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There’s A Leak in This Old Building

A Novel By

Allisha Jones

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There’s A Leak in This Old Building®

All Rights reserved © 2018 Allisha Jones

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There’s A Leak in This Old Building Is a work of non-fiction. Any resemblances to real people, living or dead, actual events, establishments, organizations, or locale are authentic. It is written in the memory of the author and may be subject to dispute by others.

Written by: Allisha Jones

Cover design by: Allisha Jones

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Allisha Jones


Website: www.facebook/allyshahamber


For the moment we are born into this world, we are taught to naturally retain words and images. It was never specified in our DNA which ones were good or bad to retain… only to retain. As I began this journey years ago, I’d written bits and pieces of my life in my other secular novels, often though omitting the most hurtful details for many reasons. I didn’t want to cause conflict. I didn’t want my already broken family bonds to completely diminish. I didn’t want to invoke conversation about certain things, and it was easier to write out the pain in third person. Those were the protective reasons I pounded day in and day out, inside my mind and spirit. But now I know, they were simply protective excuses… a feeble attempt to seal the leak of mass destruction in the old building, once known as my soul.

It got me through this thing called life. However, for the first forty-six years of my life, I felt as if I was walking around in a fog and it wasn’t until I sat across from my Urologist and he said in such a matter-of-fact way, “You have Cancer,” that it truly hit me.

Driving home that day was the first time in many years, actually since the first time the metal gate of prison slammed shut on me, that I cried… I mean truly wailed from my spirit.

You know what’s funny though? For as much as we are taught to retain memories and images in our mind, I can’t seem to look back and find many good ones. I try so hard to look back and remember the days of laughter and carefree living. Days of carefree smiles but all I can see to come up with are tears, pain, hurt, regret, filth, shame and even anger.

And when my Doctor, as handsome as he was, delivered that devastating news I was placed back into a moment of vulnerability. Moments that so often led to traumatic endings. To not be able to defend yourself is a fear I knew all too well. And here I was again. Yet, something was different this time. That soft still voice inside me was urging me to stand still and fight back, not to run away as I had done so often before. To finally walk through it, image by image, word by word… and maybe, just maybe, I could find those carefree days in the present and more so in my future.

I’ve sat across the desks from many people trying to psychoanalyze me and they all thought they had me so figured out. They all thought they knew all the answers to my struggles. As they thumbed through the black and white pages of some text book, they all tried to tell me how to move on, to get past it, to get over it. But unless they had walked a mile in my shoes… unless they had rolled over and climbed out of the many, many beds I lain in and slipped their feet into my shoes, they could never understand.

So finally, I asked the small still voice inside me, that I now know to be my spirit, to help me find the strength to write this novel; to put it all on the line. I looked up the word testament and it is defined in the Meriam dictionary as, “a covenant between man and God.” So, I chose to write this novel in the form of my personal covenant, duplicate of the Bible… because before you can my walk in the new, before you can understand how I can walk in my purpose… you must understand where I come from; the cost of the oil in my Alabaster Box.

It is my hope and my prayer that through my trials and tribulations, I can inspire, encourage and uplift those who may feel that they are at their lowest. Those who’s spirits seem so downtrodden that they can’t see a brighter day. It is my prayer to thee, that you may find solace in knowing that you have not walked that road alone. If I succeed in any way, in truly fixing the ‘leak in this old building, my soul can finally gather the courage… the strength it needs… to move.

*Please understand, this novel is not intended to put down anyone else but rather to finally lift me up… fly, butterfly… fly.*


“For the wages of sin is death.”

  • Romans 6:23

So, I asked God, “What if you yourself are the sin?

Chapter One

“… It might have appeared to go unnoticed, but I’ve got it all right here in my heart. I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it. I would be nothing without you. Did you ever know that you’re my hero?”

I truly envy those who can reflect on wonderful memories of days gone by. I try, and I try to think back to earlier childhood years but all I come up with is, trauma. Except for when I think back to a man I always called, My Superman… my father. Most tell me, “He died when you were so young… eight years old. How can you remember him so clearly? Many experts in courts today say that eye witness accounts are often the most misleading accounts of what actually happened in a situation because people tend to see what they want to believe actually happened… and I get that, I do. But this one is such a simple question for me to answer… because he was my everything!

He could do no wrong in my eyes, even when he spanked me, I somehow knew it hurt him to have to do so. I can remember many days of climbing on the bed with him and my siblings to watch his favorite tv shows such as Gunsmoke and Incredible Hulk. The sound of his voice; the raspy tone of it. I can remember the smell of his skin, the way his mustache tickled when he kissed me on the forehead. I remember the way he laughed; it seemed to come from deep within him. He seemed to be the life of the party. I remember his red tank top that I liked to touch because it was soft and shiny. How we would be his audience, sitting on the bed as he grabbed the tv antenna and used it as his microphone to sing to us. His love for dogs, big beautiful ones. Lady and King are the ones I remember the most because King he allowed us to ride on like a horse once and Lady, a beautiful St. Bernard, stayed with us the longest.

