, she is smoking a joint and has already hit a few swigs of some brown liquor that is sitting on the table in front of her.  She says that Pocket is the father of her baby.  Yeah right.

I bring myself to get up off the floor and off to the bathroom I go.  I have to pee like no one’s business.  I am looking stupid when I see that there is not one piece of toilet paper in the bathroom to wipe my ass.  I look into my purse to see if I have some Kleenex.  As I am searching through my bag, my wallet falls out.  It opens to a picture of myself, Joseph, and the kids.  It dawns on me that I still haven’t found them.  I really don’t know what to do about this crazy ass situation.  My head is spinning not just from the thoughts of my kids, but also because I must be coming down off of some serious blow.  There is a loud knock on the bathroom door and it causes me to jump.  “Julianna, get the fuck out there and let’s split.  We got work to do!”  Pocket is still on his rant and is obviously ready to go.  I want to sit here.  I am in no mood to run the streets right now.  The guilt that I have is horrible and I don’t wish this feeling on anyone.

Joan is still at the table sipping on her coffee and picking at the omelet that I have made her.  I am sick of waiting on these people to give me some clue as to what they want to do about getting these kids back.  It is like Joan isn’t herself either.  Fuck it.   I call my friend that is a big wig at the International Long Shore Man Association.  This union is more of a fraternity than anything.  Everybody has the dirt on everybody that works these docks.  “Books!  (Yes, his nickname is Books).  It’s me Marion.  I got me a little situation that I need your help with.”  Books is more than glad to help.  “You got it man, what can I do for you?”  Joan has taken out a cigarette and is smoking as if her nerves are about to explode.  I almost feel as though she knows more that what she is letting on to knowing.   I will get to that when I finish with Books.  “There is a cat that works there by the name of Pocket.  I am sure you have heard of him.  Well he recently had a set at the house of my niece.  Not sure who all came to the set, but I hear it was a bunch of Long Shore Men there.  Thing is, her kids were at the house during this party and now no one seems to know where they are.  Can you put it out there and see what you can find out?  I would owe you big man!”  Books ain’t stupid by far.  He already knows that what sounds like a favor is really a demand.  He knows that I am that guy in these here streets.  “I got you man.  As soon as I know more, I will hit you up.  By the way, your niece, what is her name?”  I tell him that she is a beautiful girl by the name of Julianna.  We end the call and I turn to Joan to see if I can get anything else from her.

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I wasn’t expecting Big Daddy to call me about this shit with Pocket and Julianna.  Hell, I was at the damn party my damn self.  I ain’t telling him that shit though.  I don’t need that kind of trouble in life at all.  He operates like a mob cat.  That ain’t my shot.  The thing is, when I was at the party, I don’t remember seeing any kids at all.  Hell I was there at least two days with this new chick that was down for whatever.  I think that I would know if there were any children there.  But there wasn’t.

Jacinta’s Awesome Alfredo


3 Boneless, skinless chicken breast cubed

2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon Webber’s Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning

1/2 tablespoon of salt

1 tablespoon of Emeril Essence Seasoning

1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning

2 sticks of salted butter

1- 8 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese Brick

1 Pint of Heavy Cream

2 cups of chicken broth

5 garlic cloves (pressed or minced)

3/4 teaspoon of Red Ground Pepper Flakes

1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning

2 cups of Parmesan Grated cheese

1- 16 oz. bag of fresh spinach

1/2 stick of salted butter

1/3 cup of chopped parsley

2 boxes of Linguine Pasta (cooked)


(1) Pre-heat oven to 275 Degrees. Set aside medium sheet pan sprayed with Pam or cooking spray

(2) In a large skillet, put 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat.

(2) Add cubed/ diced chicken breast, Roasted Garlic & Herb seasoning, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of Emeril Essence Seasoning, 1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning.  Cook until done.

(3) Add cooked chicken to medium sheet pan and place in oven (no more than 20 minutes)

(4) In a separate pot, cook pasta according to directions.

(5) Using the same skillet that the chicken was cooked in, on medium-low heat, melt 2 sticks of butter, cream cheese, and 2 cups of chicken broth.  Whisk until smooth.

(6) Add fresh garlic, pint of cream, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning, and 2 cups of grated parmesan.  Whisk until smooth.  Bring cream to a boil, constantly stirring.  (5 to 10 minutes or until thickened.

(7) Remove sauce from heat.  Add fresh parsley and spinach. Stir well.

(8) Pour sauce over noodles and mix well with tongs or pasta spoon.

