BECAUSE SHE WAS…
E. Roy Anderson
Beside each other they laid. She was asleep, he wasn’t. Sleep was something he wanted but was the furthest thing from his mind at this point. It was quiet, so quiet you could hear the apartment breathe. It was about an hour before sunrise, and you could tell it was going to be another one of those hot summer days. Jason sat up in bed, as she stirred yet continued to sleep. She…she was Jacent.
As he watched her sleep, dressed in sweats, the revelations of the last twenty-four hours came rushing back with the intensity of a giant tidal wave. He got up to make some coffee. On his way to the bathroom he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He knew he should shave, but there were other things of more importance now. His mother always said, “ some day you will make a great husband and father.”
At 25, he thought he was still young enough to wait awhile for that right woman.
“I’m no Nubian prince but maybe the next best thing.” He said to himself and smiled. That smile didn’t last long because he was suddenly aware of Jacent’s presence.
His mother never told him what happened… why his father was never around. He just assumed that’s how it was. Jason was only four when his father left, and he knew him only briefly, if that was possible. Several male figures would come and go while he grew up. None staying for very long. His mother liked the company of men, but not with any permanence. Whatever she did, he never disrespected her. She was Mother and whatever made her happy was fine. Being an only child they were extremely close and had quite a lot in common. He remembered his mother always going to his athletic events. She was his biggest fan, and was always there when he needed her.
“ Because your father isn’t here, I have to be both mother and father to you.” She would say.
So that is why when he found out she was getting married, he felt betrayed. Another man was coming not just into their lives but also between them. A decision had to be made. He could stay and make live miserable for everyone, or he could do what he thought was the best adult thing to do. After all, he was eighteen. So after the wedding he found a place of his own and moved out, as far away as possible. Jason never lost contact with his mother, and always kept asking about his father. He kept a record of
everything she told him. It was his way of keeping the dream alive of one day finding the man that left them alone with nothing.
He never gave up hope. Several years later a friend of the family gave him a lead on where he might find someone whom she thought was his father. Finally something to go on.
“Be careful,” she warned, “he does have other children.” Big deal he thought. How old could these kids be? I’ll have them eating out of my hand in no time, he thought to himself.
Miss Blanche was just a shadow of her former self. Quite a bit older from when Jason last saw her, and she was old even then. She spoke slowly, and Jason had to listen carefully to every word she said. It did take some time, but he got all the information he needed, and proceeded with plans to make contact. Jason never did let his mother know of these plans for fear that she might be upset and try to stop him. His determination was now stronger than ever, and nothing was going to stand in his way.
The motel was adequate and wasn’t far from where he had to go. He wanted to be sure that someone was home, so he checked the phone listings. His search came up empty. No problem, he had the address and made plans to walk the short distance to his long awaited fate. The neighborhood was not what Jason had expected. Once he crossed over Main Street he was in another world. There were half naked kids running about everywhere and playing amongst the garbage. There were buildings that had seen better days and better tenants.
“Excuse me, I am looking for 345 Lower 4th St., could you…” Before he could finish his question she started to give him directions.
“Thanks.” He heard himself say as she walked away. He noticed that she had beautiful, shoulder length, jet black hair and facial features that could make her a goddess. He also noticed something else…. she seemed out of place, she didn’t belong in this neighborhood. The observation passed quickly because he was now facing his destiny.
He followed her directions as best as he could, and entered the building, walked up the four or five steps to the first floor and there it was. Apartment “3”His heart was in his throat and his pulse raced like a fire engine responding to a three alarm fire. This was harder that he thought, and the thought did cross his mind to back out. Closer and closer he approached the door with eagerness and anticipation. With his heart still pounding Jason knocked on the door and waited…. Jacent was only 21 and over the last 5 years had experienced more
than most adults twice her age. Her mother left home when she was thirteen and three years later her father died. She had been alone ever since, doing things that she wasn’t proud of. It’s survival of the fittest, and she was in a battle to survive. Lately things had been going very well and she hoped it would continue that way.
Her mother being white with a touch of Latin flavor gave Jacent her fiery nature, and the dark ebony tones of her father gave her an even year round tan. She knew that she didn’t fit in from an early age. Her dad used to tell her that it wasn’t what you are on the outside that makes you a woman, but what’s on the inside. She grew up tough and determined with a strong sense of value, though at times it got a little tarnished.
The tenants in the building where Jacent lived, adopted her as one of their own, and were like guardian angels after her father died. There were times that she wished they minded their own business but ultimately she knew they were just protecting her.
Strangers in the neighborhood were a rare occurrence, but this one didn’t look like a stranger. Maybe that’s why nobody else noticed, but she did. He was tall, had wide shoulders and walked with such ease and grace, and had such a warm smile that she was pulled towards him. The closer he got, the more excited she became.
