From sin, abuse and abandonment to repentance, recovery and redemption
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Fair skinned, wavy-haired Louisiana native Gregory Duplantis’ own flesh and blood ruthlessly conspire to sabotage his impending marriage to Natalie, his one true love because her mahogany skin and humble background are unacceptable.
Innocent, gifted and exotic – skin the color of bittersweet chocolate, Natalie Jordan is the constant victim of intra-racial discrimination because of her pure African features.
Social climber and entrepreneur Albertina Duplantis makes no apologies for doing “whatever it takes” to protect her family’s assets, social status and bloodline.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers;
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2
Albertina hovered above the inanimate form that was her own body. She heard unintelligible voices and the sound of several sets of shuffling feet approaching. A sea of white coats with hands that held clipboards and pens stood at the foot of her hospital bed. Five, no six white coats.
One of them spoke as the others listened and scribbled notes. She willed her eyes to open but they disobeyed. She tried to speak but was unable to make her lips part. Her mind was screaming. She wanted someone to pull out all of the tubes and wires. Tubes that pushed oxygen in and out of her lungs. Wires that made her heart beat. Tubes that nourished and hydrated her...drained her body's waste. Wires and tubes that enabled her to live.
The white coats formed a semi-circle around her hospital bed. A gray-haired white coat asked questions of the others. Two of them answered. The gray-haired one scowled and shook his head. He impatiently waited for the obvious correct answer.
Finally a medical student with topaz-colored eyes offered the correct answer. The corners of Gray-hair's mouth turned upward as he nodded approvingly.
Albertina observed as the white coats continued to violate her. Gray-hair lifted the thin cotton sheet that covered the remnants of her dignity, pointed and asked more questions. Again, the girl with topaz-colored eyes answered correctly.
Albertina sensed a familiarity with the bright intern. Neither she nor her young benefactor were aware that their past - and future were entwined.
Somebody died, somebody lied, the obvious is sometimes obscure...
Lover and friend hast thou put far from me
and mine acquaintance into darkness
“Who's that baby's daddy?"
"Are you drunk or something? Why would you ask me that?"
A deafening clap of thunder tore open the late-night sky and released sheets of April rain.
Gregory shouted over the thunder, "I just had a talk with Thomas."
"What has Thomas got to do with our baby?"
"Is it our baby Natalie? Do you even know who the father is?"
"Gregory you know I have never been with anybody but you - that one time! I can't believe you even fixed your mouth to ask me such a question."
"Liar!" He slapped her - hit her so hard she was sure she'd bitten through her tongue.
Bewildered by his sudden attack, Natalie tasted her own blood - not knowing whether the bleeding was from the tongue bite or the split in her rapidly swelling lips. She ignored the excruciating pain and reached for him, pleading for an explanation. "Why did you do that? What did I do to deserve that?"
He grabbed her shoulders, shaking her. "I'm not falling for that innocent act any more Natalie. You played me for a fool - big time. I can't believe I almost married you."
She wrenched herself free of his grip and instinctively pushed him so hard he stumbled backward - barely missing the porch steps. "This isn't you talking Gregory. Your mouth is moving, but Albertina Duplantis is talking."
Another back-handed blow to her mouth sent Natalie crashing against the house - jabbing her back into the doorbell. The intensity of the blow against the doorbell shot a wave of pain into Natalie's spin that traveled up to her neck, back down to her tailbone and into her right leg.
"You keep my mother's name out of your filthy, lying mouth you slut!"
A crowd of curious neighbors carrying umbrellas and wearing rain slickers had gathered in front of the house. Block Captain Elijah Nelson yelled into the crowd. "I'm calling the police!"
The neighbor's comment fueled Gregory's anger like gasoline doused on a flame. "This is a private matter. You people need to mind your own business." He returned his attention to Natalie. "What are you planning to do about that baby?"
"You seem to believe it's not your baby so it's not your business."
"Don't get smart with me." He shoved her against the house, clutched her throat with his right hand and raised his left fist.
The screen door slapped against the house. Hattie Jordan burst onto the porch wielding a meat cleaver. "Boy, if you hit my daughter you gon' draw back a bleedin' nub!"
Her husband, Dallas stumbled out of the house carrying a shotgun and wiping sleep from his eyes. "Whas' goin' on out here? Natalie did this boy put his hands on you?"
Hattie answered, "Look at her mouth Dallas. This fool had her pinned 'gin the house." Natalie's face was twisted from the pain that radiated from the center of her back.
Dallas snatched his daughter away from Gregory's grip and leveled the barrel of the shotgun between his brows. "Look-a-here Mama's Boy, you get yo' tail off my prop'ty 'fo I blow you' head clean off!"
"Daddy no!" Natalie sobbed into her father's shoulder.
A black and white Detroit Police squad car pulled up in front of the house. The driver shined a light on the porch and yelled to Gregory. "What's going on here? We got a call that a lady was being assaulted at this address."
Dallas eased the shotgun back into the house while the officers focused on Gregory. One of the officers recognized Gregory and yelled over his shoulder to his partner. "Hey Jake, ain't this the guy we pulled over just a few minutes ago?"
Jake looked at Gregory, then his '56 Chevy. He yelled back. "Yeah Mel, one and the same. What's going on up there Mr. Duplantis?"
Gregory answered. "Just a little lover's quarrel. sorry if we disturbed anyone. We didn't mean to cause any trouble."
Officer Mel exited the squad car to break up the crowd. "Alright everybody, show's over. Go on home, there's nothing else to see here."
The reluctant crowd dispersed. Several people returned to their homes to peer through the windows of darkened rooms. A few of the more defiant neighbors congregated with Elijah Nelson on his front porch - hoping the entertainment would continue.
Officer Mel walked over to the bottom of the stairs and surveyed the scene. Natalie hid her face from the policeman's light.
"You folks sure there is nothing going on that we need to know about?" He directed his attention to Natalie. "Young lady are you hurt?"
From the shadows, she wiped a trembling hand across her face and tried to speak normally, but her voice and her bulging lips betrayed her. "N-no thank you officer. I'm ok."
A quick assessment of the scene and judging from the swelling and bruises on Natalie's face, his suspicions were confirmed. He'd witnessed this scenario on countless weekend calls. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, we can't make you turn him in."
The officer raised the collar of his raincoat and spoke to Gregory. "So this is where you were in such a hurry to get to huh?"
Gregory stared past him - at Natalie. Then his acid-churning stomach sent him into a fit of violent convulsions and dry heaves.
The officers exchanged looks. "Tell you what Mr. Duplantis, me and Officer Tyson there will give you a ride home." he motioned for Gregory to start moving toward the squad car.
Gregory imagined the hissy-fit Albertina Duplantis would have if her son was brought home in a police car.
"No thanks, I'm alright. I can make it."
Officer Jake propped his foot on the bottom step and leaned forward. "Young man, I don't think you understand. Officer Tyson and I insist that you accept our offer."
He scowled. "And what am I supposed to do about my car?" I can't just leave it here."
"In light of the circumstances, I plan to give this house special attention all night. I'm sure nothing will happen to it while it's parked in front of the Jordans' house. You can arrange to take care of it in the morning." He placed his hand on the young man's shoulder. Come on now. Get in the squad car son."
Dallas put his arm around his daughter's slightly protruding waist and gently guided her toward the warmth and safety of their home. She looked over her shoulder and saw Gregory glaring at her from the back seat of the police cruiser. Natalie's tears mingled with the rain and splattered onto her cheeks as she watched her baby's father disappear into an envelope of darkness.
Copyright©Venus Mason Theus 2006