Mama B - a Time to Love, page 1part #3 of Mama B Series
Mama B: A Time to Love
Novella #3 in the Mama B Series
by Michelle Stimpson
Copyright 2013 by Michelle Stimpson
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, except for brief quotations in reviews, without written permission from the author.
The characters in this book are fictional. Any resemblance to actual people or events is coincidental.
Published by MLStimpson Enterprises
Cover and design by Delia Latham
With love and appreciate to the readers
who encourage me daily.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thanks be to God for His special work in me as I wrote this book. He has brought me into a greater revelation of His love for us, and I am forever grateful. A thousand years from now, we will still sing of His great love.
Thanks to fellow authors April Dishon Barker and L.A. Logan for being a sounding board for this book. I had my thoughts, too, but the final product came out very different from what even I knew! God is good.
Thanks again to my writing group for their thoughts and encouragement with Mama B. We didn’t get to do much together this go-round, but I certainly felt your prayers!
My family always makes a bit of a sacrifice when I’m writing a book. The love and support of those closest to me is invaluable. Love you!
Finally, to those who help with the finishing touches – Delia (cover art) and Karen Rodgers (editing) – your eyes and skills are a blessing to me!
Table of Contents
A Note from the Author
About the Author
Other Books by Michelle Stimpson
One good thing about volunteering at the food pantry is you never forget to be thankful for every scrap of food that finds its way to your own plate. I done seen folk come in wearing all kind of hundred-dollar shirts, totin’ thousand-dollar purses. Pink slips and middle-age-crisis-havin’ husbands don’t care what all kind of help you were last year or last week. With one bad report on a computer screen or one good swish of the new secretary’s hips, honey, many-a-woman has found herself in need of a hot meal.
I suppose I shouldn’t make it seem like it was only women coming to the pantry. Say 95% was women. The rest was men, mostly on drugs, and there was a few people I couldn’t tell if they was standin’ or squattin’.
Don’t matter, though, since we all God’s creation. That was my attitude about serving folk at the center. I didn’t care what they look like or whatever brought them there—everybody needs to eat, especially the babies. Even though the government help we got there had a bunch of rules, I couldn’t bring myself to turn away nobody who was hungry.
But they had done sent out a note to every center, which the new location director, Rhonda Hall, read to everyone the previous week. “Due to budget cuts and redistricting, we must follow the guidelines as outlined in the center handbook, including the jurisdictional stipulations.”
Me and Libby just looked at each other and rolled our eyes. I support the President and the country and all, but some of them rules don’t make no sense and everybody knows it. Plus, they keep changing ‘em every time you look up.
Anyhow, we made it through almost a whole week before the new rules got tested. It was Friday, around a quarter ‘til four. We was all straightening things up, emptying the kitchen trash cans and sweeping the floors so we could close up for the weekend. Me and Libby always did an extra-strong cleaning, since sometimes we didn’t make it back for a couple of weeks, with the center hours being reduced and all.
In comes a woman we hadn’t seen in a while. She real big, always wearing shorts and flip flops no matter what the weather, that’s how I know she got varicose veins real bad in one leg. I suppose them veins had something to do with the cane she carried. She had wild, curly brown hair and a nose to where you could tell that even though she looked white, she got some black or Indian in her somewhere down the line. Like I said, don’t make me no difference what folk look like, I’m just sayin’ this is how I recognized her. I couldn’t remember her name, but her voice was etched in my mind forever, too—real proper, loud and raspy all at the same time.
“Helloooooo there!” the woman called in her distinct tone.
Libby looked up and smiled at me. We both stepped back further into the kitchen area because we knew Miss Hall and the new rules was about to meet their match.
I heard Rhonda’s heels cross the few feet from her desk to the greeting counter. “How can I help you?”
“I need an emergency food pack, please.”
Me and Libby peeked out the kitchen to watch.
“Well, our emergency food packs are for extenuating circumstances only. Do you have an urgent situation?”
The patron squinted up at Rhonda. “Yes. I’m hungry.”
Rhonda grabbed a few forms and a pen from under the counter and presented them to the woman. “You can fill these out and—”she looked at her watch—“bring them back Monday morning.” She held out the forms for the woman to take with her.
The woman propped one hand on her hip and used the other to tap her cane on the floor. “Are you pulling my leg?”
Libby elbowed me in the side. I tried to poke her back, but she squirmed out of reach, giggling softly as we continued to watch the mess unfold.
“No,” Rhonda held her ground. “We have new rules. They’ve been posted on the outside window for a week now.”
“Well, I haven’t been here in more than a week. I usually go to the one over in Mesquite. It’s closer to me. But since I was out this way at the thrift shop—”
Rhonda shook her head and retracted the papers. “Oh, if you live closer to that location, you’re out of our jurisdiction. We can’t serve you here. You need to go there.”