(10) Serve with cooked chicken atop.  Enjoy! USA, LLC

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In Atlanta XXXIX… Chapter 39

We have been sitting in the hospital waiting room for what seems like forever.  In reality it has really only been about fifteen minutes.   I am generally a patient man.  Not today.  I am beyond myself at the moment.  I want to get my kids and get the hell up out of here.  The thoughts that are in my head are moving a mile a minute.  This just seems like a nightmare that I can’t wake up from and it is horrible.  Ms. Garrett hasn’t said too much since we got to the hospital and because she was with the children I feel like now may be a good time to talk to her.  “Ms. Garret, I really appreciate all that you have done and what you are doing right now for my kids.  I don’t know how I will ever be able to repay you.”  She gives me a sweet and genuine smile.  “Oh Joseph, I am a parent myself.  I know what it is like to want what is best for your children.  This was no trouble at all really.  I am just as concerned about their well being as you are.  I just don’t want you to be upset because I called Social Services.  I had an obligation to make sure that these kids were alright.  I do hope you understand.”  Truth be told.  I would not have known what to do had I been Ms. Garrett.  At least she has had the proper training as a school teacher to know what to do.

Before I can respond to Ms. Garret, a slender white woman approaches us.  She does not have on a white coat or a nurse’s uniform.  She just has an ID badge hanging from her sweater.  “Good Morning.  I understand that you are Joseph Jones the father of Jacinta and Jordan Jones?”  I shake my head to confirm the words that I can’t find to come out of my mouth.  My mother on the other hand is already in full effect.  “Yes, and I am the paternal grandmother of those children.  My name is Susan Jones.  We are here to get the children and we will take it from here.”  The lady looks over her file for a bit and then she asks if we could follow her.   I am not sure where we are going, but my hope is that she is taking me to my children.    I am wrong when we enter what seems to be a smaller private waiting room.  This is not what I was expecting.

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“Mr. Jones, is it ok for me to speak freely in front of Ms. Garret and Ms. Jones?”  I do a double take at the notion that she is already acquainted with Ms. Garret.  I am hoping that this is someone that Ms. Garret knows personally.  This may be able to work in our favor.   I tell her that whatever she needs to say to me, she can say in front of these two.   “My name is Melissa Gardner, I am the Social Worker that has been assigned to this case.  I would first like to say that your children were found in an extraordinary amount of neglect.  Ms. Garret was able to get the children in her possession and bring them to the proper authorities for evaluation.  In the medical findings, both children were found to be dehydrated, hungry, and both children are suffering from bronchitis.  In addition, the younger daughter Jordan has several rashes on her body including a severe diaper rash.  These rashes generally occur when a child has been in their own soil for a period of time.  The older daughter Jacinta, has several bruises on her arm and on the back of her legs.  We believe that she received some sort of beating or punishment that caused these marks.”  The Social Worker stops to allow what she has just said to sink in.  She doesn’t need to do that, I am heart broken.

“Miss lady, we just need to get to the children.  I am sure that when they see their father and myself, they will feel safe.”  My mother is speaking what I can not get my mouth to move an say.  I am so thankful that she is here.  I am devastated at hearing the condition that my children are in.  “That’s why we are here Ms. Jones.  It is my understanding that Mr. Jones has been away at sea for work?  Is this correct Mr. Jones?”  I am finally able to look this woman in the face.  “Yes, my job requires that I travel pretty often.”  Regardless of the situation, I am no fool.  I know that I am to answer only what I am asked.  Never give any additional information that has not been requested.  Ms. Gardner continues with her questioning as she is reviewing the notes that she has in her file.  “Can you tell me where you think the mother of the children is?”  This question cuts me like a knife.  “No ma’am, I have been unsuccessful in finding her right this moment.”  The social worker takes some additional notes.

I feel my mother grab my hand.  I know that this interview is bothering her too.  The thing is that one of us has to be strong.  I am not the one right now.  To hear that someone has laid a hand on my child is horrific.  I have never given either of my children a spanking or any other kind of disciplinary action for that matter.  So if I haven’t done it, what makes someone else think that they can?  I have seen Julianna get frustrated and even angry at times, but I have never seen her lay a hand on the children.  This either means that Julianna finally lost her cool or someone else made the decision to put hands on my child.  I am furious and whoever this is, will feel my wrath.   Know this!!!

“Mr. Jones, because of these findings, we will have to maintain custody of your children until we can deem either of their parents to be fit for them to retain custody.”  I lose it!  “What the hell do you mean, you will have to maintain custody?!  I am their father!  Who else is supposed to take care of them?!  I am here and I am ready to take my kids home now!”  All three women watch me lose my temper and it is Ms. Garret that gets me to calm down.  The social worker seems helpless.   I know that she knows that this situation is not her fault.  I know that this situation is beyond her decision.  My mother speaks up while Ms. Garret is talking to me about keeping my cool.  “Listen, I know you have a job to do.  We as a family appreciate all that you have done to help my grandchildren.  But please understand that these kids have a family.  They have a support system like you wouldn’t believe.  We are not going to be able to just give these kids over to you.  It is not going to help them that they are with people that they don’t know.”

