I Heard It All Before, page 3
“You can’t be serious!” Asha yelled as she looked at Cam in disgust. What he was saying had to be a joke and she was just waiting on him to laugh.
“Does it look like I’m playing?” Cam asked in return. “The fuck we need with three bedrooms anyway and it’s just us?”
“We got it because we needed the extra closet space. I have too many clothes and shoes for us to downsize,” Asha argued.
Her breath got caught in her throat when Cam told her that he wasn’t renewing their lease when it was up in eight more months. The place was in his mother’s name, so she really didn’t have a say in the matter. Nora renewed the lease when he was locked up, but that was only because he told her to. Neither of them had a job when they first moved there and his dope money didn’t count. Cam had only been home for three months and shit was going from bad to worse.
“We can still get a place with an extra room to store our stuff. We don’t even use that third bedroom’s closet anyway. I’m paying almost two-thousand dollars a month and that shit is just ridiculous. People pay less than that for mortgages,” Cam replied.
“I don’t want to move to another area. Why can’t we just get a two-bedroom back here?” Asha inquired.
“That’s only one hundred dollars less than what I’m paying now. I don’t have it like that no more Asha. My savings is going down and I need to be smart about this shit. We just need to start looking for us another place to stay. I’m telling my mama to give a thirty-day notice when it gets close to renewal time,” Cam said, ending the conversation.
“You’re not even taking my feelings into consideration. Don’t I have a say in all of this?” Asha asked.
“Are you gonna pay the rent Asha? Are you even gonna go half on a bill up in this bitch? If the answer is no, then fuck whatever you gotta say,” Cam snapped.
He didn’t have to be at work for a few hours, but he needed to get away from her for a while. Asha stormed off to the bedroom and slammed the door, right before Cam grabbed his keys and left. He called his mother to see if she wanted to get a bite to eat with him, but she was already out shopping with her sisters. They were scheduled to leave for their cruise in a few days and she was making sure that she had everything. Deciding to dine alone, Cam drove to IHOP to get one of his favorite southwestern omelets. As soon as he was seated, he placed his order and waited for his food. He called his boy, Randy, to vent to him for a while as he stuffed his mouth. They always talked when he went to work, but Cam needed a listening ear sooner than that.
“What’s up with you?” Randy asked as soon as he answered the phone.
“Same shit, different day. I’m ready to throw in the towel on this relationship shit. I don’t have the patience for all the drama. If her ass didn’t hold me down all those times that I went to jail, I would have been gone,” Cam replied.
“Hold up one second bruh. I’m dropping Nia off to work right quick,” Randy said, referring to his girlfriend. He never talked around his girl, so Cam understood. Nia was tight with Asha, so Randy probably didn’t want her to repeat whatever was about to be said.
“At least she got a job,” Cam replied under his breath.
He listened as Randy and his girlfriend exchanged pleasantries before his boy got back on the line.
“What happened this time?” Randy questioned his friend.
“Me and Asha stupid ass got into it again, just like always,” Cam replied.
“What y’all into it for now?” Randy quizzed.
“I told her selfish ass that we need to move. I’m spending too much money on unnecessary bullshit. This ain’t no dope money that I’m making no more. I gotta be smarter about shit now. I’m getting too old to keep making the same dumb ass moves,” Cam noted.
“I feel you on that bruh. I guess Asha ain’t feeling the move,” Randy assumed.
“She don’t give a fuck if a nigga go broke. She’s too busy trying to uphold an image. Man, don’t Nia have some sisters? I need me a working woman who’s about her business,” Cam replied.
“Yeah, but them ratchet hoes ain’t nothing like her. I just had it out with her ass too,” Randy informed him.
“Nia? The fuck could you possibly have it out with her about? You got one of the good ones. Probably the last good one,” Cam acknowledged.
“Yeah man, but she’s boring as fuck. All she does is go to work, school, and back home. I can barely get her to spend the night with me,” Randy argued.
He and his brother shared a condo, and that was Nia’s reason for not wanting to stay. She didn’t feel comfortable at his house knowing that his brother was always there.
“Nigga, I’m still waiting for you to get to the problem. I got a bitch who won’t even wash dishes and you’re complaining because your girl works too much?” Cam questioned while shaking his head.
Nia was the kind of woman that most men were looking for, and Randy wasn’t satisfied. She was a pharmacy tech at Walgreens, studying to become a pharmacist. If being boring was the only problem that Randy had, then that nigga was winning in Cam’s opinion. Nia went out with Asha and Cam’s cousin from time to time, so she did get out sometimes.
“Man, I just feel like we both work too hard not to enjoy the fruits of our labor. I shouldn’t have to be sitting in the movie theater by myself, when I have a girl. She doesn’t even try to switch it up,” Randy replied.
“That shit is easy to fix though, bruh. Don’t wait on her to do something. Take matters into your own hands. Plan a date night or something and surprise her. You need to talk to Lacey. She used to put me down on all kinds of shit to do for Asha,” Cam said, referring to his cousin.
