Edgar, My Bully, My Friend
by Wayne L. Wilson
Edgar Bradshaw was one of the baddest dudes to walk an elementary school yard since Shaka Zulu. He was the consummate school bully. He had a stocky toad-like body with thick bruiser arms and tiny little beads of hair on his head that resembled dull black marbles. My best friends, Jamelle and Terrelle, who were also identical twins and nicknamed the "twin peaks" because of their pointy little heads, believed he came from an ancient tribe of ape men. No one really knew his origins and no one dared to ask. He knew everyone was scared of him and it thrilled him.
The word "tough" didn't exist prior to his birth.
The drums say he may have killed his parents. How else could you explain his appearance -- walking out the house with holey jeans and uncombed hair. My parents would have decapitated me!
They say Edgar once fought four kids and held them in a headlock that lasted for weeks. It took a dozen policemen to pry the kids from his massive arms and when they were finally released they had Gumby shaped heads as they tumbled to the ground gasping for air.
I was the new kid in grammar school so it was inevitable that our paths would cross. One morning he startled me by jumping in front of me out of nowhere with his massive body. I guess he had been hiding behind a tree, although the twins speculated that he lived in the highest branches of the tree and fried chipmunks were his major food staple.
I'll never forget his immortal words: "You got a quarter?"
Seeing that humongous body was like being injected with a truth serum.
After a nerve wracking amount of fumbling in my pockets I fished out a quarter which melted into the palm of his hand.
Ignored were my pleas that it was the only money I had to buy milk with my lunch or that I'd get in trouble with my parents. Made no never mind to him. Instead, his eyes widened, he balled up his fists, and threatened to knock my head off. He never used lotion so his ashy skin looked as if he had been standing in the middle of a camp fire. His rough beefy hands looked like they had been pounded against rocks. If he could do that to himself, then beating me up would be an orgasmic experience. That's why I almost tore a hole in my pocket trying to pry the money out -- drinking water couldn't be that bad.
He snatched my money, smiled, and started to lumber away. Abruptly he swung around and I had this horrible feeling that he had a change of heart (what heart?) and decided to beat me up anyway. I braced myself and imagined my head rolling down the sidewalk.
He planted his fist against my nose and warned that If I ever refused to give him my money he'd beat me stupid. It hurt to even nod my head against his granite fist. My only comfort was that none of the other kids laughed or teased me because they were all frightened to death of Edgar. I suspected that I wasn't the only one he was making a profit from. Pretty soon I anticipated seeing the "Bradshaw Elementary School Bank".
For the next few days, my money or my life, became my newest mantra. I didn't see Edgar everyday but whenever I did my hand was already sewn inside my pants pocket as I searched for another quarter. I dropped money into his outstretched hand like it was a toll crossing.
The only thing I gained from this experience was that I realized I was addicted to milk. I suffered from severe withdrawals without it for lunch. But in the face of danger sometimes the greatest strategies emerge -- If Edgar never saw me, how could he take my money? I brilliantly surmised it was time to change my route to school.
However, I didn't account for the extra blocks and time my detour would entail. I arrived at school about 30 minutes late and without an excuse! That afternoon, Mrs. Carlson sent me home with a note tagged to my lapel that my parents needed to phone her.
Depressed, I trudged home knowing what fate awaited me. The electric chair? No. A hanging? No. Those were far too merciful compared to my mother's belt -- the great narrow one. Deaths by the former were far more merciful because they were instantaneous. The belt didn't kill, it just hurt, plain and simple. People on television looked relieved after a hanging or electrocution...but have you ever seen a whipping on TV? Of course not...it too frightening...especially when it's a kid.
Oh, and one last thing...I found out that afternoon that Mrs. Carlson was psychic. She called my home and told my mother that she had a feeling I might conveniently misplace the note and forget to tell my mother to call her -- which ironically enough, I did.
