A few notes before you read:
· I’m workin’ but I ain’t workin’.
· This is courtesy of a convo in which I ask a pal to tell me what to write next:
o Me: Tell me what I should write next, pal.
o BB: a carnival or fair with a dunking booth and [insert lots of other details here]
o Me: *nods* I’ll see what happens.
· This isn’t the start of anything. It’s just me having a little fun.
· Enjoy. Or don’t. Both are fine, but I’d prefer the former. LMAO!
· Unedited, blah blah blah all that jazz.
Bibi’s Back to School Bash was in full effect and my fool ass was the star attraction at one of the carnival style booths that decorated the forest preserve. My big sister was big on giving back to the community and after she came into a large amount of money via the lotto, her first order of business was to start a nonprofit that focused on community initiatives to help the less fortunate in the community where we grew up. Neither of us had moved far from our old stomping grounds, affectionally known as The Stacks. Growing up in public housing—The Stackhouse Towers—for the better part of our childhood had taught Bijou and I to fight hard for everything we wanted. The tenacity and grit we learned in The Stacks permeated every move we made once Mama had managed to move us out of there. We’d still go back to visit from time to time because that’s where grandmama n’em lived. Every time we went back, Bibi declared that one day she’d come back and make it rain and change the lives of the generations of kids who were growing up in The Stacks today.
And since if Bibi is rockin’, I’m rollin’, this was how I found myself precariously perched upon a bench that was barely wide enough to hold my ass as folks tried to knock me down. I’d been lucky so far that the majority of folks who’d stopped at the dunking booth were young children or super elderly folks, neither of whom possessed the strength or hand-eye coordination necessary hit the target.
“Stop mean mugging everyone who walks by, Amelie, damn!” Bibi said, walking up beside the booth, “Cienna can’t get anyone to even stop because you over here scowling like Shug Knight.”
“Good, I don’t know how in the hell I let you talk me into this anyway, Bijou! I thought JT was supposed to be your dunk booth dummy,” I groaned, exasperated.
“Yeah, well JT is African American history and I thought that my baby sister would be elated to step up and help her only sibling out on what is sure to be a very special day.”
I rolled my eyes as she kept on, heaping praise upon herself for bringing a childhood dream to fruition as well as creating an experience that the kids from The Stacks would likely cherish forever.
“Okay…okaaaaay, I get it, B. I’ll fix my face.”
Bijou shot me her patented double dimpled grin, “Thanks, A! For real. You always come through for me and I appreciate it.”
“Don’t you dare get mushy out here, Bibi! I only signed up for my face getting wet via this damned dunk booth, not with tears. Cut it out. Besides, I think we got some takers now,” I said, gesturing towards a group of men who were rapidly approaching the booth.
“Oh no,” Bibi groaned.
As the men got closer, I fought to keep a neutral expression on my face. Micah Ford had been a pain in my ass for years growing up. For some reason he felt it was his personal duty to make my daily life a living hell from ages six to nine, my reprieve only coming when mama moved us clear across town and into a different school district. However, whenever we were in The Stacks I’d still had to put up with his shit sporadically.
“Well well well, if it isn’t ABC,” Micah crowed, referring to me, my sister and our cousin Cienna. It was a little name we came up with for ourselves when we were kids that Micah loved to mock mercilessly.
“Always good to see you, Mike,” Bijou replied, drolly.
“My presence is a present, Jewel and you know it. Don’t trip,” Micah drawled, biting down on his lower lip and giving my sister the once over.
Same ol raggedy negro, all of the years passed hadn’t changed a thing with him.
“Ay, Cici, lemme get this much worth of balls,” he said, flashing a hundred-dollar bill, “I’m gonna enjoy getting ol’ Amelie wet over and over again.”
Ten dollars got you five balls, so he’d have fifty chances to take me out. Shit!
“I’m certain you’ve never gotten any woman wet, Mike, so I’m safe and sound up here,” I called out.
His homeboys hooted and hollered as I kept talking shit. My bravado was a cool front for the fact that I was shaking like a leaf as I was perched on that bench. Micah had been the star of his high school baseball team, an outfielder who snagged balls with ease, but I had no knowledge of his throwing capabilities currently.
Micah grabbed the bucket of softballs from Cienna and threw his first shot. He missed the target by a mile.
“Yep, just like I thought. Couldn’t get a woman wet while she’s dangling over a damn pool of water. What a waste!” I teased, enjoying the chorus of male laughter that followed every barb I threw Micah’s way.
The more frustrated he got, the more off base his throws were, so I kept up the trash talk. This went on for a good ten minutes before Micah threw the balls down in frustration and walked directly up to the target, hand hovering over it.
