My childhood memories of my mother consist of her constant worrying about whether we’re safe, warm, and not hungry. I remember those annoying mitten holders I was forced to wear on the sleeves of my winter coat to make sure I always had my gloves. Or those annoying snow pants I had to fight my way into. When my brother came home from school with his eye practically hanging out the socket from getting beat up by bullies, I remember the way she jumped into her car, tires screeching to confront them. I also remember thinking my mother was going to prison, but it worked out fine. ; ) She put her own health on the line, working constructions jobs to keep food on the table. All these things she did for us. She’s the type of mother I want to be one day.
What I don’t understand is how someone could just throw their flesh and blood away without a passing glance. For nearly a year, my mother has been raising her niece’s, my cousin’s baby. The whole saga started last January when she received a call that my cousin was giving birth at the hospital. It came as a surprise to us since we’d just talked to the girl, who’s in her early twenties back in October and she hadn’t mentioned anything about even being pregnant. Since the girl’s mother, my mom’s sister had just moved out of state, my mother went to see about her and the baby.
Mom immediately fell in love with the 3 pound preemie and promised to do everything she could for her. Since my cousin was close to getting evicted from her place and the government was in her business because the child was born with drugs in her system, my mother came to the decision to take care of the baby until she could get herself together. I was skeptical at first, fearing that Mom was taking on too much, like she tends to do. With my mother, myself, and my two sisters sharing an apartment, it was a group effort but we all did our part to take care of the baby from the time she left the hospital.
Knowing the mother could barely take care of herself, Mom paid for everything the baby needed out of her pocket, from clothes, to diapers and furniture. Mom provided while all the girl and her family could offer were thank you’s. Mom isn’t the type to worry about getting paid back for her efforts, she does it because it’s the right thing to do and God will see to her having what she needs. The sleepless nights and 3 am feedings belonged to my mother, who’s staring down the throat of 60, works 40 hours a week and goes to dialysis 3 times a week.
In the meantime, she coached my cousin on getting support for the baby, including WIC for the formula, and making sure the baby got part of the father’s income from the government. My cousin came to get the baby late in the spring and 3 months later we got a call from her saying that she needed us to take the baby again.
The relationship with the baby’s father was taking an abusive turn and she was moving out of town to be with my aunt. The baby was returned to us in deplorable conditions. Her eczema was out of control, diaper rash had run rampant, and the clothes my mother sent when she gave her back the first time were filthy with most of them having to be thrown away. Once my mother got her home the poor thing guzzled three bottles of milk until we could go get more formula. The vouchers for the food and milk that the government gave for free had not been used and the lump sum of money my cousin received for her child, definitely wasn’t spent on her.
My cousin left with promises of sending a portion of the baby’s money every month for expenses, but that’s one promise that hasn’t been fulfilled. Since she skipped town we’ve only seen $100 of the promised money and we haven’t heard from her in nearly two months. When she does call it becomes an ‘I’m a bad mother’ docudrama worthy of Lifetime TV where she wants to rope you into feeling sorry for her. The focus turns to her, not to the baby she left. I see that the longer she’s away from her child the more disassociated she becomes, the bond between mother and child broken.
The baby is doing just fine and approaching her first birthday. She’s smart, loves to talk, and is happy as she can be. But kids grow up and one day she’s going to have questions. How will her mother explain why she abandoned her and took off with the money that was intended for her care? How will she tell her daughter she didn’t do all she could to make sure she was taken care of? Isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do?
The Body Hunters by Raven Newcastle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009X971ME/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_N6xQrb13R6TGQ … …
The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied by Raven Newcastle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CODG81Q/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_r7xQrb0RWBN1N … … the fun continues in the sequel.
Marcel Labouleaux leaned back in his office chair, putting his hurting feet up on his desk in his New Orleans FBI office. It was late in the evening but he wasn’t working; he was however contemplating his next move. His feet were still smarting from the punishing kicks he gave to the custom chopper that belonged to his young partner Lucian Tepes. His knuckles were bloody and swollen from using Lucian as a punching bag.
