Excerpt From A Deserted Diary
It was hard to do things like a family with Father gone. The steamboat would dock down at the Tennessee River and Mother would walk us down to see it when it was too hot to go to bed. It sometimes seemed like Mother had left when Father did. The little ones would run on the dock and she would sit down on the grass bank paying no attention to the chaise lounge and never caring the grass was wet with dew and leave me to make sure the young'uns didn't fall off the dock and drown.
I was still seeing Billy. He was nice and took me to the movies or we walked down to the Seventh Street Drug Store and he would buy us both a cone of chocolate malted ice cream. He would hold his up every time and say “Call me Billy Sunday” even if it made no sense because he wasn't eating a sundae. He didn't even know they were spelled different but I doubt it would have made any difference to him. But Billy was sweet and everyone thought we were on our way to getting married.
Soon I was sixteen and didn't go to school anymore. I got a job at the Krystal Burger. It was the first time I'd ever had my own money and I was proud that now I could buy myself a few things. Then Tommy started coming to the Krystal. He worked in an office not down at the plant like most of the men and his hands were pretty like a girl's and soft and he had brown eyes. He asked me on a date and I said why not and before you knew it we were a steady item. Sometimes I'd meet him at his lunch hour and we'd go to the park and sit beside the star magnolia and hold hands and he'd tell me about fancy restaurants he'd been to that sold stuff like roasted duck and Russian tea and all different kinds of fish you ate raw. I made sure I was always scheduled to not work on Friday nights and when I got off work I'd hurry home and clean the meat grease off my skin and put on some perfume. Tommy often times showed up before I was ready and he would sit at the kitchen table and talk to Mother and she would talk back to him. She didn't talk to anyone else in town but I was blind.
Tommy had lots of friends. He started taking me to his favorite club called “The Palace.” They had a Cuban band I loved listening to. Tommy already knew how to dance. He would get me out on the floor and I soon learned enough to dance with him. I loved every minute of it. His friends thought I was Cuban because of my dark skin and long black hair. I bought a few dresses that had frills on them and were very colorful and we went to the club every chance we got. I'd never had so much fun. Tommy and I were always together. We loved to eat together and talk. It was like we were meant for each other. He told me he loved me and I was in love with him. We would stay at the club until everyone left and the band stopped playing. We had a favorite hotel and after we left the club Tommy and me would go there and make love until dawn. He was so handsome and the sexiest man in the world. I heard Billy had gone up to Detroit to live with his cousin but I didn't see him off.
One night a couple we knew wanted us to meet them at the club. We were already there when they came in and sat down at the table with us. Tommy and I danced and then his friend asked me to dance. We were on the floor for a while. I lost track of time. When we went back to our table Tommy wasn't there. I waited and waited but he never returned. I finally asked the couple if they could take me home. When I got to my house I told them good night and thank you for taking me home and opened the door to my house and I couldn't believe my eyes. My mother was sitting on the couch in her house dress and I could tell there was nothing on underneath it and Tommy was laying his head in her lap. She was stroking his hair and I said what is going on. Mother smiled a strange smile that looked more sad than happy and said “Be quiet. He's a light sleeper.”
I didn't yell or scream or nothing like that I just went up the stairs to my room and sat on the side of the bed the rest of the night. Come daybreak I packed up one suitcase and left everything else there. I didn't even change my dress I just gathered up what money I'd saved from the Krystal and walked down the stairs out the door and straight to the bus station. I asked the man there in the booth how much it cost to go to Detroit and he told me and I bought the ticket not caring it took up most of my money. I had to wait to nearly noon for the bus to show up but when it did I was the first one on. I had no idea where 'bouts in Detroit Billy lived but was sure I'd find him. It wasn't nothing I questioned because I had learned my lesson about what kind of things a person should question and what kind of things a person should accept the way they are.