“Ms. Jones, with all due respect, it is exposing these children to people that they didn’t know that put them in this position in the first place.  My job is to make sure that nothing else happens to them.  I hope that you can understand the hard position that I am in.  I am not for breaking up families.  I need you to know that.  What I can do, is I can see if the family court will show favor for either you or Ms. Garret to serve as a guardian for the children until all of the safety checks have been made.  If the judge sees fit that Mr. Jones can retain custody of the two children on his own, then he can get the kids back at that time.  However, until then, I will be an advocate that Mr. Jones gets visitation rights with the kids.”

Sur La Table

I feel defeated. “Can I at least get to see my kids now?  I have to see them.”  The Social Worker says that she will be back and that we will need to wait here until she comes to get us.  The minute she closes the door, the three of us go into full discussion.  “Oh Joseph!  Please don’t worry, we will work our way through this.  I am not leaving here without my grandchildren!”  Tears fall down my face.  How did this happen?  How could Julianna let this happen?  What would possess her to have just anyone around my kids?  Most of all, where the hell is she and why can’t I find her?  Ms. Garret and my mother continue having a conversation about next steps.  Ms. Garret is a saint, she has agreed to become a guardian of the children if asked by the courts.  This is a bit much for anyone, more so for her.  I mean, it is not like the maternal grandmother of these children didn’t take her husband from her.  You have to have a special kind of heart to be willing to do what she is willing to do.  I am forever grateful for her.

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My eyes feel the sun shining on them.  I realize that I am not in my bed.  I am on the sofa of my parent’s house.  I smell coffee being brewed and this lets me know that Big Daddy is up and making breakfast.  I walk myself to the kitchen.  “Good Morning!”  Big Daddy gives me a kiss on my cheek.  “Can I fix you some coffee or juice?  Breakfast should be up in a moment.”  I will take both.  I am hungry and nothing beats a good cup of coffee.  “Is Julianna and mother still sleep?”  He flips the omelet in the skillet with a chef’s precision.  “Well Joan, you know your mother is going through her ritual of what she plans on wearing for the day.  As for your faithful cousin Julianna, she left with Pocket last night not too long after you fell asleep.”  How in the hell could she just leave like that?  Something is wrong with that chick I swear.  Big Daddy can tell that I am frustrated with this bit of news.  He is also, I can tell.  “Joan, it is going to be up to us to find these kids.  I don’t think Julianna is of sound mind to do this on her own.  We need to find out who all was at her house for that party.”  He is right and knowing Julianna, she is probably two sheets in the wind off of some cocaine.  Sad.

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In Atlanta XXXVIII… Chapter 38

“We would like to welcome you to Norfolk International Airport, where the time is 8:18 a.m. Please remain in your seats until the seatbelt sign has been turned off. We thank you for choosing Delta airlines for your choice of travel today. Flight attendants, all call and cross check.” Listening to the stewardess only reminded me of Julianna. I met her on one of my many flights coming in and out of Norfolk. She was a flight attendant for Delta and I have to say that I had never seen such a beautiful woman in all of my life. I was determined to make her my wife. I didn’t care what I had to do to get her, but I made it my mission to pursue her heavily. I am sure being a flight attendant she encountered many men that would have easily tried to snatch her up. It was something about her. Her hair framed her beautiful face and her almond shaped eyes sparkled when she smiled. Her perfume would have me hypnotized. She was so free, so helpful, and so beautiful. She had me wide open from day one.

I started making my reservations so that it would correlate with her flight schedule. I wanted her to make note of my presence every time I was on a flight. I started off by leaving behind little trinkets, gifts, and flowers so that when they left the flight she had something special waiting on her. I always signed my name and I always requested the same seat. I left my number on the cards hoping that one day I would get a phone call. That phone call never came. This was probably due to the fact that I was never in the same place at any given time. If she had called me I would not have known.