I remember us jumping rope outside of 5742 Amelia Ave., in his parking spot until he returned from the store so that no one could take it from him. I remember, (I’m smiling now) how me and my sister would grab his legs when he attempted to drop us off at school and we would cry; so hard, telling him how we wanted to go with him… and he’d give in. We’d hang out with him for the day, visiting his family and friends, even sitting with him at his favorite lounge, the La Cosa while he enjoyed a cold beer and a little afternoon flirting.

There I met one of his lady friends. I believe her name was Mary. I recall how she was so nice to me and my sister but more so, I remember my dad turning back to us in the backseat and saying, “Don’t tell yo’ momma where we been today.”

He needed not ever say it again. There was no way I’d ever get him in trouble. It was the first secret I can remember learning to keep… definitely not the last one.

I so enjoyed being his baby girl, I still do. I hold on tightly to images of him at the family picnics; his smiles and laughter. The joy I felt when I’d see his big white Cadillac with the black top coming down the street. The sound of his deep voice yelling “Aey,” when he came through the front door. How when we asked for a snack he always reply without hesitation, “Wait til’ your momma get home.”

I remember him coming down to the Central Medical Center parking lot, leaning over backseat of my Aunt Mae’s green Nova, so that he could see us in our Halloween Costumes. I remember that no matter how exciting it was to go trick or treating that night, it was overshadowed by the hurt I felt when we pulled away from him. The image of him standing there in his hospital robe watching us leave is burned in my memory. Probably because he never returned home after that… only to die with his family near him. ONE day, ONE shot to see him again; no laughter, no singing, no playing.

He was hurting, he was weak… I remember a faint conversation I could hear between him and my mother as she cleaned him up from him losing control of his bowels…. YES…I…REMEMBER!

I awoke that night to screaming, so much screaming… just like that he was gone. Cancer had become my Superman’s kryptonite. Life as I knew it, would never be the same.

He had one eyes closed, one eye half opened… as if he was trying to take one final peak of the world and heartache he would leave behind. I remember my uncle, Slick I believe, standing outside angry that God had taken his little brother from him. When we were allowed to go into the bedroom where he lay, I remember trying to sit down on the burgundy/dark red velvet bed spread as I always had but someone pulling me back.

(I’m crying now) through tears I can recall the images of that room. Dad lying on the far side of the bed closest to the back wall, cover pulled up to his neck, his afro smashed against the pillow as he lay so still on his back, the lamp on the table next to him turned on. His tv finally turned off.

I looked up at my uncle Vernon and I remember him leaning down to hug me and my sister Rhonda. His black jacket was really itching me, but he was holding on to us so tight that I couldn’t move. He told us that my dad had gone to Heaven to play with the Angels. I asked if I could go too. He told me, “Not now but you will see him again someday.”

His suit was light grey or silver, his shirt had pretty colors that looked like marble in pattern to me… and there it was, that afro… still looking so nicely shaped and shining against the satin white pillow. His beard and goatee nicely trimmed. His casket in my mind was of blueish tint. I remember the program or maybe the fans saying, Ellis Funeral Home.

I don’t remember not one song or word spoken at his funeral… just looking over the casket at him, giving him a kiss… him unable to give me one back. I don’t even remember the burial…don’t remember leaving him behind, again. Maybe… just maybe because I never let go… I never could.

I remember walking behind my sisters from school, talking to him about my day at school as I would look up at the sky. I would hear his voice so clearly respond to me, especially inside the thunder. My sisters thought I was crazy; maybe I was… just talking to myself but I knew in my heart I was talking to my dad… and I heard him speak back to me… and the day I can remember not hearing it anymore… is the day a real-life monster walked through the front door and hell came with him.

Chapter Two

“… she’s faced the hardest times you could imagine and many times, her eyes fought back the tears. And when her youthful world was about to fall in, each time her slender shoulders bore the weight of all her fears…” – New Birth”

I won’t pretend that my life hasn’t been a challenge, but I won’t say others haven’t had it worse. I will admit however, there were times in my life when I thought no one could have had it worse.

The home we moved to in Moline Acres was so contrast to the home we left behind. A ranch style 3-bedroom home with a humongous backyard for Lady to run around in. Long front windows, carpet throughout and nicely trimmed bushes across the front. Every house on the long U-turn street had such nicely manicured yards. I shared a room on the corner of the main floor with my sister Rhonda in a nicely painted off-white room with huge windows. Our bedroom was in between my mothers and my little brothers. My older two sisters had rooms downstairs in the beautifully finished basement.

The neighborhood was racially mixed and that posed a bit of a problem for my mother. You see, my dad didn’t care for white people that much and he taught Lady not to like them either (at least that what I was told). Well, being surrounded by white people could’ve very well been the cause of Lady breaking loose from her chain so often that my mother had given her away one day while we were at school. She had told us that she had ran away but I knew that was a lie and at that moment I hated her for it. How could she send away the only thing I had left of my dad? Lady would’ve never left us… she loved us too much. I knew how much my dad loved that dog and she took that away from us... from me. It was my first feeling of betrayal in that house.

