Aunt Fern had been trying to get me to go to church with them for a while. I finally gave in. When I was in Jamaica my parents used to go to the Catholic church. It was more of a social club for me. I was an alter boy for a time. Aunt’s Ferns church was a Baptist church. It was located in a big building. The people were very friendly. I could not help but notice that the church was 90 % white. It was more obvious as Aunt Fern was a part of the choir. She was the only black face in a sea of white faces on the stage. I did not like putting things in black and white but since my incident at Burger King my view changed. I sometimes wish that it had not happened but the cat is out of the bag now.
The day I visited the church there was a guest preacher speaking. He was from a church in Palm Beach. When he started preaching it was like he was talking directly to me. He spoke about different people in the bible overcoming obstacles. There was an altar call. Something in my heart was tugging to go up. There were quite a few people that went up to the front. He made a second call. There was a voice telling me to go but another saying no. The voice was saying what your friends would think. I would be giving up music, my girlfriend and all the fun I had now. All the Christians I knew in Jamaica were really boring.
I did not go up but the feeling stayed with me that day. I was never going back to church.
My friendship with Mary Ann began to grow more. We spoke at least twice weekly. I made sure it was times when normally I would not talk to Sherri-Ann. I remember one day mentioning her and she was really angry. I told her it was nothing but she just did not believe me.
We got to the point where we met one day at the mall to talk. Mary Ann had a tough time at home. Her parents were going through a divorce and constantly fighting. As I got off the bus I saw her. She had a big smile. I was a bit surprised because she was smoking. She never smoked when we worked. I think she saw the look of shock on my face and quickly put it out.
I don’t mind men smoking but women are another case. I just don’t think they should. I was really hurt to see her smoking but I hid my displeasure as I knew she needed to talk.
We started walking and she started talking. Her parents divorce was affecting her as they still lived in the home together. They were constantly fighting and the police even visited because her mother threw stuff. She was getting really red in her face.
Tears started to roll down her face when she mentioned her mother was planning to move back to North Carolina. She would be going there as well.
She was now crying really hard and we sat on a bench. It was very awkward. I did not know what to do. I put my hand lightly on her shoulder and she grabbed it. Her head was now on my shoulder and she was hugging me tightly.
I did not know what to tell her to get her to stop crying. People walking in mall were looking at us. I found myself using some of the words from the church sermon on how she could overcome obstacles. It was working. She stopped crying but she was still hugging me. A few people were still staring. I was l feeling uncomfortable with us sitting and hugging. So I suggested we walk. That did not stop me feeling uncomfortable as she held my hand as we walked.
On our next call I asked about the smoking. She explained she was under stress. This phone conversation was a little different than usual. Mary Ann used the word “we” a lot. It was like we were a couple. I was uneasy with it but I also liked it a little. I could hear Ritchie encouraging me to keep two girlfriends.
That night Sherri-Ann called me. We chatted for a little while then she told me she had to see me the next day. I kept asking her why. She kept saying it was important. The next day was my day off so I would meet her.
That night I did not sleep very well. I wanted to know what it was she had to say. We could talk about anything on the phone and this was just a little strange.
Ritchie picked me up that morning and we went down to the shop where one of his cars was being fixed. He was putting headers and a modified carburetor on the car. The owner the shop was Jamaican and he was funny. Ritchie called him a “cardist” because he was always teasing people. We spent most of the day there just talking about cars, Jamaica and anything else we could. It was really a “loafers” paradise.
Ritchie dropped me off at Sherri-Ann’s apartment. He saw the worried look on my face.
“Whappen boss, yuh girl pregnant”…he said laughing.
I smiled back as I closed the car door and walked off. It was not funny but I was not about to give the impression that I was worried.
Sherri-Ann greeted me at the door with a big hug and kiss. She was holding me really tight. It was like she never wanted me to leave. Then she started to cry.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“My mother is sending me back to Jamaica to live with my father” she replied.
“What. But you did not finish school. Don’t you have another year left?”
“She told him that I was paying more attention to boys than to my work. He was very upset;” she continued to cry, “My mother knows how to play on my father’s emotion. She told him all sorts of things about you. My father always wanted me to marry one the boys at the Chinese Benevolent Association”’
As I listen to her I could not help but think how racist that sounded. Her father did not want her to marry a black man. I held back because when she spoke about her father in the past there was a sparkle in her eye.
“So when do you leave” I asked.
“Well I have a plan” she replied
“What type of plan”, I asked.
“My dad has some Chinese friends down in South Miami. They have a son about my age. He called me a few times. I know he likes me. If I tell my parents I broke up with you and pretend I like him it could convince my father to have me stay” she explained.
I was not thinking straight but I asked “Will they believe you?”
“Of course they will. My mother is barely here when you visit and I would call your house before she’s home” she replied.
I liked the idea of going out with Sherri-Ann and even told her I loved her. However I was not sure if I could do this sneaking around and have another man “lyricsing” my girlfriend.
I spent a few hours at Sherri-Ann’s apartment. We just sat there watched TV and hugged. I did not like the plan but did not say anything. I did not like to see her crying. It was just easier to go along even thought I felt it was the beginning of the end. I called Ritchie to pick me up but he had to go somewhere. I had to take the bus back home.
The bus ride gave me an opportunity to reflect. I could not think straight. It was like I was punched. I thought about Sherri-Ann’s father wanting her to marry a Chinese man. I thought about her leaving. I thought about Mary-Ann and the irony. A black and white couple is also not accepted. I just could not focus.
I got home and the first person I called was Mary-Ann.
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