“Push push push,” I said.
“Baby I can’t take the pain,” Jules said.
“Push push push, you almost there baby just keep pushing and breathing…”
It was a hot summer night when Jules woke me up from my sleep with a phone call to Auntie’s house. I had seen her earlier that night and we had talked about where we would live once the baby came. She had been pretty animated about just staying with her grandmother and saving money. I really was pushing for us to get an apartment together so that I could be under one roof. I wanted to show Jules that I was ready to step up and be there for my family. We ate well that night at Gino’s.
Earlier that day it seemed like I had run into people I hadn’t seen in months. Boss Man’s old lady was still running around spending his check and I saw her around town shopping. She spotted me walking and congratulated me on the baby. She gave me a big hug, and stuffed a crisp fifty dollar bill in my shirt pocket . She smiled and told me to have a good day and said, “you’ll be such a good daddy Carlos.”
When I got back to my car I pulled out my wallet to put the money up — and then I noticed seven digits written at the top. I shook my head and realized shawty had just given me her phone number. Ol gal is trying to give me the business. Damn man, thats just too crazy…
My next stop that day was to pick up some groceries for Auntie. I saw Mr. Bill in the frozen food section and we spoke briefly. We hadn’t been as close recently but I really couldn’t put my finger on why. He told me that he was picking up some groceries for his family. He had always spoken of his son Bishop, but hadn’t seen him in a minute. He told me that Bishop had reached out to him a few weeks ago because of some trouble he had ran into in Texas. He needed a place to keep a low profile and was living in Shadesville until things got quiet back home.
I seen this short fat black brother with some gold chains come around the corner. He looked at me and said, “whatup lil homie?”
“Carlos, this my boy Bishop; Bishop this here is Carlos.”
Me and Bishop spoke briefly, but I knew from that brief encounter that Bishop stayed in them streets. He had the talk, the walk, the dress, and the look of a man who knew the D in dope.
“Mr. Bill thanks for the diapers,” I said.
“Boi, that wasn’t no big deal, you welcome and I’m glad to helps ya..”
Bishop was thinking to himself once his Pops mentioned diapers… I’ve always been good at looking in a man’s eyes and telling when their mind begins to race. He walked up the aisle for a moment and then walked back towards me and Mr. Bill.
Bishop asked, “Yo, you the homie that with Jules? You her baby daddy?”
“Yea, I am, how you know JuJu” I asked.
He lightly chuckled to himself and said “congratulations lil homie.” Then he spoke of how he had known her back in the day and would run into her when they were in high school.
“I see the crown of the head,” the Doctor said to her nurses.
“Give me one more good push Jules,” she said.
In an instant I met Jeremiah. It was 11am on a Sunday morning—when a dark chocolate brown boy with a head full of hair and strong lungs cried his way into the world. His hands and feet were big and they measured his height to be 20 inches. Jules cried and cried when she held him. I wasn’t sure if she was happy or sad that day. I told her that I loved her and that I was so proud of her for being strong. She had graduated from nursing school a few weeks earlier and was now a mom to a precious little boy.
She looked at me and cried and cried, and told me that she loved me dearly. She told me that she didn’t deserve a man who treated her so well. I told her that she shouldn’t say such things, nor did I fully understand why in that moment she would say that…
Auntie got to the hospital later that day. She hadn’t been feeling well and she knew her body was ready for dialysis. She looked at Jeremiah and prayed over him. She looked intently at his nose, lips, eyes, and skin complexion. She nodded at the boy and mumbled to herself, “hmm hmmm hmmmm..” She asked me to walk with her to the gift shop because she said she needed some water and a breath of fresh air.
“Auntie, I’m so tired, but I’m so happy Jeremiah is here.”
Auntie paused and said, “Carlos, you always been a damn fool boi.”
I was stunned, but deep in my heart I knew why she was speaking this way with me. She took off her church gloves and hat, and sat down in a chair that sat across the hall from the elevator.
“Three blind men could see what I’m seeing Carlos. You ain’t dat boi’s daddy Carlos” she said.
I played coy, but asked with hesitancy what she meant by that.
“Look at that chile Carlos, that ain’t yo chile boi. Look in the mirror and then look at that chile. You high yella, wit a good grade of hair and a square nose. That chile there black as night on his first day of life with a flat nose and a fat head. Dat gurl’s granny ain’t called me in months..and now I know why—she know dat gurl done slutted her way to you, and tryn to trap you with the bill for this here chile…”
Her words hurt me, but I knew that in that moment her words were truth.
Author, Sam Blakemore, September 24, 2017