Chapter 7


Shelia was cleaning up the mess that her daughters had left on the kitchen table. They always ran off in a hurry after eating leaving her with the clean-up details. Shelia’s heart was heavy today. The load was so heavy that with each heartbeat she felt as if her insides would drop through her uterus and plunged towards the gravity that called it, pulled it, and demanded it to drop. Drop into its hungry lap of fear. Shelia was scared. 

Shelia wasn’t a woman that scared easily. In fact, Shelia could be very scary herself, according to the neighbors who tried to stay on her good side and not complain about the loud R & B and pop music that her girls sometimes played during the day, or the loud jazz music that Shelia played during the night. It wasn’t that Shelia was aloof or appeared to be mean, it was just the way she carried herself, with confidence and strength. When Shelia walked she stood tall, back straight with a slight wiggle to her hips. 

At times women on the block were envious of her and the way she carried herself. Other times they were jealous of her because their men always stopped what they were doing to stare at Shelia and grin in her face when she passed them as she walked home carrying groceries, rushing to the bus stop on her way to work, or just sitting on her front porch smoking a cigarette or sometimes a joint. It wasn’t Shelia’s fault. She didn’t pay them no mind at all. Oh she would smile back and say hello, but that was as far as it got because she wasn’t interested in developing a relationship with her neighbors, especially the men.

She had rubbed the same spot on the kitchen table for five full minutes, unaware that she was being observed by Jimmy, her boarder, as he watched her from the kitchen door frame. She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she hadn’t heard his heavy footsteps as he came towards the kitchen area.

Mighty fine-looking woman, Jimmy thought, mighty fine. He’d tried to get into those thick heavy thighs that he looked at every chance he got, and now was a good chance as she appeared lost in some other world that even his presence, which she had told him more than once, was offensive to her, could not penetrate. As he watched her hips sway and move with the upper body motion that she was using to rub the table clean, he fantasized that he walked over to her and grabbed her from behind, his hands holding each side of her waist that was the narrowest part of her torso. He was telling her to not rise up, to stay bent over. 

“Keep moving your hips” he told her. He reached down with his heavy upper body and then kissed her on the back of her neck. “You want it, don’t you?” he asked, breathing heavily.   

“What the hell are you doing!” Shelia yelled. She was standing in front of him, one hand on her right hip, and the other clinched in a fist with the dish rag hanging from her fingers. Jimmy jerked his body up from the leaning position he had moved into while daydreaming. His right hand was rubbing his crotch area, which was hard.  

“Nothing.” he managed to mutter as he quickly dropped his hand, putting it into his pocket as if hiding the dirty deed. 

“I know damn well it was nothing. I better not catch you jerking off in my presence again Jimmy, or you’re out of here, you hear me?”  

“I wasn’t jacking off! I was scratching that’s all.”

“Scratching what?”

“What, what, what you mean?” Jimmy started to stutter and back away from Shelia. 

“What the hell were you scratching?” Shelia asked again as she advanced menacingly towards Jimmy, with her fist still clenched.

“I’m sorry Shelia, OK? I’m sorry, OK? I didn’t mean nothin by it! OK.”

“OK my ASS!  I have girls in this house! Don’t none of us want your funky ass! And if I catch you even THINKING about ‘SCRATCHING’ around my BABIES” 

Shelia lowered her voice and took another menacing step towards Jimmy who was now backed down into a chair at the table. 

“You won’t have anything to scratch down there, cause there won’t be nothing to scratch, you dig?” 

“I Dig! What’s for breakfast?” Jimmy dared to ask after a few seconds of Shelia starting into his eyes with anger.  

“Nothing! I put everything up about fifteen minutes ago. I done told you to be down here by 7:30 if you want to eat breakfast here. This is not a twenty-four-hour restaurant fool!” 

“I worked late last night, Shelia so I’ll just get a bowl of cereal or something.” 

“That’s fine with me, long as you don’t expect me to cook you anything! And wash your nasty ass hands before you touch my refrigerator door, you hear me?” 

“I hear you Shelia. I hear you.”

Shelia hung up the dish towel she was holding and stormed out of the kitchen, stopping at the doorway to glare one more time at Jimmy and shake her fist. Jimmy watched her leave, her big hips swaying from side to side. He licked his lips, washed his hands and began fixing his cold breakfast. He needed to be more careful around Shelia and stop thinking about her in any other way but a landlord, but he couldn’t help himself. She was so damn hot and pretty, and he hadn’t been with a woman for so long now. However, he needed a place to live, Shelia didn’t bother him, the rent was cool, and he liked the neighborhood, so he had to keep it together.