Our house was the house everyone came over to kick it at. I remember my mother’s basement parties, cousins staying the summer months, my aunts and their children moving in and out. The house was always so busy, I often wondered how it was even possible that he had gotten access to me… but he had.

As you can see by the verse inserts, I started loving music at an early age. I contribute that to a family full of musicians and of course the sound of my father’s voice. Music always seemed to describe how I was feeling… good or bad, happy or sad… it could say what I couldn’t. There is a song however, that I simply cannot bring myself to listen to again because the singer looks exactly like the predator that changed my life forever. While Smokey Robinson was serenading women all over the world with love songs, my “smokey” sang a very different tune… one of betrayal, pain and sickness.

It’s funny, I can’t remember life between my father passing and smokey entering it. I also cannot remember the first time he said hello, the first time he spoke my name or the first time he smiled at me. I can however remember, ever so clearly the first inappropriate touch, inappropriate kiss; the first time he pulled me in his arms, sat me on his lap and whispered in my nine-year-old ear and telling me that I was his favorite girl. I indeed felt special. In my eyes, my mother doted on two of her children; my brother because he was her baby and only son. The lasting remnant of the love she felt for my father and my oldest sister, her first love. The other three of us was there. She wasn’t the kind of mother that hugged, kissed or poured accolades into us and so the words he spoke to me built a trust for him inside me.

He played a game of chess with a young mind that wasn’t yet equipped to even set up the board. He would bring me candy, small toys and give me dollars when he came by, making sure to let me know he had done this for no one else but me. I was often on punishment for wetting the bed and ordered to stay in my room, so access to me wasn’t that hard to achieve. And even though I played with my siblings, when I was alone, I created a world around myself, usually built on make believe… invisible friends, tea parties and dolls. My love for Barbie and her crew was evident to anyone who paid attention to me. He made sure to do just that.

His first request for a kiss came when he gave me a doll I’d seen on tv his prior visit. He asked why I didn’t ask my mother to get it for me. Without even blinking, I answered, “She won’t get me anything.” It was the first time he told me that she’d stated as much. “She tells me that all the time, how she wishes she never had you.”

Whether she’d told him or not, when she was angry, she made it known to me, just not in the exact words. “You stupid; dumb darla (I never knew who Darla was but apparently she was dumb as well); you clumsy; pissy ass; etc.” I may have been those things but to hear him to say that she felt that way, made them so much worse to hear.

I remember him sitting on the corner of my mother’s bed. Her room was always so beautifully decorated. Her bed was so huge with a lot of pillows. Her bedroom set was an Ivory, Victorian set. I remember she kept a mini bar on top of her chest with a fake rose in it. She had beautiful crystal looking liquor vases. Yet in the midst of all that beauty, I experienced some ugly episodes. He pulled me between his legs and told me to turn around and watch TV. I remember I had on a shiny blue nightgown my Aunt Dorothy had given me for Christmas.

I watched TV as I felt him move my backside against his body. I didn’t know exactly what he was doing but I do know I could feel his hands moving up and down my butt. He was moaning and groaning and when he stopped, I could feel the back of my gown, wet on my lower back. He rubbed my left arm as I stood there still staring at the tv.

“That’s my girl,” he said. Then he told me to go change my gown and come back, that he had a present for me. It was the doll. After he’d given me the doll he sat me atop his lap and said to me, “That’s not a good kiss for a gift you wanted so bad, is it?”

I remember hunching my shoulders as if I didn’t know…. Because I didn’t.

“Well, I’ll tell you. No, it’s not. I had to go all over the city to find you that doll. I think you should try that again and show me some thankfulness.”

I kissed him on his cheek again.

“That was a better but not good enough. You wanna keep that doll, don’t you?” I shook my head. “Well let me show you how you suppose to appreciate things.”

I remember him placing his open mouth all round mines and then forcing his tongue inside mine with such a force, I coughed. It felt like I couldn’t breathe. “You ain’t doing it right. Now if you want me to keep bringing you things and shit, you’ve gotta learn this, understand?” I remember feeling sad that I had made him mad. I didn’t want him mad at me; didn’t want him going away like my dad. “Relax,” he barked at me.

He again stuck his tongue in my mouth. I can remember so clearly the disgusting taste of cigarettes on his tongue. He patted me on the back. “That was good. Now every time you see me from now on, that’s how you kiss me—when nobody around of course, you hear me? We can’t let nobody know about our special friendship.”

His kisses turned to fondling, fondling to the jacking off of his penis, the jacking off of his penis to the splitting of the corners of my mouth as he forced his penis between my lips. I can’t tell you how long it took the moment to happen, but my splitting lips finally led to blood between my thighs.

