Chapter Eight ~ Joe’s Gramma Tells a Story
Twenty Years Earlier
“I was thirty-five years old when Patrice finally landed a plane in the hanger, you know what I mean?”
Joe looked puzzled and said, “I didn’t know Gramps knew how to fly.”
“I not talking about flying. One of his boys finally meet one of my girls, and next thing I know, I’m pregnant with Estelle.”
Joe understood. He nodded. He had no idea where his gramma was going with this story.
Teresa continued, “I wanted a boy, so as soon as Estelle gets off my nipple, we start trying for a boy. I’m gonna tell you. His sperm got no power. Finally, four years later, we get lucky and he knocks me up. This is Annette. I telling you now, Joe, you want to raise kids, do it when you’re younger. It takes too much energy when you’re older.”
Joe looked at his iWatch. Teresa caught his glance. She said, “Okay, I’ll skip the first few chapters, but I got some good stuff to tell you, especially about Estelle, you wanna hear it.”
“Next time, you can give me all the dirt on Estelle,” said Joe hoping his gramma and Estelle patched things up before then.
Teresa yawned, then said, “The beer tastes good, but not as good as my Budweiser. Maybe I’ll have another bottle when I finish telling you about Annette.”
Joe had no idea his gramma enjoyed beer. He filed it away, making a mental note to surprise her with a six-pack every now and then.
Teresa said, “Annette, almost from the second she was born, was head strong. She was going to do things her way or she wasn’t going to do them. I don’t mean to say she was a bad girl. Just the opposite. Annette was a good girl. But we fought all the time. I tell her to go to bed. She’d say why. I tell her to clean her room, she say, later. She always do what I ask, but she’s always pushing me, you know what I mean?”
Joe nodded, but didn’t say anything.
“When she was in high school, she wants to start dating when she is fifteen. Patrice and I say, no. You’re too young to date. Oh my God, you think we put her in prison. Before we could say another word, she said she is going to her room and never coming out. She stomped to her room, slammed the door loud enough to wake up the dead. Patrice looks at me and says, ‘I hope she means it.’
Joe laughed. He knew his mom could be headstrong when she wanted her way. She usually got it with his dad.
Teresa continued, “Annette got better as she got older. I give her credit, but she still got this problem if she makes up her mind even God is not going to change it. That’s what happened when she goes off to college. We got this rule, you want to date a boy, you bring him home to meet Patrice and me. This work just fine during her freshman year because she’s living at home. Then she announces she is going to live at the college in the dormitory. Why? We feed her. We give her a roof over her head. I do her clothes. She wants to move out, it makes no sense. The college is only five miles from where we live. You agree with me?”
Joe thought his mom made the right decision to get out on her own, but he didn’t want to argue with his gramma. He said, “You were giving her everything.”
“You got a good brain, Joe. We argue with her. Her mind is made up. She got a head harder than rock. She’s going to work part-time at the college to pay the extra. I thought Patrice was going to have a heart attack.
“The next thing we know she shows up for Sunday dinner with her boyfriend. Right away, I don’t like him. I don’t like his looks. He looks too smooth. He hands me and Patrice a line I don’t believe for a minute. I see he got Annette wrapped around his little finger. She’s in love with him she don’t know from nothing, you hear what I’m saying.”
Joe nodded then said, “Was this Joe Wright?”
“Who’s Joe Wright. I don’t know no Joe Wright from nowhere. This was Joe Ritchie. He was the no good son of bitch that knocked her up. When he finds out she’s pregnant, he takes off.”
“He joined the army?” Joe asked.
“What army. He never was in the army, air force, or the marines.”
Joe reached inside his pants pocket and pulled out the folded letter he found in the metal box. He said, “Gramma. I found this letter. Look at the address, it’s Lieutenant Joe Wright and the return address says he’s in the army.”
Teresa took hold of the envelope and opened it. She pulled out the letter bringing it up within a foot of her eyes, and read it. While she was reading the letter, she flooded the atmosphere with one curse word after another. When she finished reading the letter, she handed the it back to Joe, “If I get my hands on him, I gonna snap his neck like I snap a chicken’s neck when I was younger. That’s what I’m gonna do. That’s no Joe Wright. That’s Joe Ritchie. I remember the letter. I picked it up from the mailbox. Annette is home with you and I get the mail and I say who’s this Joe Wright in the army who’s sending you a letter. And, Annette says, ‘He’s a friend from college.’ She thinks I don’t know nothing. But I know she was lying to me. But the truth finally comes out.”
Joe said, “What can you tell me about Joe Ritchie?”
“I’m going to need another beer before I get started. I got a story to tell you.”