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Authors: Yolonda Tonette Sanders

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BOOK: In Times of Trouble
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Finally, Lisa said, “Let's drop this because it's leading nowhere but into an argument. My point is simply that the past is the past. Chanelle doesn't need counseling. RJ's in Columbus now and we're making the best of our situation. Besides him trying to find ways to be around me unnecessarily, things have been fairly good. If I had to choose between living with him and living with Mama, I'd almost be tempted to choose him. At least he doesn't—”

When Callie realized that she and Lisa had been disconnected, she was almost relieved. She made a mental note to tell Bryan—and Dr. Samuels—that their advice stunk! Lisa was obviously too engulfed in her own world to be prepared for the bombshell Callie had to deliver. This was a sign that Callie needed to keep her mouth shut.

“I'm sorry; my cell phone dropped the call when I pulled into the parking garage,” Lisa explained when she called back several minutes later. “I didn't want you to think I'd purposely hung up on you.”

“That's fine.” Callie could not have cared less one way or the other.

“Well, I'm just getting to my office, so I better get to work. . .Oh, what did you want to talk to me about?”

“Nothing big; I'm not going to make it to Chanelle's graduation party.”


Why!”

“I'm teaching a three-week seminar.”

“And? The party is on a Saturday.”

“So is the class.”

“Since when did you start being mandated to teach on the
weekends? To my knowledge, you've never had to do that before.”

“Yeah. . .well, sometimes things change.”

“Whatever. . .Everyone was expecting you. Mama and Chanelle will be disappointed. You can be the one to tell them you're bailing out.” Lisa made no attempt to camouflage her attitude.

“Fine! It's not like I can really count on you for anything anyway.” They were disconnected again, this time courtesy of Callie.

CHAPTER 8
Super Holy

U
nlike last Saturday when she'd taken it easy, Lisa had been on the go since waking up this morning. She went to the grocery store, dry cleaners, post office and then rode with Olivia to Indiana and spent the day at Metamora. Metamora was a historic town built in the 1800s about three hours from Columbus. It made a nice getaway spot, being rich in history, antiques, gift shops and more. There was also a canal that ran through the center of town and an old train ride, both of which Lisa always enjoyed. Her mother and Chanelle had been invited to come. Considering the tension between them, Lisa's feelings weren't hurt when her mother, who really didn't care for Olivia anyway, declined, and when Chanelle chose to help RJ get things together at the center.

As usual, whenever they spent time together, Lisa and Olivia enjoyed themselves tremendously. They ate more junk food than should have been allowed by law and, at times, laughed so much that they cried. It was a little after eight when Liv dropped her off at home. Now, an hour later, she was sprawled on the couch going over the list of people who had RSVP'd for Chanelle's graduation party a few weeks away. She twirled the one invitation
in her hand that she'd been hesitant to mail, wondering whether or not she should invite her father.

When Lisa first began planning the party, she had initially determined that her father would not be welcomed. Not only was she concerned about how her mother would feel since she had left him, but Lisa also didn't care to see him herself. However, her mother encouraged her to keep in mind that the party was to honor Chanelle's accomplishments and that they both needed to set their personal feelings aside.

“Mama, are you sure you won't mind if Daddy comes?” Lisa had inquired.

“Chile, I ain't studin' your father. It doesn't make me any difference one way or the other. You know he likes to showboat. If, for no other reason, I'd say invite him so Chanelle can get a couple of hundred out of him.”

No matter how Lisa felt about her father, he was crazy about his only granddaughter and prior to last summer, Chanelle was head over heels for her “Papa,” too. It wasn't until she rode with Lisa in the middle of the night to the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore that Chanelle had began to show any signs of withdrawal from him. Her face no longer lit up whenever his name was brought into a conversation. It was also the night that Lisa realized how much she hated her father after seeing the extent of physical damage done to her mother.

Hattie had been admitted with severe injuries. Lisa's father had always been abusive, leaving a bruise here or a mark there, but hospitalization had never been necessary and Chanelle had always been spared from knowing the truth, thanks to the bogus stories Lisa or her mother would make up to explain why Hattie was “visiting” them for a few days. Considering that Lisa only lived about fifteen minutes away from her mother at the time, she was certain that their stories sounded quite peculiar.

Nevertheless, Chanelle never displayed any signs that she didn't believe their tales. But last summer, when Lisa raced across the Interstate from Columbus to Baltimore, she used very decorative words to let Chanelle know that her grandfather was, and had always been, a monster. Even now, if Lisa pondered that night too long, animosity would ooze through her pores. Despite her personal feelings, Lisa decided she would send her father's invitation first thing Monday morning for the sake of doing the right thing. With any luck, he wouldn't show.

To Lisa's knowledge, Callie had yet to call and tell their mother and Chanelle that she wouldn't make it. The two of them hadn't spoken since Thursday. Right or wrong, Lisa hadn't lost sleep over their spat. Callie had better make that call because if either their mother or Chanelle asked her why Callie backed out of the trip, she planned to say that Callie simply didn't want to come because that's exactly what it sounded like to her!

A little later, Lisa welcomed the interruption from Eric when he called to see how her day went and to say—for the umpteenth time—how he was looking forward to having dinner with her family on Monday. They met yesterday for lunch and Eric was beaming with excitement, but Lisa still wasn't crazy about the idea of him coming over. There was never a window of opportunity for her to cancel, so she was going along with the plan, praying that all would go well.

