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Blood Cousins

Veins

Veins by Jim Dollar Photography

I won’t tell her name but some people will work it out.  It’s not that I’m trying to expose her, or anything about her life.  Really, I’m trying to expose myself.  I’m trying to understand my part in all of it.  I want to unbraid the tight bindings of that night – including the knots around my vocal cords.  I want to break them open, and unfurl my voice into the silence of the night when I had my first remembered taste of penis.  She is integral to the story because she is also a victim of the story; a victim of our shared circumstance, our shared family fucked-uped-ness.

She really is amazing, this cousin of mine.  She has the most beautiful natural breasts of any woman that I’ve ever seen, and they emphasize this tiny, tapered waist and slim, firm bottom.  She bears dark, brilliantly flashing brown eyes, topped off with the dark hair of our shared Cherokee ancestry.  She has long beautiful fingers that might, in other circumstance, play piano well, or hold an artist’s brush.  Her skills aren’t applied or tested in that regard.  Not in any regard, really – except in that of staying alive and in comparative safety.  Compared to what, I don’t know.

The parties at her family’s house are infamous, and rumors abound about what had gone on there behind the closed doors of my beautiful cousin’s not-so-beautiful childhood.  It is said that there was copious drinking, a movie camera, a projection screen, fists….  Suspicions abound regarding the imbibing of lots of Cannabis, along with harder things.  Lots of hard things.

“When I was a little girl, I used to crawl out my window and hide in the woods,” she tells me.  “I had to get somewhere safe to stop Daddy’s friends from trying to touch me.”  I suspect that the “trying to” part has long since passed from her life and that she is watering the circumstance of her story down for me because she doesn’t want me to have to hear the painful stuff.

We all tend to do that.  Water down our stuff so that other folks aren’t made discomfited by our pain.  Maybe that’s why I split into different people.  Maybe I needed someone to hear my pain and I didn’t want to bother anyone else with it, so I made more of myself in order to give myself an ear.  She is doing that.  Trying to protect me.  She is always trying to protect me.

She is a little older than myself and so full of joy and life!  She remains joyful, even as childhood leaves her.  She’s to become the sort of woman that simply lights up everything around her!  Especially the men!  She is one of the little survival story miracles with which I fill my head to remind myself that none of us have to have our light and goodness destroyed by our circumstances.  I like to think that she and I have that in common.  That our common history intersects with the good and the bad things that come from being who we are, with the genes that we got, having grown up in the soil in which we were planted.

I am fourteen and she lets me come to her house and try on her clothing – including the pants that my mother’s religion disallows me to wear.  I pull on her bluejeans and turn a slow three sixty, checking out my ass in the mirror while wondering what it would be like if I were a normal kid who was allowed to wear them.  I wonder what the kids at school would think, and if people would think I’m attractive, or that I have a nice figure.

She has hats and pretty shirts and jewelry!  She has wonderful lacy bras that can’t go through the regular wash and have to have special care.  She has good smells and bubble bath and a stereo filled with fun music.  As two teenagers playing together, we put her jeans on me and a button-down shirt to knot up under my breasts, showing my tummy.  She hands me a hat and I grab a hairbrush to use as a microphone.  We crank up the pop music and dance about on top of the bed, singing along while checking ourselves out in the mirror atop her dresser.

These are such fun and innocent, memory making times!

I beg to be allowed to spend the night with her.  The infamous parties at the house of her parents have long since gone, and her house is considered a safe one.  Since she is older, she already has a boyfriend.  He is older than her and very cute!  He looks like Sylvester Stallone’s little brother.  I admire her.  Envy her, even.   Everyone tells her how good her life is, and how lucky she is to have such a brilliant boyfriend who is so good-looking.  I certainly think she is lucky.

Having run through all of the arguments against it, giving in at last, my mother tells me that I am allowed to stay over with my cousin for the night.  We have a fun night planned!  We are going to put on clothing and maybe even try some makeup!  We are going to search for new songs that we like and practice our dancing.  We might even get a visit from her cute boyfriend!  I am so thrilled that my heart is fluttering with excitement!  I like practicing for being the grown-up that I am trying to become.