I don’t even remember how it got to that moment, don’t remember him unbuttoning his pants. All I remember was being in my room, on punishment as usual, playing with my dolls. I was sitting in the middle of the light beige carpet, building my dolls some furniture out of empty cereal boxes. Next thing I remember is blood… My virgin blood was everywhere. The pain was unbearable, and I could barely move. The pink and white flowered bloody sheets a horrific site; the tears, what can I say… they fell and fell and fell… in some ways they still do, probably always will. His breath smelled so strongly of alcohol. His groans and moans those of a drunken sailor. I whimpered as I cowered helplessly beneath him and he couldn’t even look me in the face.

I said it hurt and I will never forget his response. “Shut up and take it like a big girl, big girls don’t cry.” The warmth of his touch had turned so cold and rough. What happened? I couldn’t understand the act itself let alone the way he treated me after it was over. The pain throbbed and pulsated throughout my body like I’d been beaten with a sledge hammer. In some ways, I wished I had. Anything was better than the mental confusion and the emotional anguish I felt at that very moment. There I was, lying in the wetness of his semen and my blood, tears running down my face and him standing over me, buckling his pants and barking orders. His message was verbally clear, yet inside my nine-year-old mind, it had somehow gotten both entangled and crossed.

“Get up and go take a bath. Change that bed and if anybody asks you why you changed them sheets, tell ’em you pissed in the bed. Shit, that ain’t nothing new. They’ll believe it; you do it all the time.” He moved in closer to me and bent down to make his point clear. “Do you understand when I say you better not say shit to nobody about this? ‘Cause believe me, ain’t nobody gone believe you anyway. Hell, yo’ momma don’t even like you,” he chuckled to himself. “And if you do tell anybody, she’ll come ask me, and believe me, she’ll take my side. Then she’ll hate you even mo’ fo’ tryin’ to break us up. Now hurry up!”

Why would he say those things to me? I thought he loved me?

I did as I was told. I went into the bathroom and stepped into the tub. The usual warm water temperature seemed unbearable to me. My vagina hurt like hell and I could see the water turning colors. I sat on the ledge of the tub, let out some of the water, and turned on the cold faucet. I can’t tell you how long it lasted, could’ve only been minutes… but what I can tell you is I remember sitting there… watching my blood slide down the sub of the white porcelain tub into the water. I dried my face and began to wash up as I heard the front door close behind him.

It was the last time I saw him… his last impression in my spirit, such a strong contrast to all the time leading up to the act itself. I was so confused, I didn’t understand what I had done to make him act that way. I hadn’t told anyone his secrets… I hadn’t done anything that would make him turn away. I had done everything he asked of me and he left me… just like my dad. For days, weeks and months I waited in the window to see if his car would pull up. But it hadn’t. Soon, sadness turned to anger… but not towards him, I turned it inward towards myself. It must have been something I’d done to make him leave. From that moment on, I set out to grow up in the world, searching for that feeling of “specialness” that I felt being “daddy’s baby girl” and my molester’s, “special girl.” And no, I wouldn’t do anything to make them leave, I would take whatever they gave me, just to have them near.

Chapter Three

“… It’s all because of you, I’m feeling sad and blue. You went away and now my life is filled with rainy days. I love you so, how much you’ll never know cause you took your love away from me... - Sukiyaki”

Needless to say, that after the invasion, my bladder got weaker. The sensation to urinate wasn’t there as strongly as it had been before. My body was experiencing things I had no clue about. My bed wetting had gotten so out of control that no matter how much I bathe; the smell would linger. I was in elementary school and the kids made fun of me, a lot. They had given me the nick name, “pot,” short for piss pot. No matter how I tried to clean up or dress up, the name had stuck. It made me an outcast. A prisoner inside my own mind and sank me deeper into that world I created for myself. Tried to make friends but most didn’t want to be associated with me and the few that did, had an agenda. They would tell me to go to the store and steal candy among other things, then they would be my friend. Not having the feeling of acceptance at home, I did the things they asked so I could try to have some at school.

I had gotten so good at it most times people didn’t even notice my presence in the store. It was as if I was invisible, just like at home. Numerous times I didn’t get caught, a few times I did, but it seemed that no matter how much I stole, the more they demanded of me, just to be in their presence. Finally, my hurts turned to anger, an anger I couldn’t control. I fought and fought and fought. It was nothing to bang a girl’s head against the concrete until I’d see blood… my blood, blood I’d shed that dreadful day. I wanted them to hurt. Who were they to able to walk around with so much joy in their hearts; so much pep in their step? Who were they to notice my bladder imperfections and make me feel less than what I had already felt. Who gave them the audacity to be better than me? For that moment, as I pounded my fist into their faces, as I kicked them in their stomachs, as I slammed their heads into the concrete, they weren’t; they were just like me… defeated.

It’s funny, I think I came to realize that when I got into trouble I got my mom’s attention. Even though it wasn’t the good kind, it was attention never-the-less. When I did get caught stealing, my mom had to come to pick me up. When I fought and got suspended she had to interact with me. And even though I got a beating… I got some of her time. Little did I know that, the words she yelled during those beatings would stay so deeply embedded in my spirit for so many years to come.

