I’m still waiting on the floodgates to open, still waiting on my blessing to pour out. There’s plenty of room in my pockets for it. My wallet holds more empty gift cards, expired coupons, and overdraft slips from the bank than it does little green soldiers, but I still tithe. Been tithing since Pop taught me how to cut grass, made a business of doing the neighbors’ lawns. A dime for every dollar, one for every ten.
Pop told the neighbors to pay in change so it’d be easier for me to give, because once the money was in the bucket, you couldn’t get cash back. One Saturday, after a week of rain, our next door neighbor Mrs. Wick gave me twenty dollars, and Pop said, “You always reap more than what you sow.” So I sowed more that summer, sometimes putting everything I earned for a weekend in the bucket, and when it was time to go back to school in the fall, Ma and Pop started me on a weekly allowance.
That was the year Pop died.
Somewhere between then and now the well dried up. I give when I can. I don’t always make it to church, but technology’s so advanced now, you can log into services online, pay the offering through PayPal. Every Sunday I scrap together ten percent of all the money I made for that week, which usually ain’t more than $300, and pass it up to the altar with a smile on my face, because “God loves a cheerful giver.” Still, I’m more broke than I was as a teenager. Just wondering when God’s gonna cut me a break.
Don’t make no sense that I have to wake up a quarter past five every morning to walk half a mile to the nearest bus stop, catch the bus to the depot, then hop another bus to Burlington Steel in time for my shift when I have a car. I damn sure feel the payments come out of my check every month—$250 on the eighteenth like clock work.
The car’s just under three years old, worth about eleven grand, but Walt, the lot owner, charges me extra in interest to overlook my credit. I’ve had it six months and haven’t driven it twice. Tanisha insists on keeping it. For what? She works the night shift, and I’m home by six. “The twins,” she says, but you don’t rack up 500 miles a month driving to doctor’s appointments and the store for formula.
They do pile up when you’re going back and forth to some nigga’s house in Charlotte. Lamar has a homeboy down there, says he’s seen her. I swear, if it turns out to be true, I just might kill her this time. Got me out here looking stupid, begging Roscoe to find me some work again because Burlington Steel handed me the pink slip today, saying I’m a good worker, but they can’t keep an employee who doesn’t value being on time.
Meanwhile, she’s driving God knows where in my car, doing God knows who. Got her mama back home babysitting the kids and charging me for it. Her own damn grandkids! She’d leave them babies out in the cold if it meant she got paid for it. And she knows they ain’t mine. The whole fucking neighborhood knows they ain’t mine.
Rent’s due in three days, and I got fourteen dollars in my pocket. The apartment manager’s threatening to evict us if we’re late again. Sometimes I wonder if it’s better just to let it happen. What more do I have to lose? We can sleep in my car, or I can. Maybe she’ll finally leave, with no roof over her head, move in with her parents—if they even let her—or that nigga down in Charlotte. I got three days for a miracle, and if it doesn’t come, I might as well stop waiting, figure things out my own way.
Written for the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’m getting a head start on planning my novel for NaNoWriMo. Prologues, character sketches (2), brainstorming, outlines, backstories (2), and more. Today’s post is a different kind of character sketch for Gregory. Stick around as I try to figure out what the heck I’m going to write in November!