As if on cue, the second she hung up the phone with Eric, her mother came in singing,
“What a mighty God we serve
. . .”

“Hey, Mama. What's got you in such good spirits?”

“Girl, I'll tell you in a minute. First, I need to say something.”

Lisa sat up straight on the couch to make room for her mother. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, honey, everything is fine, except for the fact that I owe you an apology. I'm sorry for barely speaking to you this whole week. I know better than that. My behavior was uncalled for. I want you
to understand, I may have had my own opinions of what you should do with Chanelle, but I was never really mad at you for grounding her. I was thinking about how soon it's going to be before I move. I guess I was getting a little scared and taking it out on you.”

“Scared about what, Mama?”

“I've lived in Baltimore all my life. I made a big deal about you asking me to move here with you, but the truth is: I needed to make this move. I've wanted to get away from your father for a long time; I just never had the courage to do it. I was emotionally dependent on him. No matter how much he was out runnin' the streets, he still handled business at home. I went straight from living with my parents to living with him and then here with you. I've never been on my own before. Part of me is scared. I wonder if I'll be able to make it by myself.”

Lisa, filled with sympathy, said, “If you don't want to move out, you don't have to.”

Her mother chuckled lightly. “You're only saying that because I already gave those people my deposit.”

Lisa felt that she'd been sincere, but psychologically, could there be some truth to her mother's accusations?

“I do want to get my own place. I'm just saying that it will be an adjustment for me, but maybe it's time for me to move into this next phase of my life. I am concerned about the city's crime rate, though. Every time I look at the news there's always something negative going on.”

“But it wasn't any different in Baltimore. In fact, crime was worse there.”

“I know, but Baltimore was my home. I knew which neighborhoods were safe and which ones to avoid. I'm still learning this city. I'm glad that my place isn't too far from here.”

“Are you sure you're ready for this?”

“Yes, I'm sure. Thanks, Lisa.”

“For what?”

“For putting up with me this past week. I should've told you what was going on in my head instead of copping an attitude.”

“It's okay. I understand. Speaking of attitudes, I've had a change of my own. . .I am going to send Daddy an invitation to Chanelle's graduation party.”

“Good for you, baby. That's the mature thing to do. Don't worry about me. I'll be all right. Will you?”

Lisa gave a reassuring nod as her mother leaned over for a hug. “By the way, do you have any plans Monday evening?”

“No. Why, what's up?”

“I have a friend coming over for dinner that would like to meet you. He's a minister at my church.”


He. . .”
Lisa pretended not to notice her mother's suspicious look. “Does Chanelle know him?”

“Yes and no. She knows him from church, but she doesn't know we're friends.”

“Things must be pretty serious between you and this fellah if you're bringing him home, huh?”

“Not as serious as you may think. We're taking things slow.”

“Now you know I'm still partial toward RJ, but I realize that I can't make the two of you get back together, so if things work out between you and this minister guy I'll be happy for you.”

“Thanks, Mama.” Lisa didn't understand why RJ's name was even brought into the conversation. She was irked by the adoration her mother still had for him as if she had forgotten everything he'd put Lisa through. “Are you going to tell me what you were so cheerful about coming in the house?”

Her face lit up and she reached down in her purse and handed Lisa a hundred-dollar bill.

“What's this for?”

“I know you don't need the money, but I thought I'd bless you since I got blessed. Girl, I won a thousand dollars on a scratch-off today.”

“Thanks, but no thanks.” Lisa gave the money back. “I don't consider winning the lottery a blessing.”

“Have it your way. I should've known you'd get all super holy on me.” Her mother puckered her lips and shoved the money back in her pocketbook. “You're crazy for turning down free money. I'm going to pay my tithes on today's winnings and I betcha Pastor Burlington won't give me that back.”

“Maybe not, but if he realized where it came from, I'm certain you'd find yourself being the main topic of one of his gambling sermons,” Lisa teased.

“Gambling ain't really no sin; especially when you pay tithes on the winnings.”

“What scripture you find that in?” She smirked.

“I'm just saying. . .it's because I've been so faithful in tithing that I win good money. I'm helping the church.”

“All good money isn't necessarily God money. That's like a dope dealer saying it's okay to sell drugs as long as he pays tithes.”

“No, it isn't. Gambling is a victimless activity, selling drugs isn't.”

Lisa rolled her eyes, figuring that after over four decades of her mother “walking with the Lord,” she ought not to be making excuses to play the lottery. “Victimless, huh? Tell that to the people who have thousands of dollars in debt thinking they'll hit it big one day.”

Her mother began to chuckle. “You know. . .we could go on about this all night.”

Lisa laughed, too. “You're right. How about we just agree to disagree for now. . .” She knew this wouldn't be the last time they'd
discuss this topic. They'd bumped heads about the lottery thing more times than Lisa could count.

“I was going to give Chanelle some money, too. Are you going to have a problem with that?”

“No, go ahead. Just don't tell her where it came from. She's not here, though. She's still with RJ.”

“I figured she'd be back by now.”

“He didn't have a set time to bring her home. I told him I'd be gone most of the day. Since it's getting late, I guess I could call and tell him I'm here.”

“Well, I'm about to go upstairs and go to bed. I'll give Chanelle the money in the morning. Good night. . .”

“The same to you. Hey. . .”

“What?” Her mother paused on the bottom step.

“Thanks for asking me before giving the money to Chanelle.”

BOOK: In Times of Trouble
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