Character: VIVIAN, black, just turning 14, a bundle of emotions.
I been fightin’ with my sister Earlene so much these days, because she’s just so stupid. I can live and let live with somebody just plain different, but I never had much patience with stupid. She’s so old, almost twenty: she supposed to be smarter than me, but in her case, I think brains fallin’ out her head just as fast as they grow in. She was tellin’ her girlfriend all kinds of nonsense, like:
“My voice is just a gift from the Lord, and it would be goin’ against God’s will to put my light under a bushel basket.”
And I can’t ever resist an openin’ like that, so I went for it:
“Earlene, what you need to do is put that bushel basket over your head and leave it there, permanent!”
“Don’t you insult me, you insult me you be insultin’ the Holy Ghost.”
“Every time you open your mouth to sing, the Holy Ghost be cryin’ his little dove eyes out! You so bad the women pull their big hats down over their ears.”
“At least I got some talent! You can’t sing, dance, recite poetry, you can’t do nothin’!”
“Oh yeah? Your biggest talent be spreadin’ your legs for Brother James, the day you stop doin’ that be the day your singin’ career is over!”
“Oh yeah? At least I got a Daddy. I know who my Daddy is. And thank God he ain’t the same man as your Daddy!”
And I stopped hard on that. She never said nothing like that before. Not ever. “Take that back, take it back before I hit you upside the head!”
“I ain’t takin’ anything back. Your Daddy’s that no-account Luigi Wells.”
Mommy wouldn’t say a word. Not one word. Not a yes, no, maybe, she just went in her bedroom, locked her door, started playin’ her records.
Now I’m stuck tryin’ to decide if I want to know for sure. If he was really my Daddy, I’d have to hate him, ‘cause he didn’t stay with Mommy. It was easy hatin’ Daddy Earl. We enjoyed hatin’ him on a regular basis. But Luigi… maybe there’s some things it’s better you never figure out, you know? Some things best left… open… to interpretation. Learned all about that this week in English. Lotsa things, they’s open to… interpretation.