Solomon's Journal

Man, that was some party! It was just like the house parties of years gone by. And I was a dancing fool back in the day. “Get down Sugarman!” “Stomp that Roach!” “Gone and get with it then.” “Ah sooky sooky now! You cut that rug, Boy!” “Oooh, can’t touch you with a sugarcane, can they Sugarman?”

Sister was really surprised. One because she discovered the party was mainly for her. And two, because some of the people there, she hadn’t seen in decades. Must have been about fifty folks, all total—counting the four from my job that came, the three from Johnnie Mae’s company, a few people Sister knew from the phone company back when she and Johnnie Mae worked there, and a slew of people from the old neighborhood.

People I grew up with—pretty much have known since before they got their permanent teeth (many of which have lost a good bit of theirs now). There was Jawbone, Doc, Hotshot, Knock-Knock, Didi-bo, Brenda (aka Crawl-the-Bottom), Blue, Dosha, Baby Doll, and Dog (only I didn’t invite Dog and don’t have a clue who even told him about it).

Neither Rosalyn or Sister had an escort there, but that didn’t stop either one of them from buffing the shine on the dance floor. Stocking bare feet, them just twisting and shaking like two teenagers. Yeah, counting couples, it was about fifty.

Johnnie Mae barely broke a sweat. I had to drag her out on the dance floor just to get a slow dance. Then a fast one came on, and I wouldn’t let her walk away without finishing that one out too. I really can’t understand why she doesn’t like to dance; she’s great! Now Rosalyn, shoot!—that girl, a couple of times, looked like a fish trying to flop its way back into the ocean.

It’s hard to say for sure but I believe Jawbone had his “good” eye on Rosalyn (his glass eye looks straight ahead all the time anyway so it’s hard to tell for sure by that one). And if it hadn’t been for those two front teeth missing, she might have let him finish his tired old rap with too many ‘L’s and ‘F’s.

I believe Rosalyn had her sights set on Doc. (Doc is the one who had the brother called Preacher and when Preacher died—drowned he did—then Doc became a preacher.)

Right now Doc has questions he’s waiting on God to answer so he’s sort of on a sabbatical until his answers do come. Then he plans to step back in the pulpit without having to think himself a hypocrite, which is why it was okay for him to be at the party in the first place and not worry about sneaking his Canadian Mist on the side (being that he is—technically speaking...officially anyway—not on duty).

Knock-Knock almost got into it with Didi-bo because Didi-bo was still (in private anyway) referring to Knock-Knock’s wife by her old name of Crawl-the-Bottom.

Of course, all the fellows knew “Brenda” (because of her loose reputation) by the name of Crawl-the-Bottom which is what they dubbed her (though she never knew it because no one would ever say it to her face—one never knew when or if he might have a dry spell in between women and end up desperate enough to have to “Crawl the Bottom”).

Knock-Knock said he wasn’t about to tolerate anybody referring to “Brenda” that way any longer, so Didi-bo decided to knock it off (even if Brenda was the one flirting with him).

And Blue just sat there staring at Dosha. We all noticed how he didn’t look away and wondered whether he was planning to make a move before the night was over.

They both are about the color of midnight; Dosha more like a Tootsie Roll—a chocolate taste without all the fat, and Blue more like a giant Hershey’s Kiss—a rich gooey chocolate (especially when he gets too hot), small on the top, big around the middle, and simply loaded with fat!

Now Hotshot, having noticed Blue’s gaze locked tight on Dosha, and then Dosha—every now and then—seeming to be sizing up Blue as well, whispered in my ear, “Man, I’m gonna tell you...if those two get together, I pray to God they practice some form of birth control. Lord-have-mercy help us Jesus!”

Blue finally struggled his way up...seeming to have gotten the nerve to stagger Dosha’s way.

I can still hear the words...the way they flowed like a song from his mouth. How he hit the high notes just right...holding long the low ones in that baritone voice of his as he said to Dosha (and we all heard it), “You’s one ugly sap-sucker!”

Dosha stood up. It got quiet fast. You could hear our neighbor’s roaches scampering a mile down the road.

Everyone who recalled—and believed—Dosha’s reputation, knew Blue was about to turn a bright shade of red. And those who didn’t know, must have sensed she might possibly miss when she cut, shot, or slapped the mess out of him.

Dosha stood and walked up just beneath Blue—cataloguing his body parts from his head to his toes. She smiled, then spewed in a cigarette coated voice, “Kind of like looking in a mirror at the fun house, ain’t that right you big-fat-no-account-skillet faced-elephant-jack ass-hunk-of-coal!”

