African American Fiction
Laverne’s Secret (Slick Rick’s “Teenage love” Reimagined in Dope Ass 1500 word Fiction)By Jamison A. Banks
Doing what teenagers do was the game.
Skipping school, with Laverne’s head on Kenneth’s shoulder. Between his fingers a lit joint. His hand shivering. But he wrapped it around her and rubbed her arm to hide his nerves. His mother was going to murder him. She could not be fooled in an attempt to mask the smell of smoke with Right Guard. Under no circumstances was anyone in her house who at night laid under her roof ever to blow off school. It didn’t matter how naturally unremarkable Kenneth’s hold on Academics was. The point was to try and make something of himself as if his report card held with it his ticket to taking his next breath. Mama hadn’t put her hands on him since daddy died but she was still scary . The type of parent to remind her children that her love was unconditional but not to be abused or taken for granted, and that she did not have to feed them.
Kenneth thought he was smart enough to say that to fail put food in him was child abuse. Mama’s response: “Is it child abuse if I just refuse to go to work, or forget to pay the light bill, or rent your bedroom to the highest bidder. If I got to starve one of you, I starve all of you. Your best bet is to be your brother’s keeper and keep each other on the straight and narrow. You know my rule, if you’re doing wrong y’all better find out each other’s business and get the offender straight or you all will suffer.”
The youngest Shane called Mama’s bluff by getting caught by his teacher bullying a boy into letting him copy his homework. In response Mama didn’t just take her son’s shared tv away like a normal parent she drilled a hole in the center of the glass and took away bedroom light bulb privileges. “I was nice and let you keep the speaker in the TV. Maybe you can listen to a program that will teach you to respect people.”
The oldest Courtney who was 16 at the time of the incident, felt he had enough being punished for his each of his brother’s doings: “I’m out of here.”
“You hear that” said Mama “gentleman yall are leaving. Hope Courtney has a plans for y’all to sleep.”
Later that night his three brothers came to know what sleeping on the front lawn was like.
“ I won’t have you on my porch soaking up my light.” Said Mama in a voice that was calm and sure. “Your brother running the streets yall can have street lights I don’t have no claim on shutting those off.”
“But the mosquitoes” cried Bernard
“It’s ants in the grass” Said kenneth.
“Find your brother and tell him how he’s got you living.”
“But you put us out.” Said Bernard.
“Nope you put yourself out when you didn’t stick together for what you know is right respecting your mother and most of all respecting yourselves like the young men I teach you to be. You should have smacked Courtney right over his knuckle head when he raised up at me. I may be your mother and I may love you all deeply but I’m still a woman. No man raised up by me is to ever make any girl feel small”.
The Brothers learned Courtney was spending his time comfortably living in the basement of one his teammates. Bernard coaxed him outside with the promise that Mama had sent him some clean clothes and some stew beef. The moment he cracked the front door the fist of the young Shane hammered Courtney’s right eye. Together they beat Courtney up and together they dragged him home. It was up to Kenneth to hold the ice to Courtney’s fat lip before Mama would grant them privilege to their beds.
Laverne’s was very well aware of Kenneth’s Mama’s rules. It could all be so simple. Teenage rebelliousness deemed that together they would and should make each other’s lives unnecessarily hard. Kenneth wasn’t even a smoker. He just held the joint for her after she took drags. His eyes burning from the acrid cloud, his heart racing for what Mama would do to him when he got home after his brothers tell they hadn’t seen him in school
Still, more concerning in his teenage bones is what he hoped he would Laverne do to him. Her hand lazily rest just above his knee.
Hand on her hip. The lump in his throat just as hard and full of lump of lust as the one in his underwear. Her eyes shut soft in anticipation of pleasure. Does she know he has no idea what he’s doing. Floating in, Leaning in to kiss her mouth. Her eyes flash open. She’s frozen in fear. A firm hand center sternum stops his progress to
Landing a smooth move. A callous elbow jabs him in the groin as she trots away in escape. Her bedroom door is left open; the same for the front door of the house.
The midday sun is center sky. The mosquitos are heavy. Their sting against his flushed face remind him this is all real. The noon quiet of the neighborhood is only interrupted by the churning of a lawnmower motor two blocks over and the wooden wind chime clanking against itself in the breeze.