I sat quietly trembling in my little wooden red chair, awaiting sentencing. The palms of my hand sweated profusely while I prayed for a natural disaster -- an earthquake, hurricane, alien invasion, anything. The conversation between Mrs. Carlson and my mother lasted forever. On my mother's end all I heard was "Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh...I see...uh, huh...well, Mrs. Carlson, you don't have to worry, it will never happen again. I'll make sure Samuel will always be on time!"
Then I got the look.
The "look" is automatically inherited once you become a parent. It probably single-handedly has been the undoing for millions of kids for centuries, causing them immeasurable psychological damage.
My mother eased the phone onto its cradle. It didn't click, it went "uh, oh".
Tears bobbled down my face as soon as I watched her unfasten the narrow belt she was wearing with the new red dress she wore to her part time office job.
"Samuel Scott Cole, don't-you-ever-let-me-catch-you-being-late-for-school-ever-again! Do-you- hear-me?"
The rapid fire belt made me yell loud enough to wake up the dead at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Plus, I was expected to answer while being whipped. How do you even conjure up a sentence during this process? A fountain of tears streamed from my eyes as I stood there rubbing my behind, mouth ajar.
Were whippings legal?
"Now, why were you late for school?"
I looked like a fish out of water -- mouth moving, but no sound.
"Boy, don't let me ask you again!" She picked up the belt lying across the chair, still hot and ready for action.
Speech erupted from nowhere. Only a mother could have discerned what I was blubbering about because I was crying, talking, rubbing my eyes, and holding my behind simultaneously. The circus would have hired me on the spot!
"Edgar BBBradshaw, hhheee keeps tttttaking mmmooonnney ffrom me, I dddon't hhave hhardly any, and hhee is real bbig, and hhe ssscares mme. So I hhhad to fffind a nnew wway to ssscchool. III ddon't ever wwant to ggo ttto sscchool, mmom, bbecause hhe always wwwants mmy mmoney..." I never finished because I collapsed into a heap on the floor.
My mother kneeled down and held me by the shoulders. Her eyes softened and she looked a little guilty.
"So Sam, are you telling me this big bully is taking your money?"
"I hate him mom, he always takes my money!" At last I sensed she was becoming my ally. I laid my head on her shoulder.
"Oh Samuel...why didn't you say something?
I shrugged my shoulders, still sniffling.
She stroked my head. "Now Samuel, what do you think your father is going to say when I tell him some ignorant bully is taking money from you everyday?"
"I don't know...will he come to school and beat him up for me?" Seemed perfectly logical to me.
She smiled and then said, "You know better than that. But, we are not going to have our son running away from anyone either...you got it?"
The only thing I understood is that they didn't care about losing their son to a fist fatality.
"Samuel Scott, the Cole's don't run from anybody. We stand up and fight! If that boy tries to take your money again -- you're not going to let him. We work too hard for our money and we certainly aren't going to give it to any undeserving soul -- you hear what I'm saying?" her high cheekbones jutted out even more. "You are going to go to school and stand up to that Edgar, and you're not going to let him take your money! I don't care if he does beat you up! You're going to make sure he knows he's been in a fight, and I bet he won't bother you again once you stand up for yourself. Understand?"
Isn't it written somewhere that parents are supposed to protect their young. I just shook my head. Doesn't she realize that this is not a regular boy? He ain't human. He's a monster that camps out in trees!
"If it helps, Samuel, I'll tell you about the time I had a fight.
"You?" I was genuinely surprised. I couldn't imagine seeing my beautiful mother fighting, unless, of course, she carried the magical attack belt with her.
She laughed. "Yes, me, silly. I was around the same age as you. There was this big old fat girl who used to pick on me all the time. My girlfriends said she was jealous of me and she used to snatch food from me all the time. Well, I'm not going to lie to you, Samuel... I was scared to death of her. Finally, one day I had enough. I was sick and tired of going to school hungry. She demanded my food that day and I refused to give it to her."
"Well, I had very long hair then and she grabbed a big handful and yanked as hard as she could. Well, I hated having my hair pulled as much as I hated not eating. I closed my eyes and swung as hard as I could and made contact. I thought this girl was going to kill me but when I opened my eyes, she was on the ground in tears holding her stomach. Everyone was laughing at her because they were all glad to see her get it."
