My mom would kill me if she knew I was telling you this story. She's all uptight and proper. Like she ain't country as hog jawls and collard greens. She don't even like the way I talk, but she lives with it. I talk proper when with her in public "cause I don't wanna embarass her in front her uppidy friends. I hate doing it though.
Before last summer I never cared how people talked. As long as you got your point accross, I felt it shouldn't matter if your education, or lack of, shows in your speech. I guess I kinda still feel that way, but last summer opened my eyes a little bit.
I gotta admit I was pissed off when Mom told me I had to spend the weekend in "The Country" while she went on a business trip. I had planned a date with my boyfriend Jigga. We was supposed to do it again. Iwas so glad the first time when I stopped being a virgin. I was the only one of my friends who still was.
Anyway, Mom picked me up from school during 3rd period and drove me to the middle of no-damned-where.
"Now behave yourself. Listen to your aunt Lula. She's an old woman, and your cousins already have her hands full. Help her out. I'll reward you," Mom said while driving down a dirt road that aint seem to have no end.
I'd never been to Lula's before. I'd heard of her a few times from my pops, but that was all I knew of her. I didn't know what to think when the all wood house appeared. A big vegetable garden was on both sides of the dusty driveway that stooped right in front of the house. A side road led down through the woods to a gate in a barbwire fence. On the side of the fence closest to Lula's house was a pigpen. I could see the stinky animals from the car, but I learned later it was ten of them. Between the pigpen and the house was a wooden well with a bucket and chain on a pulley hanging over it. There was over a dozen chickens roaming all over the yard too.
I closed my eyes and tried to shake myself awake. I then realized this won't no dream. This was the mid eighties, but Lula was stuck a few decades behind the times.
"Mom why can't i stay with a friend," I pleaded.
"Girl," she said with an impatient sigh, "your aunt Lullabell's the oldest relative you have. Besides, it'll be good for you learn your father's roots. See how he came from a little of nothing and built a business and became a success."
We parked infront of the house as she said that. An old woman opened the wood framed screen door and looked at us curiously.
"That's your aunt Lula," Mom said.
The woman looked about fifty. You could see Indian features under her yellow skin. The high cheekbones stood out the most. Her long wavy black hair with its few gray streaks were evidence of her heritage too. "Hey Geneva," she said to Mom.
"Get out," Mom grumbled while opening her door. "Hi Lula," she said after getting out."How are you?"
"Oh law-id, I's fine." Lula said then looked at me. " Who dis beutiful angel you got witcha?" Dat aint Harold's girl is it? She stepped out onto the wide wood planked porch. I thought it wood fall to the ground under her, but it didn't.
I looked at the house closely. It sat on short pillars of blocks. If you looked under it , you could see the pigpen and the well behind it. Paper that looked like brown bricks was tacked to the sides of the house, but there was so many holes in the paper you could see the dryrotted wood siding underneath it. Tattered brown curtains hung inside the crystal clean windows. The tin roof was rusting. The planks in the porch creeked as Lula's pudgy figure made her way across it to the cynderblock steps.
"Hi Aunt Lula," I tried to sound like I won't scared.
"Hey Baby," Lula's voice was husky, but warm.
Mom hugged her then I hugged her.
"You call me Lulabell," she said to me. "What's yo name?"
"Dat's right. Now I 'memba. Go in da house. Its some cookies on da table in da livin' room. If you anything like yo pappy, you goin love'em."
The screen door surprised me when it didn't squeak. I went in and looked around. The door opened into a big hallway with a warped, sloped, spotlessly cleaned hardwood floor. On the right was a staircase leading upstairs. Straight ahead was the backdoor. Another doorsill was on the left. It led to the living room. Just past the door was and old desk with a bunch of antique junk on top of it. Across from the desk was a refrigerator that was so old I was suprised to hear it running. Lula called it "icebox." It was the most modern appliance in the house.