She was frustrated I’m sure, trying to make a living while I was getting into trouble. I get it… but I can still feel the breath threatening to leave my chest as her foot applied pressure to it and her arms flailed the extension cord across my body. Sure, it could’ve been easier to just say what was wrong with me, if I had known. What I did know was that she had let that monster into our home. She didn’t pay attention to see the changes in me, or maybe she did… I don’t know. What I do know is that we didn’t have the type of relationship where I could go and tell her, something’s wrong, I have a secret that hurts, I have no friends, I can’t feel my bladder most times, my leg had been giving out on me as I walk down the street and I was scared… I just couldn’t tell her.

So, I learned to lie, and lie good. That little world I created became helpful to me. In a way that it allowed me to disassociate myself from my life. Things never happened to me, they happened to her. That’s how I was able to deal with whatever came my way. Whenever something hurt, I would hear the words of the monster, “Shut up and take it like a big girl, big girls don’t cry.” Whenever I felt like I wanted to tell my mother something that would possibly make her upset, I remember the feeling of not being able to breathe.

So, I just went with the flow. As my other sibling grew up and became young adults, the doors opened to many guys… many observers... many predators.

I was searching for that feeling, that feeling of someone liking me, caring about me, wanting me around… being that special girl. That need placed me in a lot of situations that could’ve possibly destroyed me. My emotional state was fragile, my mental state confused… stagnated at Nine years old; frozen in time. Yet, my physical being didn’t get the memo… I was budding and budding fast. By seventh grade, I was a 36-bra cup and that brought alot of attention to me… the attention I thought was good. Boys pay attention, touched on me, wanted to call me... even some of those who tortured me in grade school where now speaking to me differently. I thought, “I must finally be something.”

I liked the attention, I didn’t know I was breeding thoughts of easiness into their minds. I remember coming home from school late one evening after band practice at Riverview Gardens Junior High. There was a huge hill that was next to the local library on Berwyn Ave., that I had to walk down to take the short cut home. As I walked over the hill, there was group of school boys playing a game of football. I tried to walk over off to the side as not to be in the way. My mind was focusing on getting home before I got into trouble. I wasn’t looking for them to notice me, half of them were my tormenters from elementary school, so I honestly didn’t even want to be noticed… I just wanted to get home.

I guess the thoughts of being easy played liked a stringed guitar in their minds because before I could make it halfway down the hill, they were coming at me. Hands coming from every angle. They knocked me down on the ground and all I could see was faces and hands reaching at me… so many hands. The sun had totally disappeared. It was as if everything was moving in slow motion. I couldn’t hear a word they were saying but their mouths were moving; smiles of laughter across their faces as their hands pulled open my pants and began shoving fingers inside me, grabbing at my breasts. I remember fighting, trying to kick but unable too because my feet were being held down. I wondered would anybody see me there, in need of assistance. But thinking back on it, I guess it must’ve just looked like a bunch of boys in a huddle, playing football… not knowing that under that pile was a girl being tarnished forever. I retreated to my world until they finished and when I stood up, I grabbed the front of my pants, brushed the dirt from my shirt, grabbed my flute and starting walking. No tears… big girls don’t cry.

When I walked into the house, I was visibly shaken, and my clothing showed the signs of being roughed up, so there was no keeping this secret… and so I told. For the first time, I actually spoke out the words that someone had harmed me. Police, police and more police… court hearings… I remember picking their faces out of the school year book… I remember that the few friends I had dispersed away from me, for “lying” on some of the school’s most popular boys… the verdict, not guilty.

I was told I didn’t act like a rape victim, that I shed no tears… that I told what happened in a very matter-of-fact way… that I couldn’t pin point who touched what, who pulled what article of clothing, whose fingers were inside, who held me down… so I couldn’t be telling the truth… I was one of the easy girls in the neighborhood… I must’ve let them… even liked it… that must be why I didn’t act like it happened against my will… it must be why I didn’t cry… cry… didn’t they know? Big girls don’t cry.

My mother had stood up for me in the beginning, until I guess the Detectives persuaded her that I didn’t act like a true victim of rape. I really don’t think she believed me after that verdict. It was the first I learned of injustice… but more so it was a cementing fact for me, that telling the truth hurts and not being believed hurt much worse than lying. And I wouldn’t tell anymore….

I guess that set the stage; a tone in which I was a target, for every perverted idea in someone’s head. Those closest to you, have the easiest time playing on your weaknesses. From cousins (yes, I said plural!), to my sister’s boyfriend’s friends, to me actually using myself, thinking it would make boys stay. It became easier though, because the bad wasn’t happening to me, that was happening to her. I was choosing to try and find affection, attention and care… but it all just got so confusing. The boys I liked I couldn’t see. Those that brought me a little joy, I couldn’t have… but somehow the predators always had unabated access to me.