“Do it,” I egged him on, “It’s the only way you can get a win out here today, apparently.”
“Nah Mike,” one of his boys called out, “Lemme get your light weight.”
I trailed my gaze back over to the group of men who’d been standing off to the side with Cienna when I noticed that they’d been joined by my other childhood nemesis—Micah’s oldest brother, Terrell. Nemesis wasn’t exactly a proper classification of Terrell, honestly. Unless nemesis could be used to describe someone you craved with a ferocity that was beyond normal. It was more like…he had been the object of my lust since I’d known what the hell lust even was. I had the biggest crush on Rell until I met the first love of my life in the tenth grade.
“Still fighting Baby Bro’s battles, huh, Rell?” I called out, with a smirk growing across my face.
“Only when a bully won’t back down,” Terrell called out, chuckling.
“Moi? A bully? What?” I replied, shock coating my tone, “Mike started it.”
“And I’ma finish it. Watch out, bro,” Terrell said before launching a ball in the direction of the target that was even further off than his brother’s previous attempts had been.
“Damn, Rell, you a bum t—” I started before Micah finally had enough of my trash talk and depressed the target, sending me shooting into the ice-cold pool below me.
“Son of a…” I sputtered, resurfacing to see Micah standing there with a devious grin.
“You looked like you needed to cool off…and shut up,” he snarled, before walking away to join the group of guys he’d walked up with.
The commotion of me trying to get out of the tank and throttle Micah drew the attention of more people in the crowd who wanted their hand at taking me down. I kept up the trash talk, skewing it to a more G-rated choice of words when it came to the strangers lining up. It seemed to spur them on, the more I made fun of their pitiful attempts. Since it was all in favor of raising money for Bijou’s nonprofit, I was a good sport for the remainder of the day, not being dunked no more than ten times after the day was done. Thank goodness I live in a city full of folks with bum arms, I thought as the Back to School Bash wound down and I dragged my body from my final dunking. As I climbed down from the dunking booth I heard Cienna speaking, but her words didn’t register at all. I was out of it, spending all of that time in direct sunlight with a few moments of relief whenever I was dunked.
“What’s that, Ci?” I asked.
“I said we racked up close to two thousand dollars, thanks to your smart-ass mouth,” Cienna replied, slyly. “Looks like we might have an annual position for you after all.”
“You ain’t cute,” I replied, laughing.
“I know…I’m fine. Duh!” Cienna quipped back, laughing.
I rolled my eyes as I rung out the excess water from my shirt and shorts before grabbing my duffle to change.
I walked out of the restroom to a low voice drawling, “You just refuse to curb that smart-ass mouth, huh?”
My mouth curved into a smile before I could control it, “You know you love this smart mouth.”
“Only when you’re granting me the opportunity to put it to better use,” Terrell murmured, pulling me into his arms and dropping his head to connect our mouths in a searing kiss.
He pulled back too quickly for my liking. I protested with a groan before pulling him back down and getting my fill.
“Thank you,” I said, when broke apart the second time.
Terrell dropped a light kiss on my nose before tweaking it, “See, I told you it would work. How much money did you make?”
“Almost two k according to Cienna,” I replied.
When I arrived at the park this morning, I’d been informed by Bijou that I would be stepping in as the dunking booth victim and I complained to Terrell about it as we finished prepping for the day’s festivities. He'd come up with the idea of me talking trash to folks as they attempted to knock me off to increase their exasperation and throw them off their game. I’d thought it was a silly idea when he pitched it, especially since it involved his brother who’d been a thorn in my backside since I was knee high to a junebug, but I’d gone along with it. Thankfully, it paid off better than any of us could have imagined.
“I’m beating Mike’s ass when I see him though. I thought we agreed that he would give me some sort of warning before he dunked me.”
“Babe, you also agreed that you wouldn’t take the insults too far...remember?”
I frowned, looking off into the distance refusing to make eye contact with Terrell, “I don’t recall.”
He laughed, “Yeah I bet you don’t. Anyway, you ready to go? Carsyn is gone with my mom, so...date night?”
“Hell yes. Can we swing by the house first? So, I can get properly dolled up for my husband?” I asked, sliding closer to him, bringing my body flush with his.
“Baby girl, you know you ain’t gotta get too fancy to get this dick. I’m easy,” Terrell murmured, lips trailing from my ear to my neck, underscoring his words with a series of fleeting kisses that almost made me say forget date night altogether.
“Humor me,” I giggled.
“As you wish,” he replied, stepping back, but keeping our hands intertwined as we walked out to where we my car was parked.