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One day after take off, I decided to approach her before the beverage service commenced. I think that she thought that I was waiting to use the restroom. I was shocked when she said “Hello Joseph! How is your flight so far?” I was stuck and for the first time, I didn’t know what to say. “My flight is going well. Did you like the gifts that I left for you?” She blushes, “Actually, I have been meaning to thank you. You know you don’t have to do that. That was very sweet and very thoughtful. I truly appreciate it. But if you don’t stop, people are going to start to think that you were my boyfriend.” I smile at the thought that she is thinking what I am thinking. “Well, I don’t see why they would think differently. I say we make it official. Once we land, there is a great restaurant that I would love to take you to. Let’s make a go for it.” Her smile broadens and in the most polite way she tells me that she has another flight with a layover in Atlanta. But she was willing to let me take her out on that following Friday. I was the happiest man that day. Nothing could have stolen my joy.

As I am waiting to get off of my current flight, the thought of not knowing what is going on with my wife is killing me. Even more, our children is the most important thing in my life. Nothing and I do mean nothing precedes them. I grab my suitcases in baggage claim and head to where the taxis are waiting. I ask them to head straight to my house. At least I can see if there has been some progress since my mother has been in town. Not to mention, I need to assess things and get to my car so that I can hit the streets looking for them. It takes us only twenty minutes from the airport to arrive at my home. When we pull up I notice that the front door is wide open. I hurry up to pay the cab driver as this situation is starting to become unreal for me. As I am getting my luggage out of the trunk a Cadillac pulls into my driveway. I am not sure who this is. By this time, I am relieved that my mother walks out of the front door as if she was looking for me this whole time.

A very elegant woman exits the Cadillac. She looks familiar, but for some reason I cant place where I know her nor do I remember her name. I speak and ask “Hi, can I help you with something?” She pauses and takes a good look at the suitcases that I have lined up in the middle of my driveway. My mother finally approaches me and she hugs my neck as if this will be her last. I turn back around to the lady in the driveway. My mother speaks, “You must be Mignon Garrett. I am Joseph’s mother Susan and I am sure that you probably know him as well.” She is pointing to me and then it dawns on me who she is. It is clear that there is a ton of information that I am not aware of. I am anxious to understand what is going on.

Ms. Garrett is truly polished and I am very curious as to what role she is playing in all of this. I know that she is the ex wife of my wife’s step father. Why she was contacted versus anyone else in Julianna’s family is beyond me. But who am I kidding. Julianna’s family is all over the place mentally and most of them are heavy drinkers. It is no telling what has this lady involved. I usher my mother and Ms. Garrett into the house where I am totally embarrassed of it’s condition. My mother is already reading my mind. ” Joseph, the housekeeper found the house looking like this. I have been up all night trying to get it back in order. I was given Ms. Garrett’s number from your housekeeper. Ms. Garrett was the one that came when your ‘lovely’ mother in law declined.” You can clearly hear the sarcasm and dismay that my mother is expressing towards Julianna’s mother.

“So Ms. Garrett, I know that you must be here for a reason…” She starts from the beginning explaining all of the details about the children and how Julianna hasn’t been seen or heard from in days. She also tells me that my kids are with a Virginia Beach social worker and they are in Virginia Beach General for health observation. I am furious and two steps from the garage to get into my car. Ms. Garrett asks if it would be ok if she were to follow us there. I concur and we load into our cars. Momma is riding in the car with me. “Joseph, listen to me. The kids are with professionals and they are ok. We just have to get to them and get them back. Ms. Garrett has been a God Send in this situation . We owe her the world. If it weren’t for her, no telling where these kids would have been. I need you to go into this hospital calm. You don’t want to upset the kids anymore than they already are. They are going to be so happy to see their father. You have to put on a game face for now. Let me handle all of the talking.”

We pull into the parking lot and I am out of the car in a flash. I rush through the emergency room until I see an information desk. I explain the situation and ask if I can see my children. The lady is really nice and sympathetic. I can already tell that she feels sorry for me when I tell her who my children are. “Sir, if you could just take a seat, someone will be out to speak with you shortly.” Shortly? “Ma’am I don’t think you understand. I don’t need to speak with anyone. I need to get my children.” Again, she gives me a sympathetic smile and says, “Sir, these are the rules when it comes to children in the hospital under these conditions. I promise to get someone out to you as soon as possible. I know this must be trying, but we will get you in to see your kids” With that, she walks away in search of whomever it is I am suppose to speak with. I didn’t like her comment of them ‘letting me see my kids’. I came here to get my kids. I am not leaving here without them.

Pocket just happen to have a run to make this morning. I was able to convince him to let me go by my house to “change clothes”. I really just wanted or at least wished that somehow Jacinta and Jordan were in their rooms sleeping. I open the door and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Pocket was sitting in the driveway smoking a joint. In the foyer were several suitcases. All had international tags tied to the handle. Shit!!! Joseph is home. It has hit the fan now. Without even thinking, I am back in the car with Pocket and rushing him to pull off. He doesn’t care and puts the car in reverse. I have to get as far away from this place as I possibly can. Joseph is going to hit the roof when he finds out about the kids. He probably already knows and is furious. I am getting the fuck up out of here tonight. How? I don’t know.