I can remember the smell of dirty laundry so well; he always smelled. It reminded me of stale Pork & Beans. I could hear him at my sister’s bed across the room. Her hands striking out. I would always try to tuck my white ruffled bed spread around my legs a little tighter, knowing he was in the house. That night, I remember trying to tuck it tighter and tighter, I really did. I remember my sister had turned The Quiet Storm on the radio and opened one of the windows in our room. I recall lying there, clutching my blue stuffed Smurf toy so close to me. Chaka Kahn’s, Thru the Fire, was playing on the air waves. I could smell him as soon as he entered the room. The night air blew the funk right to my nose. I closed my eyes and tried to play sleep. I remember trying to escape into the lyrics of the song. “… you’re not trusting your heart to anyone. You tell me you’re gonna play it smart, we’re through before we start…”

He eventually had to yield to her strength, and he came in search of a weaker target… and he found it. I tried to fight… I always wondered why she didn’t help me… maybe her own wounds were overtaking her… so I continued to squirm but to no avail. His breath stunk so bad to me. I hated the sound of his voice. How could my own cousin do this? Wasn’t family supposed to be omitted from the list of predators?

Why did my mother ever let him stay? Didn’t she know what kind of hell he was putting her daughters through? To cope, I just crawled back into my world… the only place I felt safe… again separating myself from what happened. He didn’t do that to me all those times, he did it to her. Why was she so weak?

It was as if a smoke signal went up in the air, signaling the male species that inside this home, there were four girls... one whom they seemed to know had lost all will to fight back, one who wouldn’t tell no matter what you did to her.

Don’t get me wrong, there were boys I liked. My body was prematurely raging with hormones I couldn’t understand. The line had become so blurry between who was touching me because I actually wanted them to and who was touching me against my will. Because of the inappropriate things I confused with willful things, I was far more advanced than my counterparts my age. When there should have been wrinkled lipped kisses at 13, I had long surpassed that with the tongue shoved in my mouth at the age of nine. Boys my age didn’t know what to do with me and so older guys took notice. Whether it was of my easy label or my caught in the middle of adolescent and child-like mentality, I was an easy mark. It was so simple for my panties to drop to my ankles. All it took was a nice compliment, “You’re so pretty, you’re built nice, I like your smile, and the ultimate… I think you special.” That was it… that was all it took. I was being used every which way but right. I can remember skipping school for them, stealing money from my momma purse for them... all in the search for love… hell, I think I would’ve even taken like at that point.

Chapter Four

“… I only think of you, on two occasions, that’s day and night. I’d go for broke, if I could be with you, only you can make it right… – Deele”

A fresh start? Is there ever truly such a thing? I guess that only works when you have the ability to no longer drag yesterday into your today. When you can separate what “is” from what “was.” I didn’t have that capability. We moved away after the end of that school year and left the county behind for the heart of St. Louis City. Although I knew the true reason, in my head, I assumed it was because of the shame I had brought to the family with the rape and its outcome… the whispered words… the scandal.

Moving to the city was an adventure to me. It was such a different atmosphere from county life. It was busy, always so busy. We now lived on Page Avenue between Sarah and Whittier Streets. A block of different structured building that included both homes and businesses. No longer were the “ranch” style homes. They were replaced in our lives with duplexes, four family flats and tall two, sometimes three-story brick homes. Ours was located dead in the center of the block. A fire red brick home with white trimming, a tiny porch and the backyard the size of a prison cell compared the park sized yard we’d left behind.

The inside seemed so tall though. The ceilings were so high. No drywall back then, just wall paper to make your walls different from the rest. I remember my mother had beautiful wooden doors with glass squares in her bedroom. The kitchen with the same style of cabinets doors, so high I had to stand on a chair to reach them. The upstairs had three bedrooms and once again I shared a room with Rhonda. I remember when we first moved in, I was afraid to go to sleep because the room seem so big, the ceilings seemed so far away that it made me feel unsafe, but that soon changed as we settled into the new atmosphere.

You had no choice really but to get to know your neighbors, as the houses were so close together that if you reached far enough out of your window, you could probably touch theirs. Squared off flower beds that separated homes in the county were replaced with tight spaced gangways between the buildings. There was dirt filled lots to play on instead of parks at the end of the streets. Corner stores, record stores, fish markets, you name it, they came to life on the busy street of Page Avenue. Cars passing day and night, people sitting outside on the porches, people walking up and down the street all day and night.

I liked the business of the atmosphere. I liked being away from the quietness, because quietness often brought thoughts; thoughts of the past and the pain that came along with it. The busy life of the city allowed me the option to escape; to fall in head first to the urban life. I was surrounded by kids who didn’t know my past, my bladder incontinence, the trial, the shame… my easiness.