“But they’ll be closed by the time I get back!”
“I’m sorry. There’s nothing we can do for you here.”
“Sweetheart, how old are you?” the woman asked Rhonda.
“Twenty-three,” Miss Rhonda smacked.
“Honey, I’ve got underwear older than you and I’ve paid enough taxes to cover your salary for the next ten years. Now, I’m hungry and I’m not going anywhere else to get my food.”
That’s when Libby rushed to the refrigerator and snatched one of those emergency packs off the top tray. She pulled me in for the intervention. This drama had gone on long enough.
I was glad Libby remembered her name.
“Finally. Here’s somebody with half a brain,” Eunice sighed at the sight of us. “Hi, Libby.”
“Hey. You remember my friend, Beatrice? We call her B.”
“Yes. Good to see you again, B.” Eunice gave me a hearty smile.
Libby set the recyclable grocery bag on the counter, but Rhonda grabbed the handles and set it on our side of the divider. She looked Libby dead in her eyes. “No, Miss Libby. We cannot give her this food.”
“Rhonda!” Libby shrieked.
“Is you crazy, pulling my arm like that?” I fussed. This girl need some anger management classes.
“No!” Rhonda exploded. “She is not getting this sack!”
Next thing I know, Eunice’s cane come swinging from across that counter. Rhonda saw it and ducked in time. Libby wasn’t so quick. The rubber tip caught her right on the cheek. Instantly, a red streak appeared on Libby’s face.
Libby’s hand covered the spot as she hollered, “Stop it!”
“I’m so sorry!” Eunice squealed, trying to hop over the barrier, which could not have happened seeing as she was probably close to two hundred fifty pounds and only had one good leg. In her panic, she musta thought she was gonna get some extra strength, like the mommas who pick up cars off their babies. Clearly she wasn’t gettin’ no such extra help from on high at the moment.
Chile, this was sho’ ’nuff a sad scene. Got Libby on one side holding on to her cheek, Eunice lookin’ like a broke-down Spiderman, and Rhonda shakin’ like a leaf talkin’ on her cell phone.
“Eunice, get down before you hurt yourself,” I ordered. “You all right, Libby?”
Libby twitched her chin from left to right. “I think so.”
“Here, let me look at you.” I slanted her face a little to the right. Didn’t look too bad, as far as the scratch went, but she was sure gon’ have a bad bruise in the morning. “Put some ice on it when you get home.”
With Libby checked out and both of Eunice’s feet back on the ground, look like my mind could finally process what Rhonda was doing. By that point, she’d already ended her unnecessary phone call.
“The police are on the way.”
“What you call the police for?” I asked.
“She assaulted me!” Rhonda yelled.
“That woman did not hit you.”
“She tried to hit me.”
“But she missed,” I corrected Rhonda.
Eunice finally got that extra power as she swiveled and made double-time toward the door. Rhonda shot out from the safety of the counter and twisted that door lock before Eunice could reach the exit. Then she took the long route back to the safety of her desk. “You’re not leaving until the cops get here.”
A part of me wished Eunice had of escaped, but I knew it was best for her to stay there and wait until the police cleared her to leave because Rhonda probably wasn’t gonna let it go. She’d have Eunice on America’s Most Wanted, left up to her.
“Eunice, you might best just wait here.” I pointed to the wooden bench underneath the community bulletin board.
Libby shuffled out the kitchen area with an ice pack pressed to her face. She strong. Thank you, Lord.
Eunice hoisted herself up from the bench and took the last few steps to meet Libby. “I am so sorry. You know I wasn’t trying to hit you, right?”
“Yes, Eunice. I know. It was an accident. Kinda.”
Eunice poked her cane in Rhonda’s direction. “I meant to hit her.”
“Well, you didn’t really need to hit anyone,” Libby scolded.
Eunice yelled toward Rhonda, “It’s not your food, anyway! It’s the government’s! It belongs to everyone!”
“Tell that to the police,” Rhonda smarted off. But she didn’t take one step toward Eunice again, that’s for sure.
We all waited until the officers arrived. I was hoping they would just tell everybody to cool down and go home. I already knew Libby wasn’t going to press no charges. She not the type of person to go by the letter of the law, which is exactly what got us in that position to begin with, I reckon.
But when the officer asked Eunice for her ID, we ran into a bit of a problem. She got some kind of little fine she hadn’t paid. “Ma’am, you’re going to have to come with us.”
“I got the money to pay it right here,” Eunice said, patting her fanny pack.
“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to handle this downtown.”
And with that, they put those little plastic strings on Miss Eunice’s wrists and led her toward the front door. That Eunice let out a holler that would have raised a thousand dollars for charity. “I’m sorry. I was just hungry. I didn’t do anything wrong,” she wailed.
I looked back at Rhonda, who had somehow managed to stay glued to her seat nearly the whole time Libby and I had been trying to explain this whole mishap to the police, begging for mercy on Eunice’s behalf.
