Buttermilk (chapter 3)
Bill came and picked us up around 6 am. Ma had woke up around 5 and started doing her hair and makeup. Her morning ritual consisted of: starting the coffee, chugging a 2 liter of water, vomiting, taking an 8 min shower and then sitting in front of the fan to slowly dry her curls while she sipped her coffee and read the newspaper from the day before. I hated hearing the vomit in the morning but I’m sure it made her feel better and probably tasted like smoothie.
When Bill was almost to the door, she ran to the bathroom and locked the door.
“Tell him I’m getting ready, I’ll be out there in a minute.” She hadn’t quite finished putting on her makeup and nobody saw her without her eyeliner. She had mastered her eyeliner. Her eyes were round at the top and when she put the liner on, it made her look like she was always smiling. When I was younger, I would sit and watch her put it on, her mouth held wide open and her chin tilted, trying hard not to blink or drool.
Bill walked in and grabbed a cup of coffee.
“Hey kid, How’s the weather?”
“I don’t know Bill? You the one that just walked in, You tell
“You got a smart mouth first thing this morning now dontcha?”
Mom yelled from the bathroom, “Girl I’m gonna pop you in the mouth. You better be nice to Bill and tell him sorry! He here picking you up and taking you to school and you spraying hate.” She came out of the bathroom all dolled up. She looked so pretty with her curls framing her face and her pink lips and her smiling chocolate eyes. “What is wrong with you Girl, it ain’t too early for an ass whoopin.”
“Sorry Bill,” I responded looking down at my feet.
“It’s ok kid, apple don’t fall far from the tree. Your momma got just as much sass, so ya can’t help it, I know.”
He patted me on the head and sat down at the kitchen table burning a hole in my momma. She had a red mini skirt on and a low cut blouse that covered her chest only, falling off one shoulder and it had Tasmanian Devil on it with his tongue sticking out. She had cut the shirt and tied the back to make it fit just right. She slipped her shoes on and stood there with a hand on her hip.
“Whatchoo lookin at Bill? I can feel the fire burning my hair.”
“My future ex-wife,” he said, swiftly taking a sip of his coffee.
Momma gave a little smile and sat down at the table. “So where
“I was thinking we could skip school today and take the kid and you to Six Flags. It’s only an hour away and Waffle House is right there”
“MAH! PLEEEEASE!” I belted as I got up and started jumping
up and down,” I never gets ta do nothin, Can we go please!!!??”
“Girl, whatchoo think, I wanna raise a no school going dummy?”
She looked at Bill, he had stood up and grabbed my hand jumping up and down with me.
“ YA, PLEASE MAH! SHE NEVER GETS TO DO NOTHIN!”
“YA MA! And I ain’t no dummy! I can read and I know my maths. I also make all high grades in my classes. All A’s I promise.”
“Hmm, Well … I gueeesss it would be nice to get away with you and enjoy ourselves girl. Hmmm… Ok, I guess, Shit, why not.”
“Hot DAWG! I’m gonna go change my clothes.” I ran to the back of the trailer where my room was and started throwing off my school clothes for play clothes. Mom made sure that I didn’t wear my good clothes out. She always told me she didn’t want me walking up in school looking like I had come out the creek. All my good clothes were from Walmart and my play clothes from the thrift store.
“Now Bill, you know I ain’t gots no monies to be spending at no theme park, a beer is $5. You rich all of a sudden? Cause you know I am drinking a beer or 5.”
“LJ, mind your business and I’ll mind my finances. You just enjoy yourself and let Sam have a little fun. I know money is tight and I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think I could handle you two firecrackers and carry the tab.” Bill grabbed Ma and started dancing with her.
He really loved my Ma but she stayed at an elbows length at all times. She always used me as an excuse and I was ok with that. Honestly, I liked Bill, but I wanted my mom going nowhere with no man while she had me to take care of. That was hard enough on her I could see. Plus, if my daddy didn’t stay, why would he?
“Don’t forget to tie up that dog and give him water, Sam. Try and keep him off that damn bush, I don’t wanna come home to a dead dog!” Ma hollered back at me while I was putting on my jeans.
“Ok Ma, don’t be so dramatic. Toby ain’t gonna die, too many people lookin here. I’ll put him on the hitch, they be shade over there any way.”
I set Toby up, went back in and grabbed my pillow for the ride. I liked to lean on it on the window on long rides. Riding in cars always makes me sleepy. I sat down next to Bill and punched him in the shoulder and whispered thanks, putting on my socks. He sent me back a wink.
“Did you brush your teeth, we don’t want no stinky mouth riding up in the car with us.”
“Yes Ma’m, all brushed.” I said with an over stretched smile showing my big front teeth and tossing my tounge around to show I had brushed it too.
“So, Bill What kinda stuff they got there at the Six Flags. I always see a big wheel with seats with people screaming. Can we go on that? I wanna go on that looks scarry fun!”
“Its a rollercoaster and lets wait till we get there so we can look at everything. It’s a big place with a lot of big rides. Now go grab a towel and a bathing suit they got a water park too.”