I did my eight-grade year at Stevenson Middle School without incident and I finally felt like a normal kid, just able to enjoy life without the baggage I so often had to carry. I experienced a summer that year that stood out because I was safe. No cousins came to stay the night, my mom had a boyfriend that was nice to us, played with us and had no interest in little girls. So that summer I was able to flourish in things I liked to do such as cheerleading and sewing. That gave me hope that life was changing for me, for the better. That the upcoming school year would be as wonderful and exciting as the summer I was experiencing. For the first time, I was actually looking forward to attending.

Vashon High School… the old abandoned pickle factory. Inside the walls of this factory lay a whole new world. A city within a city. Vashon was like nothing I had ever seen before. The atmosphere was so different from the county schools I had attended. Vashon was 6 floors high, a thousand plus students, pick lockers filled the hallways, so many teachers that looked like me; my color; Security guards at the doors to greet you, metal detectors, and an array of extracurricular activities going on all over the place. From dice games, to fights, to sex on the fire escapes, sex in the crawl spaces behind the lockers, students sneaking in guns, teachers having relationships with students, a VD epidemic, and drug dogs doing raids. Even with all those things, this was the place to be… Vashon was the school everyone was talking about. You either loved it or hated it, but you talked about it. A yearly talent show, “The Request of Pleasure,” brought students from all over the city and the county together under one roof; it was incredible. Many famous groups such as “New Edition, Kurtis Blow” and many others made Vashon the school to visit when they came to the St. Louis Area.

Vashon also had the number one basketball team in the country and so the basketball games were always an epic event. To be able to see it, poetry in motion from local stars like Sean Tunstall entranced me. The atmosphere was so electrifying to me and I craved it… craved to be apart of it. I hadn’t made friends in the past; not true ones… but with all the things going on inside the busy walls of Vashon High School. I finally had hope that, that would change. This was a whole new world.

Vashon High school brought a new way for me to reinvent myself; be who I wanted to be because I had no idea who I was born to be. The guys were noticing me… aggressive in flirting with me… trying me. And for a good minute I was doing good, I truly was. I was determined not to have a reputation like I’d had at the other school. I did my work, I got good grades, I joined the band, I ran track, I made friends and I even made the freshman cheerleading team… and that really made the boys take notice. The city boys had a style of rap I’d never heard before. They had a way of making you feel just how lucky you were that they chose you to give their time too. They seem to let you know that they could be many other places at that moment and you should be grateful they chose to spend that moment with you. I dated a guy here and there, I slipped up a few times, letting the old ways prevail… maybe because they never left me. How could they? They were embedded in my thoughts. Yet, overall, I thought I had it together... until I met him.

At school we had an older lady we affectionately called, Momma T. She ran a store on the lower level of the school. One morning I was buying donuts and when I turned to walk away, I bumped smack into him… 5’6, mocha colored skin, wavy good hair (which back then he rocked in the latest “shag”), dimples in his cheeks with little pink patches over each one and bowlegged... oh so bowlegged. He was one fine specimen… I mean how I’d never seen him in inside those walls before that day, was beyond me. I guess because I kept my head down, trying no to stand out in any way. But this chance meeting, with this handsome stranger, would change my life forever.

His name was Carlos… Carlos Monterio Whitby. He was four years older than me in years, but so much more than that in mentality… especially street mentality. He looked at me and I said excuse me. He asked me if he could have one of my donuts. I can still remember exactly what he was wearing that day. A grey t-shirt with word, Adidas symbol in black on the front, a pair of Levi and some white Adidas shoes with the big fat shoe strings. The look was simple but complemented his small bowlegged frame to a tee. I tell you his smile, those pretty, white teeth coming thru that almond skin and those dark lips… had me in a trance. I looked down at the three glazed donuts in my hand and without hesitation, said yes. There I was, this naive fourteen-year-old girl, totally entranced by him. The look of him, the sound of his voice. It sounded so rough, so tough, so confident that he knew he was the shit and that if I wanted to be a part of his world it would be on his terms… and so it was.

Carlos was a smooth talking, very direct, tough guy that only really came to school to socialize, make connections and find a way to make money. He was determined to have a life in the fast lane. He could have his pick of girls, but he saw something in me… I’m sure it was naivety. Every day he would say something to me, play fight with me, play in my hair which back then, I wore in a Jerri curl, he would smile at me with that smile of his and he always made sure he touched me. I came to long for that touch. I found myself sneaking to wear all my sister’s nice clothes, so I could dress cute to grab his attention, not in those hand-me-downs I usually got.

He would make sure he’d peek in my classes and blow me kisses, pop up at my cheerleading practices and always, always meet me in the morning for donuts. He knew exactly what he was doing to me. I stuck out like a sore thumb to him and he baited me. He knew he could get to me, get me to do whatever he wanted me to do… and he did. He would tell me how crazy he was about me but that a lot of girls wanted him and that those girls had the means to get him the things he needed… money, clothes, sex. He told me that if I wanted him to choose me, I had to be able to compete; to let him know that I could get him and keep him.

