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Authors: Yolonda Tonette Sanders

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BOOK: In Times of Trouble
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CHAPTER 3
Serves Her Right

“W
hat in the. . .?” Lisa choked on her words, seeing her daughter escorted up to the front porch by a dark-haired, Caucasian police officer. Her daughter was dressed like she was a dancer on some gold-toothed rapper's video.

“Ma'am, I'm Officer Kendrick,” he said, dropping Chanelle's arm and flashing his badge. “I'm here because this young lady was picked up at a party for underage drinking.”

“She
what?”
Chanelle, holding a pair of black stilettos, nervously tugged at her micro mini skirt and avoided eye contact with her mother. “She was supposed to be at a movie,” Lisa growled.

“I don't know about the movie, ma'am, but I do know your daughter was one of several minors we found intoxicated at the scene. I thought I'd bring her home instead of getting you folks entangled in the legal system.”

“Go up to your room, now!” hollered Lisa. With mascara-stained cheeks, Chanelle looked at the officer one last time as though she wished he'd take her with him and then brushed past Lisa. Though it had been several years since Lisa's own run-in with the law, the wounds still felt fresh and she was truly grateful that Officer Kendrick had spared Chanelle from having any blemishes
on her record. “Thank you so much, sir, for bringing her home.”

“You're welcome. I tried talking to your daughter on the way over. You might want to reinforce that Cleveland Avenue isn't the safest place for a teenage girl to be late at night. I don't know how closely you watch the news, but a nineteen-year-old girl was found murdered in an alley off Cleveland the other day. It's only the first week of May and already we've had twenty-nine murders this year. I didn't want to lecture her, but she needs to choose neighborhoods wisely.”

“I understand. Thank you so much. Rest assured, I will reinforce everything you said and then some.”

“On the way here, your daughter said that she had driven to the party. Is that correct?”

“Yes. Did you happen to notice a silver Pontiac G6 anywhere near the location?”

“There were cars parked up and down the street. It may have been among them, but I can't say for sure. So much for attention to detail, huh?” He laughed.

“Would you mind giving me the address where this party was held? I'll have my mother take me to get it later.”

“Just check with your daughter to confirm that it, in fact, is there. I won't mind taking you to get it if you'd like.”

“No, that's okay. I don't want to inconvenience you.”

“It won't be an inconvenience.”

Lisa wasn't sure what to make of Officer Kendrick's overly nice gestures. First, he went out of his way to bring Chanelle home and now he was offering to give her a ride to her car. His actions seemed a little suspect. “Are you sure you won't mind taking me?”

“Not at all.”

“Okay. Let me see what my daughter says. Give me a few minutes.” She motioned for him to step inside the house and ran
upstairs, bumping into Chanelle in the hall. “Is my car at the place you were picked up?”

Holding her hand over her mouth, Chanelle nodded yes and jetted into the bathroom.
Serves her right,
Lisa thought, hearing vomiting sounds followed by aching moans. Lisa was more than ready to go off, but thought it would be wise to allow her temper to cool first.

“What's going on?” Her mother poked her head from her bedroom, squinting without her glasses.

“Chanelle got picked up by the police for underage drinking. I'll be back. The officer is going to take me to get my car.”

Lisa rushed into her own room. After stripping out of her pajamas and into a pair of blue jean capris and a T-shirt, she removed her scarf and quickly ran her fingers through her hair. Though the likelihood that she'd see a familiar face this time of night was slim to none, she had been taught to never leave the house without looking presentable. No matter how small the errand, Lisa wouldn't be caught in public wearing night scarves, hair rollers, raggedy clothes or anything else that she would be embarrassed about if photographed.

On her way back downstairs, Lisa stood in the bathroom doorway for a moment and watched reluctantly as her mother hovered over her daughter. Grandma to the rescue, as always! The smell of liquor oozed from her daughter's pores and floated through the air. Chanelle looked up with vomit-traced lips. “Mama, I'm sorry,” she slurred.

That had to be the alcohol talking, because the girl rarely apologized for anything. “Just lie down and get some rest. We'll talk about this in the morning.”

CHAPTER 4
A Flying Firecracker

T
he next morning, Lisa searched for something to wear to church and settled on a soft, yellow, short-sleeved dress with a pair of white, open-toed sandals, accessorized with studded earrings and, of course, her gold necklace. It was about five after ten when she made it to the kitchen, which wasn't bad considering that she'd gotten up at nine and spent at least twenty minutes fussing with Chanelle to get her hung-over behind up and ready. Usually they were out the door by that time so they could make it to Sunday school, but Lisa had overslept this morning and would probably still be sleep had it not been for her mother waking her to “discuss” Chanelle's punishment.

As always, her mother severely disagreed about what should happen with Chanelle and fought viciously with words to keep her from being punished. Though Lisa would probably never do cartwheels about his move to Columbus, one thing that worked in RJ's favor was that he stood behind any disciplinary actions Lisa took against their daughter. When she called and updated him on everything last night, he was just as livid as she was and didn't make excuses for Chanelle. For him to be a point of sanity for Lisa said a lot, especially after all he'd put her through.

“Show a little mercy,”
her mother had argued.
“Drunk or not, you should be thankful she came home last night and didn't run off and get married like someone else I know who didn't have the decency to invite her own mother to the ceremony.”
Lisa would be the first to admit that eloping with RJ when they were only eighteen was not the wisest move; and she had paid dearly for her mistake. But her marriage and Chanelle's drinking weren't even comparable, and the fact that her mother brought it up didn't sit well. Needless to say, when her mother left for church, Lisa had a serious attitude.