"Wow!" I was stunned. Maybe I could convince my mother to beat him up.
"And she never bothered me again. So you have to fight him, no matter how scared you might be. He has to realize that you'll stand up to him. And if you don't I'll know because you'll be late again for school and your teacher will call me. And if it happens again, I'll let your father take care of it next time!"
And then there are things worse than death.
That night I played with my toy soldiers for the last time. Tomorrow was the apocalypse.
I assumed mom told dad anyway, because the next morning while I watched cartoons on our black and white television set, my father said he was going to teach me how to fight.
The lesson went fairly well. I learned how to beat up his hands. I still felt moving to another country was a far better solution. No one seemed to realize that Edgar was not into fighting, he was into maiming.
Fortunately, that morning turned out to be one of the best ones in my life. Edgar didn't show up.
Hallelujah! My prayers had been answered!
I was so happy I was teacher's pet for the entire day. But like any dream, eventually you wake up. That was my reality when I walked home.
"Got some money?"
I closed my eyes in frustration and grit my teeth when I heard the voice from hell.
"EEEddgar? I dddidn't know you were at sscchool today?"
"I wasn't, boy. I go to school when I feel like it. You don't like it?!" He bumped my chest with his body.
"No, I mean you can do what you like."
"That's right, punk. And I want my money!"
By this time a circle of kids had gathered around. The majority standing respectfully to Edgar's side.
I hung my head and stared at my feet.
The crowd gasped.
"What'd you say?" He bumped my chest again.
"No, I mmean, I ddon't have no more money."
He pushed me. "Well, you better have some tomorrow or I'll beat you up! He gave me a reprieve...but parental pressure was making me stupid.
I didn't say anything for awhile and then it slipped out. "No, I ccan't ggive you any more money."
The crowd gasped again.
Edgar was stunned. "You can't give me any money?!" He bumped my chest harder. That by itself hurt. My face was totally flushed.
"My mother said I shouldn't..." I heard kids giggling.
"Your mother? You little sissy, I'm going to beat your butt!"
Before another word was said or a fist thrown, I took off like a wild rabbit.
I cut through alleys, zigzagged in every way I could to lose Edgar; but he was hot on my tail followed by about 30 screaming kids with lunch pails clanging and banging behind him. If I survived this I knew I could never show my face at school again -- too embarrassing. But right now that wasn't the most important thing on my mind -- losing Edgar was.
I tried to ditch him every way imaginable, including running through an old hotel, but to no avail -- I ran straight through the front entrance, through the lounge area, through the exit, but I only managed to stay steps away from Edgar's outstretched arms. Edgar and I skirted through street traffic, past honking horns, screeching cars, through alleys, through backyards, wherever there was a clear path followed by bloodthirsty kids tailing right behind us and anticipating the inevitable massacre.
Finally, huffing and puffing, I ran around the Evan's house right up to my front door. My mother opened the door just as I tumbled in...
"Lord, what in the world..."
Edgar braked to a stop and froze, gasping, and unsure of what to do. All the kids behind him froze, too, waiting to see how this little drama was going to unfold. Some of the kids started to tiptoe away, recognizing my mother until she said:
"Hey! Are you the boy that's been picking on my son?"
Edgar's mouth dropped open and he nodded his head.
"Well, he's not afraid of you, so if you want to fight him, he's ready for you! Show him, Samuel!" And shockingly, she shoved me out the door into the cold world -- Daniel sacrificed to the lions.
We stood there staring at each other. Edgar was just as confused as I until my mother said, "Go ahead, you wanted to fight him so bad, hit him!"
I gaped at my mother completely horrified.
Maybe she never was my real mother! Maybe some alien had inhabited her body!
It didn't matter.
Nothing compared to the look in Edgar's eyes at that moment. The light was green. He looked at me like I was the last ice cream cone in Death Valley. He cocked his fist and reached back to Mississippi to hit me. It made an atomic smack on my cheek. The pain jolted me and I wobbled; but surprisingly, I remained on my feet and conscious enough to hear my mother shout, "Get him, Sam!!"
