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** All characters in this story are of legal age. **
Hope, Charity & Faith-THE FINALE
“All rise” The bailiff called out as my mother nudged me from partially consciousness.
I didn’t want to come down to the courtroom for the sentencing, but she insisted that I be present to see justice done. Jay Stello was standing at the defendant table with his lawyer, Charity’s mother Cecily Gilbert. I felt a sliver of sorrow knowing the scheming mother / daughter duo had their claws deep in to him. I foresaw a Mike Tyson-Robin Givens type future for the once beloved idiot. He’d dropped a pound or two looking smaller but still cutting an imposing figure in a suit. The judge was some elderly white woman who looked like a bald eagle or something.
“Young man I’d like to address you before I hand down this sentence because I see golden opportunity squandered, and for what? An emotional attachment or from this report across my desk, the operative word should be entanglement with appropriate respect to your attorney. Jayson Stello, you’ve had a pretty easy ride up to this very moment from the view of this side of my bench. You could’ve killed that boy. Luckily, providence stepped in to keep you from that fate, this time. Do you understand what I’m saying to you Mr. Stello?” His lawyer nudged him with her elbow.
“Uh, yes your honor, ma’am.” His voice was shaky with a fear I’d never seen about his person as the judge sat there stone faced.
“We’ll see about that Mr. Stello; I understand the young man you assaulted is present with his parent. Would you like to address them at this time for your misguided actions before I hand down judgement on this case which has taken entirely too long to reach my bench?”
I tensed up as he nodded turning in our direction. My mother was holding my hand, giving it a squeeze of reassurance. There were a few members of the football team there for support sitting behind Jay’s elderly looking parents. He was sweating profusely, head held low for the first time in his life as he addressed us.
“Sorry, about everything-I did. It was wrong and uhm, I hope you forgive me someday Jaleel.”
It was instantly cathartic hearing him say my name openly for the first time. Up until this point I was an ant beneath his sphere, a nobody. He never cared about me in the least. Not even as a rival much less the boyfriend of the cheerleader he was cheating on his actual girlfriend with. Charity Gilbert was sitting there next to his parents now facing me from her seat. She looked like a presidential wife in this sleeveless grey knee length dress perfectly matching the color of her lover’s attire. She was visibly glaring at me through squinted eyes barely able to contain herself.
“I understand that some form of restitution has been made to the victim’s family; I don’t have an impact statement here in my paperwork. Would the Perry family like to make a statement at this time?” Mom nudged me with her elbow.
“Uhm, I don’t know what to say your honor because I never been inside a courtroom in my life, ma’am.”
“I commend you on that Jaleel, is it?”
“Yes ma’am; excuse me, I mean your honor.” The judge smiled warmly at my deferent posture.
“It’s okay young man, don’t worry you’re safe in my courthouse. Just speak your peace and I’ll do the rest.” The maternal sound of her voice told me that Jay Stello was likely toast.
“Uhm well I don’t know what else I can say because I was in the hospital for a month and a day your honor. Well uh, well….”
“Go on Jaleel.” She looked concerned as thoughts of his fist smashing my face brought up the perfect thing to finish off this chapter in my teen life.
“Well you’re the judge so uhm I guess… It’s beyond my control.”
Charity Gilbert audibly snarled like some caged animal drawing attention to herself in the worst way. She would’ve lunged out of her seat if Jay’s father hadn’t grabbed her elbow sternly. Her face twisted into that same indecipherably horrid grimace I’d seen as she sat in front office waiting for her parents. I wanted to drive the stake in deep making sure that everybody knew what she was from this moment forward. Her mother leaned over the bench tugging at her arm while the judge pounded away with her gavel.
Charity’s head rocked back as if she were swooning as some older black woman leaned forward with handfuls of tissues. I half turned burying my face in my mother’s suit jacket. It was the only way to keep from busting up in open court. This presented quite the visual the cameras present in the courtroom. Jay’s favorite blonde reporter was present covering the situation for local media. A sheriff’s deputy stepped in with a paper cone full of water as the judge regained order in her courtroom. My mother gave me a hard “pat” on the back. Momma didn’t raise no fools, nor was she one herself.
“Is there anything else the Perry family would like to say at this time?”
“No your honor.” My mother replied as I regained my composure.
