Elnora at eleven

Elnora (Eleven years old)
Momma and Daddy had five children at home. Bernice had gone to live with Brenda and her new husband. Brenda’s husband found Bernice a job while she worked on a PHD degree in the big city. I couldn’t figure out why Bernice needed another degree, she already had an AA in Science. Daddy thought being out on her own might do Bernice some good. She called home every night for a month crying because she wanted to come home. Daddy asked how school and your new job are. They were great. He asked how her co-workers were. They were nothing less than great. How was the food? The food was ok. Daddy told her to keep her butt there. She had no complaints. I agreed with daddy. Bernice was just a spoil baby. The eagle had stirred the nest and she did not need to come home.
It was enough putting up with Janie, (the twins) Samuel & Samuetta and Little Earl. They all got on my last nerve. At our new school, Little Earl’s reputation had preceded him. Little Earl was placed in the Advance Class. I think his teacher just wanted to get rid of Little Earl. She had three options. She could place him in the class with the slow children, keep him or place him in the Advance Class. She knew Papa would never agree to have Little Earl placed in the slow class. She didn’t want to keep him. Her best option was to place Little Earl in the Advance Class. She told Momma he tested for the Advance Class. It’s a possibility she was telling the truth. Who knows? I’m still just an inquisitive, curious, impetuous and sometimes nosey little girl.

Actually I am not so little any more. Bernice was 22 years old and working on a PHD and still didn’t have a boyfriend. Personally, I think all of that studying was not good for her. Daddy said he was beginning to worry about her. I believe daddy was right! Momma was not worried. Momma said when the time was right Bernice would find a good man. Well, I guess Momma was right. I certainly hoped he would not be an ugly man. Aunt Katherine would have to check him out.
This year I was on the junior cheer leader’s squad. I would cheer for the middle school team. Samuetta could cheer for the varsity team. Peggy was on the same team with Samuetta. We were all back at the same school. Bullard High, our new school went from first to twelfth.
I had almost forgotten about Lemon until one day I was at my locker and I heard a voice calling my name. A handsome young man stood beside me. It was Lemon Pettaway. Lemon had grown so tall I barely recognized him at first. I said Lemon, he took my breath away. Before I could get his name out of my mouth, a girl walked up and put her arm around him. Lemon told her this is who I’ve being looking for every day since I’ve being back. He told me a lot had happen to him. We needed to catch up. I spoke very sharply: You haven’t looked very hard! We are in the same place! We have the same telephone number. I could not keep my eyes from watering up. Lemon promised to call. Honest I’ll call, he spoke sincerely. I didn’t expect Lemon to call. He had made that same promise once before. There was no one I could bounce my feelings off on. Aunt Mable didn’t live there any more. Janie had her own little social life that was important to her. Peggy was best friends with Samuetta and Little Earl did not want to hear about my problems. Momma and Daddy were not going to discuss Lemon with me. Daddy still didn’t like Lemon’s daddy. Daddy called Lemon’s daddy, The Two Headed Man.
That night Lemon called. He said even though the people were nice who wanted to adopt him, he wanted to live with his mother. When they moved away, his mother only had her job for a short time. He was placed in foster care until she could get on her feet. These very wealthy people came to the foster care home and said they would be his foster parents. That was ok with him. However, now they want to adopt him. They moved to our town and he can’t see his mother. His sister and little brothers all went to different homes. His oldest sister and her baby are together right now in a shelter; but he doesn’t know for how long. I wanted to do something for Lemon but I wanted him to say he had missed me. Finally, I broke down and said: Lemon, I‘ve missed you something terrible. Lemon said: I’ve missed all of you too. Do you think your dad can help me? That is not what I wanted to hear. Our timing was off. When he wanted to be my boyfriend I didn’t want him. Now I wanted Lemon and he was thinking about not getting adopted. I asked Lemon who was that girl I saw with him at school with her arm around him. Lemon said that was his next door neighbor. His foster parents liked her a lot and always invited her to anything they had for him. Point blankly, I asked: Do you like her? A long pause, then Lemon said: I like you. I always have and I always will. That’s what I was waiting to hear. I told him I would talk to my father to see what I could do. Lemon pleaded with me to hurry up. We only have three weeks before the hearing at 8:00 a.m. Friday Morning.
I talked with Momma and asked her to talk to Dad about Lemon’s problem. Momma said: So he’s back! I said: Yes he is Mom, please, please help, Mom, please! Mom said: ok, I’ll talk with your dad.
The next day at school I told Lemon my Mom and Dad were working on his problem. Lemon asked what time did I go to lunch and did I still bring my lunch. He remembered the good bread I use to bring to school. At that time only little Earl carried his lunch. Everybody else ate in the school’s cafeteria. Lemon could not eat with me because I had lunch at a different time. I asked Lemon to promise me he would not sit with his next door neighbor. He said ok. He was captain of the debate team. He told her he had to sit with them.
My bus left before his bus left. Lemon would walk me to my bus. But then again, I never knew what happened after I left. I was so foolish and jealous I wanted to know what Lemon did. I felt Lemon was using me to get back with his mother. Most of his talk was what were my parents doing to get his family back together.
They were working really hard for Lemon. The three weeks went by very fast and I asked my parents could I go to court with Lemon. To my surprise and to Lemon’s surprise his father, his father’s wife and his mother were there. The judge would not let me enter his chambers. The foster parents were caught off guard. They thought the adoption was a slam dunk. Nonetheless, my parents were there, Pastor and Mrs. Dykes were there and I was there. His mother had found a job. His father promised to pay child support for each kid. Mrs. Pettaway said they could not come back there to stay. The judge did not give Lemon to his foster parents and said with the income of his mother’s job and the child support; his mother could get her children back as soon as she found a place for them to stay. Daddy came out and said: We did it! Lemon goes back with his mother. That was what Lemon wanted. But that was not what I wanted. That meant she would take Lemon away from me again. Lemon and his mother came out of the judge’s chamber locked arm and arm. He was as happy as a chicken wearing a dress. I was as sad as a hog on a log. Lemon turned his mother a loose and walked over to me. For the first time we embraced. He held me very tightly. I sob and sobbed. I know Lemon wanted to kiss me but he was afraid of my dad. So, I kissed him. Dad walked over and pulled us apart. Dad said Lemon’s mother had to catch a bus and get back to her job. Lemon kissed his mother then left with his foster parents to pack. He looked back at me and said; I’ll call. With wet eyes, I said; please do. Silently, I rode in our car with Mom and Dad on our way to school. I asked my parents could I skip school that day. It was after lunch, I would eat lunch then only miss electives. Momma said: We’ll take you home and give you a proper lunch. We realize now how much you’ve missed Lemon.
That afternoon, I went back to the big tree in our yard. I sat in the swing that Bay Brother and Lemon made. That afternoon Uncle Jerry dropped by with a pint of liquor in a brown paper bag. He sat in the tire next to me. Uncle Jerry wanted to know why I was out there instead of in the house. I told him the story about Lemon and how that had made me sad. I wanted Lemon to stay here with me. Even if Bay Brother invited Lemon to spend one more night, that would do me no good. If Bay Brother and his parents were coming to our house that night, we could pull it off. Just my luck, they were not. His parents had another engagement that night.
Daddy called Uncle Jerry in the house and uncle jerry left his bag with the pint of whiskey in it. I decided if whiskey made Uncle Jerry fill better maybe it would do the same for me. I drank a sip of Uncle Jerry’s whiskey and I didn’t like it. It was bitter. I thought I didn’t drink enough. I drank some more. Eventually I almost killed Uncle Jerry bottle of whiskey. Even though I knew Lemon and his family didn’t live there any more, I decided to walk over to Lemon’s house.

