The Beat Goes Boom
Prom rolled around faster than I expected. It helped that Jazz and I were back talking to each other. Shopping for shoes and a purse to match my dress was much more fun with Jazz than with my aunt.
When the day finally came, the whole neighborhood came out to see me off to the prom. Everyone except Uncle Pumpkin. He left the house the night before and didn’t come back. Aunt Mattie was mad that he wasn’t there at first, but with all the stuff we had to do to get me dressed, she soon forgot and focused on me.
Deshaun pulled up in a drop top Mustang looking fine as hell. From the living room window, I could see several cars pulling up in front of the house. It took me a moment to realize that they were all his family members. In all the time that we had been dating, he had never once
invited me over to his house to meet his family.
I looked down at my dress and tried to smooth out the fabric with my hands. I looked like a beautiful princess just like I had hoped that I would, but DeShaun was definitely not my prince charming.
I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer that I would be able to get through the night without screaming out what I knew.
An older lady with leopard print leggings got out of the first car with a camera in her hands. From the way, she was smiling from ear to ear, I assumed she was his mother. My aunt and I walked outside and stood on the porch and waited for Deshaun and the lady in the leggings to reach us. She confirmed she was his mother when she said, “She is a pretty one, baby. I knew my baby would choose a girl that would complement his good looks.”
I smiled from ear to ear. It was nice to hear someone call me pretty. I had to admit, Deshaun looked handsome. I could tell he was nervous when he handed me a clear container with a corsage in it.
“This is for you. I hope it matches your dress,” Deshaun said.
“It’s perfect,” I replied.
My aunt helped me slide it on my wrist while Deshaun fumbled with his car keys.
“You look so beautiful,” Mrs. Mims said. “Come on you two. Stand next to each other so we can get some pictures.”
Deshaun and I did as we were told and stood next to each other so that the whole neighborhood and his family could take pictures.
Until that moment, I had never noticed how awkward Deshaun was around me. He put his hand on my shoulder like I was one of his basketball buddies and posed. I looked up at him, and like an idiot he smiled down at me like there was nothing wrong.
“Baby, put your hand around her waist,” Mrs. Mims said. That wiped the smirk off of his face. He looked at his hand like it didn’t belong to him and then moved it to my waist. I should have called it off right then, but I was too excited about going to the prom to realize that at that moment I was as big of a liar as he was. I would have had to also admit to myself that I had allowed myself to be used by this fool.
My first boyfriend—and I was already the side chick. After what seemed like hours and a million pictures, we finally left to go to the prom, but not before Ms. Mims’ son Big E handed me a fifty-dollar bill and a piece of paper.
“Put that in your purse just in case that fool acts up on you,” he said. “I wrote my phone number down so you can call me if you need me to come get you or something. You feel me?” It was as if Big E could sense that something was wrong with DeShaun as well. I leaned up and kissed Big E on the cheek and said, “Thank you.”
I stuck the money in the small handbag I was carrying and tucked it under my arm. It was nice to know that I was loved. I think Big E saw me as the little sister he never had. When I was
little, I had a crush on him. It was easy to like Big E. He was nice to all the little kids on the block, and if he was home when the ice cream truck came by, he would buy all the kids an ice cream.
“We’re going to be late if we don’t get moving,” Deshaun said behind me.
Big E was looking over my head at DeShaun menacingly.
“I’m ready,” I replied.
“You make sure she makes it back home at a decent hour,” Big E said to Deshaun.
“I will,” Deshaun replied.
Deshaun didn’t look fazed by Big E’s comment, and I was glad, because I didn’t want any problems. Deshaun didn’t know Big E, so he didn’t realize what Big E was trying to tell him. Most people who knew Big E didn’t take him lightly. As nice as he was to the people on our block, it was well known that he would kill you just as quickly as he would look at you.
I still wasn’t sure that Big E didn’t have anything to do with what happened to Brother Sturges.
About a month after he grabbed my butt, Brother Sturges was found sitting on his bathroom toilet dead. The rumor was that he had been strangled and his tongue was hanging out of his mouth when they found him.
“You look handsome,” I said to Deshaun once we had driven away from my house.
“Thanks,” he replied.
I just stared at him. He could have at least told me I looked nice back. We drove the rest of the way to the Rooster Tail in silence. Deshaun and I had been dating for over three months, and we didn’t have any type of connection or chemistry between us. At first, I thought he was
ashamed that he was dating me, but he had brought his whole family over to my house, plus everyone at school was about to see us together at the prom. At least I knew he wasn’t hiding me;
he was hiding his affair with Ms. Campbell. It made sense that he would find someone his age to hang out with to keep his family and friends from getting suspicious.
I had lost so much in my life, and I hadn’t expected to go to the prom, but now that I was on my way, I needed everything to be as perfect as possible. I realized now that what I felt for Deshaun back then was just infatuation. Truthfully, none of that mattered at the time. I just didn’t want to look like a fool in front of everyone, especially Diamond.
Deshaun at least had the sense to open the door for me once he parked the car. I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t try to hold my hand as we walked toward the door, but I was anxious to see what he would do once we were inside, and other people were around.
Like clockwork, he reached out and took my hand when one of his basketball buddies walked up to us.
“Damn man, you’re looking fly,” Vincent Long said to Deshaun. They clasped hands and pulled each other into a hug.