“Jayson Stello, bursa escort face the bench please.”
He was still looking at his distraught girlfriend cradled in his father’s arms. Everyone present could see him visibly trembling as this now even more stone faced judge held his fate in her hands.
The former motherfucking Jay Stello was sentenced to fifteen days in jail, fifteen hundred in court fines, along with a hundred twenty hours of community service and additional restitution mediated by our respective legal representatives including attorney fees. One of my cousins who’d recently passed the bar was gonna be handling that unenviable chore. A few days before we came to court, my cousin informed us there’d been an offer of restitution on the table from Charity’s family attached to a non-disclosure agreement. Basically I was getting paid double for being knocked unconscious on a rainy day.
Jay cried like a baby as the bailiffs cuffed him for his meager half month sentence inconsolable calling out to his mother in front of everyone including the few members of his team present including my would be executioner Dondre. It wasn’t a good look in front of his subordinates crying like a bitch.
Charity Gilbert was finally toppled from her self-perceived seat of power. The student council was noticeably gutted of resources afterwards. Even depowered, Charity still maintained a mentor-protégé relationship with the vice principal who would undoubtedly keep doors opened for her favored student that should have been slammed in her face. Her portion of my settlement came from a considerable college fund established in her early formative years. Personally, I knew I’d have to continue looking over my shoulder until graduation.
“Cut the shit son; I know my boy.” Mom chimed in as we drove home from court. I’d been stoic, lost in thoughts of Faith when she spoke.
“Excuse me, I was sincere back there.”
“Want a whipping?”
“Alright you win; I had a ball watching it go down. That’s why you took me to court, right?” Instead of answering, mom rubbed the back of my head before turning up her music.
Both of us enjoyed the soulful strains of Isaac Hayes rendition of Walk On By with the Bar-Kays.
Thing seemed to be going my way for once, but my mother had the lack of good sense to incessantly gossip about my good fortune and sudden windfall with some of our relatives, particularly my Aunt Sharon a genuinely good woman in her mid-fifties married to a city maintenance worker named Buddy Lee. The thing about Aunt Sharon was her incurable penchant for gossip which had our home phones ringing off the hook by the end of the week along with a scheduled appearance at a suddenly planned family cookout.
I advised my mother to rsvp in the negative, but she informed me in no uncertain terms that hell or high water, I’d be appearing at that backyard party.
I stalked off to my room tangentially worried that a scene from ancient Rome would play out with me in the starring role of Caesar. It was the stuff disasters were made of, at least on low brow cable based crime programs. Despite epically dragging my feet, mom was able to drag me into her car after confiscating my own vehicle keys. She made sure I saw them in her large satchel purse along with her favorite black belt.
“You know, one day I’m gonna be in charge of your welfare when you’re old and grey.” I joked.
“Oh are you saying I should blow your money in a trip to Vegas, son? I may be old and grey one day, but right now I’m still your legal guardian and mother with access to your finances. Do you know your cousin’s phone number?” She acidly joked right back.
“Stop it.” She wasn’t my mother for nothing.
Aunt Sharon’s home was way out on the eastside of town in a racially diverse area that earned her a lot of negative feedback from relatives who believed her uppity. She usually let it roll off her back eager to maintain these shitty relationships and give myriad numbers of little cousins a place to hang out in the summer months and lounging during the holiday season.
It was open knowledge in our family that Sharon wanted children of her own but was robbed of the experience in her twenties. She’d been involved in an accident while working at a factory that robbed her of the ability to give life but provided enough covert wealth to purchase a home. Buddy Lee came a year later.
“Don’t embarrass me.” Mom warned, flashing the belt in her purse again.
“Nothing like a little child abuse on a Sunny afternoon, awesome.” I deadpanned knowing that even though I was legally an adult, she’d whip my butt in the blink of an eye if she saw fit.
Apparently, the party started the night before with a sleepover for some family members and close friends eventually growing into the middle-aged kegger assaulting our eyes as we waked up the sidewalk to Sharon’s two story home with attached garage. Mom grumbled not being able to find parking bursa escort bayan at the yard party having believed the soiree was dedicated to me. I was relieved at her irritation thinking we’d make appearances and be out before any criminal minded relatives could zero in on me.