On the night of our slumber party, only a couple of hours in, our visit is interrupted when she gets a phone call.  It’s her boyfriend’s sister.  He isn’t coming to see us.  In fact, he apparently isn’t even thinking about my cousin at all.  He is drunk and “riding around town” with some other girl!  “I like you and I want you to know because it’s not right for him to treat you this way,” the boyfriend’s sister says to my cousin.  I wait with baited breath as the two exchange more words via the phone line, and I see my dear cousin’s face contort with pain, and she tears up, her voice chocking with emotion.  At the completion of the call, my cousin slaps the phone back into it’s cradle on the kitchen wall, turns to me and says, “Come on, Deneen!  We are going!”

“Where are we going?”

“We’re going there and I’m going to find that son-of-a-bitch and find out.  If he’s with another girl, I want to catch him!”

At that, I hear this nagging voice inside my head.  It is the voice of my mother.  I wonder what she will think of it, my going clear to a neighboring town with my cousin in order to chase down her boyfriend.  It will be dark soon and my mother is probably already in bed.  My right to even be here has been hard won, much less my chance of gaining permission to leave the home and drive somewhere else!  I could ask my cousin to take me by my mother’s house and drop me off, and something inside of me tells me that this is what I should do, but I’ve not yet learned to recognize that Voice of God inside of me, and sometimes, I don’t want to listen to it even when I do recognize it.  This is something with which I will continue to struggle.  I think that all Human Beings do, and that some people never even learn to hear the Voice of God inside of them at all.

Deciding that I will take the risk of angering my mother by coming along, I get into the car with my cousin, and we begin the climb up the long and winding country roads that lead to the town where her boyfriend lives.  The altitude and tree-covered mountains cause the radio to keep fuzzing out to white noise, and my cousin turns the dial with irritation, searching for new stations as she fusses and complains with a worried look, talking to me about her boyfriend.  He is an alcoholic, she tells me, but he’s promised her to stop drinking.  She put up with her parents’ drinking and she doesn’t plan to spend the rest of her life with a drunk.  He’s been seen with other girls since they have been dating.  This isn’t the first time.  She is going to find him and give him “What for?”!

Eventually arriving in the neighboring town, an entire twenty miles distant, we pull into the driveway of an old large, white, multistoried Colonial style house that her boyfriend shares with his family.  “Wait here,” my cousin tells me, exiting the car and disappearing into the house.  She isn’t gone long.

“He’s out riding around, driving drunk!” she angrily exclaims.  “I’m going to find him and find out if he’s with that girl!”

Spinning fast out of the driveway, we travel a little way down the street before joining the other cars that are driving in a loop, up and down the middle of the pretty, tree laden small town.  Dusk is falling, but there is still enough light to see.  In the middle of everything here, there lies a railroad track, slicing the roads in front of the mom-and-pop shops into one-way streets on either side of itself.  The scattered houses boast people on front porches, leaning on railings, sitting on rockers, even in front of the shops, waving to one another in friendly fashion.

I’ve rarely been to this town, and I’ve rarely participated in this activity called, “cruising”, or more often where I am from, simply, “ridin’-’round-town”.  This is what young people do in small towns in order to be seen, and to hook up with one another; like a social club on wheels.  One starts at one pre-designated spot and rides in a circle, going up and turning around at another pre-designated spot and riding back the other way.  Over and over and over.  Different people choose different turn-around spots, and even where one’s spot is can be the jump off point to further conversation between bored folks in an otherwise sleepy town with not much to do.

In this town, cruising is more of a challenge because the railroad track sometimes block one’s vision.  People have to wait until there are flat areas where the roads are closer together, or one has to see the people in the other cars at the unofficially designated turn-around spots.  It is at one such spot, crossing the rise of the railroad track, that my cousin spots her boyfriend.  He has a passenger in the car.  She floors it, and we’re off!  She spins the car around in a parking lot in order to catch them up from behind, and as we approach, we can see that the person in the car with him is another man, a lean, nice-looking black man, not the woman my cousin is expecting.

Honking her horn and yelling to him, my cousin gets her boyfriend’s attention.  He pulls over in a parking lot and comes stumbling out of the car.  Slamming on her own brakes and jumping out to meet him, I can hear my cousin saying, “What are you doing?  You are drunk!  You stink!  Why are you driving around and why are you drunk again?  Did you have some woman in the car with you?  Your sister called and told me!  Yes, your sister!”

