Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another Year Gone

"Happy Birthday To You. Happy Birthday To You." Michele, Vidal , Josef, (who elected himself as my personal nurse/bodyguard), the whole staff from the salon were singing off key. It was my birthday! We were at Ammies, celebrating my birthday. As I looked around, into each of their faces, I saw for the first time, how very lucky I was. This group of maybe the craziest bunch of men & women, were so happy to spend 'my birthday' with me & not being the least bit embarrassed that they sounded awful. I laughed so hard, it brought tears to my eyes.
"Hey, Baby," I looked up, it was my Viet Nam soldier, Richard. Damned, this was one sexy guy. Damned, this was one sick in the head guy. Damned, one night, just one night, would I go to hell, for just one night?
"Richard," I reached up my check for him to kiss, getting a very pleasant sniff of his cologne. "What are you doing here?" He was dressed really sharp, not his usual army clothing.
"Michele told me you guys will be here tonight." he glanced over to Michele & gave her a wink. A small twinge of jealousy stabbed me.
"Did she now?"
"Happy birthday, sexy. What are you drinking, let me buy you a drink."
"Ah," I looked over to Vidal, who was observing everything,"What am I drinking, Boss?"
"Mocha Vodka Martini's", he answered with that half grin of his. Beverly was in London this week, So Vidal & I were able to spend a lot of time discussing the salon & where he wants to take all of his salons. I haven't been able to work behind my chair yet, since the incident at my Mom's place, but I was well enough to do paper work, answer phones, & delegated the work load. That gave Vidal & myself a lot of time to talk business & expansion.
I glanced back at Richard, he raised his hand & made the peace sign.
"Gotcha babe", backing way from our table.
I looked over towards Michele, saw her eyes following Richard. I suspected that she liked him, but, Michele was hunting. What she was hunting for was a mystery, but it was known by all of us, that the girl was looking hard, but looking in all of the wrong places.
"What ya need guy?" Nikki was working tonight at Ammies.
"Mocha something?"
"For CeCe?"
Nikki mixed the intricate drink & a few seconds later, presented the glass to Richard.
"What do I Owe You?"
"Nothing my friend," Nikki smiled into Richards blue eyes, "CeCe's drinks tonight are on me. That girl has been though hell. Glad to see all of her friends around her. She doesn't need to know that I've got her tab, just sit it in front of her."
"I can't do that!"
"Yeah, you can, man! Just let it go. Give her the drink & baste in her thank you. That's a special lady there, she doesn't need to know that I've got her bill, Okay Brother?"
"Then, you must accept this!", Richard slid a twenty dollar bill across the bar towards Nikki. She looked into his eyes, & with a flash of glimmering teeth, nodded her head, laying her hand over the twenty.

"Hi, CeCe," I looked over my right shoulder, towards a familiar voice, & there stood Sunny.
"Sunny," my voice cracked. It had been a few months since I requested that he not patronize the salon any longer.
"What's with your arm?" I still had to use a sling.
"Oh, just an accident."
"What have you been up to?' Sunny had managed to place himself between his friends & My business prospects were getting VERY thin. 0% of nothing is still 50%

Friday, October 3, 2008

Painful Memories

I woke up feeling 'GREAT'. Spring was around the corner again! My son will be seven years old in a few weeks. My God! Seven! Where did the years fly to? Sal started first grade this past Fall. I intended to go to the first Parent-Teachers night, but my Mom never told me when it was, so I got very upset again with her. Since that really big fight we had last year, I'd decided not to push my points with her anymore. I feared Sal got the repercussions, when no one was around to see. He had gotten a lot quieter as time past, I feared for what it might be. I feared to find out. So, like a coward, I backed down & backed out, when our 'talks' got a little heated.
I was dressing to go get Sal. He needed clothes, & I wanted to find out what he wanted for his birthday, plus ask him about his birthday party.
I no longer had the key to Moms apartment. as I approached the building door, someone was leaving the building, I was able to walk in. As I approached the apartment door, I noticed that it was silent on the other side. Ignoring my thoughts, I knocked. Silence. I knocked again, "Mom," I called through the door. Silent. "Mom," I called out louder, still knocking on the door.
"Mom, Sal, It's me," It was getting very warm in the hallway. Beads of perspiration was forming on my forehead & neck. "Mom, answer the door,Please?" I knew my voice was loud, My heart was starting to beat faster. "Please God," I silently prayed, "Please make her answer this dammed door." Memories came rushing through my head. A little girl, hands cupped over her mouth so no one could hear her crying. Visions that I didn't want to remember.
"Mom," almost a whisper, "Mom, please let me in."
I didn't hear the building door open, nor did I hear my name, until I felt a hand on my shoulder.
Startled, I looked to my right. There stood Andrew, with a puzzled look on his face. I could smell Scotch on his breath.
"CeCe, why are you just standing there?"
I hated this man. The man that my Mom lived with, worshipped, beg, borrowed & stole for. This man, that I used to refer to as my 'Dad'.
"Mommies not answering. She knew I was coming." I was almost in tears, struggling to hold my composure, wanting to scream.
Andrew unlocked the apartment door, & I followed him in. There, sitting on the couch was my Mother, eyes squinting, lips held tight. On the chair in that room, sat my son, hands clasped tightly on his little lap, eyes wide, full of fear.
When Sal saw me, he attempted to get off of the chair to come to me. Mom glanced over at him, & my son stopped, slid back into the chair. I saw his little mouth quiver, afraid to cry. I ran to him, scooped him into my arms.
"It's o'kay now Sal, it's o'kay." I held him as tight as I could, his small frame pushing closer to me.
"Why didn't you answer the door, Mom?"
"I don't want you coming here every week."
She got off of the couch & walked into the kitchen where Andrew sat.
"I told you two days ago, I was coming today. I'm taking Sal shopping, & looking for his birthday party stuff. Did you send out the invites to his friends at school?"
"He is NOT having a birthday party!"
"What?" Andrew looked at her, shock written all over his face,"What are you talking about, Marie?"
"Just what I said," She raised her nose to the ceiling, "I want an end to this. I don't want you here! Do you understand me?" She screamed at me, her eyes ablaze.
With Sal still in my arms, I walked towards the door. My sons little legs were wrapped around my waste tightly, his grip on my neck getting tighter with every step that I took.
I was right at the frame of the doorway to the hall, when suddenly, there was a pinching pain in my shoulder. It took my breath away for a second. Sal was openly crying now. I heard Andrew say something. I kept walking, the stinging getting worse with every breath.
As I reached for the outside door, I saw Andrew grab me by the wrist.
"You can't go out there," he was saying. My back felt wet, but I knew that it wasn't sweat. "Come on, come on," he was pulling me back into the apartment.
As we got to the apartment door, she came towards me, hands extended. As I turned away, to protect Sal from being removed from my arm, I felt her push the knife deeper into my shoulder. A scream escaped my throat as I fell to my knees. God, I thought to myself, protect my son!