“Girl, pull yourself together. He’s just another heart break.” She told herself. Now he was standing in front of her and asking something. She vaguely remembered him asking for directions and before he could finish she was answering. It was as if she knew what he was going to say. You incoherent fool she thought and walked away, totally embarrassed and hoped that he did not noticed.
Jason was getting no response from his knocking. He was toying with the idea of leaving a note under the door but decided against it. He could always come back again. He remembered passing a bar about a block away and returned for a drink. The bar was crowded and he didn’t feel like standing anyway. He found an empty table, sat down and the waitress came to take his order.
“This one is on the house.” Said the waitress. Jason tried to ask who bought him the drink but she was already taking another order. Jacent worked as a bar tender at the local watering hole and usually had an unobstructed view of everyone who walked through the doors. Due to the bar being packed she didn’t notice him walk in. When the other waitress mentioned to look what the cat dragged in, her heart started pounding again. That is when she sent over the drink. Normally she would not have had such a reaction to any man, and tried to cover up her shaking hands by telling jokes to the regulars. She had the waitress cover for her, something about going to the bathroom. On her way back she stopped at Jason’s table.
“Hi, Remember me?” She said, hoping she wasn’t making a fool of herself and that he would remember her.
“Most definitely, you made quite an impression.” He responded. Good start she thought and relaxed a bit.
“I can’t talk right now but I am off in a couple of hours. Can you hang around or come back?” “I do have to go but I will be back, if that is okay with you.” Jacent stirred feelings in Jason that he had not felt in a while. She was warm, comfortable and easy to be with. It is as if he had known her for a lifetime. Over the next month they were inseparable, apart only when she had to work.
Jason had a reputation for ending up in bed before he knew the lady’s name, and this seemed to be heading in the same direction. Jacent knew he was just another heartbreak, but had them before and likely will again. In time they do heal. She tried to stay away but being near him made her feel like a lady, a sensual and sophisticated lady and she loved the attention and how it felt. She tried to keep him at a distance but it was getting harder with each passing day.
There was a difference in Jacent and even the neighbors saw it. There was a bounce in her step. She would skip all the way to work and race home after her shift was over. Needless to say she was hooked on him. Jason recognized the changes and for a moment worried whether he was hurting her.
“She is a big girl and knows the game.” He thought to himself. But he could not bring himself to break it off; after all he was also having feelings for this lady. Maybe, just maybe, she was the one for him.
With all the excitement with and about Jacent, Jason had almost forgot why he was in this neck of the woods. She was, and had been, taking up a lot of his time, and was becoming quite the distraction. She could help him if she wanted, she knew the neighborhood, but it was time to get back on track. They had become very close, and were very much alike, but there were some differences. She was fiery and hot tempered, where Jason was calm and soft-spoken. She noticed, at times, he appeared deep in thought, but never questioned him.
“You know I am only here for one thing, and when it is complete I am history.” Jason said, trying to be sensitive considering the situation.
“You don’t owe me anything.” She said realizing Jason’s concerns.
“Why don’t we both go and get some sleep and I’ll give you a hand with your search tomorrow.” Jacent suggested. The next day they met at Jacent’s place and were just about ready to leave, when for some unknown reason, she asked for his father’s name.
“Albert Single.” Jason said without thinking.
“Albert single…I know that name and where he lives…” Then it hit her. “But it can’t be, it’s just not possible.” Jacent was in shock, walking around in circles and talking to herself.
“What’s not possible, will you sit down, you’re making me dizzy just watching you.” Now Jason was getting scared, nervous and excited. He was overwhelmed by all these emotions at once.
Jacent felt she was on the verge of passing out, but regained control once she felt Jason’s touch. She didn’t think anything could hurt as much, but she forced her self to say…
“If Albert Single is your father, then, you are my B-R-O-T-H-E-R….” She was crying as she spelled it out. “You’re my brother, and Albert Single is our father, and he recently passed away.
“Let me get this straight. You are my sister, and my father our father is dead. When and how did all this happen?” Jason said trying to control his shock, anger and frustration. He now started to pace trying to piece all the information together.
Neither one had their fathers name. When Albert left Jason and his mother, he met Jacent’s mother and four years later she was born. When Jacent was 16, he died. She now remembered him speaking of a son and his name was Jason. The only thing they had in common was the similarities in their names. Jacent tried as best she could to tell Jason all she knew. After several hours of crying together and comforting each other Jacent fell asleep. Jason just lay there, unable to sleep, trying not to disturb her while he figured things out. Images from his past and how he thought his father would look kept flashing through his head, as he went through the whole range of emotions.
It was almost dawn now and Jason was beginning to feel tired, …very tired. He looked over at his sleeping sister and stroked her hair.
E. Roy Anderson