“JALEEL, HEY LITTLE MAN!!”
I was a head and a half taller than my aunt who greeted us wearing a Aztec print poncho type dress. Sharon gave me a deep hug pinching my cheeks despite audible protests.
“Ew girl, where you get that dress from, Sharon?” My mother’s dialect unconsciously changed to match Sharon high pitched manner of speaking. The women on this side of the family shared that dialect other than my mother, but she never failed to change her tone in their presence.
“Oh you like it; well this is a Mara Hoffman natural style I got cheap online.” I was already leaving the adults to their conversation navigating a few glad handing relatives before making it to the bustling backyard.
My aunt’s husband Buddy Lee worked at a factory that made barbecue grills, the garbage can looking kind. He made a pretty penny and was pretty much easygoing without a problem letting his wife run the marriage. He also spent a lot of time on the road employed part time as truck driver, so whenever he was home, it was chill time. I slapped hands with a few cousins distant and otherwise, but the overall mood on the premises was jovial and involved with more older people than young people.
Most of the relatives present I’d known marginally with a good number present of the thuggish variety. Although a little shorter than me, Buddy Lee was a short man mountain in a beige short set and sandals. His shoulder length grey hair and matching beard gave him an urban bigfoot esthetic.
“HEY BOY, WHAT’S GOOD?!!” I didn’t mind giving him a hug, but it was like being mauled by a bear.
“What’s up, uncle?”
“Nothing much, watching some games hanging with friends; you done real good in court, saw it on the news. Sharon taped it and that football star a little soft in the ass crying like that over fifteen days. Shit, I did more time than that on parking tickets. Man, his girl acted like they were sending him up the river!”
“I wouldn’t know, it’s beyond my control, uncle.” He started laughing at the unknown inside joke patting me on the back.
“The yard’s kinda crowded so make sure you get some of that good eating. Tina’s manning the grill, just stick a plate in front of her.” One of his friends stuck his head out of the side door waving for Buddy Lee to join him.
“Oh she’s this daughter of Sharon’s coworker, been staying with us for about a good six months now. I’d say she nineteen or so, you guys should have a lot in common.” He gave me a wink as his associate, this chubby Mexican yelled something at him in Spanish.
“Okay, got it.”
“Yeah sure, excuse me.” Buddy Lee pushed past me unintentionally bumping me into some morbidly obese sister wearing a horrific plaid church dress. I nodded and apologized profusely, but it didn’t top them from looking at me like some kind of pervert.
I forged ahead finding the number of borderline elderly adults far outweighed the young people which left sparse pickings as far as my age group. There were scores of children running about from toddler age to barely tweens. I didn’t want any of that madness noticing some pointed stares from previously mentioned suspect relatives who ranged from fifteen to early twenties. Socially isolation was no big deal almost a welcome state in this environment. The remaining adults were grouped in clusters, a few actually dancing in the yard as vintage, rather stone aged hip hop blasted from some speakers.
Jam on it by Nucleus, old school rap electronica favored by the senior set, could probably be heard several doors over. There were smatterings of other ethnicities mixed in with guests, some looking like they were stuck on another planet as I found two fully stocked picnic tables lined up against the fence. It was a homemade buffet table crowded with greedy people jostling, almost fighting for access.
I managed to snag a plate and not much else following a line towards the grill. It was frustrating waiting there behind so many people I didn’t recognize. I felt like I was waiting in line to see a movie instead of getting a bite. Then the congested thongs of relatives, guests, friends, and assorted hangers-on, parted changing my perspective on this whole cookout backyard party thing.
Tina was indeed manning the grill facing away from me.
Tina was this really dark chocolate sister sporting a greasy looking shoulder length shock of hair with the texture of a Jheri curl. I couldn’t see her face from my vantage point, but her body was on full display much to the delight of the assembled menfolk young and old alike, and the chagrin of all the women in attendance.
This teen was well put together and not just through genetics, but it looked like Tina was a escort bursa gym rat of the highest order. Simply put, this teenager had the figure of a body competitor with a well-defined physique covered by a simple pink cropped baby tee and some shorts that were molded to one of the best looking butts I’d seen on par with my recent escapades.