I stepped into the living room. On the left was a full sized bed. At the foot of the bed was a window. The brown curtains looked worse from the inside. Another full sized bed sat on the other side of the window. The foot of both beds faced each other. A few feet to the right of the bed was a potbellied wood stove. A few feet to the right of that sat a sparkling old dresser. On top of the dresser sat a color tv . It was the old kind with dials you turned to change the station. There was other stuff neatly arranged on the dresser, but I payed no attention to it. A sofa sat under the window to the right of the dresser. It was old and worn out. The dingy brown upholstry matched the curtains. to the right of the sofa, to my right, was a wardrobe closet.
I was facing the back of a blue leather recliner chair that didn't match nothing else in the living room. I went to the chair and sat on it. The cookies sat on a plate, on top of a folding card table, beside the chair. I never ate a cookie that good. It was soft, warm, chewy and rich. I tasted nuts peanut butter, chocolate chunks, and coconut.
Soaps was on tv. I hated soaps but I was too lazy to get up and turn the dial. Plus, them cookies was too good to walk away from. I was on the fourth or fifth when Mom called me.
I was chewing when I walked outside. Mom hugged and kissed me. She looked sadder than I ever remembered when she walked to the car. I mumbled, "I love you." through a mouthful of cookies.
"Come to da kitchen," Lula said." Lets get some milk to go wit dem cookies. You like'em?"
I nodded and didn't stop chewing.
We walked to the end of the hall and made a right. The kitchen was almost as big as the living room.There was an electric stove. It sat on a wall by itself next to another back door. Accross from it was the kitchen table. It had all types of dishes from pots and pans to plates stacked on it. Around it was metal chairs with wood seats and backs. They reminded me of elementary school desks. There was an old washing machine too. The kind with the rollers on top to ring water from clothes. A few cabinets lined the walls. The faces was glass so you could see the dishes inside. It was mostly Mason jars and old cleaned out condiment jars she recycled to drink from.
"You wanna get da milk out da icebox?"
I left the kitchen and returned with the milk.
"Well, I swear,"Lula said as I entered. "I aint neva seent nobody as pretty as you. Almost 'mind me when I was turnin heads at Jiggidy Bum's ole juke jont."
I blushed and laughed while pouring milk into a mayonaise jar.
"What's funny," she asked.
"Juke Joint sounds funny."
"Shucks Baby, won't nuffin like them goot-ole-days. I used to put on my lil skirts and cut da rug all night when I snuck out wit my boyfriends. I was a frisky lil thang too. Boys used to gimme anything for dese goodies."
"AUNT LULABELL!" I didn't mean to scream, but I was shocked.
"Don't be stupid child. How old is you?"
"I know you been doin-na nasty."
I didn't reply.
"You aint goin lie to me. I know better. You aint no mo virgin than I is. And, I done had three chillren." She filled her own wierd shaped jar with milk then led the way to the living room.
She sat on the sofa. I sat on the recliner and attacked the plate of cookies. We talked like girlfriends for hours until a car drove up. She listened for a moment then said, "Dere go ole Jimbob"
I followed when she went out to meet him. He pulled up in a two toned brown Chrysler Fifth Avenue. The dust he collected from the long dirt road was hardly visible on the car. He was skinny little darkskinned man with a long, thick, bushy beard. He was going bald on top. I guessed he was in his early fifties.
"Hey Lulabell", he greeted her as he stepped onto the creaky porch.
"You got my money," Lula demanded.
"Damn woman," ha snapped."Don't I always pay my bill on Fridee."
"Yeah. I reccon you do. Betta den da rest of dem nigga-heathens be commin 'roun here drankin all my liquor."
Jimbob reached into his pocket and removed a bankroll. He gave Lula three crisp twenties.
Lula almost snatched the money. "Aint you goin stay a while. You know Roscoe and'em be coming 'roun here afta-while to play cards."
He frowned. "I reccon. Gimme a two dollar shot of whiskey."
Lula smiled. "Goot. Now say 'Hi' to Harold's lil girl."
"Hi ya doin?" He asked me wearing a sly toothless grin.
"Do be gettin fresh neiva you nasty old thang" Lula barked.
I knew then I'd have a lot of fun that weekend at my bootlegging aunts house. Mom couldn't have known about all this.
But I'll have to tell you the rest later.