In Atlanta XXXVII… Chapter 37

It’s going on 1 a.m.  Mother Grand has taken to her room and Joan has fallen asleep on the sofa.  I find myself needing a hit of something… Anything for that matter.  All I have on me are my cigarettes.  I have snorted all of the cocaine that I had in my vial from earlier.  In the back yard, Mother Grand has the lights on around and in her pool.  It is majestic.  I go to the deck.  I light up a cigarette and I allow the smoke to flow throughout my lungs and into the night air.  I hear the back door open behind me and I don’t bother to turn around.  I already know that Big Daddy is coming to join me.  I really needed a moment to myself.  I guess that is not going to happen any time soon.  I hear a lighter go off behind me and then the smell of a Cuban cigar fills the air.  Big Daddy has changed from his fancy suit and is now in his robe and pajamas.

“Julianna, I know that you have a lot on your mind.  However, I really need you to start thinking about who was at your house.  I need any names that you can come up with.”  I have been wrecking my brain with trying to understand this myself.  I finally turn to face Big Daddy.  He can see the tears that have been rolling down my face for some time now.  “Big Daddy, I swear I really don’t know who all was there.  Pocket had some of the guys from the ILA there.  You know him being a long shore man and all.  He had ‘clients’ buying from him.  I guess my place became more than just a store front for him.   I swear I didn’t mean for anything to happen to those kids.  I love them.  I know that I have a problem. I just can’t help myself. ”  I shake my head and the smoke from the cigar still blows silently over the pool.  “Guys from the ILA…  That’s all I needed to know.”  He puts his half smoked cigar out.  He comes and places a good night kiss on my head and he goes back into the house.

Big Daddy’s last statement only adds fuel to the fire.  I hate that I even have to get anyone in my family involved in my mess.  I already know that when Mother Grand an Big Daddy get involved, there will only be hell to pay in Virginia.  Big Daddy is by far a gangster.  It is no way in hell my kids will be in the streets and they not find out about their whereabouts.   Pocket is going to be pissed if Big Daddy is out asking about what happened at my house.  He is going to think that it is a bad look for business.  More tears fall from my face.  I go from worried and sad to full blown scared and paranoid.  I go back into the house and I call Pocket.   For some reason or another I feel as though I am in trouble with him and at this point I need a hit.  Pinky answers that phone and when she hears my voice on the line, her pleasantries are out of the window.  “He ain’t here!”  I know she is lying and before I can say so, there is a bit of noise that is on the phone.  Finally, Pocket gets on the line.  He has probably snatched the phone from Pinky.  “Who is this?”  I am scared.  It is as if I can’t speak.  I don’t know what to say to him.  I don’t want him to hang the phone up, so I get the nerve to let some words come out of my mouth.  “Pocket, it’s Julianna.  Can you come get me from Mother Grand’s?  I need a hit.”  With that he doesn’t say goodbye,  He just hangs up the phone.  I hope that this means that he is on his way.

We have been sitting here for hours.  Denise has actually fallen asleep in the waiting room chair beside me.  I can’t sleep in this kind of environment.  Let alone, this situation has me wide awake.  What have I gotten myself into?  This is definitely not how I planned to spend my day or evening for that matter.  There is a vending machine in the waiting room that sells coffee.  I go to get a cup and as I am waiting for the machine to finish, the social worker comes up the hallway.  She doesn’t have the kids with her.  “Ms Garrett, the doctors have finished with their examination.  Both children are dehydrated and some what malnourished.  Both are receiving an IV and will be monitored in the children’s ward of the hospital.  At this time, due to their neglect, I will not be able to release the children over to you.  I suggest you and your daughter go home to get some rest.  These kids will be here until the doctors are satisfied with their medical conditions.”  My heart sinks.  I thank the social worker and she leaves.  This has pissed me off some kind of bad.