Cam and Lacey were close, but Lacey’s sister, Laila, was closer with Asha. Laila messed around with Asha’s brother, so that was how they got so tight. Lacey’s husband, Kobe, was Cam’s other best friend and he also worked at Randy’s shop. Kobe was a beast at car restoration just like Cam, and that was how they got so close.
“Yeah, I might have to do that. I just want her to make some time for us. She makes time to do her lil ladies’ nights with Asha and your cousins, but she’s always too busy when it comes to me. I love the fact that she’s about her business with work and school, but where do I fit it?” Randy wondered out loud.
“I understand that but, like I just said, that’s an easy fix,” Cam repeated, as something else demanded his attention.
He pushed his empty plate to the side as he watched a group of people smiling and waving, but he didn’t know who or what had captured their attention. When the crowd parted, Cam frowned and shook his head in disgust. Randy was saying something, but Cam had tuned him out when he saw his father and his wife walking through the door, heading in his direction. He was shocked to see them, especially in a place like IHOP. His father’s money was long enough to own a few of the restaurants, but Cam would have never thought he’d see him eating there.
Just like always, Camden Blaire was dressed to impress in a button-down shirt and loose-fitting slacks. The oxfords that he wore looked expensive enough to pay off a few of Cam’s bills for the month. He appeared to have slimmed down a lot since Cam last saw him, but that had been a while ago. He was always on television for representing certain clients or winning their cases, but Cam never bothered to watch. He refused his father’s help when he went to jail the last time, which was how he ended up doing a little time. He remembered his father telling him that jail was for the poor, and that rubbed Cam the wrong way. In his mind, he was one of the poor people that he was speaking of. Cam knew that his father must have still put in a call on his behalf because he was facing double digits just for being a repeat offender.
His wife, Amy, still looked like the same bitter, pale faced bitch that Cam remembered. Not much had changed with her but the color of her hair and the cut. She had her thin lips pulled in tight, seemingly angry at seeing the constant reminder of her husband’s infidelity.
“Hey son. How are you?” Camden asked
“Let me call you back Randy,” Cam said to his friend. He never gave Randy a chance to respond before he hung up the phone in his face.
“It must have been meant for me to see you. I just talked to your mother and asked her to tell you to call me,” Camden said.
“Call you for what?” Cam asked. He tried his best to remain calm, remembering some of the many talks that he and his mother had about forgiveness. Nora was quick to forgive and move on, but Cam was stubborn.
“I just wanted to talk to you about a few things. You know, clear the air between us,” Camden answered.
“Clear the air? I thought you did that years ago, when you decided to stay out of my life. I’m good and my air is clear enough,” Cam replied.
“Let’s go honey. He obviously doesn’t want to talk to you,” Amy said as she held her hand out for her husband to take.
Amy couldn’t stand the sight of Cam and she hated Nora even more. She hated that another woman had given her husband a baby, even though she never had a desire to do so. Amy was a business woman and kids were never a part of her plans. She and Camden were supposed to retire kid-free with their millions and let their real estate investments continue to pour in revenue. He fucked up her picture-perfect image when he decided to have unprotected sex with the help. Camden had cheated on her several times, but him being with Nora was the ultimate low. The women that he’d been with previously were young and beautiful but, more importantly, they were white. She never understood why her husband had been so careless with the one person that he should have be the most cautious with. It pained her to see Cam because she saw a mixture of her husband and his mistress whenever she did. Nora went from being a janitor with nothing, to living in a huge home and driving a luxury car, all at the expense of her husband. Camden spared no expense for his outside family, and Amy hated that even more. His son went to the best schools and wore the best clothes, but he was still an ungrateful bastard. Not to mention, the countless times that his father had to bail him out of jail or put a word in, so he wouldn’t have to do any time.
“Bye. I don’t recall asking y’all to come over here,” Cam snapped after a long pause. He cast an angry glare her way, letting her know that he didn’t give a damn about her or her feelings.
“You can leave Amy. I’ll have a car pick me up,” Camden said as he kissed her cheek.
“Are you sure?” Amy asked skeptically.
“Yes, I know you have a meeting with a client soon, so I’ll see you at home a little later,” Camden replied.
As soon as his wife was gone, Camden took a seat at the table with his son, even though he was never invited to. He guiltily dropped his gaze down to the floor when Cam made eye contact with him.
“What’s up man? What is this really about?” Cam asked, getting right to the point.
He was already aggravated because so many people were looking over at them. The great Camden Blaire being spotted in IHOP had to be something to see because so many people were snapping pictures and recording them. Cam hated the spotlight and he was ready to pay his bill and go.
“I, uh, I just wanted to say a few things to you. Things that I probably should have said a long time ago,” Camden replied, stammering the entire time.
“I’m listening,” Cam said as he stared at the man who gave him the features that he had grown to hate over the years.
“I first want to start by giving you an apology,” Camden said as he cleared his throat nervously.
“Man, you’re about twenty-seven years too late for that,” Cam chuckled sarcastically.