I can’t hear his side of things, and he is slurring his words anyway.  Eventually, they both approach our car, and I see his friend walk around to the driver’s side and get under the wheel of the other car.  Leaning down to my open car window, my cousin tells me, “He’s going to be riding around with us for awhile,” and she opens the door, allowing her boyfriend to slide into the back seat, reclaiming the driver’s seat for herself.  Taking off more slowly this time, we drive away, resuming our laps through the sleepy town.

My cousin is very angry, and that is putting things a bit mildly!  Her face is tear-stained, and her thick mascara is running rivulets down her cheeks.  She is asking her boyfriend, “Who was the girl you were with?  Who is she?  What do you even want with me?  Do you even care anything about me?”

He is replying with barely comprehensible, slurred words, “Damnit!  What are you fucking talking about?  There was no other girl, Baby!”  Now, calmer, “Come here, Baby!  Come here Baby!  I’ve got something for you to take care of, Baby!”  He’s doing his best sultry whisper which, in his current inebriated state is actually pretty pathetic.  His hand is on his crotch, and its easy to see that he has a raging hard-on, straining against his zipper.

His attempts at seduction are temporarily halted when he spouts, “Pull over, pull over!”

My cousin complies and he opens the door, half falling out of it, vomiting onto the pavement of the parking lot.  I’ve never seen anyone this drunk before.

“Oh, God!” my cousin wails.

“Oh, God!” her vomiting boyfriend slurs.  Then, “I’m okay now, I’m okay now.”

My cousin, who’s jumped out of the car, calls through the window for me to hand her a napkin from the glove box.  I comply and she passes it to him, along with more insults.  He pulls himself back into the car, clumsily wiping at his mouth.  My cousin helps him shut his door, slides back behind the wheel and immediately resumes her verbal throttling.

“You are disgusting!  Look at you!

“Who was she?  Did you do something with her?” she asks.

He’s looking at her again, staring into her eyes through the rear-view mirror, the lustful look returning to his face.  Throwing the soiled napkin into the floorboard, I see him return his hand to his swollen crotch.

My cousin also notes the action.  Her driving is erratic and I am a bit afraid because she is paying more attention to her boyfriend than she is to the road as she spits back at him, “You are disgusting!  You just want somebody and you don’t care who it is!  You don’t want me!”  She looks over, noticing me in the front seat beside her as if she’s forgotten I am there.  “You probably don’t care if it’s me or Deneen who gets back there with you.  You’d probably be just as happy with her.”

His eyes turn on me.  He’s looking at me with the same deep, carnal look of desire that he’s been projecting at her.  He grabs hold of the back of our seat with his hands and pulls himself forward, closer to my face.  “Yeah,” he says, in a way that’s as sultry as his current inebriated state can muster.  “Send her back here.  You!  Come on back here!  Come on!  Come on, Deneen!  Come on back here!”

“Yeah, Deneen!” my cousin insists.  “Just get on back there!  Let’s see what he’ll do with you, just get on back there with him!  I just want to see what he’ll do.”

I sit forward on the seat, twisting my body back and looking back and forth from one of them to the other.  “What do you mean?” I say quietly to my cousin.  “You really want me to get back there?”

“Yes!  Yes I do!  Go on!  Get back there!”

What am I thinking?  Why do I crawl into that back seat?  I wish I hadn’t done.

Do I feel some sense of loyalty to my cousin and her “investigative opportunity” to see whether or not he WILL try something with me?  Have my previous experiences with Lib and Ray and the games that we have played together led me to think this is a normal request and will somehow be okay?  Have I been so conditioned to follow orders in unquestioning fashion that I do whatever is asked of me without thinking?  Am I just STUPID?!  Do I think he is cute?  Do I miss the touch and attentions of the boyfriend who dumped me and think the touch of this man would be better than no touch at all?  Am I a little turned on by the idea in my head of what might happen here, or do I have this weird fantasy that he might really LIKE me because of the look of desire that he is boring into my soul?  Do my naiveté and youth make me vulnerable?

These are hard questions, some of which I don’t want to ask.  Some of which I don’t want the answers for.  I feel a deep sense of shame and responsibility in that I don’t say, “NO!”