And I did.
I lunged at him, tackling him to the ground. He then grabbed me in the infamous headlock and like a python began to squeeze the life out of me, except he made one mistake. His hand came across my mouth. Thinking he might have the strength to squash me like a tomato, I exercised my only option -- I closed my eyes and bit his hand as hard as I could; so hard I tasted the salty blood and heard a scream that could scare a banshee. He immediately grabbed his hand, tears fleeing to the corners of his eyes. And then I lit into him like a whirling dervish, arms flying like an off kilter helicopter propeller, hitting him every which way I could. I wasn't giving him the opportunity to strike back, not because I was angry, but because I didn't want to be hit again.
My mother finally pulled me off of him and separated us. I was shocked to see that Edgar seemed appreciative. He stood there still holding his hand, tear stains caking his face.
"Okay boys, that's enough fighting for the day. And the rest of you kids can go on home. You've seen enough. Go!"
And all the kids slowly disappeared amazed at what they had just witnessed. Terrelle and Jamelle, their faces beaming with pride, were the last to leave. It was like our house had fallen on the wicked witch.
"Okay you two, think you've got it out of your system? I don't want to see or hear about any more fighting from either of you -- got it?!" We both nodded our heads. "Now, shake hands."
Edgar gingerly extend his wounded hand and we shook hands, both of us eyeing the ground. My mother still held us by our shoulders and gave us a sharp reminder pinch before releasing them. I never realized my mother was so strong.
I was relieved to see that Edgar was so agreeable. I didn't want to go through that again. But, he no longer looked so big and menacing to me anymore, either. Don't misunderstand me, he was still a giant, but he looked kind of shy now. His head was down and he was shuffling his feet. He was just a kid.
"What's your name? Edgar? Come on in the house, Edgar. Let me wash you up and spray some Bactine on that wound. You'll need a bandage on it. Then, we're all going to learn how to be friends."
This time my mother had gone too far.
Edgar wasn't civilized!
But to my surprise she treated his cut and actually fed him a grilled cheese sandwich with milk and cookies. We didn't say a whole lot to each other while eating and listened as my mother lectured us about how it was much easier to be friends than enemies. Initially, Edgar's eyes darted around a lot and he nibbled on his sandwich like a nervous stray dog. But after awhile he relaxed and chomped away.
After we finished our meal, we walked Edgar to the door. "Thank you for the food, Mrs. Cole," Edgar said softly, still carrying a look of unease on his face as he ambled away. I held my mother's hand as we watched him. Suddenly, he turned around and looked at me, fumbling for words. "Uh, see you tomorrow, Sam!" And then he sprinted off to who knows where.
He acted almost...almost...friendly.
"Samuel Scott, looks like everything is going to work out for you. I don't think the big bad bully is ever going to bother you again."
"Really. I am so very proud of you. You defended yourself like a big boy." She leaned over and kissed me on the good cheek. "But your poor cheek is swelling up like a rock -- looks like you're going to be black and blue for awhile. Come on inside the house, young man, let's get some ice."
We went into the kitchen and I just couldn't stand it anymore. "Mom, why did you treat Edgar so nice? You gave him a sandwich. I mean, you get mad at me if I start fights at school..."
She scrutinized me for a moment, tenderly caressing my face. "You're right, Samuel, it was wrong for Edgar to pick a fight with you. And maybe it wasn't right for me to allow you to fight back either, but your father and I felt it was more important for you to learn how to stand up for yourself when you're in the right. Of course, fisticuffs aren't always going to be the way to resolve your problems ."
Now I was totally confused.
"...Samuel, sometimes you have to be kind to your enemies, too. And Edgar looks like he could use a friend. I get the feeling Edgar is not a very happy kid."
"How can you tell?"
"You can tell...hold this ice to your cheek, baby. It's going to hurt a little bit, but it will feel better after awhile. Anyway, you can tell by his clothes that his family's having a hard time. Maybe he starts fights because no one is paying attention to him. I know you may be too young to understand all this, but I think Edgar needs a friend, so I want you to be real nice to him. Don't look at me that way. When you see him tomorrow I want you to welcome him to our house any time."
