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Blackberries, Blackberries by Crystal Wilkinson

ISBN 1 902881 34 6, paperback, $15.95

Here I am sitting here on vacation in my own damn house on a Saturday afternoon trying to have peace of mind. All three of my boys gone to summer camp. No man. Even the cat knows to leave me alone. I fix me a glass of lemonade, crack up laughing cause I done caught myself waiting for somebody to say, "Mama can I have some?" and ain't nobody here to do that. 'Bout time I pop me some extra butter microwave popcorn, lay down across my made-up bed, in my clean bedroom, quiet as a mouse, and open up my very own copy of A.J. Verdelle's The Good Negress, the phone rings. Peaches is on the other end of line talking 'bout, "Who should I take to P.G. and Frieda's party?" And I'm saying, "Girl please," cause I can't even believe she's got the nerve to go cause, she knows and I know she's been sleeping with P.G. behind Frieda's back. And I guess that's what Frieda gets for bragging 'bout how good P.G. is up under some covers.
"Why shouldn't I go? Frieda invited me."
"Girl that is triflin' and I can't even believe... I wouldn't even have the nerve."
"Well that's what P.G. gets. I waited all night long for that muthafucka. He said he was gonna sneak away last night and he never did come. I wasted all that candlelight dinner and perfume and shit and he didn't even show."
"Peaches, now you know better. Why you tryin to play game, like he would really choose his part-time piece a ass over his full-time wife?"
"Well he don't seem to have no problem beggin for this ass when he's over here. And I have to tell you I be beggin back. Girl that man can give some head like you wouldn't believe....."
"Peaches, please, I don't even want to be that deep in your business..."
"Well I think I'm gonna take Fred with me to the party. So P.G. can see that I ain't sprung over him, for real..."
"Hold on a minute."
I click over and I'm glad somebody's calling me so that I can get away from this trifling conversation. Peaches is trifling even if she has been my best friend since college.
"Mama, make Danny 'em stop fightin before the camp people sends us home." Eric Jr sounds tore up with his brothers. I talk to my baby like Peaches ain't on the other line. I'm hoping she hangs up.
"Put Danny on the phone."
"Mama, I wasn't even doin nothin, see, dang. This boy tried to take one of my pancakes and you know how much I like pancakes, right, and then he tried to blame it on Duwon cause he didn't know Duwon was my brother, right, so, Duwon got on one side and I got on the other side, right, and we both hit him in his shoulders and gave him a charlie horse then he wants to be runnin and tellin like some ole punk..."
"Boy, if you and Duwon don't behave yourselves, I'm beating ya'lls asses and you gonna be on punishment for the whole damn summer." And I look up to God praying that I don't have to enforce that one cause it would drive me crazy if them boys are in my house tearing up shit all summer long.
"I love you. Now put Duwon on the phone."
"Yes, ma'am."
"Mama, we wasn't even doin nothin, ole straight up punk."
"Boy, if you and Danny don't behave you gonna be on punishment for the whole summer and you gonna get ya'lls asses whipped. Do you hear me boy?"
"Yes, ma'am."
"Dang, man I told you," I hear him put his hand over the phone and tell his brother. "She gonna make us stay all summer, dang."
"Yes, ma'am."
"Ya'll better behave ya'll selves. I love you. Now put Eric Jr back on the phone."
"Love you too, Mama. Bye."
"Eric Jr, since you the oldest, please try to keep your brothers in line for Mama. Okay. I'll pick y'all up next Sunday. You call me back if they keep cuttin up, hear. Love you. Bye."
"Okay. Bye, Mama."
Eric Jr don't sound pleased but he knows I mean what I said. The phone beeps again before I can hang up.
"Hello, Peaches."
"Hello, Sharon, it's me, Linda. I'm standing at your desk. I hate to bother you at home while you're on vacation and on a weekend too, but I'm working a little while today and can't find a file. I thought it might be on your desk somewhere. I just thought I would call you before we went rummaging through your desk to find it."
Dear Lord, I'm thinking to myself, why did I even get a college education? I might as well be the damn secretary at that fuckin office. They can't find a pimple on their ass when I'm not there, even with directions. And I don't know why she's sayin we when she knows ain't nobody crazy enough to work on a Saturday when they don't have to except her stupid, bouffant-haired, nose up Mr Moore's crack, ass.
"Hello. Hello Sharon, are you there?"
I'm wishing I wasn't but I put my work voice on 'cause she is my supervisor.
"Yes, Linda," I say gritting my teeth, " that's fine, no problem. Which file is it that you are looking for?"
"The Chancery file," she says. "The Chancery file is in my out-box on the right-hand side of my computer. Didn't you get my memo telling you where everything was before I left?"
I'm thinking she just wants to be rummaging through my desk while I'm gone to see what she can find but at this very moment I really don't give a damn.
"Oh yes, I see it here. Sorry. I'm really sorry that I had to bother you during your vacation. Having a good time?"
"Oh yes, I sure am," I said chuckling being as fake as anything. "I'll see you next week. Uh-huh. Okay. You have a good weekend, too. Bye."
I lift my glass of lemonade and see that all my ice has melted and settle back into my book. I read a few pages and start to drift off. No phone. No kids. No Peaches. No job. Then the damn phone rings again.
"Hey, baby, it's me, Eric. The boys told me that they were goin to camp this week. I just thought you might be lonely and want to come and catch a movie or something. Maybe we could go over P.G.'s and Frieda's, I heard they havin a party. Whatchoo think?"
"What do I think? Eric, I think that we been divorced for two years and I am enjoying it that way and that every time the boys go off to camp or somewhere and you find out about it then you start worrying 'bout who I am spending my free time with and that it's none of your fucking business and send your goddamn child support, which is late by the way, before I haul your ass back into court and stop trying to come up with a way to get in my drawz cause it is not, I repeat, not, going to happen. That's what the fuck I think!"
I hang up on that muthafucka and just as soon as I do, I'll be damned if the phone does not ring again.
"Look muthafucka, I told you...."
"Girl, what in the world's wrong with you?"
It's Peaches again.
"Why you leave me hangin? I just went on and hung up and did my nails. I got this new polish you know, its purple, P.G. thinks its sexy and Fred likes it too, so I can't lose. I thought you were my best friend. Now, my problem is gonna be what if Fred's busy or I can't get him to go. Then P.G.'s gonna think I'm home by myself waitin on him and I know he's gonna be home fuckin Frieda tonight after the party, cause that's how shit happens. And I want him to be thinkin 'bout me when he does it. And if he is gonna be with his wife then I'm gonna be gettin me some too with Fred or some goddamn body..."
I lay the phone on the bed and place a pillow over it and let her talk. Peaches faintly sounds like a mouse squeaking and squealing her heart out. I pick up my book and flip over the back. A.J. Verdell's looking back at me, strength in her face, her dreads hanging down. I flip back to my page and start reading. I hear Peaches squeaking and I'm thinking Peaches need to quit thinking about a piece of man and be looking for peace of mind. I know I am.

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