With another long look at my cousin to make sure that she knows what she’s saying, and being unsure about what it’s supposed to accomplish, I begin the climb over the bench front seat to the back, where her boyfriend sits.  The car is still rolling along the highway, and she is watching his face in the rear-view mirror, but he’s not looking at her anymore.  He’s totally focused on me.  He takes hold of my arms to “help” me into the back seat, and he’s looking into my eyes with a face filled with longing, his breathing deep, his touch sexual and clingy.

As soon as my bottom connects with the seat, his lips are on mine, his tongue in my mouth.  With my boyfriend I had done a lot of elaborate kissing, and French kissing was a part of that experience – but this is very different.  For one thing, this is my cousin’s boyfriend, not my own, and my cousin is watching and what is taking place here is hurting her feelings.  For another, this is aggressive and forceful – like Onion Sandwich Guy had been.  This time, the tongue in my mouth is tainted with an alcohol/vomit mixture.  Her boyfriend is not a bad kisser.  He’s a good kisser in fact, but the circumstances make the experience very unenjoyable.  Feeling my negative response and my hesitation, he reaches up and places one hand on the back of my head and pulls me into his mouth while his body tenses and wriggles.  As he stops the kiss, he pulls my head back a little and places his mouth close in to my ear.  “Here,” he says.  “Suck it!  Suck me, I want you to suck me.”  I realize what all of the wriggling is about because his zipper is down and his erect penis is exposed.

His name escapes my lips with a begging tone.  I’m begging him not to ask this of me.  I’m begging him not to want it.  I’m begging him to stop the tears of my cousin and her pain at having her suspicions confirmed.

Taking a firmer grasp on my head, he shoves it down toward his crotch, lifting his hips up to meet me.  He leans his head back against the seat, closes his eyes and lets out a soft, deep moan as my lips connect with the tip of his penis.  His moan soon turns to one of frustration as I keep my mouth closed, and he’s pushing against my lips and sees that I’m not fully cooperating.  His head snaps back up, his eyes pop open and he starts talking to me again.  “COME ON!”  His words now bear a tone of irritation, and his wandering eyes fall on the back of my cousin’s head and he seems to tune in to the fact that she is distraught.  She’s crying and wailing.  For some reason, this enrages him.  “SHUT UP!” he orders her.  Pushing me out of the way, he focuses his attention on her and, sitting forward on the seat, he releases the hold on my head, balls his hand into a fist – and with no further warning, smashes it into the side of her head.

Jolted from the blow, she screams, as the car swerves dangerously, and he begins to pummel her, hitting her about the head and shoulders, both fists in full, if badly aimed, swing.

I am only frozen for a couple of seconds.  How I come back around so fast, or how I think what to do, I can’t say.  Perhaps it is another personality, coming out and helping me.  Perhaps it is the fact that I’ve been with men like him before at some point in my history and know best how to calm them – though I’m not consciously aware of it.  Perhaps some survival instinct kicks into my being, or the voice of God whispers suggestions into my mind from way down in the depths of me.  Whatever it is, wherever it comes from, I get the idea that I have the power and can stop this.  Sitting forward on the seat beside him, I put my mouth up close to his ear – no small feat since he isn’t holding still.  I say his name, touch him at first gently, and then with growing insistence, calling his name more loudly and pulling his face around to mine, searching for his mouth with my own.

He responds, and I feel his arms go slack as he looses interest in hitting my cousin, and begins to slouch back in the seat, arms ceasing their swing to wrap around my body, pulling me back with him.  Taking hold of my hand, we together put my hand on his cock, and I begin to stroke and play with it, while kissing him deeply, pressing myself against him.

Soon enough, this doesn’t keep his interest, and in his angry stupor, he notices my cousin’s crying once again, pushes forward and renews his attack.  My cousin is screaming and we are swerving from one side of the road to the other when I suddenly realize that we are running a stop sign!  Brakes slam on and I’m thrown against the seat in front of me, our almost having crashed down a deep gulley.  We are off the road and now, I’m really scared!  I think that we should all exit the car and get off the road!  This situation is serious!  My heart is pounding faster than ever!

The boyfriend responds to this new circumstance by yelling at my cousin and telling her she’s crazy and blaming her for having missed the stop sign.  His face is contorted with anger, and red and I can see his fists balling up again already.  I realize that I need to step up my game.