Supposing this to be a joke he calls her:
He hears footsteps crunching into the dry leaves around back. He follows the sound and finds her on her knees crying, and vomiting. Every motion so opposite of the last she looks like the first creature out of water to touch land trying to figure a way to commute.
“What’s wrong with you…” he blows a puff of air into his hand and sniffs. “Is it my breathe?”
“No” she hurls again
“No. I’m fucking pregnant.”
Kenneth feels electricity flash through the sole of his feet and exit through his head. He staggers to catch himself.
“I’m not going to explain sex to you if that’s what you’re asking.”
Feeling his ego deflate, he comes down and sits next to her in the grass. Ignoring the stink of her purged gut. He places a soft palm on her back:
“Don’t judge me. I can feel like dirt without you.”
He wants to ask how many? Or, why not me?
but he remembers something daddy told him the tough questions have the easiest answers and son what you really don’t want to know don’t ask cause it will cut you deep and hurt you a long time. That sounded incomplete. Maybe daddy had some more parts to teach to this lesson but never found the time to teach them.
“Did you tell anyone?” He asked
“No just you.”
“Because, you’re my best friend…” she stares into the distance that captures the minds of those who have said to much too soon. “My best guy friend I mean.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“Figure it out on my own.”
“Are you going to have it?”
“I don’t have a choice I don’t have any money.”
“Thanks. I can pay you back I promise.”
“What are you going to do if your grandma finds out?”
“I think she already knows. She keeps saying she dreamt of fish and asking me to let her know my time of the month gets here. I told her I wasn’t doing anything to miss it. She told me if she was the mean type she would smack my face for lying; that she could tell by how my hip spread that I’ve found my womanly way. And to Be careful out there. And to make sure he’s worth it.”
“It doesn’t sound like it would be such a big surprise to her. Maybe its best to just have it.”
“What did your cousin Shawna say”
“She had to be a jerk about it. Talking about it’s not enough room in the house for two babies. And one of us should go live with the kids dad to get the burden off of grandma.”
“What will you do when it’s time to tell your family you don’t know who the father is.?”
“That’s when Shawna’s gonna hate me. Somehow she will believe that fact will make her plans look bad. She selfish. says says the crazy shit she does about thinking I’m pregnant because she thinks that Grandma will let her live with Jericho’s family if it’s true. I know, it makes no sense. But in her head she’s smarter than everyone else. Meanwhile, Grandma is still mad that Jericho’s 27 years old and as you know Shawna is only 17.”
“That is creepy.”
“Yeah but don’t say that. He’s cool. He’s got a new Regal. he lets me drive sometime.”
“Do you like him for Shawna.”
“You know… You’re always thinking. You never let things just be. That’s what I’ve always liked about you…”
“But you didn’t answer.”
“…Oh god I hate him.” She blurted with words so close together in complaint that it sounded as if they would crash into the backs of one another at the end of her sentence “I think Grandma is right. He’s some type of perve. I think he thinks Shawna’s getting too old for him or something. Plus, I hear grandma found out he has a woman a few towns over and two kids; a 12 year old and a 5 year old with really bad eczema. She said she’s going to either hit him in the face with a hammer or turn the police on him for violating little girls if that turns out to be true?”
“Do you think it’s true?”
He laughs and she sucks her teeth and snarls at him
“Sorry” he says. He bites his bottom lip hard to wipe away his smile “that’s just really specific Laverne.”
“Somethings up with Jericho. I always catch him looking at my boobs. Even weirder is after I catch him he always looks again like he wants me to be sure what he wants. I just try to keep him far enough away now so that I don’t have to be bothered.”
“Oh my god?” he barks in epiphany. She’s not startled at all. She kind of looks relieved.
“Did he touch you?”
She’s not talking, just, sitting on her bottom in the grass, clutching her knees girlishly.
“…only once…” She shrugs her shoulders and tilts her head to silently say so what.
“Did he do this to you?”
“This?” she asked incredulously.
“You know…get you pregnant?”
A stinging smack knocks the spit out his mouth. Laverne stamps away leaving Kenneth to rub the pain out of his cheek.