Chris and Delores walked around a corner, found a bar, and settled into a dimly lit corner booth. With each drink, they crept closer to each other until Delores’ leg was draped across Chris’s. Their conversation slowed until they communicated with their eyes and bodies only.
“Would you like to come to my apartment?” Delores asked.
Without hesitation, Chris answered, “Sure!”
Gathering their scant belongings, Chris and Delores left the bar, and hailed a cab. Staggering into the back seat, Delores slurred the address to the cabbie, and pulled Chris through the open door. Delores grabbed him by the lapels and violently kissed him, failing to notice that the door was still open. Chris wrapped his arms around her, and fell over on top of her as they kissed with a hunger born from the union of desire and alcohol.
“Shut da dow…” The cabbie said. Realizing their was no response to his request, the cabbie tried the command twice more until a horn from a waiting car behind the cab, encouraged him to add some emphasis: “SHUT DA DOW! NOW! OR WE NOT GOIN’ ANYWHERE!”
Finally, Chris reached behind him and blindly found the door handle, slamming it shut. The cab lurched from a standstill and accelerated into the parade of mostly taxis which seemed to be in a race from one red light to another. The rush of the sudden speed only added to the uninhibited passion of Chris and Delores. They devoured each other in a release of frustration which stopped only with the lurch of the cab in front of a dilapidated apartment building.
“Dis is it! Now gimme my money and git the hell outta my ride!” The driver yelled.
Chris opened the door, got out and pulled all of the cash in his pocket, threw it through the open window in the direction of the driver, and began to follow Delores in a weaving, unsteady rush up the crumbling stairs to the outer doors of the building.
“Hey mister….” the driver yelled through the window, “MISTER! There mus’ be seven hundred bucks here…”
The cabbie noticed that the rear door was still open, so he got out of the cab and looked carefully around the dark and empty streets, suddenly conscious of the wad of cash in his hand. Rushing to the back door, he slammed the door and hurriedly got back in behind the wheel, muttering under his breath about how often a man thinks with what’s below his belt. His muttering was replaced with a slow smile as he finished counting the money.
“Eight hunnat dollahs… Baby’s gonna luv dis!” His smile suddenly erupted into a belly laugh as he realized that he was thinking the same way the guy who just left his cab!
Mia awakened suddenly, aware that she was cold. Openning her eyes slowly, she found herself curled up on the couch in the living room, with the sun just beginning to peek through the space between the buildings across the street. A little bewildered, she began to retrace the path of her misty memory until it crashed into the vision of Chris running down the hallway to catch the elevator the previous night. The child within her interrupted her thoughts as she began to remind Mia that it was time for breakfast. Ignoring the movement for a moment, she got up from the couch and walked into the bedroom, looking for Chris. The bed was just as she had left it the previous day.
Mia picked up her cell phone and then made her way to the kitchen to make herself some breakfast. She was interrupted by the buzzing of the doorbell. Looking at the clock, she said aloud to herself, “Six forty-five… His ‘client’ must have offered him a really good deal…”
Walking to the intercom, Mia pressed the button and said, “Did you leave your keys at her house?”
“Mia… Its Maggie…. Can I come up?”
“Oh, sorry…. Sure!” Mia replied, her face growing red with embarrassment. She pushed the release button and through the intercom heard the ground floor door open. Going back to preparing breakfast, Mia waited for Maggie’s knock on the door of her apartment. Within a couple of minutes, Maggie was pounding on the door.
“Hi…” Mia said as she opened the door for Maggie. “I was just making some breakfast if you’d…”
“Child, I brought some homemade bread, fresh from the oven, and my strawberry preserves. I fin’ its the perfect comfort food. Let me make YOU breakfas’, Darlin’!” Maggie interrupted.
“Thanks… I didn’t feel like making much this morning. I woke up on the couch this morning. Chris didn’t come home last night…” Mia responded.
“I figgered as much…” Maggie interrupted again. “Got some coffee?”
Mia showed Maggie where it was and then poured herself some milk. “I probably won’t have any coffee… Hope is much too busy this morning. She doesn’t need the caffeine.”
After gathering all the essentials, and placing them on the table, Maggie sat across from Mia and said, “Baby, I wouldn’t usually interfere like this, but… You need a mother right now, and since your momma is so far away, I jus’ can’t hep it. Las’ night, when I was closin’ the store, I saw Chris an’ some woman comin’ out of a bar, and gettin’ into a cab. They were friendly…. REAL friendly… Darlin’, this boy isn’t gonna be there for you, Honey. He’s runnin’ aroun’ on you now… an’ you’re PREGNANT? His min’ ain’t right, girl. He too busy playin’ ta be a man… You gonna have ta make y’ own way, I’m afraid. I want you to know that I will be here fuh ya, k? I been there before. I finally found a man… a REAL man, who knows that da flower at home has bettuh tastin’ honey than ALL duh flowers in the park… DAT’S the kinda man you need, Baby. Y’ little Hope needs a good daddy… an’ they are OUT there.”
“Right now, a man is the last thing I want, Maggie.” Mia said, as a quiet tear rolled down her cheek. “I wanna go home…”
Maggie got up from her chair, and walked around the table, hugging Mia tightly to her ample breast. “I am so sorry for you, Mia…” Maggie said as she released her hold on her and pulled a chair next to Mia. Taking Mia’s hands into her strong, work-calloused hands, she continued, “But know that Jesus knows where yuh are, Honey. You can always count on Jesus to be there fuh yuh.”
“I want to believe that Maggie… My family always went to church. Chris and I haven’t even looked for one here. Everytime I hear the church bells from down the street, I remember our church back home. For some reason, that bell always made me feel warm on the inside, like warm hot chocolate that my mom made and served at church on Sunday morning before the service started. It sounds weird now, but that bell always called me home, even when I WAS home. I wanna go home, Maggie… I want Hope to hear that bell every Sunday. I want her to be around people that love her. This city is exciting, Maggie… but it can be as cold as it is exciting.”
“I know it can…” Maggie nodded in agreement.
“But you…” Mia said, looking into Maggie’s eyes. “You may live in the city, but you are more like home for me, Maggie. You have been such a wonderful friend… more like family, really…. and we haven’t even known each other very long.”
“Chile’ you can jus’ call me Auntie… When yuh love Jesus, every chile’ of God’s is yuh family!”
“Thank you Mag….uh…. Auntie! I know what I have to do. I’m going home…”