My cousin is looking back over her shoulder, backing up the automobile, and she’s gotten control of her crying for a moment.  I think that she is probably scared, too, and I don’t understand why we are still driving.  “I’m taking you home!” she announces to her boyfriend and a sigh of relief passes through me as I know that this ordeal will come to a close.

“No.  You’re not,” he counters – and I move into action.  Putting on my best sexy attitude, I place my body between his and my cousin’s, blocking his view of her and placing my face in the line of his vision.  “Hey,” I say softly, and I lean in and plant a kiss on his lips, steeling myself against the tastes in his mouth as I hold his head in my hands and slip my tongue inside.

He forgets my cousin, reaching up to grab my head in return.  His eyes close and he again begins making little noises of pleasure as I press myself into him and slip one of my hands down, grasping his penis.

“Yes!” he breathes against my mouth.  “Come on!  Come on, Baby!  Suck it, Baby, suck it!”  This time, I don’t hesitate, swooping down and opening my mouth over the bulbous head of his circumcised penis.  I learn quickly that if I suck hard at the top and continue the action down the shaft, forcing him all the way into my mouth and pushing past the gag reflex in my throat, he becomes totally focused in on what I’m doing and the sucking and stroking I’m applying to his cock.  Any hesitation on my part, or if I begin to apply my oral manipulations with less vigor, his attention begins to waver and he shoves his body forward so that I can feel, more than see, the tightening of his fists again, his eyes returning to glare at my cousin’s back, preparing their next assaulting strike.

There begins this surreal, dissociation that is a dance between my paying intense attention to his sexual body language, his distracted, balled-fisted violently potentialled body language, and my own feelings and responses to the sexual act that I am performing on him.  I try to suck for only a bit, and then come up to get a breath and gather myself for the next gulping.  I find myself unable to shut off my mind, or my thinking or my processing of the information bombarding my heightened senses.  One of the things that is happening is that I am finding myself comparing the differences in this penis and that of the boyfriend with whom I’ve recently split.  His skin had been lighter, near translucent, his penis lined with beautiful blue, pumping veins, the shaft long and thinner, curving back toward his flat, hairless tummy.  The man with whom I now find myself is darker skinned, his member red and ruddy, setting thick and straight amongst copious dark hair.  I note the difference in their movements, the subtle change of thrust from the hips, the tonality of the sexual moanings.  It hasn’t occurred to me before this instance that sexual acts, sexual organs, sexual expression can be so different from one man to the next.  I find myself experiencing this profound sadness regarding the fact that I’d never even performed oral sex on my boyfriend, that I didn’t know, would never know, the taste of him and how it might have been different to have performed this act as a loving expression instead of a manipulative necessity.

From my position, head down in the man’s crotch, I can’t really see what is going on with my cousin, or where she’s looking, or where we’re going, but I eventually hear her declare loudly, “There’s your car!”, and even as I am too frightened to stop my machinations upon her boyfriend’s member, gratitude fills me as I realize that I will soon be released from this impromptu and necessary duty.

In a bit, I feel a couple of turns, and we slow, pulling into some place to park.  The minute the car stops, I remove my mouth from his dick, slide across, away from the man, reaching for the door handle with a desperation that I somehow manage to keep from showing.  Popping open the door, I spring out and say a silent prayer of thanks as my feet hit the pavement.  It’s over!

My cousin exits the driver’s door, opens the other back one, and our companion stumbles out.  Immediately, the two begin arguing.  In the parking lot of the gas station where we’ve come to rest, I see the car from which we had retrieved our passenger what seemed like a lifetime ago.  The door of that car opens and the tall, handsome black man who’d been riding with my cousin’s boyfriend approaches us slowly, standing back from the main action a bit.  I find myself instinctively gravitating toward his calm presence.

“Deneen!” my cousin is shouting my name.  “Deneen, come on and get back in the car!  I’m going to take his drunk ass home!”

I shake my head, “No.”  Inside I’m thinking, “NO way in HELL are you getting me back in that car!”  I’m very confused about why SHE would choose to do so.  I can still taste his cock in my mouth, feel his saliva coating my tongue.  “No way in HELL!” I think again.

“Well, what are you going to do then?” she asks, angrily.

“I’ll stay here,” I say.