I went outside and sat on the stoop, cradling the ice against my face. I stayed outside till sunset. This was all very confusing to me and I had a lot to think about.
A couple of days later I saw Edgar. It was the first time I had seen him since the fight. He ambled up to me with his head down and my body instantly tensed. I wasn't sure what to expect. When he raised his head his lips did a funny thing. It looked like he was snarling...but in actuality he trying to smile. I guess that was a real exercise for him because he wasn't used to it.
Meet Edgar. From that day forward he became, my one and only friend. Well, that's not entirely true...it's just that the majority of kids maintained their distance whenever he was around. He may have been friends with me but it didn't mean he had to be friends with everybody else.
However, as a courtesy, Edgar was nice to Terrelle and Jamelle, in his own way; in other words, he made no attempt to beat them up or extort money from them. I never saw him doing that to any of the kids around me though I heard rumors that this practice still existed. He was pretty cool, though. Sometimes my mother gave me extra money to give to Edgar in case he wanted something to eat. He never asked, he only accepted when it was offered.
Edgar still appeared out of nowhere, like the genie in Aladdin's lamp, and joined us on our walks to school. I still didn't know where he lived. The twins continued to keep a wary eye on him. Terrelle still swore he jumped down from the trees. Both however, had to admit they enjoyed having him around because he'd be our best ally if they ever were a full scale assault from molemen, werewolves, or vampires.
Edgar barely said anything when he was around us; but I genuinely think he liked our company. I figured he just didn't know how to participate in normal conversation. Over time, we got used to him just quietly hanging around us and resumed our normal everyday conversations about monsters, dinosaurs, dogs, etc. He even joined us in our weekly pee contests in which we competed to see who pissed the furthest distance. Jamelle usually won, because he mastered a special jerking technique to achieve greater distance.
The only time I saw Edgar get that killer look in his eyes is when Terrelle innocently asked him about his parents. Terrelle being no dummy aptly changed subjects and the glare eventually faded. It never came up again. Although one day Edgar told us he had two mothers out of the clear blue sky. We knew that was impossible but who was going to dispute him.
Edgar now walked me home everyday after school and then he'd head to his house. He always greeted my mother with a huge smile and wave. Sometimes she invited him in for a snack. And even though he ate like it was his last bite I got the feeling he relished the company even more than the food. His whole face radiated gratitude and when the sun started to go down my mother reminded him it was time to go home before his mother started to worry. Each time his response was, "She doesn't mind, Mrs. Cole."
One evening Edgar stayed a little too late while we were playing games and my mother offered to take him home after my father arrived with the car from work.
"Oh no, Mrs. Cole, that's all right...I walk home lots of time in the dark!"
"Nonsense, Edgar, I'm not going to let our little friend walk home alone in this city, it's not safe. Come on, Samuel, we're going to take Edgar home."
Reluctantly, Edgar climbed into the big Ford and sat beside me in the front seat. While pointing his way home I was amazed to see that Edgar walked twice the number of blocks I did to get home.
"Edgar, this is how far you walk home every night?" My mother asked, alarmed.
"Yes, ma'm, well, I usually run home."
"My goodness!" she replied and said no more. I couldn't tell what she was thinking.
"Here it is, Mrs. Cole."
Edgar pointed to a small brown bungalow. The building was cracked, chipped, and badly in need of a paint job. The front door was wide open with kids darting in and out of the house. The small front yard was choked with weeds and on top of it sat a huge black Chevy; hood open, with a man in greasy overalls stooped over it. He looked like Jonah peering in the mouth of the whale. In the driveway three other empty cars were huddled up, jaws opened. One of the man's hands was scrambling around inside the tool box next to him. I noticed wrenches and screw drivers strewn all over the yard. Hearing the car pull up by the curb, he raised his head, eyes squinting.
Recognition lit his face as Edgar bounced out of the car slamming the door. He stared at us warily and then slowly sauntered towards us. There was a beaten engineers cap on his head and the patches of oil on his face looked like war paint.