“Libby, call my son, Judge Paul Lemon. Dallas County.”
Ooh, Rhonda’s eyes got real big then. “Your son’s a judge?”
“Yes,” Eunice sniffed. “He works downtown, presides over criminal cases. He locks up tons of bad guys and throws away the key.”
The officer who’d been prodding Eunice forward stopped. “Ummm…ma’am…we…do appreciate it when the courts validate all our hard work. Do you want to call your son first?”
Hmph. Aint’ that something? Every once in a while them politics works in your favor.
“Okay,” Eunice huffed again, straining her neck so she could wipe her nose on her shirt. She’d cleared up that crying awful quick-like. Made me wonder if she was putting on a show, if her son really was in the position she claimed he was in. If not, she had done worked up an extra helping of trouble with those fine officers.
Eunice rattled off a telephone number to Libby, who dialed on Eunice’s behalf, seeing as Eunice’s hands were still behind her back. “Yes, this is Mrs. Libby Maxwell. I need to speak to Judge Lemon, please…No, I can’t leave a message. Tell him it’s regarding his mother…Yes, I’ll hold.”
Libby played that Momma card real nice, and within a few moments, she and the oldest officer had negotiated so Eunice’s twist ties came off. There was some winking and some unspoken understandings I knew Libby would catch me up on later. But for the moment, Eunice was released into the custody of Libby, with the agreement Eunice would handle the fine first thing Monday morning and only seek help from the correct food pantry. Whew! What a mess, all over a sack of free food!
The officers apologized for restraining Eunice. Eunice apologized again for hitting Libby. Me and Libby apologized for involving them in such a petty matter when they could have been out stopping a real criminal.
The only person who didn’t offer no kind of remorse was Rhonda. She kept fiddling with her keys, twirling them kinky strings on her head like she do every time she get nervous about one of the homeless people with a mental problem.
Only, she didn’t look scared. She was mad ‘cause all ended well. That’s just like the enemy, though. He don’t like to see nobody get mercy ‘cause God ain’t gon’ give him none when it’s all said and done.
Soon as the officers left, Rhonda grabbed her fake Coach bag and stomped toward the doors to lead the way out.
“Goodnight,” Libby spoke for me and Eunice, too.
Rhonda didn’t say nothing else. When we got outside, she pulled the doors to, twisted that key to lock them, and hopped into her Kia with the BMW emblem on the front. She the one need to be investigated with all that bootleg merchandise, if you ask me.
“Oh shoot,” Eunice gushed angrily, “I’ve missed my ride back home.”
“You want me to call ‘em for you?” Libby asked.
Eunice shook her head. “I don’t know her name or her number. I just hitched a ride to Peasner with her. Told her I’d meet her back at the gas station on Main by four so we could ride back into the city. Didn’t know I was going to get held up here. I’m sure she’s gone by now.”
I could hardly believe my ears. “You rode here with a total stranger?”
“She was nice. Had two
Libby lectured, “Eunice, women our age can’t go around hitch-hikin’ and pullin’ cash money out of our pocketbooks in front of people we don’t know!”
Eunice shrugged. “Well, I’ve had a few incidents, but I’ve been okay so far.”
“By the grace of God,” I let her know.
Eunice nodded. “Probably so.” She led the way outside. Without looking down, she reached into her fanny pack, pulled out a cigarette and a lighter. Seem like in one motion, she lit it, stuck it in her mouth, and took a long puff to get it going. She turned her head to the side and blew the smoke away from Libby and me. “Looks like I won’t be coming to this center anymore. So, thank you both for sticking your necks out for me with the youngster and with the police. We old ladies have to look out for each other sometimes.”
Eunice swung that cane forward and started down the building steps and across the parking lot. Me and Libby stood there shocked for a second until the Holy Spirit finally gave us the sense to speak.
“Eunice,” we called in unison.
She planted her cane and turned her neck toward us. “Huh?”
“We can’t leave you out here,” I protested, walking toward her with Libby trailing behind. “You want us to get hold of your son again?”
She waved her hand. “No. He won’t come. He only puts on a show for his name’s sake.”
“You got any other kids? Grandkids?”
“Not in Texas. Not any that give a rat’s behind about me. But that’s neither here nor there. I’ve made it this far, I’ll keep on going. Don’t worry yourselves about me. You’ve been very helpful already. Thank you.” She turned again and began her awkward stride toward the sidewalk.
Now, I know when people are puttin’ on a show so you can feel sorry for ‘em and offer to help. You know how they do—they mouth say one thing, but their body language and their eyes say another. They got to hold they face to the ground so them crocodile tears can slide down. Still, they got to sneak a look up at you every couple of seconds to see if you buyin’ their sob story.
Other author's books:
- Last TemptationFalling Into Grace
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