The next few months after my return were a painful life experience. My life was crumbling from every end. I never thought two weeks could change someone’s life forever. I had to try and rebuild a life that was crumbling.
While I was in Nassau I thought about Mary-Ann a lot. She was the only one that truly loved me and I never loved her back. I was in love with Angela but she was not going to leave her boyfriend for me. My time outside the US made me realize how much more I need a “real” green card. Maybe Mary-Ann would marry me. It would be complicated because she loved me and all I would want was a business marriage. I entertained the idea of growing to love her.
She was the first person I called on my return. I was going to make it a short call being that she was now in North Carolina.
The call to her house did not go well. Her mother picked up the phone.
“May I speak to Mary Ann?” I asked.
“She is not here” her mother replied.
“Do you know when she will be back?” I asked.
“I don’t know” she replied abruptly. The tone of her voice clearly was “I don’t want to talk to you”.
I called back a few days later.
This time her step-father answered. He gave the same answer.
I was getting worried. They never were unkind to me before. They were always cordial on the phone. I don’t remember them blatantly tell Mary-Ann not to go out with me. I started to wonder if it was because I was Jamaican or if it was because I was black.
I made a third call the next day. That is when it all came out. Her mother picked up the phone.
“I was trying to be nice but I think you should know the truth. She went into a depression 3 weeks ago and she is at the hospital”
“Ohh. Is she getting better” I was stunned.
Then it came out.
“It your fault”, she was crying now. “When you disappeared she could not function. She fell into a depression when you stopped calling her.”
It was a stake to my heart. I could not explain where I was for the past few weeks.
“I had an emergency,” I tried to explain but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.
“Do not call here again”, She hung up.
I was in shock. I did not realize that Mary Ann was so dependent on me. How was I going to find out if she was okay? I was in a daze for the rest of that day.
I had to focus because of all the other pieces of my life I had to put back together.
I called Angela but got her answering machine.
I was able to get a partial refund for my classes with the doctor’s note that Ritchie was able to get for me. Even though I was happy for the partial refund I was disappointed. I lost money, my graduation date would be delayed and the math teacher I wanted would not be back for another year. Getting the right teacher for a specific class was important to get the right grade. Losing the money stung more than ever because I was already deep in credit card debt from my “trip”.
At first I missed the daily interactions with everyone at school. I found a solution. In the mornings when I took my sister to school I would hang out with everyone. I even carried my bag to school. I would wait till everyone went to classed and I would pretend I was also going to classes. I would then leave, home and get ready for work. To everyone at school it probably seemed normal.
Not going to school helped me to get more hours at work. I was finding ways to make overtime. I needed the money to pay off the debt I accumulated on my Bahamas trip. The overtime was good but it did not help. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. I spoke to one of the managers about more overtime. He told me he would ask the other stock team.
It was at this point one of the other Jamaican stock supervisors approached. I was thinking more overtime. They were making money by giving friends and family an upgraded product for their regular electronic purchase. He explained further. A customer would buy a medium sized TV and the stock supervisor would take out a large TV. They would get a ‘change’ from the customer. As he spoke to me I pictured the nice car he drove and way he always had the latest style. I always wondered why he worked here with all he had. They wanted me to join in the ‘scheme’. He told me that it is not a big deal, as the company will manage. Insurance would pay for the merchandise.
I was desperate so I did. The next day I had my first customer. It was a Spanish gentleman. I was to take an upgraded TV to him. As I wheeled the TV on the pulley through the store there was a bad feeling.
Hey, it was someone behind me. I looked up and it was one of the store’s plain-clothes security officers.
Can you show me the receipt? I was going to faint.
You have the wrong model here
Ohh, I acted astonished.
It says Sony 127xv80 and you have a Sony 132xv80.
Ooh, I must have read his wrong. Thanks so much. I could have gotten in trouble if you did not catch it.
He let me go.
I went back and delivered the correct TV to the customer.
The customer looked confused as he inspected the box.
“Is this the right model meng (man)” he asked
“Yes sir”, I showed him the model number while comparing to his receipt
I was not sure who was watching and wanted to go back to work.
“Go back to your sales person if you have any questions”, as I rushed back to work.
I was coming to the end of my shift and was thinking everything would be fine.
Just as I was about to punch the time clock the store manager for the shift appeared. He wanted me to come to his office. His name was George Brillia. None of the workers in the store liked him. He shouted at everyone and never smiled.
“Security mention that you almost took the wrong television set to a customer” he commented as I sat in his office.
I tried to put on my best “academy award” straight face.
“It was a mistake” I replied. “I had so many items to pick up that trip”.
“You have been a very good work here. I like you. I don’t want to see you mess up” he replied
He continued. “In the last 3 months we have been watching a few of the other stock boys. They have been taking items. Maybe your was an accident or maybe they tried to recruit you. I hope it was a mistake.
“It was a mistake” I replied, staring him in the face.
“I believe you this is why I am talking to you. I need your help to find out what the other stock boys are doing” he replied.
He was looking directly at me. Staring at my eyes. I could not blink.
I thought to myself. “He wants me to become an informah”.
I was not in a position to say anything else but “Yes”. I could not afford to lose my job as I was in debt. I needed the money.
“You will help us, right?” he asked again. It was like he was telling me I had to do it. By the look in his eyes it was an order.
“Sure” I replied. I tried to not to show any emotion even thought I felt like walking out.
“Here is what I need you to do. I am going to give you a few more hours on each shift. You will have overtime too. I will ask the supervisor to give you a copy of each receipt. I need you to verify that the model number on the receipt is what is being taken by the stock boy.”
He was bribing me with more hours. I nodded in agreement as I left his office..
As I clocked out I needed to talk to someone.
That evening I went home and called Mary Ann.
“Hi”, It was her.
“Mary Ann”, I could not believe it.
“Yes” she replied. It seemed to be half –asleep.
“How are you doing?”
“Who is this”, she did not sound like she ordinarily does. I am surprised she did not pick up my Jamaican accent.
“It’s me” I replied.
Next I head screaming in the background. It was her step-father.
“How many times have I told you not to answer this phone? Give me that phone to me”
“Who is this?” he asked.
I identified myself.
“Did I tell you not to call her anymore”, he was angry.
He slammed the phone in my ear. At first I was shocked at his behavior but then I started to think of a conversation I had with Mary Ann when she live in Miami. She was scared of her stepfather? She mentioned he wanted to know everything about her life. He wanted to control her live. During that time I wondered if he was abusive to her verbally or even sexually. His display on the phone today sure points to some type of abuse. He was speaking to her like she was a child.
I wondered if I should call the police in North Carolina. How can I help save her from this abusive man? I wondered if her mother knew how he treated her. Then again who would believe me. If I call the police or any other authority I would have to give them my name. They would check to see if I was a credible person. They could stumble on the fact that I am an illegal alien.
Maybe this scenario of an abuse father is born out of my guilt. Maybe I was trying to rationalize the whole situation. I did not want to think that I caused her to go into a depression. I did not want to face the fact that she sounded like someone who was very sick.
My mind was playing tricks on me. Now I was rationalizing that my rationalizing for not reporting her father is because I did not want to expose myself as an illegal alien.
There was no way I was calling her back. I had to close this chapter on my life and move on.
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