When I got there, I saw a moving van. Another family was moving in. I could see a boy older than Lemon sitting on the stoops. I staggered up to him and asked if his family was moving in. He said yes. His parents had gone downtown to do some business and left him there to take care of his little sister. She was inside the house asleep. He asked what I had in my bag. I told him it was Uncle Jerry’s feel good bag. He said he sure would like to feel better and ask if I would share my feel good bag with him. I said ok. He drank the rest of the bottle. We both felt a little woozy so he suggested we take a nap. I went in and lay on his bed.
Papa and Uncle Jerry came out of our house and asked little Earl where had I gone. Little Earl told them I had gone toward Lemon’s house. Daddy told Momma to call all of the brothers and for them to meet him at Lemon’s old house. He felt I was in danger. No one was living there and Jerry’s whiskey was gone. When daddy and Uncle Jerry got there I had gone to bed and the new boy was getting ready to lie down too. When Papa got there he didn’t ask any questions, he started beating the boy. His parents came home and the other brothers lit in on his dad. I screamed stop! Stop! I voluntary came to his house. We didn’t do anything. His father was a minister, he said: Brothers! brothers! I have a good boy. He will not hurt your daughter. By that time someone had called the police. The Minister said: It ok officers. It was all a big mistake. His wife said a very big mistake. I left my son here to look after his baby sister. What was she doing over here? I told her my friends lived here at one time. I just wanted to come by their house. One of the officers looked at Uncle Jerry and asked: What are you doing here? Uncle Jerry said: That’s my niece. I came with my brother, her father. The officer said: If this man says so, I’m taking you in on general principals. You have a room at the jailhouse. The Minister said: I’m not pressing charges. It was all a great mistake. Then I walked pass the officer. He said: Wait! I smell liquor on you. Where did you get that from? The Minister lean over and toke a whiff at his son. Shouting; Son! You smell like you’ve being drinking too. The officer said: Kids, where did you get the liquor from? The boy said: I got it for her and he pointed right at me. The officer then looked at me and asked where I got it from. I didn’t mean to get Uncle Jerry in trouble but I had to tell the truth. I said: I got it from my Uncle Jerry. The officer handcuffed Uncle Jerry and took him to jail.


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