“I understand your anger, but I just need you know that I’ve always loved you. I might not have shown it physically, but I tried to make sure that you were financially taken care of. I wanted a better life for you, but I understand why you rejected it.”
“I rejected it because I can’t be bought. Aside from tv, I can count on two hands how many times I saw you. Do you know how it felt for my friends to know that you were my father, but you never came around? Do you know how I felt to know that you and your family were embarrassed of me, all because of the color of my mother’s skin? I was your secret and you made sure that I stayed hidden. Thanks to you, I hate to even pass by a mirror,” Cam said, feeling emotional with every word that he spoke.
He’d kept his feelings bottled up for too long and he was happy to be getting them out. His mother was right; he should have been called his father and told him exactly how he felt. He wanted to be upset with Nora for choosing his father, but he loved her too much.
“I can understand your feelings, but that is not true. I was never embarrassed of you and I never hid you from anyone. Everybody knew about you and I made sure of it. Admittedly, I did do a lot of things wrong, but life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. I did for you the same as my father had done for me. I made sure that you were well taken care of, but I didn’t give you the time and attention that you needed. For that, I apologize. I’m not perfect Cam, but I tried,” Camden noted.
“When? When did you ever try? I didn’t even have a number if I wanted to call and talk to you. My mama didn’t know how to raise a boy by herself, but I appreciate her for always being there. That’s way more than I can say for you. If you knew you didn’t want a half-black baby, you should have used protection to make sure you didn’t get one,” Cam snapped.
“I don’t know what you thought, but I wanted you just as much as I wanted your mother. You think Nora was the first affair that I’ve ever had? I could have had a baby with anyone, including my wife, but I chose her. I wanted someone who I knew I could depend on to raise my child right when I was in and out of town on business. I wanted someone with morals and values, and I didn’t give a damn about the color of her skin. I loved your mother then and I still love her now,” Camden noted, shocking his son with his revelation.
“Man, honestly, I don’t hate you. I wanted to and even tried to, but it just ain’t in me. That’s not how I was raised. I appreciate you for taking care of me, but I can’t respect you for never trying to get to know me or be in my life. Everything you know about me came from my mother. You claim you wanted me so bad, but you didn’t even think enough of me to give me your last name,” Cam said, mentioning something that he’d always wondered.
“I did try to give you my last name. Your mother didn’t think it was a good idea because you were already in school by then. She didn’t want to confuse you.”
“Why did it have to take you that long though? I understand that you were a busy man, but you were selfish too. I was never a priority to you and that’s the part that pisses me off the most. Like I just said, I don’t hate you, but it’s too late for us to have a relationship. I’m a grown man now and that time has passed,” Cam said.
“I usually wouldn’t agree with you on that, but it probably is too late for me,” Camden noted.
“What do you mean by that?” Cam questioned.
“I found out the hard way that those Habana’s weren’t as good as I thought they were,” he replied, referring to the expensive Cuban cigars that he was known to smoke.
“What?” Cam asked, confusion written all over his face.
“I have lung cancer son,” Camden confessed.
“Oh okay, now I see why you wanted to talk so badly. You needed to clear your conscience before anything happened to you,” Cam assumed. Now, he knew why his mother was pushing him so hard to see him. Nora had never been that adamant about them talking before. She obviously knew that his father was sick.
“I was diagnosed five years ago, Cam. I was fortunate enough to have a few good doctors on my payroll, but there’s only so much that they can do. I was given six months to live over two years ago, but I’m still here. I guess the man upstairs ain’t ready for me just yet. Me wanting to make things right has nothing to do with my diagnosis. I’ve been trying to have this conversation with you since you were sixteen, but you always refu
“Ok, so now what? You’ve said what you had to say and so did I. The air should be clear enough for you now,” Cam added.
“Yeah, I guess so.” Camden shrugged, feeling like he wanted to say so much more.
He couldn’t blame Cam for how he felt because he had failed him as a father. He chased his dreams and lived his life, not knowing the negative affect that he was having on his son. He’d been trying to talk to him for months, but Cam always turned him down. Nora thought it was a good idea for them to meet up, so he was happy when she called and told him where Cam was. He and his wife were on their way to have breakfast somewhere else, when Camden made a detour and headed to IHOP. He spotted Cam’s truck in the parking lot and he was happy that he was still there. Camden never knew how his son felt, but he was happy that he’d made his feelings known.
Admittedly, his wife wasn’t too fond of his son, but he loved Cam with all his heart. Showing love through finances was how he was raised and that was all that he knew. That was what his father had done with him and he didn’t know any other way. His parents also did a lot for Cam when he was younger but, when he started getting into trouble, they distanced themselves. He was their only grandchild, but they had an image to uphold.
“Well, I gotta get to work, so I guess I’ll see you around,” Cam said as he stood to his feet.
He threw some money on the table and listened as his father called for a car to pick him up. A man with money who could make anything happen with just one phone call. Cam had never experienced that before, but it had to be nice.
“Are you working next weekend Cam?” his father asked as he too stood and walked out with him.