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Authors: Yolonda Tonette Sanders

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BOOK: In Times of Trouble
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“Girl, I'm tired. I don't feel like arguing any more than you do.”

Lisa couldn't help but laugh. If her mother being tired was the only reason they didn't get into it about Chanelle tonight, then thank goodness for fatigue! She quickly dialed RJ's cell. “It's me. . . I'm calling to let you know I'm home.”

“I'm glad you made it safely. Did you have fun?”

“Yeah, we had a great time.”

“This um. . .friend of yours, did he have any trouble finding the place?”

“Not that it's any of your business, but my friend was actually a
she
; and no, she didn't have any problems getting to Metamora. It's not the first time we've been.”

RJ sounded somewhat relieved. “Since you seem to be a regular tourist, maybe one day we can ride down there. . .the two of us and Chanelle, of course. It's been a long time since we've done anything as a family.”

The nerve he had to suggest family time made Lisa sick to her stomach. “You have yourself to thank for that. Anyhow, I just wanted to tell you that I'm back. What time are you bringing Chanelle home?”

“Um, baby—”

“You mean,
Lisa.

He sighed in defeat. “Whatever. . .I dropped Chanelle off hours ago. She should be there.”

“What!” Just as Lisa was digesting RJ's statement, Chanelle walked through the front door. “I have to go. She's here now.” Lisa hung up the phone and turned toward her daughter like a lioness ready to attack its prey. “Where have you been?”

CHAPTER 9
W.W.O.D.?

A
fter talking to—rather going off on—Chanelle, Lisa found out that she'd snuck out with Kyle once more. This time he had picked her up and they went out to a movie, so Lisa was told. Chanelle's plan was to pretend that she had still been with RJ. Apparently, she had been banking on the lack of communication between her parents and was downright stunned when Lisa confronted her. To Lisa's surprise, instead of copping an attitude, Chanelle had been more cooperative about getting busted for being out with Kyle this time than she had been previously. Any order Lisa barked was immediately fulfilled without question or hesitation. The girl probably knew she was treading on thin ice. Had Lisa not already spent a lot of money planning this graduation party, she would have been tempted to cancel it to prove a point.

“Girl, I don't know what I'm going to do about Chanelle,” Lisa confessed to Olivia who had dropped by her office Monday afternoon after coming from her weekly board meeting. “Punishing her is not working. She's graduating in a few weeks and will turn eighteen in August. And on top of that, she'll be living on campus when school starts. Nothing I say or do fazes her because she
realizes she'll be moving out soon. I have no idea how to keep her from this boy.”

Liv sat across from Lisa's desk as calm as still, blue waters. She'd been listening to Lisa vent for at least forty minutes now and as irritated as Liv was about Chanelle sneaking out with Kyle again, she had yet to break a sweat. Olivia's ability to stay composed under pressure was one of the things Lisa loved about her best friend. Dressed in a pastel green short-sleeved silk shirt, cream dress pants and a pair of open-toe Manolos, Liv was beautiful. At age forty-nine, she didn't look a day over thirty. Her caramel brown skin was wrinkle- and surgery-free.

After patiently listening to Lisa's woes, Liv finally spoke up and said, “You're going to have to take a more drastic approach if you want to keep the little bum out of her life.”

“Girl, I'm open to any and all suggestions. Short of ordering a hit, I'm not sure what to do.”

“A hit can be arranged if need be.” Olivia smiled mischievously, producing a chuckle from Lisa.

“Listen to us talking crazy. This thing with Kyle really has me stressed out if I can start joking about killing folks.” Lisa ignored her work phone when it rang and seconds later the familiar number danced across her cell phone. “That's Eric.” She sighed. He was calling about their plans that evening. Lisa had informed Chanelle about their expected guest yesterday after church. Though both her mother and daughter were okay with him coming, Lisa still had reservations because she'd never brought a guy home before. “I hate to do this at such short notice, but I'm going to cancel dinner tonight. I'm too stressed.”

“Don't do that; canceling your date will not solve this issue with Chanelle and Kyle, but I know something that will. You should speak with Kyle's mother.”

“And say what?”

“Anything you want. Just be sure that when you leave, the ghetto chick understands that she better find some way to keep her son away from your daughter or else.”

“I don't know about that, Liv; it sounds too much like a threat.”

“If no one else hears you threaten her, it didn't happen.” She winked. “Seriously, either talk to her or allow this entire thing to keep eating away at you.”

Lisa toyed with the idea in her head. “It'll be like pulling teeth to get the number from Chanelle. I guess I could sneak and get it out of her cell phone. I'll give his mom a call later this week.”

“Forget about calling. You remember where he lives, don't you?”

Lisa nodded affirmatively. The night the police officer took her to get her car, he'd pointed out the house where Chanelle had been picked up. The picture of the Section-8 complex was branded in her mind like pornographic images on a computer's hard drive.

“Then go talk to her. And don't wait until later this week. Do it as soon as you get off of work so you can get it over with. Shoot, girl, leave now.”

“I can't possibly go today. I need to get home because Eric's coming over tonight; and leaving now is not an option. With Megan out of the office, I'm pretty much holding down the fort on my own.”

“Yeah, and it's really in danger of falling, right? That's why we've been sitting here talking for an hour and the fort is still intact. Girl, it's only three o'clock. You have plenty of time to go confront the chick and get home in time for dinner.”

“What if she's not home? Most people work during the day, you know?”

“What if she is? You'll never know until you knock on the door. What's the real reason you're hesitant to talk to her?”

“I don't know; I want to think more about what to say. I'm worried that interfering may escalate Chanelle's interest in him.”