“Okay!  Do whatever you want!  I’ll come back and get you when I get him home.”  With that, I watch my cousin open the door and pour her drunken lover, who for one horrid moment had been mine, into the front seat, climbing in behind him and slamming the door.  I watch in frightened-for-her silence as the car takes off down the street at break-neck speed, wobbling between the lines as it goes.

A few minutes tick by, and I note the silent calm descending.  I turn to the friend, the guy who’d been left standing in the parking lot near the abandoned car of the boyfriend’s.  He smiles at me shyly, ducking his head a little due to what seems a sudden interest in his feet.  “Well,” I drawl out, “I guess its you and me.”

“Guess so.”

We stand in silence, and I hug myself with my arms because I’m cold.  I say so.  “I’m cold.”

“Well, I am, too.”  Another pause.  “I don’t have the keys, he took them with him, but it might be warmer in his car – even though I can’t crank it up.  He didn’t lock it.”

“Okay,” I agree, and we walk slowly over to the car.  Trying the handle on the passenger door and finding it also unlocked, he opens it for me, lets me climb in, closes it and walks around to the other side, climbing in beside me.

We sit in silence again and I find it peaceful and a welcome break.  My pulse is starting to slow.  Except for the cold, I’m comfortable.  “Sorry,” he says, “that I can’t put the heat on for you.  He didn’t leave me the keys,” my new friend explains again.

“That’s okay, “ I say.  “I’m just grateful to be out of that car with them!”  I want to tell him what happened, but I’m afraid to speak of it.  Plus, this is his friend.  “Does he often get like this?” I ask instead.

He grunts a sort of  “Uhhmmm-hmmmm.”  He seems as shy as I am.

We continue sitting in awkward silence for a long time.  “Do you think she’ll come back for me?  My cousin?”

“Man, I don’t know what to expect!  Prob’ly she’ll eventually show up.”

Several more minutes pass by, feeling like hours.  My newly slowed pulse begins to quicken again.  I’m wondering if my cousin has wrecked the car!  I’m wondering if she is okay!  I’m wondering what will happen if I’m left abandoned here!  I’m wondering how I will ever find a way home and what my mother will say.  “I think,” I say, to him, “that I want to go to his house.  I’m afraid something has happened to her.  Do you know where the house is from here?”

“Sure.  You can just about see it.  I’ll take you over to the road and show you.”

“You wanna’ come along?”

“NO!  I don’t wanna’ get nowhere near that shit!  When he gets like this…” he shakes his head, looking down again.

Climbing out of the car, we walk over to the street and he points down the road.  “Right there!  Past that last house in the distance.”

“Thanks!” I say.  “I’m just very worried about her!”  I begin my walk up the sidewalk, looking for a place to cross the road.  Rubbing my arms and hugging myself trying to keep warm, I’m worried about what I’m going to find.  Looking back over my shoulder, I see the young man’s eyes still on me as he throws up a wave, then turns to head back toward the parked car.

With my brisk walk, it doesn’t take long for the big white house to come into view.  I breathe a sigh of relief that comes out as a cloudy, cold mist in front of me.  Redoubling my pace, I walk through it, and notice my cousin’s car sitting in the driveway, remarkably unscathed.  In my haste, I almost pass the automobile by on my way to the door of the boyfriend’s house, when I notice movement through the frosty window of the car, and muffled sounds coming out from behind the fogged glass.

In horror, I realized that my cousin is screaming for help from inside the vehicle.  Seeing me, she beats at the window to attract my attention.  Time slows down as I step towards the car.  There is blood running down her face.  He is sitting there, staring down at her, holding her nose between two fingers and twisting it, oblivious to all else around him.  “Let me out!  Let me out!” she’s yelling.  “Deneen!  Help me!  He won’t let me out!”  His free hand grabs the fist that was banging against the glass, holding that as well.

Horror creeps through me as I realize that she’s been here, trapped in this car the entire time.  Past that, I don’t even have to plan what to do.  A slamming noise directs my attention to the front door as a porch light snaps on, illuminating a short, stout, blonde young man.  He is barging through the front door from the inside, on approach to the car which holds my cousin captive.  He’s wearing nothing but tidy-whitey underwear; not even socks.