Across from the vending machines is a pay phone.  Denise is still in her slumber on the other side of the room.  I dig in my purse to find a dime.  I dial the one number that I haven’t dialed in maybe ever.  The phone rings three times and just as I thought, I hear the deep raspy voice of my ex-husband.  “It’s Mignon.  I just want you to know that I am sick and tired of cleaning up your mess!!!”  He tries to cut me off and ask, “Wait a minute.  Hold on.  Is there something wrong with Denise?!!”  The fact that he is laying next to woman with no heart is only pissing me off even more.  “No fool!!  Ms. Burris called me today and asked if I could come to Julianna’s.  Julianna left her kids in a closet by themselves.  Your sweet and grandmother of a wife didn’t want anything to do with the kids, so Ms. Burris called me.  I have been down at Virginia Beach General for hours with a social worker trying to get these kids checked out.  For the first time in your life, act like you have some sort of decency and compassion about yourself.  Wake that bitch up and tell her what is going on!!!”  I hang up the phone before I could even hear a response from him.  I go over to Denise and I gently wake her up.  She looks around and is confused as to where we are.  She finally gets her bearings and asks about the kids.  I tell her what the social worker said and she is now crying her little heart out.  I tell her that there is nothing else that we could do for them right now.  We have to go home and we will be back in the morning to make sure that the kids were ok.

Sur La Table

I have never been the one to sleep if there was work to be done.  I can’t go back to the hotel.  I am no good there.  I decide to start cleaning up Joseph’s house.  I start in the kid’s room.  The smell in the closet is unbearable.  If I know my child, he has taken after me and he has a stock pile of bleach somewhere.  I go to the garage and find a bucket.  I start the process of putting trash into a trash bag and then I start to scrub the floor.  I scrub as hard as I can.  I am back and forth between the scrub brush and the bucket of soap and bleachy water.  I finally sit on the back of my knees and I weep.  How in the hell could you do somebody like this.  I am hurt for my Joseph.  I am hurt for my grandbabies.  Most of all I am hurt by Julianna.  I need answers and I need my family back in order.  I go to the kitchen and I decide to call home.  I need my kids on standby.

I hear the sound of a horn blowing and I feel relieved.  I look out of the front window and I see Pocket’s El Dorado out front.  I grab my purse and I am out the door in a flash.  The minute I am in the car, he speeds off.   I don’t see Big Daddy looking at us from the upstairs window.  I am just glad that I am with Pocket.   I don’t even bother telling him that I wasn’t able to find the kids.  He already knows why I am here.  He passes me a vial of coke and I place two bumps on the side of my hand.  The high that I receive immediately calms me down.  I don’t know where we are going and I don’t care.  All I care about is floating away from here.  Whoever has my kids must be ok.  At least for now.

In Atlanta XXXVI… Chapter 36

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. USA, LLC

“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.

In Atlanta XXXV… Chapter 35

Joan is steady sipping on her cocktail and puffing on a Newport.  I have a Virginia Slim hanging from my mouth as well.  I can tell that Joan is in heavy thought.  She is not just my first cousin, but my best friend, my sister.  There aren’t any secrets between the two of us.  If I am in a situation, I know that I am not in it by myself.  I will always have Joan.  The silence is broken by Chance’s barking.  From his bark, we can tell that someone is coming to the door.  Joan looks out of the kitchen window and tells me that Pocket is approaching.  I am sure that Pocket is ready to go.  I am not.  This may be a bigger issue than it needs to be.  At this point, I need to focus on finding my children.  They have nothing to do with all of my wild shenanigans.  I try to hide my tears and yet they roll down my face anyway.  Just on cue, Pocket starts knocking on the door and even though I expected this knock, I jump as if it has startled me.

Joan shuffles herself to the front door and Pocket doesn’t even bother to ask if he can come in, he just walks in as if he owns this place too.  Joan doesn’t trip.  She just puffs on her cigarette a little longer than normal.  Joan has a breaking point, but for now, she is being strategic in keeping her cool.  It doesn’t make sense to argue with a fool.  Pocket is for sure the fool in question.  “Julianna!!!” Pocket yells.  “I’m in the kitchen”, I yell back.  Pocket comes to the kitchen table Joan following him.  “Look, it is time to roll.  I have things we need to do.”  I shoot a glance at Joan looking for help.  She jumps in just as I hope she would.  “Pocket, we need to go and find Julianna’s kids.  Why don’t you go and handle your business.  I will take Julianna back to the house to see what’s going on and then once we find the kids, I will watch them for you guys and I will bring Julianna to meet you.”  Pocket decides to take a cigarette out of Joan’s Newport pack.  He lights it up and puffs a smoke.  Neither one of us really knows what Pocket is thinking.  Hopefully, he will do as Joan suggests and let me go look for the kids.

