Thursday, January 13, 2011

Excerpt from Loving Buddy

Excerpt from LOVING BUDDY!

Chapter 2

We were just saying grace when the front door slammed and Buddy came rushing in. I heard the books he slung hit the steps in the hallway and listened as he ran to the bathroom and washed his hands before coming into the dining room to take his place at the dinner table.
At seventeen, Buddy was six foot one, his thick black hair added at least another inch, and he was a special kind of color that I couldn’t name if I tried. It was kind of red, but it was a brown, and sometimes it almost seemed like he was a little yellow. Even I knew he was handsome, but I would be the last one to let him know I thought so. He had our mother’s big brown eyes, while I had eyes like daddy that people said reminded them of a cat’s. I wished I looked more like mama and Buddy than like daddy and Grandpa Hawkins, but facts were facts and I took from daddy’s side of the family and Buddy took from mamas.
“Sorry I’m late!” Buddy said and slid into his seat almost sideways.
“That’s a chair, not a sandbag, boy!” Daddy said, but I got the feeling he was relieved rather than mad that Buddy was there.
Mama had started to pass the food around. She handed the platter of chicken fried steaks to daddy, but her focus was on Buddy. “And the reason you’re late, Byron?”
Daddy took the platter and laughed. “Byron?” He said, almost under his breath. We all knew that wasn’t a good sign. Buddy was Buddy until he was in really hot water with mama, then he became Byron.
“I caught a ride with Animal – I mean, Anthony, and he had to make a few stops before he dropped me off.” Buddy said, happy to take the platter from daddy that was coming his direction.
“Did one of those stops happen to be at the Joseph’s?” Mama asked pointedly.
“Uh oh!” I said, my hand flying to my mouth, but it was already too late. I couldn’t hold back the giggle, at least not until mama flashed that ‘cut you’ glance my way again. Heck, that glance can stop anything.
Buddy looked really surprised by her question. “No. Why would Animal take me by the Joseph’s house?”
“Well, someone is going to have to take you by there so you can apologize to that silly little girlfriend of yours, Byron! You better stop playing with these little girl’s emotions! I’m sick of them showing up on my doorstep ruining my day!”
“What?” Buddy said, color draining from his face.
“You heard your mother, Buddy. Soon as dinner is over I’m driving you over to Sister Joseph’s apartment and we’re going to sit down with her and Tarrah while you apologize for being unkind.”
“But –“
“But nothing, son. That’s just the way it is. Tarrah came by here really distressed cause you said you weren’t going to take her to youth convention dinner and Sister Joseph already spent, per Tarrah, nearly half her check on the new suit she bought Tarrah for the dinner.”
I had stopped eating, propped my chin in my hands supported by my elbows that I knew were forbidden on the table, but this was too good to be concerned with my table manners. Daddy’s voice was calm, mama’s face was still angry, and Buddy, poor Buddy looked almost sick.
“I’m taking Kelly to the convention dinner, daddy. I told Tarrah almost four weeks ago we weren’t going together any more.” He set his fork down on his plate loudly. “Oh man! I hate that old girl! I never did really like her that much!”
“Oh really? So you never did really like her that much, Byron? Then why did I catch you kissing her downstairs after Sunday school when you all were supposed to be upstairs with the rest of us?”
“But that was two months ago, mama! So help me, right after that we – I – broke up with her.”
The swat that took my left elbow off the table caught me by surprise, as my head dropped suddenly. I forgot how good mama was at doing two things at one time. She snapped at me, “Finish eating your dinner, Kaye!” without missing a beat with Buddy.
“These little messes of yours are not cute, Buddy. Every Sunday now I’m hearing something else about you and I don’t like it, young man!”
Daddy put his napkin down next to his plate. He’d managed to eat most of his dinner while the other three of us had been caught up in the conversation, but it was his turn to talk now.
“Like I said, son, we will be going over to the Joseph’s. You will be apologizing to Tarrah. She is going to be your date to youth convention dinner, and thank God your new little girlfriend does not go to Mount Carmel and you and you alone will have to work out that mess!”
“Amen!” I couldn’t help adding my two cents. Buddy shot me a look that could have killed a lesser person, but I just flashed him a smile. I knew I’d pay for it later.
Buddy tried one more time. “Can’t you all see what Tarrah did? She’s just playing you. She let her mother buy that outfit knowing I wasn’t taking her. Everybody knows all they have to do is come running to you all about something you think is going to create a problem at church and you’ll do whatever it takes …”
Daddy leaped up and pointed one of his big, thick fingers in Buddy’s face. “Shut it up, boy! Don’t you start trying to lecture nobody about what we do regarding Mount Carmel or you’ll be looking for you a new home!”
“No he won’t, B.R.” Mama was on her feet now too, and my amusement evaporated. Both her hands were on her hips and the looked that flashed between her and daddy put a chill in my heart. I’d never seen anything like it before. It must have shocked Buddy too.
“Okay, okay, y’all, I’m sorry. I’ll go with you, Daddy. We can go now. I’m not hungry any more.”
“Eat your dinner first, Buddy, then you go.” Mama said, easing back down, but still eying daddy.
“I’ll be waiting for you in the car.” Daddy said, storming away from the table.
Mama watched after daddy for a moment then turned her attention to Buddy and me. “Eat!”


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