After putting a pot of water on the stove and starting the coffee maker, she sat at the kitchen table while the argument with her mother continuously cycled through her mind. Was she really being unmerciful? She couldn't very well allow Chanelle to go unpunished, could she? She thought about Hebrews 12:5-6, which states how the Lord disciplines those that He loves and began praying silently.
Father, I don't like the feeling of being perceived as a mean disciplinarian. But, that's how it seems my mother and daughter view me. I love Chanelle! I know You hold me accountable for her. Help me do what is right and just. God, I don't want to be unfair or overly harsh. I'm looking to You for—

Before Lisa could finish, the teapot began whistling and she heard Chanelle trotting down the stairs. Lisa wiped the dangling teardrop from her eye, taking a quick glance at the clock. It was only 10:23 am; service didn't start for another hour. There was still plenty of time for her to address Chanelle's behavior.

Chanelle dragged in the kitchen wearing a light blue jean jumper with a short-sleeved red shirt underneath. Though a little wrinkled, her outfit would pass, but her hair looked a mess with braids desperately in need of moisturizing lotion. Like her mother had done with her, Lisa had taught Chanelle to take
care in her appearance. Was she really feeling that bad or was this a ploy to earn sympathy and stay home from church?

“I can't believe you're making me go to church.” Chanelle plopped down at the table across from her mother.

Concluding that it was sympathy her daughter was after, Lisa got up to turn off the stove. “Yes, I am. If there's time when we finish talking, I'd suggest you touch up your appearance. Remember, you represent a long line of Johnson women.” Johnson was her mother's maiden name. “We don't leave the house looking crazy.”

“But, Jesus said to come as you are and I look how I feel.”

“Well, if being electrocuted is the look you're going for, then it works.” Lisa turned and gave her daughter a cunning I'm-not-gonna-play-your-game smile. Setting the cup of tea in front of Chanelle, she said, “Drink this. It may make you feel better.”

Chanelle sniffed the cup. “What is it?”

“Some kind of herbal tea your grandmother bought.”

“Is it good?”

“I don't know. I figured it would be better for you than coffee, though,” Lisa took a sip of her latte. The tea she'd made Chanelle must not have been bad because Chanelle began to drink it slowly. “So. . .what happened last night?”

“I thought the officer told you.”

“He did, but now I want to hear from you.”

“Instead of going to the movies, Gericka and I went to a party.”

“Really? Gericka was with you?”

“Yeah, I told you I'd be out with her,” Chanelle answered matter-of-factly. “We met up with one of her cousins there. At the time we decided to go, we didn't know there would be alcohol involved.”

“Then why didn't you tell me about the party?”

“Because sometimes you be trippin'. I didn't want the static. We didn't go there intending to drink. One thing led to another and we got caught up in the hype. When the cops showed up, we realized we'd made a big mistake. They would've let us go if we hadn't been drinking.”

“So Officer Kendrick took Gericka home, too?”

“Yeah. . .”

Curious about how far her daughter would carry out this farce, Lisa said, “Maybe I'll call Karen and Marlon to see how they handled things with Gericka. Since you girls committed the same offense, it's only fair that you receive the same punishment.”

“Um... Now that I think about it, the cops didn't take Gericka home at all. . .what had happened was she managed to sneak out of there and left with her cousin. Her cousin took her home. . .not the cops. My bad. . .some details of last night are still sort of fuzzy because of. . .well, you know. Mama, I learned my lesson last night. I promise I won't do it again.”

“Do what again: lie or drink?”

“Both.”

“If you intend to keep that promise, then you need to start by telling me who you were really with last night.”

“I told you already,” Chanelle insisted.

“No, what you told me is a bald-faced lie. You're not remorseful at all.”

“What—”

“I've heard enough, Chanelle! Your fabricated story about last night makes me sick. I spoke with Gericka's father already, so I know you weren't with her.”

Chanelle's expression turned blank and she chewed her bottom lip.

“I'm going to ask you one last time and you'd better tell me the truth if you know what's good for you.
Who were you with
?” Silence gripped the air. “Answer me!”

“I was with a friend of mine named Kyle Lewis.”

“Who is he?”

Chanelle shrugged her shoulders like it was no big deal. “Someone I met a few weeks ago at the skating rink.”

“How old is this boy?”

“We're the same age. . .seventeen.”

“What in the world are you doing hanging out with another boy? You've only been given permission to date Justin.”

“The problem is I don't like Justin the way you want me to.”

“You sure liked him enough to drop his name with the police officer last night. I couldn't figure out why that man was being so nice until I got in the cruiser and he asked me if I could get him tickets to a football game.” Lisa had taken his number and told him she'd see what she could do, though there was no doubt that she'd be able to get the tickets.

“I didn't say anything about Justin. The officer searched my purse and found the picture on my keychain of you and Miss Olivia. He asked me who y'all were and I told him. I didn't bribe him into bringing me home. He did that on his own.”

“Well, the bottom line is I have the final say of who you can or cannot go out with.”

“You're not willing to approve anyone except Justin and that's because Miss Olivia is your best friend.”

“That may be true, but I know for sure he comes from good stock. You would've never been in that position last night if you were with Justin. That boy has a good head on his shoulders. Not many college football stars have a grade-point average as high as his.”

Lisa really loved Justin. He was currently finishing up his sophomore year at Ohio State and, in addition to maintaining good grades, he was a dynamic football player. He broke the record for the most rushing yards by a freshman his first year of college and scored twenty touchdowns that season. This past season, Justin once again broke college records. Per NFL regulations, Justin had one more season to play before he would be eligible for the pros, and both he and his parents were gearing up for it. Lisa was happy for him, but more than being impressed by his athletic abilities, she admired how dedicated he was to his schoolwork as well.

BOOK: In Times of Trouble
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