“Not if you're persuasive enough, it won't. Girl, remember. . .Kyle's ghetto mama doesn't have anything on you. I really shouldn't be calling her names when I don't know her, but real mothers don't allow their teenage sons to have parties where underage kids get drunk. Kids will be kids, but no matter what they do, we must look out for their best interests. Justin has not been perfect. The bottom line is that when he was in trouble, there was nothing Isaac and I didn't do to help him. A mother will do anything to protect her child. Chanelle hangin' with this thug is trouble. Now, do whatever you have to do to keep her safe.”

• • •

Olivia's pep talk had encouraged Lisa quite a bit. Leaving work about a quarter after three, she took a deep breath and knocked on the screen door. The neighborhood was infested with trashy streets and boarded homes. The environment wasn't completely foreign to Lisa. She and RJ used to venture into high-risk areas such as this in Baltimore during their evangelistic missions. Truth-be-told, this neighborhood seemed mild compared to some of their ministry spots. Still, how anyone could live under such conditions was a mystery. Lisa used to be sympathetic to these kinds of people until the night she was arrested and accused of being one of them.

Still standing at the door, Lisa knocked harder this time. She hated coming over unannounced, but Liv was right—she had to nip this in the bud face-to-face. Considering the circumstances, the element of surprise was best.

Suddenly the door opened, and to Lisa's surprise, a young heavyset white woman with dusty blonde hair and several tattoos
appeared, holding an infant baby girl on her hip. “Can I help you?” she asked suspiciously.

“Is this the home of Kyle Lewis? I need to speak with his mother.”

“I'm Kyle's mother. Who are you?”


You're
Kyle's mother?” Lisa couldn't believe that she'd heard the lady correctly. She looked too young to have a seventeen-year-old son.

“That's what I said; who are you?”

“Um. . .I'm Lisa Hampton.”


Hampton
as in Chanelle Hampton?”

“Yes. I'm her mother.”

“Oh, wow.” She smiled brightly, opening the screen door latch. “Please forgive my rudeness. Most people who come by here aren't dressed as nicely as you are, so I didn't know what to think. My first thought was that maybe you were a social worker or something. Anyhow, I'm sorry. Please, come in! Excuse the mess. We need to be out of here by the end of the month and, as you can see, I have tons of things to pack still.”

“Don't worry about it,” Lisa said politely, but the filthy carpet, cluttered boxes, and dusty furniture were enough to make anyone feel uneasy. The smell of smoked cigarettes didn't help either.

“I'm Stacie. It's so nice to meet you.” She extended her hand and Lisa faked a smile to shake it. “Let me move some of these clothes out the way so you can sit down.” When Stacie set the baby on the floor so she could free her hands to make room on the couch, Lisa shuddered. The dingy carpet wasn't fit for a cockroach—though she'd bet there was a cluster of them living there. “The least I can do is make you feel at home while you're here.”

Stacie could try all she wanted to make Lisa feel “at home,” but it wasn't going to happen! As soon as Lisa's bottom was introduced
to the sofa, it screamed for relief from the uncomfortable springs. “I'm sorry for dropping by like this; I wanted to speak with you about Chanelle and Kyle.”

“No—No!” Stacie said to the baby girl who began pulling more junk out of the boxes. “Excuse me for just a second. . .Jameela!” she yelled. “Come get Nia. I have company.”

“Company” was a funny word for her to use. Lisa felt too uncomfortable in this pigsty to be considered as such.

“Sorry to interrupt you like that. I should've known better than to think she would stay out of things.” A young, biracial girl came into the room and got the baby. She didn't bother making eye contact or acknowledging Lisa, which further proved Olivia's point that this woman was ghetto. A decent mother would raise her children to be respectful and to speak to adults, especially when in the comfort of their own home. “It's such a pleasure to meet you. I've been telling Chanelle for months now that we should get together. She's been such a positive influence on Kyle. I can tell she comes from a real good home.”

That little liar told me she met Kyle a few weeks ago!
Lisa thought to herself.

“I love your daughter like she's one of my own.”

“Umhmm. . .Lately, Chanelle has been doing some things I don't approve of.”

“If you're referring to the party, I'm so sorry she got caught up with that. I hope she didn't get in too much trouble. I'd told Kyle he could have a few friends over. He grew up in this neighborhood, so it's going to be hard for him leaving his friends and all. I didn't think things would get out of control like they did.”

“Since when does allowing your teenage son to have a party where there will be alcohol be considered keeping things under control? What parent would do such a thing?”

“I didn't allow Kyle to have alcohol,” she said defensively. “Like I said, I told him he could have a few friends over. I had no idea things would go as far as they did and I'm very sorry Chanelle was here.”

Stacie's sincerity didn't dissuade Lisa's anger. “And were you the one supervising this party?”

“There was no one supervising the party because there wasn't supposed to be a party. I was at work. I work third shift.”

“So you were going to allow your teenage son to be alone with my teenage daughter while you were at work?”

“Normally, I don't work weekends, but since we're getting ready to move, every penny counts. Kyle is usually very responsible. I leave him here all the time with the kids. This is the first and only time he's disappointed me.”

Lisa was unable to prevent curiosity from getting the best of her. “All of what kids? How many children do you have?”

“Five; four boys and a girl. Kyle's my oldest.”

“You mean two girls?” Lisa was willing to bet there were at least four different baby daddies in the mix. Olivia was
so
right! This chick was beyond ghetto and definitely not the kind of person she wanted her daughter socializing with.

“No, I said what I meant. I know how many children I have.”

BOOK: In Times of Trouble
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