“On the Verge”
It was a hot Sunday morning in August and I was on my way to the market to do some shopping before the humidity became too unbearable. I eased out of bed making sure not to wake Troy. I fumbled down the hallway carrying the dirty denim jeans shorts and t-shirt I wore the day before and dressed in the bathroom. Pulling my hair back in my signature ponytail, I clamped on a barrette and headed downstairs. I grabbed my keys from the coffee table making sure to hold them in a way that they wouldn’t jingle and left out the door. I locked the door and turned around towards the car which was parked across the street from my house. My skin boiled as I noticed the swarm of flies and bees hovering over the hood of my car which was covered in garbage and a sticky substance that looked as though it could have been soda. After I got close to my car, I picked up a rotten banana peel with the tip of my thumb and index finger and threw it to the ground. Just last week, there was a bucket of feces mixed with newspaper left on the side of the steps. This was the last draw-I couldn’t take it anymore. The restraining order was merely a piece of paper that most police officers thought of as a joke and cared nothing about unless they caught the person in the act. That would be virtually impossible due to them taking forever to get there when we dialed 9-1-1.
Leaving the rest of the empty potato chip bags and garbage on the hood of the car, I jumped in and drove right past the market, the destination I had planned on attending. I merged onto the expressway weaving in and out of lanes like a mad woman on a mission and exited on City Avenue heading towards West Philly. I gritted my teeth as I double parked my car and pressed the button that turned on my hazard lights. I was almost in a trance; there wasn’t an ounce of fear in my body. I stomped up the front steps to Troy’s baby momma’s house and pressed the doorbell as if it was three in the afternoon instead on nine AM. When no one answered, I then took to banging on the door.
“Open the door bitch,” I yelled, not caring who heard me.
Part of me was hoping that someone called the cops because I knew that if she opened the door-I was going to kill her. I could hear muffling on the other side of the door and the curtain ruffled as I knocked again, but this time with so much force that the next door neighbor, an old elderly woman on a cane came rushing to her door. I gave her a nasty glare, and she shut her door just as fast as she opened it.
“I know you in there,” I continued yelling at the top of my lungs. “I’m sick of you coming to my house and fuckin’ with my property.”
I swayed side to side as I banged on the door again. After standing there for fifteen minutes, I finally decided to walk away. The Sunday Inquirer newspaper lay at the bottom of her steps. I picked it up and hurled it at the window causing a loud thump.
“Can I help you?” A sassy young female voice asked.
I turned around quickly and came face to face with a teenager holding a baby on her hip. I looked at her and then at the child.
“Is this Shanice’s son?” I asked clenching my fist to my side.
She shook her head up and down and the said, “Yeah, why?”
“You tell that bitch to stop coming around my house,” I said through gritted teeth. “I swear, if anything else of mines is damaged I’mma have this house lit up so fast, ya’ll gonna swear its fourth of July out this muthafucka.”
The once sassy tone was now low and insecure, “Okay, okay. I’ll tell her.” Her eyes were now glued to the sidewalk. I stormed off heading towards my car. I got in and sat there, watching what she was going to do next. In my mind, if she went up those steps, I was following right behind her. She sat down on the steps and placed the baby in her lap. I shook my head and drove off.
I slammed my fist against the steering wheel and tears wet my cheeks as I headed back home. I prayed for the day me and her came face to face. Even though she was a giant standing at six-feet to my five-foot, five inches-I was going to take her down- no matter what it took. I returned home and found two officers at our front door talking with Troy. He was standing in the door way shirtless. I slowed down and his eyes met with mines and I continued down the street and turned the corner to circle the block. She must have called the cops, I thought as I sat at the traffic light at the top of our block. That’s okay, I thought. She want to fuck with me, I can fuck with her, too. I smiled deviously as the light turned green and I pulled up in the same parking spot I’d left less than an hour ago. The cops were gone and Troy was sitting on the steps with his head in his hands.
“What happened?” he asked looking up at me and then over at the car.
“She dumped a whole bunch of garbage and bullshit on the car,” I said placing my foot on the bottom step and placing my hand on my hip.
“The cops said you went to her house,” he said leaning back on the step. “I told them that you were out of town on a business trip.”
“Yeah, I did go over there. I’m sick of this bitch getting away with coming here fucking with us and getting away with it,” I snapped. “Fuck it, she wanna play—let’s play.”
I squeezed past Troy and marched in the house. I couldn’t wait for Monday to come; she had no idea who she was messing with. I could make her life just as miserable as she was making mine. Normally, I would never stoop to that level, but this time was different. She was becoming a thorn in my side and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was losing my sanity, worrying about what she was going to do next. I allowed no one to back me in the corner and when they tried, I always came out swinging.
The next morning, I arrived at work bright and early ready to put my plan into place. I watched the clock until it hit nine AM and quickly dialed my girlfriend Rita’s office who worked at the welfare office in West Philly. She and I used to work together. I had gotten her the job there so Rita was pretty much open to do anything I wanted her to do.
“Rita Horne speaking,” she answered dryly through a thick Caribbean accent.
“Hey hun, I need a favor,” I said neglecting to say hello or acknowledge who I was.