This wasn’t Kimberly Bivens tight, well formed butt. This wasn’t Hope’s big, floppy heart shape, donk. Not even close to Charity Gilbert’s narrow, packed peach and it definitely wasn’t Charmaine’s huge, elongated badonkadunk. Faith was on a whole other level with powerful thighs that overpowered her muted hips as well as Dr. Ashwani’s rubbery looking spoon shaped butt.
No, even this was a new beast perfectly shaped, covered with these almond colored, high waisted booty shorts, the kind with the belt loop. Tina was sporting a wasp waist making a lot of the sloppy women in attendance groan with jealousy. Her long legs were shapely packed with muscle, almost too much.
Before I knew it, I was standing two people away from her having never taken my eyes off her backside. Her legs were glistening in the sunlight appearing covered in some baby oil adding to the overall effect. Tina was sporting some wedge sandals on her feet as the chubby woman in front of me got a slab of ribs surrounded by several screaming toddlers who swarmed her as she pushed through the crowd. No matter what, I was visually magnetized to that ass no realizing I was standing beside her.
“GIVE ME THAT FUCKING PLATE!!” The paper plate was snatched from my hands breaking the spell cast by that derriere as I realized she was speaking to me.
Tina’s face was something else a complete opposite to everything else in its arresting homeliness. Her deep chocolate hue wiped intricate detail from her features leaving narrowed piercing brown eyes over a prominent somewhat hooked nose and really big, darkened lips curled into a snarl. Tina was further shamed by the man upstairs with a pronounced overbite. In all, her face appeared extremely narrow framed by her sticky looking locks of darkened hair that managed to be the same hue as her skin.
“Hey, we done or what?” Tina asked again huffing.
“Yeah, sure Tina.”
“WHO TOLD YOU MY NAME?!!” The sound of her voice was inherently grating to the ear almost childish in nature with a animalistic snarl that hung at the edge of the words spoken. I was a tv head growing up so the only comparison I could make was the late Eartha Kitt.
“Buddy Lee.” Her expression changed upon hearing the name of a benefactor.
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“Maybe you should introduce yourself properly before ogling me out of my shorts.” I felt like an idiot as some little kid in earshot chuckled before being thumped by his offended portly matriarch.
“Uh well, sorry.”
“Yeah, you sorry; take this shit and blow.”
The subtle aggressiveness in her voice almost went right over my head as she shoved a plate filled with some short ribs and two hot links into my hands. I felt small under her narrow eyed gaze shrinking away into the congested yard.
“BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME, YOUNGBLOOD!!” Some loud-mouthed middle aged yelled after me earning laughter. I almost flipped him the bird finding a seat at a makeshift table with some adults and one distant cousin familiar to me named Spencer.
“Don’t take it to heart, she’s got issues.” One guy offered along with a soda from an adjacent ice chest.
“Everybody’s got issues; what makes her so special?” I grumbled picking at my plate.
“Sharon letting her squat here because she always fighting with her mom; I mean real like fist fights and everything. She lucky because she was gonna be put out on the street, serious.” The explanation didn’t stir a sympathetic bone in my body. I’d had enough of troubled women.
“Man, the only issue she got is her face; plastic surgery would do that body justice.” Spencer offered getting a few snickers. I didn’t comment one way or the other.
“You’re wrong Spencer.” Some rail thin kid responded sitting at an adjacent encampment.
“How am I wrong, look at that shit; that’s a trophy wife body. You know, now that I think about it, she needs her entire head replaced because I bet a million dollars, she looking at the head board every time she hook up.”
“Yeah.” The skinny guy agreed.
“I can’t believe that ass, those shorts are painted on that bubble. She lucky all these people are around because I’d run up in it quick.” I glanced at him sideways munching on a rib.
“I don’t believe you.”
“I don’t believe you’d run up in it if you were alone with Tina.” I reiterated.
“Shit, if all these people weren’t around, I’d walk over there and palm that ass, serious.”
Spencer was a big, pudgy seventeen year old that I vaguely recalled pummeling in my youth due to his sticky fingers when it came to my stuff. He didn’t seem to remember me, and I was cool with that, too.
“I don’t believe that either.” I challenged.
“Bruh, who you supposed to be?”
“HUH?!!” I scoffed taking a sip from my can before producing a fifty dollar bill from my pocket slamming it on the table.
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