“EEEEEK! A water Park! I’m so excited!”
Bill went to the bathroom and we all headed out to the car I could smell the Waffles and the smoothies; Ma made here one for the road and Bill threw back a shot of Johnny Walker. As soon as I got in the car, I fell asleep.
“Thanks Bill, this is really nice of you. You are so sweet to us girls and I just can’t help but wanna thank you. We aint got much and I know I am always pushing you away but I gotsta stay focused with my baby girl. She aint got no daddy. You know he left us a long time ago and I won’t let her read the letters from jail when he first went, so she don’t know much about him. It’s hard sometimes but she be smart as a whip.”
“I know LJ and like I keep saying, one day I’m gonna get some sugar. I’m a patient man and you worth all the waiting in the world. Ain’t much I wouldn’t do for you. Just know that and that girl is part of you so I love her too.”
“Don’t say Love Bill. That’s a strong word.”
“I most definitely do love you and her. It’s not a game for me, maybe except for a waiting game. I now you go eat with other boys, but I also know if you keeping me at an elbow you keepin them at a legs length. So I aint got nothin to worry about. Plus, I peek in your window at night to check on you.”
She slapped his shoulder, “ Don’t be creepy! I’m gonna have to get darker shades now!”
He put his cigar butt in his mouth and he grabbed her hand; she let him sink into the small embrace. They smiled and sat in the silence between them and the buzz of the radio and slapping of the tires.
I woke up to the sound of my ma screeching Bobby Mcgee. She was pretty but she sure couldn’t sing.
“MA! Let Janis sing it you aint got no tune! And I was sleepin.”
“FROM THE KENTUCKY COAL MINE, TO THE CALIFORNIA SUN, ‘BILLY’ SANG THE SECRETS OF MY SOOUUL…” She turned and got louder as she winked at Billy and smacked my knee.
“WEll, wake up girl we at the Waffle house and I need some coffee. And, Whachoo mean I can’t sing! I got the voice of a angel!”
“A fallen angel, its horrible ma! WAFFLES YAY!”
We all got out of the wagon and stretched and yawned. An hour and a half seems like an eternity that early in the morning. It was almost 9 and Waffle house was packed. We had to wait for a booth for 15 minutes so momma got in a cigarillo. We ended up in a booth tucked right next to the jukebox. Bill handed me a dollar and told me to play some quarter songs. First song I picked was the Hokey Pokey and I did a little dance for them and then Tina Turner came on. Ma Loved her and it took everything in her not to get up and dance. Had she another smoothie she would have knocked the pork chops off the bar and danced for the other costomers.
“Whatchoo gettin girl?” She asked pulling her curls back in a tie.
“Well, we’s at the waffle house so i’m gonna have some waffles and get me some smothered, covered, chopped, chunked taters. No mushrooms eck! And, a large chocolate milk.”
I looked at Bill to see if he made a face that I was ordering too much.
“Girl! Bill aint no money machine…”
“Its ok LJ, let the girl stuff herself so she can’t fit on them rides. Its Waffle House not Outback.”
“Ya Ma, Gosh!”
She reched over the table and sqeezed my lips, “I’m gona sinch them lips they keep flappin that sass!”
I shooed her hands and we both laughed. “Too bad they don’t serve beer here, I could go for an ice cold Bud Light right about now. They great with pork chops and eggs”
We ordered our food and sat chatting while we waited. I liked watching the ladies on the line cook. THey had a rythym: meat, waffles, eggs, taters, plate. The waitess was around 90 and had a big mole on the side of her face. She was a little saggy and round and when she passed out the plates her arm skin jiggled over my milk. I tried to not look but it was just jiggling everywhere. I grabbed my cup and pretended to drink it; I didn’t want to skin tickling my cup. She put the food down and walked away. Thank god!
We started dressing our food with ketchup and hotsauces when the door opened and a man in a long jacket stormed in and started hollering, “ELIZABETH!! WHERE YOU AT ELIZABETH!!”
Our waitress was on the grill and turned around to see the comotion and the man opened his jacket, pulled out a shot gun and pointed it right at her. Everyone started to scream, Bill yanked me and my momma, shoving us under the table.
“WHERE’S ELIZABETH! I WANNA TALK TO ELIZABETH!”
A woman came out of the bathroom and screamed and ran back in; the gunman turned around and shot a hole right in the wall behind where that woman had came out. Boy, was she lucky!
He turned back towards our waitres, her hands in front of he face, wimpering,
“WHERE SHE AT MS. MOLLY? I DON’T WANT TO HURTCHOO NOW!”
”I don’t know Hank!”
Then She passed out throwing her hand back on the grill and burning the skin right off her fingertips.
“GODDAMN IT! EELIZZAABETTHHH YOU BETTER GET YOUR WHORING AS OUT HERE BEFORE I START SHOOTING ALL THESE INNOCENT FOLKS! I AIN’T JOKING!” He pointed the gun at the jukebox and shot Stevie Nicks, silencing Rihanna. A piece of the glass flew over and cut me right in the forehead. I started crying but low, I didn’t want to make any sudden noises. My momma put one hand on my face and another on her lips to remind me to not draw any attention. She wiped the little blood drop from my forehead and showed it to me.