“Good morning to you, too,” Rita said perking up. “What’s up?”
“Can you terminate someone’s benefits for me?”
“And who might this person be,” Rita asked letting out a sly giggle.
“You know who?” I said annoyed that she would even ask me a question she already knew the answer to.
“Give me her name and address,” Rita said whispering into the phone.
I twirled the phone cord as I gave her the information as she instructed. The phone fell silent except the sound of her typing away.
“There,” she said. “I just terminated her benefits. It’s going to take her at least a month to provide the needed documentation and get her food stamps and cash turned back on.”
“Thanks hun, I owe you one,” I said with a devilish grin spreading across my face.
“Anytime,” Rita replied.
As I hung up the phone, a sense of satisfaction came over me. No, I wasn’t going to mess up her property or sneak around her house at night, but I was going to make her as miserable as she made me feel. I sat back in my chair and let out a loud sigh. I knew that I couldn’t continue to go tit for tat with her, but I figured this would at least slow her down a bit. I knew that it wasn’t right, but it damn sure felt good as hell to give her a little taste of her own medicine.
First Birthday BASH
Two months had past and Troy and I didn’t hear a peep out of Shanice. We were finally trying to develop a sense of normalcy in our lives. We recently started going out on dates again and spending time talking about whether we had a future together. I never promised Troy that I would stay. I simply told him that I can try to work things out and when it feels as though I’m in over my head than I would leave.
On the evening of the twin’s first birthday, we decided to take in a movie. After the film was over, we held hands and chatted as we walked towards the car. We noticed a crowd of people surrounding the area where we parked our car. There were two police officers trying to move everyone out of the area. A squad car with flashing lights sat not too far from where everyone was gathered.
“What’s going on?” I asked as we made our way through the crowd.
I clasped Troy’s hand harder as we arrived at our vehicle. All four windows were smashed and all four tires flattened. Glass lay in the seats of the car. The words “Dead Beat” were keyed on the hood and a white substance was splattered across the front windshield.
“Is this your car ma’am?” the police officer asked flipping his pad open.
“Yes-yes it is,” I answered, looking over the damage. My breaths started to get shorter and shorter as my eyes continued to survey the car.
Out of nowhere, I let out a loud yell and started to cry. I sat down on the cold October ground and folded my legs Indian style. I held my head in my hands and rocked back and forth as I continued to whimper somberly like a child that had just gotten chastised by her mother. Troy knelt down beside me and held me in his arms. I could hear all of the whispering around us-I let another loud wail and continued to sob heavily. I was in over my head; this whole ordeal had me on the edge. I was a woman on the verge—of a divorce, of a mental break down, and of committing murder. As all of these thoughts consumed my mind, all I could do is pray. I begin whispering to myself asking God to help me. My heart and mind was so heavy that each time she did something to us or our property, it was like opening the child support letter over and over again; the shock never left my system.
“We caught one of them in the act,” the police officer said looking down at me. “A teenage girl; She’s in the back of the car.”
I quickly pulled myself together and pushed through the crowd until I reached the patrol car. I peered through the window and there was the same little girl that I saw carrying the baby the day I went to Shanice’s house. I snapped out and started banging on the car window and screaming at her.
“You stupid bitch,” I said pointing my finger at her. “I’m gonna fuck you and your sister up.” My eyes darkened as I used the palm of my hand to bang on the window again.
The police officer grabbed me by the arm and pulled me away from the car, “So, I take it you know her?” he asked searching my eyes for an answer.
“Yes, she’s related to my husband’s baby momma,” I said tasting a bit of vomit in my mouth as the words spilled out.
“I’m going to disregard that little “I’m going to fuck you up statement”,” he said ripping off a piece of paper from his pad and giving it to me. “Only because if my car looked like yours I would be ready to fuck her up myself. This is the incident report number,” he said pointing to the numbers at the top left hand corner of the slip. I nodded and stuck the piece of paper in my coat pocket.
“We need you to come down to the station and identify her. We called a tow truck for your car; it should be here shortly. I called another car to give you a ride to the station.”
As we drove away in the squad car, I watched the tow truck lift my car onto its flatbed. I recalled how I felt when Troy decided to buy it for me; I’d never been so happy in my life. And even though it was just a car, a material good -it symbolized the start of our new life together. Now, it had become a paint palate for his baby momma to take out all of her frustrations and grievances-a symbol of hatred and anger. I too now hated the car and all it stood for. I hated my life and all it had become. How did I end up here? A woman on the verge? I was supposed to be married and living happily ever after. Instead, I was secretly toying with the idea of suicide; something never in a million years, I thought would ever cross my mind. I now knew why people gave up in life-it was sometimes easier than continuing to struggle. I really felt like I was going crazy; everything around me was falling apart. My mind raced so fast that I wish I could stop myself from thinking-all the “whys” and “what ifs” were overwhelming me.
When we got to the police station, we made a report and filed charges. Although she was a minor and would soon receive a slap on the wrist, we were relieved to find out that her connection with us was a direct violation to the restraining order and Shanice was then taken into custody. While we damn near lost our car, the satisfaction of her being locked up was well worth it.
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