You name it, I did it. Whether it was stealing money out my mother’s purse to make sure he got those donuts he liked so much or could eat what he wanted at lunch, to going to the stores and boosting clothes for him. I would lay down at night, listening to the quiet storm and write him long love letters… letters that said things I could never bring myself to say to him in person. I taped him music… love songs that expressed how I felt. No way was I going to lose someone who made me feel so lucky. He never asked me to have sex, never made it about that and I guess that made me think that he truly did love me… because he seemed so different in that aspect. I refuse to let him leave me like everyone else. Even if it was all a game, the game made me feel good.

The time however finally did come when I skipped school and let him come over. I remember cleaning the house up, even everyone else’s room. I wanted to impress him. He had come into my world and I was hoping that he would bring some much-needed sunshine to all the dark places in my heart.

I led him upstairs to my room and he instructed me to take off all my clothes. As I sat down on the bed and watched him undress, things went crazy in my body. It was the first time I felt a twinge in my vagina. A pulsating feeling that made me cross my legs because I didn’t know what to do. I had never really looked at a man’s penis before. When my molester made me touch his, I hated the way it felt in my hands, so I always looked away from it. When fighting my cousin in my bed, he never removed his clothing. The boys that had been inside me never did either. And they never asked me to remove mine. It was always sex with one leg out my pants.

As I sat there on the bed, looking at him... at it, it felt surreal, as if it wasn’t happening. His body was so slim, and his bowed legs was almost amusing without jeans. Never-the-less, I was so happy he was there with me… me! He walked over to me and touched my face and it made my skin melt in his palm. He didn’t bark orders at me, he asked… he lead… he had his way. I lay there thinking, I wish this was my first. I would’ve had no regrets losing my virginity this way… in a way I wanted. He sounded as if he enjoyed it, I didn’t know how to enjoy it. I often felt like those before him were just going to the bathroom on top of me… like toilet for them to dispose of their waste and even thou my heart leaped just at the sight of him, I couldn’t find a way to let myself be free to fall into the abyss he seemed to be floating in.

All I knew, is that I wanted him to want me more than I wanted myself to be without him. When it was over, I waited for a hug, some form of affection… for him to lay with me in his arms and hold me like they did on tv. It didn’t come; he got up, asked for a towel, washed up and said he had to go. And just like that it was over. It was the only time we ever had sex. He slowly pulled away from me. The phone calls slowed, at least the return calls. I called every day, all day. Trying to see him, wanting to laugh again with him, wanting to feel him touch me again the way he had touched me that day… but he turned cold. He no longer saw me as that pretty young thing, he saw me as needy. I tried do whatever to keep him. Totally oblivious that I was buying what little affection he was giving me… I was being a trick! But at 14, I didn’t see it that way... I saw love in a form I hadn’t seen before.

One day as always, I eagerly got to school just get a glimpse of him and when I did, he was being escorted out of the building by the police. He’d been found with a gun in his locker. He was being put out of school and subsequently out of my life. He was gone. No return phone calls… nothing. But he left something behind… an emptiness inside me that solidified once again that I wasn’t good enough to hold onto anyone to love me…the questions of could I have done more, given more to make him feel he couldn’t be without me too.

I lay there almost every night in that room, smelling him, seeing him walk into my room, hearing him say he was sorry. The only safe place I could turn was inside myself, reinnervating to myself that, “this is just the way your life is supposed to be. No one is ever going to love you, no one is ever going to care about you.”

And I moved forward with that thinking and I tucked the pain away as I always did, I was becoming a master at it. Life moved backwards as I again allowed myself to be taken advantage of by the multitudes. Why not, no one cared, not even me.

I bought into the theory that no one would be there for me… until I met one of my cousins for the first time, Kevin. Kevin was 19 years old, tall, gold tooth, and hood… so hood. He had such a cool way of talking that his words dragged on and on. He was into crime, drugs and who knows what else. He dressed like the drug dealers with the fancy clothes and fur coats. He had a lot of women chasing him. but he only had a few he gave a damn about… I was one of them. He came around a lot once I met him, but he was a cousin of a different kind. Kevin became like an older brother to me. No matter where I was in his presence, the high school basketball games, the talent shows or just outside in the neighborhood, he always had me right by his side. He never allowed a male species of any age near me. He talked to me, told me how boys think, how the streets saw young girls. He listened to me, something I had never experienced before. He gave me money, bought me clothes and always, always told me that he’d kill someone over me; that no one would ever hurt me as long as he was around. He loved me like that. And I believed him. For the first time in my life since my father had died, I felt I had someone who made sure I was safe. He rented down the street on the corner from us, so he could be closer to me. And every day, he made sure I saw him, even if it was just him driving by and waving… he let me know he was there… I loved him for that, I truly did.

As I stated earlier in the chapter, my mother had a live-in boyfriend at this time, Aubrey. He was actually a nice guy and we all liked him, one of us maybe a little too much. In any event, he was given permission to discipline us from my mom. I truly didn’t take to kindly to that. No man has ever put his hands on me in discipline except for my dad and his brothers. Who was he to strike me?

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