Under One Roof

By: Debbie Gordon

“It’s nice to see you too dad and maybe you can wait, until we get inside before you start flailing your arms back and forth like some kind of monkey. We do have neighbors and if you hadn’t noticed, Callen is standing in his yard staring at us.” I had to admit that he was a sight for sore eyes and I usually don’t go for an older man, but he was certainly changing my opinion in a hurry.

“Camille, if I want to come out here stark raving naked and scream at you, then that is exactly what I’m going to do. No daughter of mine is going to tell me what I can and what I can’t do on my own property. Callen can look over here all he wants and he knows that I don’t usually yell, unless I have a good reason. I’m usually more meek and mild, but seeing these bills has given me a reason to raise my voice. I’m frustrated and I have no idea what I’m going to…going to…do.” I didn’t like the look in his eyes and he was now scratching his chin, which always meant trouble.

“Hank, come back in here before somebody calls the police.” There was a smile on his face and I had no doubt that he had a plan that was meant to put me back on the straight and narrow. We can talk about all of this inside and I could hear you all the way downstairs when I was doing the laundry. We promised each other that we wouldn’t go after her, until we had a chance to discuss this in private.” I was glad to see that my mother was standing up for me, but then her eyes went out of her skull, as my father showed her the latest bill on my credit card. If that didn’t get her ire up, then the cell phone bill was enough to make her put her hand up to her mouth in shock.

I had been underneath this a roof for the past 20 years and this was the first time that I had allowed somebody to influence my decisions. I was starting to see that I might’ve been in more trouble than I could get myself out of with batting my eyelashes or cozying up to mother for support.

I didn’t mean to give them attitude, but I was mumbling underneath my breath and they weren’t exactly taking it to heart.

I still couldn’t get over the contrast between my mother and me. She was a little under 6 feet and I was coming in at 5’2, 110 pounds with most of that landing in my chest area. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that I was adopted, but they assured me that that was not possible. We were the only colored family on the block and we got our fair share of stares from the neighbors.

They followed me right into the living room and they stood side to side, as a united front against their little girl. “I hope you have something to say for yourself, young lady. We’re not exactly the Rockefellers and yes we have money, but we work hard each and every day to put a roof over your head and food in your belly. When you left here for college, I was worried that you would lose a part of yourself and I was right. You knew the difference between right and wrong. If you try to open your mouth and say that this is our fault for giving you the card in the first place, then we are really going to have problems.”

It was uncanny the way that she was able to read my mind. I sat down dejected, unable to mount any kind of defense, because the proof was right there for me to see in black and white.

“You’ve made your mother upset and I think that we need to get back to the basics. You need a job.” I didn’t like the sound of this and something told me that he already had something in mind. “You were so concerned with what Callen was seeing over here, so I suggest that you go over there and become his babysitter. His wife just died a couple of months ago and he could use all the help that he can get. Maybe with some hard work and responsibility, you might be able to see clear to stop all of this foolishness.” I had no interest in looking after the tiny little brat that liked to put food in my hair any time that I went over there.

Jamie was one year older and I could only imagine what kind of terror he was at the age of two. I was sorry to hear about Callen’s wife and she was nothing but sweet to me the entire time that we lived across from them.

“You can’t make…”

“You’re right, we can’t make you do anything, but if you don’t do, as we ask you to, then you’re not going to be sleeping underneath this roof. You can find someplace else to stay and I would wipe that smirk off of your face. The credit card that you have in your possession is going to be canceled. I’m going to talk to a friend of mine and he’s going to figure out how many you have in your name and then all of them are going to be canceled. Don’t tell me you’re going to cry crocodile tears to get out of this, because it’s not going to work with me.” He was angry and I was showing that one lone tear that was meant to garner some kind of sympathy.

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