"Boy, now you know better than to slam them people's car door...ain't you been taught better than that?"
"You thank them good people for bringing you home?"
"TTThank you, Mrs. Cole."
"There you go, now get on in the house and get you something to eat. Irma's got some food sitting in there with your name written all over it!" He playfully swatted Edgar on the side of the head as he ran by.
"How y'all doin?" he said, still looking at us a bit suspiciously. He squatted down on the passengers side of the car. His smile revealed a huge gap between his front teeth and he reeked of gas and oil; it made me a little nauseous. My mother immediately introduced us and he seemed overjoyed with this.
"Oh, you is Edgar's little friend...he talks to me and the missus about you all the time -- you is his best friend, ain't you? Y'all want to come in and sit? I thought at first y'all might have been another one of his teachers cause that's all seemed to come by here for him...that and trouble."
"Oh, no thank you, Mr. Bradshaw. Besides, I can see you're busy and I've got to get Samuel home and finish up supper."
"Ok, next time...like I said, we don't get much company for Edgar, cept for teacher's complaining about all the problems he cause them. By the way, you can call me Jimmy, Jimmy Turner. I'm Edgar's uncle, me and the wife, uh, Irma, we took in Edgar and his sister couple of years back. See, Irma is Edgar's mother's sister."
"Well, see, we don't know where Iris...Edgar's mother, is. Last time we saw her she was still hanging out with those Negroes on Central Ave doing God knows what."
"So you haven't heard from her?" Concern was etched across my mother's brow.
"No, M'am, been awhile. Now we used to..." he covertly glanced over his shoulder, "here and there, you know, but we ain't heard from her in a couple of years. We're not even sure right now if she's even..."
He stopped talking as he turned his head for a second.
"I understand," My mother replied stroking the back of my head.
"Now Edgar's father..." He spat at the ground, that no good nigger, excuse me, son..."
"He's okay, Jimmy."
"...is nothing but a con artist, last we heard about him was that he's locked up in some prison in Kansas somewheres. Good riddance, I'll say. He wasn't no good, never will be. You see, Iris could sing a little...used to sing in the church choirs all her life. This fool sold her a bill of goods. Told her she could make it big with her voice singing rhythm and blues...be another Dinah Washington, Big Mama Thornton, Etta James...course, the catch was he'd be her manager. The two of them planned to make lots of money. As it turned out he was the only one making any money.
"Iris had a pretty face, but she was a big woman. Didn't meet many men, so when this slickster approached her, she went for it all the way; boy put a mojo on her. Lord knows, Irma tried to talk some sense into her, but you know, people only want to believe what they want to believe. Shoot, she acted like that nigga's shadow, following him everywhere. She got to see a little bit of the country, but most of it was spent singing in places a dog wouldn't pee in. The only thing she got out of it was two kids and a lot of heartache.
He paused, shaking his head, "It was so sad watching her chase that fool all over town while he scurried around making bad deals. He dropped her off in some of the seediest joints in town while he fathered half brothers and sisters all over the country. Don't make no sense. Iris was a giving, big hearted, beautiful lady. Last time I saw her you wouldn't have recognized her..."
He got a faraway look in his eyes as he sucked on his bottom lip.
"...Black circles under her eyes, hair all messed up, makeup sloppy, lipstick smeared on and stick thin...and I don't mean in a healthy way. Man ruined her."
My mother's eyes tightened and she unconsciously shook her head.
"Irma, she just fell apart. Tried every way possible to help her sister, but Iris was too far gone. That man smothered her with all that fancy talk about bright lights, wealth, and fame. All she got was the pain. When the nigger got thrown in jail, Iris started sinking deeper and deeper. Got embarrassed and didn't want nobody to think she made a bad decision so she tried to pretend it was going to be all right; got desperate and tried to do it all herself. But she didn't know nothing about no music business, besides singing. It swallowed her up. She fell into a bad crowd...started drinking, smoking, whatever... You know what I mean?"
