“Tiffani, we need to talk. Have a seat please”
“In a minute babe. Bishop Carver is downstairs wanting to talk to you”
“Bishop? What the hell is Bishop doing here?”
“I dunno. He was parked by the house when I pulled up. He said that he would wait for you downstairs, but I didn’t know that you were already here”
I shook my head as I secured the gun in my waist. I could see the immediate panic on Tiffani’s face as I proceeded down the stairs. I was unaware that ministers here made house calls! My mind quickly began to think that this good ole’ reverend was getting at Tiffani too! Steam rose from my face as I came into his view.
“Christian, good to see you brother. Hope that I didn’t catch you at a bad time?”
He extended his hand in respect but I wasn’t haven’t it at the moment. The evil inside of me wanted to slap his hand away.
“Speak your peace reverend!”
“I . . . . . can see you are curious as to why I’m here”
“Yeah . . . . ”
“Well Christian, I received a phone call from your supervisor a little while ago requesting that I check in on you and Tiffani. He stated that you didn’t leave work in the best of spirits”
“Look reverend. Let’s cut the chit chat. Johnson was scared that I was gonna harm Tiffani right?”
“Well, by that gun you have in your waist son, I would say that the concern was justified”
“I wasn’t going to hurt her. I just needed some truthful answers. All I’ve been getting are lies! I’m tired of being the fuckin’ fool! Niggas whispering about how they hit Tiffani and shit! Now I got a motherfucker at work talking about how he and some eastside boys used to fuck my woman?! Hell naw man!”
Bishop turned his attention from my rage to Tiffani’s torment. I turned around and saw the tears cascade from her face. I didn’t know how long she saw my interaction with the good minister, but I knew it had been long enough. I stood there paralyzed as Reverend Carver attempted to usher her to the couch.
“Christian . . . . . . I didn’t . . . . . . . .”
Tiffani fell to her knees as she tried to speak. Bishop assisted Tiffani up and helped her to her seat. I could only look on as my resentment held me stationary. My heart was in the midst of an emotional hurricane.
“Christian, if you sit down, I think that Tiffani can clear all of this up. But first, can you please remove your weapon and sit it on the coffee table . . . . please . . .?”
I nodded my head in compliance. My feet broke out of their cement grave as I placed the gun on the table and sat opposite on the love seat. The storm continued to reign inside. A part of me was ashamed of my behavior. The other part felt justified as I had repressed my outrage for two months now.
“Tiffani, I think you need to tell Christian everything . . . .”
Tiffani shook her head not wanting to speak. Bishop gave her his handkerchief and encouraged the truth to be told.
“Christian . . . . . I don’t know where to begin . . . . .”
“How about you start with these eastside niggas. You been fucking them to take care of yourself?”
“Noooooooooo! Christian, that was over ten years ago!”
“So why is Donnell wolfing like he saw you over there the other day?”
“Donnell is cousins with Tariq, my old boyfriend . . .”
“So what does all this have to do with the eastside boys?”
“Well . . . . Tariq was over a group called the Eastsiders. He . . . . . he . . . was apart of their bike club but was probably the biggest dope dealer Georgia has ever seen. When I came back from college, I met Tariq and . . . .”
“He turned me out . . . .”
“Turned you out? Meaning you were a prostitute?”
“I might as well have been. He had me doing things I never thought I would do. I . . . . never thought about using drugs until he offered it to me. Then I became his personal slave. He was sharing me with his boys. Had me stripping in the club. He even had me doing movies with him and other girls. Just so happens that one of the girls that was filmed was under age. The parents of the girl pressed charges and we were all arrested. Since it was my first offense, the prosecutor was gonna let me off. But I had to give up Tariq and his connections . . . . ”
“But you didn’t huh?”
“No I didn’t. And because I didn’t, I was sent away for two years. Now I’m on the sex offenders list for the rest of my life”
“So that’s why you are working at TeleNet?”
“Yes. I had a degree in Childhood Education and was a year from finishing up my Masters. I was working at a daycare when it all went down. Now I have a degree I can’t do anything with! I lost everything . . . . . . ”
“So why did you stay here? Why would you stay? That doesn’t make any sense . . . . ”
“Hell, I didn’t have a choice! Trust me, I’ve thought about it! My family lives here and they were the only ones that supported me throughout this whole thing. When I got out of prison, my aunt Freda let me stay with her until I was able to get on my feet. Trust me, anything is better than dealing with the constant reminder of your past! Despite what really happened, all anyone cares about is my face on the cover of Bad and Busted with “child offender” written underneath. My family and my church have given me the strength to reinvent myself”
“So what about the beamer? If you’re so broke, how are you able to pay for it outright? What about the other money you have?”
“Like I said, I was a dope dealer’s girlfriend. When I was sent upstate, I didn’t know that I was pregnant. During an altercation my first week there, I ended up losing it. Tariq felt responsible for it all so he had some money set aside for me. I’ve been living off of that in addition to hustling make up and working”
“Why didn’t you tell me all of this first when I met you?”
“Honestly Christian, every man that I’ve told the story has left me. None of the men in this town will talk to me. When I met you, I didn’t want you to walk away like everyone else did”
“So instead, you thought it was best for me to be humiliated without reason?”
“No . . . . . Christian . . . no . . . .”
I looked to the sky and breathed deeply. The storm inside had yet to let up. I wanted to cry and hold Tiffani for all that she had been through. However, the other part of me couldn’t let go of the dishonesty. Although what she had been through explained her actions, she wasn’t forthright with me. I could hear Tiffani weeping . . .
“Son, I’ve known Tiffani since she came out of prison and I can truly say that she is not the person she was before she went in. I think if the two of you worked this . . .”
“There is no working this out reverend. The fact of the matter is, if she would have told me all of this from the get go, I wouldn’t have gone out with her either!”
“Christian, don’t say that son. . . . .”
I picked up my piece and headed out the door. Bishop followed.
“Christian, you can’t keep running from your problems. You can’t. Tiffani is a good woman”
“That maybe true sir, but you’re not the one having to deal with her consequences. You’re not the one that has to wonder if every guy you meet in the store has slept with your old lady. You’re not the one that was lied to . . .”
Bishop had no other words. He could see the hurricane I was trying to fight inside.
“Well brother, I can’t argue with you there. But I beg you, please don’t harm yourself trying to fight the demons. I’ll give Johnson a call”
“Naw Bishop, that won’t be necessary. I’ll find a hotel for the night and move my things out by the end of the week. Thank you for your concern”
I accepted his hand this time before I began to walk away . . . . . .again . . . . .
Written by Michael Dock, Founder of the Wednesday Gentleman and author of the forthcoming novel, “Addicted to Chaos”