“It ain’t nothing,” she whispered.
A mom screamed and started crying as she snached her son and wrappped her arms around him, “Why that man got a gun momma?”
Some tall woman with long legs and huge, tall red hair cam storming out the back kitchen. She looked like a human giraffe: big eyelashes and puffy red lips, thick smeared black eyeliner. She took her apron off and threw it at Hank, “WHAT ON GODS GREEN EARTH YOU DOING HANK! YOU HAVE OBVIOUSLY LOST YOUR GOD FORSAKEN MIND!”
“OH!, SO YOU ARE WORKIN! I WENT BY BOBBY’S HOUSE AND I SAW YOUR CAR BY THERE THIS MORNING! YOU FUCKING 2-TIMIN NO GOOD BITCH! I’M GONNA KILL YOU AND THAT SUMMABITCH. You must think I’m some kinda joke? Do I look like a joke now,” He turned and shot the grill.
“Now I’m gonna lose my job!” She raged back throwing her fists up on her hips.
“You saw my car where? “ She threw out a exaggeerated laugh.
“Well aintchoo a damn fool! Bobby’s Daughter is a babysitter and I was taking Mathew over there so I can work; momma couldn’t watch him today. What the HELL is wrong with you Hank? Now, put the stupid gun down and quit being a dummy; you gonna end up realy doing something stupid. I mean, this is stupid, but killin somebody? That whatchoo wanna do with your life? You wanna be some other man’s man in prison? Because, I love you but I aint visitin you in prison. NOW STOP! Plus, look at how much you scaring all these innocent people.”
She looked down at our waitress on the floor and then looked up at Hank, “Now look, You done gave that ole bat a heart attack! What she do to you ta make you go on and kill her. Hell, you didn’t even shoot her. She laid over here like a bag of skin, done shit her pants. HAAANK! BAABY! Put the gun down BABY! Lets g home before the poilice get here and lets talk Baby. I still got 3 Hours before I gots to pick up Mathew. Ill make it up to you Baby! Put the gun down. HANK!” She growl his name and started walking over to him. “You looking all tough and outlaw, got me hotter than a grill.”
Me and ma looked at eachother and almost laughed. We were both thinking about how random and weird this was. We were scared but we just couldnt believe what was going on.
Hank started lowering the shot-gun and was breathing real heavy. He was sweating and his face started softening. Elizabeth put her hands on his face and gave him a kiss. “Look at you gettin all worked up over nothin. Now, Let’s go.” She kissed him again on the forehead.
“I just love you baby and I just got so angry thinking you want lovin me. You know I don’t wants to hurt noone but gosh Elizabeth, you my cookie. I don’t know what came over me. Just thought of my Cookie dippin in someone elses milk. I just can’t even…”
“Now shut your mouth and lets go home Hank; everything is going
to be just fine.”
She grabbed her apron and they both headed out the door. People were crying and shuffling around, slowly and carefully coming out of there defense positions.
“Somebody go check on that woman in the bathroom, make sure she aint in no trouble! Go on!” Bill pointed at a teenage boy sitting at one of the tables by the bathroom. Ma and I were crawling out from under the booth. Ma grabbed Bill and gave him a big ole kiss, his eyes got real big and he laughed.
“Whatchoo laughing at Billy?” She leaned back looking in his eyes.
“So, that’s how I get sugar! I gotta be 5 feet from death?
Ma pushed back from him adjusting her clothes, “Don’t be gettin used to it Bill, I was just overwhelmed with emotions and you saved us!”
“ I did?” He asked looking confused. “Well I guess if it gets me sugar than I sure as hell did.”
He picked up my my momma’s pork chop and ripped a piece with his teeth.
“Now, let’s get the hell outta here before the police wanna ask us too many questions and we miss the Six Flags. And, I’m gonna grab us a 6 pack sugar lips! WE deserve it!”
We got up and bolted out the door, “I want a beer Bill, I was there too.”
“Kid, I’ll get you whatever you want for not freaking out, let’s go!”
We jumped in the wagon and started laughing and hollering and momma turned up the radio and started belting out the wrong lyrics to Roxanne and we were on our way to Six Flags. We just let it go and continued on our day. We obviously were stunned and had adrenaline running through our bones, but I wasn’t missing Six Flags, I never got to do nothing; no one died.
“Now, we don’t need to be telling the neighborhood what happen incase they wanna look us up fer questions. So, don’t be telling your little friend Chasity. Lets just let this be our little adventure! Ok Girl?.” Ma turned and put her hand on my knee smiling and winking.
“Ok, and she ain’t my friend! Her tooth stink and she don’t know her head from her ass, remember? Maybe that why her tooth stink, cause she talkin out her ass?” I started laughing at myself. Boy was I clever, I thought.
“Watch your words girl, you still ain’t grown.”