“Thanks, man, you’re looking pretty good yourself,” Deshaun replied.
“Look at you Michele. I didn’t know you were hiding all of that under those baggy clothes. Go ahead with your bad self.”
“Thank you,” I replied.
Vincent continued toward the bathroom, while we headed inside. The music playing was so loud you could barely hear yourself think. It was also dimly lit, so it was hard to see where you were going. That didn’t stop Deshaun though. He pulled me by the hand around several
tables until he found his friend Archie. Archie stood and hugged Deshaun the same way Deshaun and Vincent had hugged. They stood there talking for a while until I finally pulled out my own chair and had a seat.
Deshaun might have been cute, but he definitely wasn’t anyone’s gentleman.
The night was nothing like I thought it would be. We ate our chicken dinner, danced to two songs and then it was over. When the second song ended, Deshaun leaned down and told me we were about to leave.
Jazz hadn’t arrived, and it was only 10 o’clock. I wasn’t ready to go.
“We haven’t taken our pictures yet,” I said.
It was obvious that Deshaun was pissed off. He looked around the room and located the area where the pictures were being taken. Without a word, he walked away, headed in that direction. I walked back to our table and grabbed my purse and followed him. There were three other couples ahead of us in the line.
ouched Deshaun’s arm to get his attention. I wanted to ask him what his problem was, but he snatched his arm away. I thought about what Big E had said to me before we left. Maybe this was my cue to leave on my own. I wrapped my shawl around my shoulders and turned to
leave. Deshaun grabbed my shoulder after I had walked away from him, heading toward the entrance.
“Where are you going? You’re the one who wanted to take a stupid picture,” he said.
“I did want to take a picture, but I’m not going to let you treat me any old kind of way. I
can find my own way home,” I replied.
“Look I just want to leave and go somewhere else. It’s really noisy in here.”
“That’s fine, but why can’t I get a picture before we leave?”
“I was standing in line to take the picture.”
“With an attitude.”
“I’m sorry. Let’s just take the picture.”
Deshaun held his hand out and I gave in and went back and took the pictures. Just as we were about to leave, Jazz came in the door in a beautiful green form fitting mermaid dress. We headed for each other and embraced.
“Girl, where are you sitting?” Jazz asked.
“We’re about to leave,” I replied.
“Why? It’s not even eleven yet.”
“He wants to leave.”
“He’s trying to get some, girl. Are you ready for that, Muffin?”
I wasn’t ready and even if I was, it wouldn’t be with Deshaun. Plus, I knew he would be dropping me off and heading over to Ms. Campbell’s house. I had learned my lesson with Jazz though. I had no plans of telling her what was really going on.
“I’ll call you in the morning,” I said to her just before I walked away.
Once we were in the car, Deshaun turned to me and asked, “What do you want to do now?”
I was flabbergasted. Inside of the Rooster Tail, he made it sound like he had everything all planned out.
“You’re the one that wanted to leave. I thought you had something planned already,” I replied.
“I do have something else in mind, but so far I can barely get a decent kiss from you, so I know you’re not going to give me any ass.”
“Are you kidding me? You’re just going to say it like that?” “Look, Muffin, every guy in there is expecting to get laid tonight. I just don’t feel like beating around the bush about it.”
“We just started dating three months ago, and you’ve ran hot and cold the whole time. Plus, I know you just want to get rid of me so that you can go see Ms. Campbell.”
“What did you just say?” Deshaun said through clenched teeth.
“Can you just take me home?”
He started up the car and drove off, burning rubber.
I wanted to tell him off, but I needed to get home. I sat in silence while he drove. He turned up the music so loud it was hurting my ears, but I kept my mouth closed until he pulled up in front of my house.
When the car came to a complete stop, I turned down the music and said, “Deshaun, you didn’t have to play me. We could have just been friends and went to the prom, but you had to play a role and act like we were girlfriend and boyfriend. I really did like you. For me, you will
always be my first boyfriend. You might have liked me if you had taken the time to get to know me.”
I open my door as quickly as I could and got out. Just as the car door slammed, Deshaun gunned the engine and drove off.
On the way up the steps to the front door, I grabbed the mail out of the mailbox. The front porch light was on, which meant that my uncle was home. It wasn’t surprising that he didn’t bother to grab the mail out of the box.
Once I entered the house, the fowl stench of cigarettes and beer assaulted me. I walked a few steps into the house and looked into the living room and saw my uncle in his usual location. He was stretched out on the couch sleep with the remote on his swollen stomach and a beer in his other hand.
I continued up the stairs to my room to get out of my dress and shoes. I threw the mail on my bed and slipped my dress off and hung it up on my closet door. I laid across my bed with just my bra and panties on and stared at my prom dress. My prom was nothing like I had expected, which was par for the course for me. Nothing seemed to turn out for me like it was supposed to. It was as if I was destined to be sad and disappointed all of my life.
I was sick of disappointment.
I stood so I could pull back the covers on my bed and go to sleep. I picked up the envelopes and sifted through them looking for bills I would need to pay when I got paid next week. I stopped when I got to the letter from American Senior Life Insurance. Slowly, I opened the large envelope. I covered my mouth to hold in the scream that was threatening to escape.
There was a check made out to me for twenty-five-thousand dollars. With the money from the insurance company, I would be able to go to college without having to worry about money. I still needed to decide what to do about my Uncle Pumpkin.