My mind seizes up as I become a spectator, dissociated, ghost-like.  I realize that I’m looking at the boyfriends brother.  My cousin had described him to me, saying, “He’s a blue-eyed blonde and I have the dark one, but they are both so damned good-looking!  You’d really like him!”

Here he is, standing in front of me.  He notices me, but only gives me a cursory glance.  His target is the car.  I don’t know how he got here, how he knows to come – but here he is.  He’s banging on the car window, yelling his brother’s name.  “Let her go you Son-of-a-bitch!  Let her the fuck go!  Unlock this fucking door!”

Amazingly, his brother complies, and my cousin comes tumbling out of the car.  The blonde youth reaches in and grabs hold of his older brother, pulling him out behind her.  The boyfriend is so drunk that he can’t stand up.  “His brother punches him as he’s lying on the ground.  “Get the fuck UP”, he says, under his breath.  “What the hell do you think you’re doing?  Take this shit in the house!”  He pulls him up by his shirt, and man-handles/supports him to the door, dragging him through it.  Like the automaton I’ve become, I walk behind them, stopping short of entering the door.  The men disappear from my view.

“Come on, Deneen,” my cousin is walking past me, from behind, into the house.  As I step hesitatingly through the door, more family members appear:  a mother, and the sister who made the initial phone calls that brought us here.

My cousin’s face is swollen, there is a horrible combination of blood, tears and mascara coating her beautiful features.  Her lips are busted and poofed all out.  Seeing her face, the women cry out.  “Did he do this to you?”

“Yes,” she replies simply, too tired or to numb, even to respond tearfully.

“Don’t worry,” the chorus of the women’s voices say.  “He’ll get his.”

I’m far enough in the house to get a view of the interior rooms now, and I begin to comprehend what they mean by their statement.  On the tile floor of the kitchen are the two brothers.  The one whose penis had recently been inside my mouth is on the bottom, lying, helpless, reacting to the blows that are falling on his face, his stomach, and other areas of his body.  His well-muscled brother is atop him, raring back and delivering fist after fist full of quiet rage.  I want to feel sorry for the nearly unconscious man on the floor – but I don’t.  At that moment, seeing my cousin’s face, remembering why my mouth is tinged with the taste of alcohol and vomit, why the musky scent of cock still floods my nostrils from the residue left on my own, swollen lips, I’m glad.  I’m glad that he is being made to suffer.  I’m glad that he will awaken with his own mouth large with swelling from the hits he’s receiving from the end of his brother’s fist.

After a time that the mother deems appropriate, she steps into the room where her two sons are entangled on the floor.  “Alright!  Enough!” her voice reaches her youngest, and he responds, if slowly, pulling his fist back, but stopping short of delivering the planned, next blow.  He stands up, and steps away from his brother, his body trembling with spent emotions, his breath coming in shallow bursts, rippled chest heaving and glistening from exertion and perspiration under the dim glow of the kitchen’s yellow light.

Later, the next day, I walk in the door of the home that I share with my own mother and my own siblings, and I find my mother waiting for me.  She is visibly angry, and I can see trembles underneath her surface.  She addresses me with a loud and accusatory tone as soon as I enter the door.

“Deneen, I heard you was with a black man!  Your aunt called me and told me that ya’ll went off last night.  Did you think I wouldn’t find out?  She said that ya’ll left and that your cousin was with her boyfriend and that you was with this black man.”  My mother’s voice chokes with emotion.

“You probably had SEX with him.  I’ll bet you had sex with him.  Did you have SEX with him, Deneen?  What did you do with that black man?”  She stands towering over me, her five foot ten to my five foot four, and spits the words toward me with her upper lip curled up in disgust, her shoulders slumping forward in defeat, eyes alternately glaring at me, then casting downward.

“NO, Mama!  I did NOT have sex with him!  I just sat in a car with him!  I just talked to him, Mama!”  Inside I’m thinking, “He was kind to me, Mama.  That black man was kind and friendly and made me feel safe.  Why don’t you ask me about her boyfriend, Mama?  Why don’t you ask me if I had sex with her boyfriend?  Why don’t you ask me what his white dick tastes like Mama, or what it feels like to have a tongue tinged with alcoholic vomit shoved in your throat?

“Why don’t you let me tell you what its like to watch someone you love beaten in the head with fists and to be powerless to stop it except for placating the perpetrator, distracting him with your mouth around his ruddy and ready dick?