“Joan, them kids probably sleep some damn where. Why bother?”  I can tell that this answer is unacceptable to Joan, but she plays it cool anyway.  “Pocket, that younger one needs milk.  At the least, let us go find and feed the kids.  I already told you that I would keep them once we get them.  You already got the work.  I am sure that you really don’t need Julianna all night.  Let me help her with the kids getting situated and then we will be back in a short.”  Pocket decides to put the cigarette out.  He gets up and as he walks out of the door he says, “Whatever”.  Saved by Joan again.  At the same time, as much as I know Joan has my back, I know that she is somewhat disappointed in me.  I mean, how in the hell do you lose your kids on purpose?  “Joan, I really didn’t mean to leave the kids alone.  I truly thought that we were still at my house.  When I woke up we were at Pinky’s.  I must have been high out of my mind.  You know how Pocket lets me have the good stuff….”  Joan hasn’t still said anything and from her face, I still can’t tell that she is judging me or not.   “I am about to put on some clothes.  Let’s go find the kids, Julianna.”  I have a sigh of relief.

The social worker said that we had to let the kids ride in her car with the appropriate car seats.  Denise begged if she could ride with them.  She was afraid that the kids wouldn’t recognize the social worker and act out if someone wasn’t there that they knew.  The social worker allowed her and I followed them to Virginia Beach General in my car.  My mind had a thousand thoughts.   However, there was no turning back now.  We had to get things going.  We finally get to the emergency room and there were very few people in the waiting room.  I am hoping that this is a sign that we won’t be here too long.  Wrong!  The medical exam that has to be performed can take hours per child.  I guess I need to prepare myself for a long night, that has already seemed to go on forever.

Sur La Table

Joan is finally ready to go.  We get into her car and we start to cruise through Norfolk and then onto Virginia Beach.  I told Joan that the kids weren’t at the house.   I have no idea who would have taken them or where would they have taken them.  She suggests the most horrid of ideas and decides to drive to my mother’s house.  Hell, I was probably better off going with Pocket.  But I got to get my kids back.  My mother is and has never been a “loving” sort of mother or grandmother.  It would be hard to believe that my children are with her.  She is on husband number five.  It takes us a minute to get from Lake Edward to Mirror Lake.  This subdivision is new and far out the beach.  As we near the house, we hear the jet noise from the fighter jets taking off from Damn Neck Naval Air Station.

Simply Be

Why mother decided to move this far out is beyond me.  I am sure that the neighborhood being new and on what most people would consider to be little water is the reason why.  My mother has a knack to upgrade herself after each divorce.  Her current husband is a dentist and he hates small children.  I can’t imagine him saying it would be ok to watch my kids.  Joan turns her 280z onto Mirror Lake Drive.   She pulls in front of my mother’s house and just as I thought all of the lights are off.  There is no sign that she nor her husband are awake.  Joan turns the ignition off and we sit there.  “Julianna, who else would have access to the house?  Who else was at the party?  You have got to think!  It’s not like we can call the police and tell them exactly what happened.”  She is so right.  In addition, it is not like I can call Joseph and say, “Hi hun, I lost the kids are they with you?”  Let’s face it.  I’m fucked up.

I hold my face with my hands.  “Joan, I have no fucking clue as to what happened.  I just remember waking up at Pinky’s.”  Joan thinks.  Her next big idea is to go to her emergency go to….  Mother Grand…. Her mother…. My mother’s sister.  Here we go.

Diamond CBD

In Atlanta XXXIV… Chapter 34

“Hi Ms. Garrett, I am Melissa Gardner with Virginia Beach Social Services.  I assume that these are the two children that you called us about?”  I shake my head to affirm her question.  I am starting to feel guilty about bringing the children down here.  I am really having a hard time reading this woman and trying to understand what type of woman that she is.  I don’t know if she is nice or not.  She hasn’t given me a sign one way or the other.  Denise on the other hand is looking nervous and anxious.  She is shaking her foot and holding the kids as close to her as she can.  “Now Ms. Garrett, I will have to ask you a series of questions that will help me understand how you came to find these children abandoned.”  This kind of throws me off guard.  I want to tell the truth, but I also don’t want her to take this kids away from us.  Nor do I want to make it harder for Joseph and his mother to be able to get them back.

“Before we start with the questions, I would like to make a statement.  I think that telling you this information will answer a lot of your questions and move things along.  It is getting quite late and I would like to put the children to bed.  God knows, they need their rest.  I am an elementary school teacher.  I am the “aunt” of these children’s mother.  Their father is away at sea for work.  We have a housekeeper that helps our family.  She was the one that found the kids at home alone.  The housekeeper alerted me that she came to the house for work and found the kids there by themselves.  I quickly came over to get the children and I have been trying to locate their mother since.  I am not sure where she would be and this is very unlike her to leave her children alone.  I just wanted to go on record that we have the children and that they are in the care of family until we are able to get into contact with their parents.  This is my daughter Denise.  She is a college student who just happens to be home on break.  As you can see the kids are very familiar with us.  We would like to keep them in our custody until the parents are located.”  Melissa is writing several things in a manila folder.  I am not sure if what she is writing is good, bad, or favorable.  I am hoping that she is ok with the statement that I have just made.  No, it is not all true, but majority of the facts have been stated.  I also wanted Denise to understand the plan.  I didn’t even know what I was going to say or do once I got here.  It is as if God put the words in my mouth to say to this social worker.  I am doing the best I can to think on my feet at the moment.