"I don't think Iris ever really wanted to have kids...but, she loved that fool something fierce or either she loved what he was promising. Sad part is, she couldn't get rid of that foolish pride and simply come back to us for help. Irma wouldn't have said nothing. Shoot, she'd of given Iris a big old hug and started discussing the weather or something; but Iris was not the same person. The only help Iris asked for was that Irma take care of the kids for a day or two while she pulled her life together. Them days became weeks, then months -- then nothing. Irma's still sick about it. All she's done lately is remained glued to that bible -- keeping faith that her sister will call one day. But to be honest, I don't think that's ever going to happen...I just got this feeling.
"That's too bad..."
"Yep...so we kept the kids, even though we got a few of our own. Irma ain't about to let her sister's kids wander around out there in this big bad world or end up in some orphanage. Edgar, him being the oldest, has taken it pretty hard. He knew his mother better than his little sister. She used to sing to him all the time. He doesn't say a whole lot, kinda keeps to himself. Irma thinks he'll break out of it someday, but I don't know...that's why we was glad to hear that he and your son became friends. He ain't never brought no one home."
Well, Mr. Turner, Samuel likes Edgar a lot, too and they've become real good friends." She gave me a little wink. "But I must say, you and your wife are wonderful people for taking the kids in. It's all going to work out.
"I hope so. We ain't got a whole lot of money, as you can see, and it's hard enough on us as it is with all them kids we got, but you know, you do what you got to do. It was going to be worse on Edgar and his sister, Cassandra."
Knees cracking, he slowly stood up. "Well, I didn't mean to talk your ear off, let me let you get on your way so you can get some dinner." He admiringly rubbed his hands along the side of the car. "What year is this, 59? 60?"
"Thought so. Nice. Real nice. Y'all ever need to get this car fixed, call me. I'll give you a heck of a deal, better than the dealer. Give me a call or just bring it on by, ya hear?"
"Thanks, Mr. Turner."
"Jimmy, everybody calls me Jimmy.
"Ok Jimmy, and you call me Jolene. Now you be sure to tell your wife hello for us."
"We'll do just that. Y'all take care. Bye Samuel." He smiled and waved, showcasing that big wide gap.
"Bye," I shouted enthusiastically. The only thing I could contribute to the conversation. The rest of it was hard for me to grasp. On the way home I had so many questions. I didn't know where to start.
"So, Edgar don't have a mother?"
"Doesn't Samuel. Yes, he does, but we don't know if they will ever find her...
"Maybe we can find her. Let's get my Daddy. He can find anything...member he found one of my balls on the roof?"
This brought a flicker of a smile to her face. "I'm sure your father would be a big help in this, Samuel Scott, but this is one time I think we should let the Turners handle this on their own. Sometimes people don't want to be found. Edgar's mother is trying to resolve some problems in her life. Let's just be happy that Edgar and his sister have the Turners as family."
I stared ahead, still perplexed by all this. We rode in silence till we arrived home and then I felt this sudden twinge of anxiety.
"Mommy, are you and dad ever going to leave me?"
My mother cradled me in her arms and kissed me on my forehead. "Never, Samuel. You don't ever have to worry about that. Your father and I will always be there for you. You hear me?"
I did, but all I could think about at the moment was snuggling in her arms and never letting go.
Wayne L. Wilson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He received a Master of Arts in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to establishing a career in writing, Wilson co-owned and operated an innovative publishing company specializing in multicultural designs. Last year he completed a contract with Pomegranate Publishing to research and write quotes for a desktop calendar on African American humor for the season 2002-2003 which is carried in Barnes & Nobles and other book stores.
Three years ago, he interviewed influential Latino men throughout the country and wrote over 160 biographies for Encuentros: Hombre A Hombre (Encounters: Man to Man), a comprehensive vocational education book published by the California Department of Education this year. In addition, he has written nine published books targeted toward children and young adults for Mitchell Lane Publishers, including the series "Real Life Reader Biographies". His short stories and essays have been published in commercial and literary magazines.
He lives in Santa Monica, California with his wife and daughter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.