Lucian’s crime was being caught with Marcel’s only daughter the morning after she slept over, giving her virginity to him. She had just barely turned twenty and even though technically old enough to make her own decisions, Marcel was blindsided by the relationship. He felt betrayed by the FBI partner he treated like a son, feeling he took advantage of his daughter’s innocence with men.
He was also not ready to admit that his headstrong daughter was no longer a little girl he could protect. Not that Danielle needed protection; she could kick the ass of any boy who tried to take advantage of her, as her prom date from high school found out. Danny, as she called herself much to her mother’s dismay, had been a teenage terror, defying her parents and especially her mother at every move. Her tantrums and outburst were met with his stern discipline usually to no avail. She was going to do what she wanted, when she wanted and now apparently with whom she wanted.
Marcel had dreaded this day for a long time. He wasn’t ignorant to the fact it would happen, he‘d just hoped he’d been long dead or she at least married first. An old fashioned idea he knew and he also realized when it came to Danielle he was wishing too much. He just couldn’t figure out what she saw in the dark haired white boy with the slight European accent and dangerous bike. He smacked his hand to his head realizing he’d just answered his own stupid question.
Marcel rubbed his short cropped graying hair feeling the bald spot he figured would turn into a horseshoe in a couple of years. Groaning at the thought he closed his eyes and smiled reliving the image of beating the young man on the ground watching him bleed from his cut lip, that pleasant memory over with his mind wandered back to his daughter.
She was in college taking police courses claiming she wanted to be FBI just like dad. Marcel didn’t take it seriously, knowing she was just doing it to give her mother yet another reason to fret over her choices. She seemed to take great pleasure in torturing her mother on a regular basis.
An image of his beloved Julianna came into his mind. Danny definitely was her mother’s daughter. Her long black hair and high cheek bones were features that made both of them knock out beauties. Danny was a caramel brown copy of her. The only other distinguishing characteristic she carried from Marcel was golden brown eyes which were a family trait they shared with his mother. Like his mother Marie, Danielle’s dancing eyes could turn into dangerous daggers in a heartbeat.
The debutante balls and finishing school Julianna had enrolled her in drew Danny’s ire toward her mother. The battle of wills and wits between the two was enough to make him want to drink. The slamming of doors and the I hate you’s that spewed from Danny’s pretty mouth on almost a daily basis from the time she was fourteen to eighteen grayed him quicker than anything else.
Then there was the talking to the dead thing. Danny tried to explain it to him that she was psychic like his mother Marie. Danny was very close to her grandmere and her influence on her was calming, but this ghost business was too much. He’d scolded his mother for putting those nonsensical ideas into her head. He believed in what he could see and touch only and had no time for ‘I see dead people’ craziness.
Julianna followed his lead on the subject much like she deferred to him in most things which pleasantly surprised him considering her temperament and upbringing. Julianna Benoit Labouleaux had come from the bluest blood in all of New Orleans and desperately wanted to impart some of her southern belle manners and gentility into her daughter. He never argued about her attempts in fact he secretly wished Danny was a little more refined and not a carrier of the trademarked Labouleaux temper.
His mind wandered now of the pleasant memory of his wife. The headstrong southern belle he fell hard for. She could charm and cut you all at the same time with her smile. He allowed his thoughts to float to a special time and place he knew they would be devoted to each other forever.
The evening soirée was the highlight of the social season. Everyone who was anyone in the Parish was in attendance, private invitation only. The light orchestral music floated in the late January night from the stage set around potted pink and purple orchids. Tuxedoed waiters greeted the throngs of guests arriving to take their seats amongst the white linen tables. The silverware was real and the goblets were made of the purest crystal. No expense was spared for the twentieth anniversary dinner of Jeannette and Louis Benoit at their exclusive and not so inclusive country club. The demanded attire for the evening was evening gowns and tops and tails. Rounding the club’s circular driveway was the white horse drawn carriage that held the guests of honor. They made their grand entrance to the polite applause of the standing guests as they took their seats at the head table. Missing was their nineteen year old daughter Julianna, who snuck away while pretending to get dressed for the affair. Julianna had a special surprise for her parents, who to her were more acquaintances than parents having been brought up and taught more about life by nannies and the house staff.