“Ms. Garrett, I am sure that you are an upstanding citizen.   And yes, I can tell that the kids are familiar with you and your daughter.  However, there is a standard process that must take place in order to file this report.  The kids will have to be seen by a medical physician to ensure that they are physically ok.  Once this is completed, we will determine whether or not the kids will be placed in foster care or released to a family member.  I will need the contact information for the father and the mother of these children.  In addition, we will have to do a home safety check.  There will be a pediatric child psychologist that will also determine the mental status of the children.”  Mental status?  How can these two have a mental status at this age?  I am listening intensely to this woman and again, I can’t read her personality.  It is truly bothering me that I can’t.

“Ms. Gardner, I just wanted to make the report that we had the kids in our possession.  I can take them to a pediatrician in the morning to have them checked out.   In the meantime, we will continue trying to locate their parents.”  Melissa finally breaks her facial expression and starts to speak again.  This time, she appears empathetic, but you can tell that she is sticking by the book.  I guess with kids, this is something that you have to do.  “Ms. Garrett, these kids will have to be processed immediately.  As soon as we are done with our questions here, I will be taking them to the local emergency room to have them examined.  From there the steps that I have mentioned previously will take place.  I hate to tell you this, but as of right now, these kids are wards of the state.  It is my job to ensure their safety.”  Denise starts with an outpour of tears.  This wakes up Jordan who has fallen asleep in her arms and Jacinta is starting to cry as well.   What the hell was I thinking.  I should have known not to bring the kids here.  I thought this was a good idea and now I am having my regrets.

“Ms. Melissa, these kids are very special to us.  Please let us keep them.  At least they will be with their own family”, Denise pleads.  Melissa makes a sigh and then she looks through her desk for some paperwork.  “Ok, here is what I will do.  I will allow you two to accompany me to the hospital.  From there if, the doctor releases them with a clean bill of health, I will consider suggesting that you get temporary guardianship over the children.  I can not make any promises, but I will tell you that I will speak to the magistrate on your behalf.  You did the right thing Ms. Garrett.  Don’t think that this system has been designed to tear families a part.  It truly is designed to help those families that are going through a rough time.  More than often, we don’t have relatives that are willing to step up to the plate to help with taking care of a child let alone more than one.  I promise to do the best I can to help these kids in any way that I can.”  I guess she has a heart after all.

We go through the questions that she has to note.  It seems as if they are never ending.  I am trying not to give away too much information and at the same time, I need for her to trust me.  I don’t want to get caught in a lie.  This is something that I am definitely not built for.  Not to mention, I feel as though I am leaving a negative impression that lying is ok to my daughter Denise.  Due to the current circumstances, I will have to explain things to her when it is just the two of us.  She is not a little girl anymore.  Welcome to the real world.

My flight has finally landed in Rome.  I am exhausted.  Unfortunately for me, I am unable to sleep while flying.  The man sitting next to me on the plane had the same issue.  In addition, he seemed overly anxious and his smoking was giving me a headache.  He was almost lighting the next cigarette with the one he was currently smoking.  I go to a small cart that is selling food.  I buy a couple of sandwiches and a piece of fruit.  I devour the meal as if I hadn’t eaten in weeks.  Once I finish there, I look for the phone banks.  I have to call to see what is going on at home.  I dial the number to my house.  An international operator comes on the line and I tell her that I am calling collect.  She puts me through.  Hopefully, Julianna is home by now and all is under control.  The phone rings and even though it is late at night back in Virginia, someone picks up the phone on the third ring.  “You have an international collect call from, caller please state your name.”  I quickly say my name and for the first time in what seemed like a long time, I hear the voice that is music to my ears.  “I will accept the charges.  Joseph, Momma is here baby, but the kids and Julianna are not.  How soon will it be before you are able to get here?”  My heart sinks.  “Momma, I will be there as fast as I can.  I just got to Rome.  I have several flights to catch before I will be back in the states.  I am hoping that I can be home by tomorrow night.  Just know that I am on my way.”  She reassures me that she has everything under control and that she has my back.  “Baby, I am going to find those kids.  Don’t you worry about a thing!  Julianna will have to fend for herself!”  I wonder why she is somewhat moody when she says Julianna’s name.  At this point, the important part is that my number one ace is in the house and I know she will have things under control.  This I know to be true.