Blue took one more step up to was like watching a live rendition of a miniature King Kong getting ready to devour a king-sized Tootsie Roll.

“So?” he said, cocking his head over to one side...a smirk spreading over his face. “You wanna dance, or not?”

Dosha walked away, then turned around. “Well, are you coming?” she said. “Or are you waiting for that lard butt of yours to just r-o-l-l over here? Cause if you coming, you’d best come on.” She began swooning and swaying, singing loud (and off key) to the point she just plain old drowned out poor Marvin Gaye. “Let’s get it on!” she sang, “Awww Baby!”

I hated having to tell Hotshot, “Blue and Dosha...they left, Man. Together. Sucking all over each other’s face.” When Hot-shot heard it, he promptly fell to his knees...and prayed.

Baby Doll was there. We all recalled how she killed that man. Well, she didn’t really kill him, but you might as well say she did it. She was about nineteen or twenty at the time. And old Mr. Charlie was close to ninety. He lived in a pretty nice size house and had just bought a brand spanking new, fully loaded, completely paid for, red El Dorado Cadillac that he couldn’t even drive all that well.

Consequently, Baby Doll married Mr. Charlie, and just two weeks later...he was pretty much gone. There was even a jackpot started: The How Long Before Mr. Charlie Croaks pot.

“How long do you think?” my sister asked our mother. “Disgraceful!” Mudear said. “Just a crying shame! Folk’s betting on a man’s life like that.”

So naturally I was just as surprised as everyone else when I won that ninety dollar pot, God rest his soul. It did buy our school supplies that year, paid a month on the power bill; and I was able to buy Mudear a dress from Newberry’s downtown.

Someone (I still don’t know who) invited Dog to the party; I just know it wasn’t me. But I dared not to tell Johnnie Mae that. I have nothing against Dog, but he and Sister once had a thing for each other. Dog had his chance and he crashed like a computer system with a major virus.

So when I caught him teasing Sister, naturally I stepped in, although the frown on her face hissed at some hidden feelings.
Johnnie Mae whispered in my ear later, “Hmmm, Pearl seems to have a way of attracting all the mangy mutts. You mean to tell me she could have ended up with this Dog instead of the dog she married?

“Looks to me she just might have lucked out after all. Now that’s sad when I have to admit that.” Johnnie Mae’s stare seemed locked on his waist as his pants rested a quarter inch below the wide band of his—now exposed—BVDs. “Oh well,” she said, “at least Flick has the decency to wear clean drawers. Or at least he doesn’t go around advertising his dirty ones.”

Johnnie Mae can always manage to find something wrong with any and everybody I grew up with. If she’d just give them a she did with Sister. Only, she had no idea I even knew Sister back when she introduced us to each other.

Yes, that was a great party! Everybody appeared to have enjoyed themselves, and that was the goal. Most weren’t too drunk to drive home or at least, they had sense enough to have a designated driver. Those who didn’t...we called them a cab.
Sister, in particular, seemed to have had a great time. All of us laughed as she tried blowing out fifty candles at once. Dog stood there waiting breathlessly, hoping it seemed, that she would need mouth-to-mouth (and I’m sure he would have fought off ten men, happily for that privilege).

“Man! You gonna have to do this again! Soon. Real soon!” Dog said as he staggered away—half-drunk now. He was one of three who was still there after one o’clock.

I looked over at my dear wife whose face seemed to scream, without apology, “I’ll be so glad when these fools leave my house and take their butts on home!” and I knew this might well be the last time this crowd would ever assemble again in our home.

Johnnie Mae did say she enjoyed it, after the last person was gone. Then she went about the task of unlocking all the locked doors inside our house. Why she locked them, I do not know. But after a while, you grow used to certain things.

Showering and quickly sliding between the satin covers, she shivered and said, “I’m cold! I’m putting the T-shirt sheets back on the bed first thing tomorrow.”

I reached my hand underneath her fluffed pillow and pulled out a velvet box.

“Be my valentine?” I said. The light from the moon that flooded through our bedroom window, somehow caught and seemed to add a special touch to the diamond tennis bracelet just as she dangled it in the air.

She smiled, and I gave her a passionate kiss before laying her ever-so-gently down. She nestled closer to me. We didn’t discuss the good or bad of the night; the only words uttered, were words of passion and love. I think she said, “Yes!” several times.

Yes, she’d be my Valentine. And if I’m not mistaken, I do believe I actually yelled, “Ah...sooky sooky now!”
Oh yes, it was definitely a good night!


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