Julianna planned to bring a special date, her newly minted husband she secretly eloped with just the day before. The young, handsome man with the dangerous grin that made her melt into a puddle every time she saw him waited for her outside her window nervously twisting his hands. This was going to get ugly, Marcel Labouleaux mused. He was not a blue blood, he had no money, and most of all he was black. That fact alone, he had warned her before they took their vows, would get her disowned by her family. She didn’t care, he was all she could think or care about, that and their precious baby growing inside of her.
He placed his hands on her hips to steady her as she descended the ladder. He hoped they were undetected by the house staff that was under strict orders to report her whereabouts immediately, especially if she was seen in the company of him. He turned her around and gave her a quick kiss. “Are you sure you want to do this tonight?”
She gazed lovingly at him. “No time like the present.” She smiled that charming but dangerous smile. He knew there was no talking her out of it.
They quickly snuck off the grounds and into Lucille, his 1970 cherry red Camaro, the only thing of value Marcel owned and the second love of his life. Peeling away down the tree lined street with the throaty engine roaring, he watched her being carefree, almost giddy as she sang along to Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters .
The crowd parted as Julianna stormed past the Maître de with Marcel in tow after being told only she could enter the country club. Flutes of champagne and food trays were overturned as she pushed the unfortunate waitstaff out of her way. The club’s elder trustees tried to stop her march toward the dining area where her mother and father were now alerted to their daughter’s presence.
“We’ve contacted the police Mr. Benoit.” The silver haired club trustee advised to an astonished Louis.
“Yes Daddy, please have us arrested! I’d love nothing more than to spend my honeymoon in jail!” Julianna spat out as the crowd gasped surrounding the young couple.
Marcel tried to match his new wife’s resolve standing tall wrapping a protective arm around her.
“Honeymoon? You better not be telling me you married…him!” he pointed his finger at Marcel. Jeannette feigned a swoon.
“Oh mother really! And yes daddy! I believe you know your new son in law!”
He did indeed know his new son in law; Louis Benoit had hired him as a porter few months back for a car dealership he owned. It was there in Louis’s office that Marcel first laid eyes on the young temperamental Julianna, filing papers, falling head over heels for her. He was fired and threatened with great bodily harm by Louis after being discovered making out with his daughter in the back of his Camaro. No daughter of his was going to date let alone give herself over to a black boy he told her as he grounded her for the umpteenth time.
“Julianna we’ve had enough of your foolishness, you’ve made your point now please come here!” Jeannette reached for her daughter’s arm having made a miraculous recovery from her sudden case of the vapors. “And you young man had better leave before the police arrive.”
“Get your hands off me mother, this is for real we are married and you’d better get used to it!” Julianna yelled swatting her mother’s hand away.
Marcel upon hearing the sirens closing in, prayed for a miracle as images of police batons across his head tortured him. “Honey maybe we should go now.”
Louis snarled back. “Yes Julianna maybe you had better listen to your husband and leave, but know this, as long as you are with him, you do not come back home!”
“You want me to leave just like your other family daddy? How are your sons doing daddy! You know the twins? I hear you’re sending them to a boarding school in Spain. They should fit in perfectly with their brown skin!” Julianna’s trademarked smile betrayed to her father she knew much more about his secret love affair than she was even disclosing now. She was playing a dangerous game of chicken with him.
“I…I don’t know what you are talking about! Stop making up lies Julianna!” Was all he could stammer. His own eyes showed his guilt as Jeannette slapped him across the face.
“So it is true!” Jeannette cried as she fell back into her chair. “You’ve been lying me all these years! Those are your sons with Vivian, how could you?” Jeannette pushed him away as he tried to reach out to her.
Satisfied that her father had enough trouble on his hands at exposing his scandal, Julianna turned on her heel and led her husband out the front door and dared the patrolman to stop her.
Marcel took a deep breath as he drove Lucille away from the pretentiousness of the club. “Um…Honey? Is it true? About your dad I mean.”