“How could I ever tell you about what I have let happen to me?  How can I forgive myself for going with her, for climbing into that back seat in the first place?  For not biting his penis when he first tried to force it into my mouth?  How do I get over THIS, Mama? What about THIS?

“Why, Mama, are you not asking the right questions?  Why can’t I tell you about what actually happened to me instead of denying the false reality that you’ve built up in your head?

“Why, Mama?!  Why…?”  I don’t dare speak.  I don’t want my mother to have excuses to keep me from hanging out with my Beloved Cousin.  I am worried about her, and though I’m afraid of what else might happen while I’m in her company, I don’t want to hear my mother say, “I told you so,” regarding how safe it is to hang out with her.  I don’t want to confirm my mother’s fears in regards to that fact that I WASN’T safe.  I don’t know why.

Looking back, I can’t exactly tell what the particular emotions were that my mother was experiencing.  The entire time that she was yelling at me, she continued trembling, her muscles all bound up tightly.  Anger was certainly one of them.  Shame, too.  Probably some guilt was thrown in because she probably thought that she was responsible for whatever unacceptable behavior that she’d believed me to be guilty of exhibiting.

I have kept my silence with her on this point to current day.  For one thing, I don’t like making other people suffer, and it’s not an easy or a fun thing for me to be sharing these stories with all of you.  It just feels like a necessary thing.  The silence is WAY too deafening, disabling, disorienting to live in.  I don’t want other people to have to carry these sorts of secrets and burdens inside of them.  Whether we like it or not, the shame of having gone through these sorts of experiences and feeling that one can’t talk about them is damaging to us.  For some of us, it damages our spirits, and we live while dead inside, or may decide not to live at all and take our bodies out, the way that My Denise chose to do.  For some of us, it damages our physical bodies even if we chose life, manifesting in all sorts of aches and pains and cancers and illness.  For those of us who are like me, it manifests in mentally disabling conditions that blank us out from a reality that bears too much pain for us to live with.  Where would I be today if I had allowed myself to share and process OUT of me this inner pain?  Well, I wouldn’t be writing to you all NOW about it, because I’d have no great and paralyzing need of healing.

All things in their time.  All things to their own purpose.  If I can turn the events of my life into something positive and helpful for others, to show inside the depths of the tunnel that has trapped other Human Beings that there is a way up and out into the light, well, then I can be the meaning-making machine that God has created me to be, and I can put into perspective and positive viewing my made-up reasons for what I’ve gone through in my physical and spiritual growing.  This turns my horrible circumstances on end, turns them inside out to the point of their being a blessing.

Weeks after the above incident, my Grandmother greeted me at the door of her house.  “Deneen!” she exclaimed with elation.  “Yer cousin and her boyfriend have got engaged!  They’re agonna’ get married!  I’m so happy fer her!  He’s from a great family ya’ know.  He’s got a good mama.  They’re agonna’ get married!”

“Really, Granny?  That’s great!” I heard some shell person say with my mouth while I waited deep down inside.  Not speaking.  Fearing.  Not speaking.  Inside myself I was saying, “I will not go to bless that union.   Never.  It is an evil thing.  I will not go.”  And we (the we that equals myself and the others inside of me) didn’t.

I was told that it was a big wedding and that the bride was very beautiful.  I kept imagining her in her wedding gown, bruises covering her face, her nose bloody, streaming mucousy red fluid down the front of the white lace.

I didn’t go because I loved her.  I didn’t go because I am forever imprinted with the taste of his cock in my mouth, the taste of alcohol laced vomit transferred to me from his tongue.

We couldn’t have borne it.  We didn’t go to the wedding.  We stayed home, thought of our love for her – and prayed.

The following poem was written on a napkin at an all-night Café one late night, and inspired by the recollection of the above events.

Five Second Rule

This writing is dedicated to my dear friend Karen Lowe, who encouraged me to drudge up whatever needed to be remembered and, “Damn Gurl! If you know this is what God is tellin’ you to do, just start damn writin’ sumthin’!”

Thanks, as always to Jim Dollar Photography

Posted in My Inheritance, My Loves and Lovers.

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One Response

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  1. Yvonne says

    As always, powerful writing, Deneen. Stay with it til the demons have been exorcised.



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