“Hi! It’s so nice to meet you!” I greeted, opening my door wider as two women dressed in jeans, cute sandals and a basic top came walking in. Their nails were impossibly long with one wearing long braids down to her hips and the other having an obvious wig on. Her edges looked manufactured but both cute dark skinned girls nonetheless, and my very first clients.
“We’re almost ready!” Tallulah yelled from inside as I stepped aside to let them in. Kayla and Lu were getting my living room setup with candles and incense burning, letting the smoke curl and drift into the air. I was still wearing my red robe with my curls hanging freely as I motioned for them to take their shoes off.
“This is niceeee, wow. You live here?” one of the girls asked as they looked around at the high vaulted ceilings and chandelier. The living room was arranged for guests with giant pillows, a small tray full of drinks and finger food that sat on the coffee table. Along with a white candle to match the one by the door for Ninye.
“Come in! Come in! Grab a seat!” Tallulah called out as Kayla stood behind the kitchen counter, watching anxiously. The three of us were so nervous because this was our first official client and if this went well, there would be no stopping us.
Just by looking at the young girls, I could tell they were barely no older than twenty one, at the most. Why were they rushing to have babies so soon, I will neve know but we all sat down on the couch. Shoes off as one of the girls with the braids pulled out her purse and began to reach inside.
“I was told to bring a bottle of rum. My daddy told me to bring this instead, hoping you would like it,” she said as she pulled out a mason jar full of clear liquid with tape on the top labeled Moonshine.
My eyes perked up with interest as I sat my coffee down and took the jar to examine with a growing smile.
“He said spirits can’t resist his Moonshine and how he makes it,” she said with a laugh.
“Where are you from?” I asked, taking the lid off to smell it, “you’re not from New Orleans.”
“I’m from Mississippi,” she answered as she looked towards her friend, “we both are.”
I closed my eyes, inhaling the clear liquid with the jar pressed against my nose before taking a sip. My eyes squeezed shut, my entire body shaking from the burn as I dropped my head back to laugh.
“Yeah,” I laughed as I closed the jar back up to place on the table, “this will do. I think he will like this.”
There was a sudden sound of the garage door opening up as we all turned towards the front, expecting someone to burst in. I looked at Tallulah who raised her brows in question.
“That’s probably Percy,” she whispered. “Two nights away with no call, no nothing and you decide to show up now? Of all times?”
“You better give him hell,” Kayla said as the garage door closed again. We listened for that infamous car alarm beep twice before he burst through the kitchen door with his bags. A scruffy shadow of a beard coating the lower half of his face, tired eyes behind his black frames and after kicking off his shoes, you could see the stale socks on his feet like he hadn’t changed since he left. He looked around for a moment, assessing the situation before letting out,
“I’m back now so you know, hey or whatever. Sorry I left. Won’t happen again,” he muttered as he started up the stairs. Not even bothering to say hello to the guests, but he did notice the candles as he waved his hand about from the smoke of the incense burning.
“Oh hell no,” Kayla muttered.
“Couldn’t be my husband. I wish a nigga would,” one of the girls said.
The bedroom door closed behind him and we listened until the water started to run. I can’t believe I admitted that I loved him. I love Percy Hugo Milton. Jasmine loves Percy. I can’t believe I said it out loud and I’m still saying it! Still saying it like a fool, and this is how he walks into the house after abandoning it for two nights. No call. No anything.
Not this time. Not again. I refuse to fall back into old habits.
I know who I am in this marriage, and in this relationship. Whether it's forced or arranged, and I refused to be taken advantage of.
I sat my coffee down to think for a moment, closing my eyes and inhaling deeply at my new found spiritual freedom. Opening my eyes, I stood up with a professional smile.
“Would yall excuse me for a moment?”
“Girl go handle that nigga,” one of the girls said as she laid back on the couch with a pop of her gum, “couldn’t be my husband. He would have to see me outside.”
“I got them,” Lu said with a laugh as I started up the stairs.
A few screams and arguments later...
“GET OUT! I WANT YOU OUT OF THIS HOUSE PERCY!”
He slammed the door shut in my face and tried flushing the toilet again.
“You lost your fucking mind!” he yelled. “I can’t even take a shit in peace!”
“You’re damn right you can’t!” I retorted back, kicking at the door with my foot, “you won’t have any peace in this house until I do!”
I stood there for a moment, waiting on him to come out but when I realized he was waiting on me to leave, I kicked at the door one last time and turned to the sink to wash my hands.
“I’m not putting up with your shit anymore, Percy. You walk out like that again, and we’re done.”
Fluffing my hair, letting the curls get a little wet from the water and adjusting my robe, I walked out with a much needed exhale.
“How do we know she’s the real deal?”
“You would just have to trust that she is,” Lu replied in a low whisper.
“Living in a fancy house like this, that’s how she’s been making her money? Off of people?”
The women were all gathered in the living room when they became quiet as I walked down the stairs.
“I’m sorry about that,” brushing my hair back from my face. I bent down towards the white candle that had a trail of smoke curling into the air from being blown out on accident, gently rubbed and snapped my fingers against the candle wick in front of everyone. Starting a low burning light that grew into a healthy flame as Lu’s jaw dropped in awe. Kayla clasped her hands over my mouth while the two girls looked towards each other with a smirk like they hit the jackpot.
“Where were we?” I asked, taking a seat on the sofa.
It couldn’t have been no more than a few minutes later when Percy came down with his tail tucked between his legs. Stomach sucked in with nerves and eyes squinting without his glasses. He refused to make eye contact with any of us as we all stared him down, wanting him out of the way, daring him to say something. He swiped his bag off the kitchen floor and dug inside before pulling out a small wooden box with a note attached to it. Without another word, he dropped the box on the coffee table with a hard thud and went back upstairs to finish his shower.
Lu leaned over to grab the box while handing me the note to read.
“She sent me a recording of your session with your mother,” I read out loud as Tallulah popped the box open.
“Ohhh,” she gasped as we all leaned over to peek inside at the fresh row of Cuban cigars he probably got from one of his clients as a gift, and just never used them. “Yo husband, chile… Realest nigga I’ve ever met. Crazy as hell, and he puts up with alot of yo shit. Hell, he puts up with our shit, but he’s real about how he moves and loves you like no other.”
“Yes,” I muttered, catching Percy’s eyes just before he turned the corner into our bedroom.