Julianna answered him in her best southern drawl. “Yes darling it is. I do declare daddy was diddling the cook. She threatened to expose their illicit affair to mother if he didn’t pay her off. He got her another position after she had my half brothers and I’m sure out of guilt he’s agreed to take care of them financially.”
Marcel was stunned. “How long ago was this?”
“They are ten now I think. I’ve only seen them once at a park with Vivian. I confronted her a few years back after I found some pictures of them with daddy in his desk drawer. She said he barely acknowledged them but has consistently paid for their education, keeping this fact away from mother of course.” Julianna curled into Marcel’s arm as the headlights from oncoming vehicles passed them in what seemed like to Marcel slow motion.
“Girl that is some crazy shit!” Marcel laughed as he turned down the street leading to his mother’s restaurant. “Mama will be waiting for us, she’s probably been by the phone the whole time worrying we’re in jail or worse. You don’t mind living with her for a while, do you?”
Julianna squeezed his thigh. “Anywhere with you baby!”
“Back at ya baby but you keep squeezing me like that we’re never going to make it past the back seat.”
Julianna laughed. “That back seat is what got us in this situation in the first place.” She patted her belly laughing. “Do you think we’ll tell Danielle about it someday?”
“Daniel you mean! It’s a boy I can just feel it.” Marcel grinned. “I plan on giving this car to him when he’s old enough to take care of it so maybe we keep that information of where he was conceived to ourselves.” Marcel grinned.
Julianna sang along under her breath to Prince’s The Beautiful Ones. Marcel didn’t know what the future held for them but he knew it would always include her by his side.
Marcel awoke at two am practically falling out of his office chair. The yellow street light illuminating a rain soaked lonely street outside. He heard the whir of a vacuum cleaner in the next office. The cleaning staff must have arrived. He never really thought about who emptied his trash can, it was just always ready for another days paper waste when he arrived in the morning. His reminisces and dreams of days long ago over made him temporarily forget why he even escaped his home. The familiar bruised figure in his doorway refreshed his memory.
“Taking your life in your own hands Lucian.” Marcel barked.
“Please Marcel we need to talk.” Lucian Tepes dared Marcel’s gaze as he carefully walked over to the chair in front of Marcel’s desk.
“God help me tell me you love her and she’s not just a fuck to you.”
“I love her with all my heart Marcel, I…we never intended to hurt you or Julianna I swear. I want to marry her.”
Marcel took his gun out of his desk and held it in his hands inspecting it. “That’s noble of you, does she know this?” He said sarcastically.
Lucian licked his dry lips watching Marcel inspect the bullet chamber. “She doesn’t know that’s what I want. Not yet anyway.”
Marcel pointed the gun at Lucian. “Do you really think this is wise telling me this at two in the morning after the night we just had? Is this a special brand of Romanian stupidity?” He said referring to Lucian’s nationality and homeland.
“I just wanted you to know how I feel; she’s not just another girl to me.” Lucian closed his eyes waiting for a bullet to explode his skull.
Marcel leaned back and drew a deep breath; he put his Glock back in the drawer and locked it. Rubbing his chin looking out the window he could see the reflection of the beat up young man and himself, except his mind’s eye kept seeing himself on that fateful day at the country club.
“Take this under advisement Lucian, should my daughter do you the honor of becoming your wife, you’d better elope and never let me catch wind of it before hand. If and it’s a big if, she decides to do such a stupid thing with you, I can guarantee you my reaction will be ugly, but I won’t beat you down again for her sake and Julianna’s. For some reason Julianna likes you. You will take a few days off and heal, and then when you come back you will make up some excuse to be reassigned to a new partner, got it?”
“Yes sir.” Lucian nodded his agreement as well.
“Do not tell my daughter or my wife you were here tonight or that we talked or I’ll call in all the favors I have and have your sorry ass assigned to some remote outpost in Alaska. Hear me boy?”
“I mean it when I say I love her.” Lucian said as he got up leave.
“I don’t doubt you do but I’m going to make you prove it at every level son.” Marcel stood up and held out his hand for Lucian to shake. Hesitantly Lucian took his hand in a firm grip.
“I would expect nothing less.” He said as he left Marcel in his office and to his thoughts.