A Cornered Gurl
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A Cornered Gurl

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Part IV: I Am Josephine

Courtesy of Pinterest

Come on in! Come on in! You ain’t no stranger, here. Want me to introduce myself? How’s my hair? Lemme just fix this part right here. I feel like it’s not right. How do I look now? Oh, you’re a quiet one, huh? This is Pepper. She’s barking cuz you’re new. She doesn’t know you…

YET.

Pepper’s a lifesaver. She’s my companion. An older gal like me needs something nice and warm to snuggle up next to. Pepper’ll do, komprenn? This photo of me is from fifteen years ago. Fifteen! Lawd, that’s a mighty long time! The baby in the picture with me is Duke. He was my first puppy. Died when he was seven, belly tumor. I didn’t have the money the Vet claimed I needed to cure him. I took him home, laid him on the bed, sat beside him, and rubbed his back ’til he sighed his last sigh.

Lemme tell you something, watching your best friend die is a hard thing. Duke was my best friend. Named him after Duke Ellington. You ever see anyone tickle the ivories like him? I betcha gold that you have not. You show me someone you think can hold a candle to him, and I will prove you wrong. I sure will. You been over to Pip’s? Her boys are here. I love those boys. She’s too strict on’em. Won’t let them have any candy. I have to sneak pieces of chocolate covered pralines over in my purse and wait ’til she’s not looking to share some with them. Won’t let them watch television, either. Well, that part I don’t much mind. Ain’t nothing on there worth it nowadays. Lawd’Almighty, I am here to tell you if anyone can drain the fun out of something, it is Pip.

I love my big sister, I do. I’m simply saying she’s too cautious. She worries too much about those boys and she holds them too close. Twanette had a miscarriage after Isaiah. Theo does not know this. We were hoping for a little girl, praying for one. She went in to find out the sex of the baby, got bad news instead. I sat with that news for the better part of three days, crying for my niece. I was mad at God. I was. I let him have it! Gave him a fine piece of my mind, did not care how I sounded at the time, either. But, two years later, here comes Theo. Isaiah’s trying to teach him bits of our heritage, our language — kréyol la lwizyàn. I’ll say that slowly for you so you can understand, me komprenn? L-o-u-i-s-i-a-n-a C-r-e-o-l-e. That family’s been through some tough times, yahearme?

Courtesy of axs.com

Come on, child. I said don’t be no stranger. I got the gumbo simmering on the stove. You smell that? I love that smell — hard-work, blissfulness, jazz, and fulfillment. A good, hearty meal can move mountains. Lemme get you a bowl of gumbo. Sit on down. Make yourself, comfy. Move on through those boxes, I’m getting them out of here shortly. I just moved into this place two weeks ago, been slow about unpacking. My Papa would skin me alive if he saw this place. *shakes head* Papa, rest your soul, baby. Rest your sweet soul. You like cornbread? I put a little crawfish in mine, cayenne pepper too. Gives it a kick! Don’t be sitting here with me and you got a weak stomach. How’s your stomach? Can-ya hold some of this gumbo down without getting queasy?

Out-of-towners come here thinking they can eat the same level of heat they eat anywhere else, but this is Nu’Awlins, baby! It’s a different kind of heat here. There’s fire in our food. If you ain’t careful, you’ll kill the old you and the new you will be wondering, “so what’s next?” Sit on down. I have some coconut rum in the cupboard. No. No. No. You sit on down. I’ll prepare your plate this time, but the next time you visit, you’re on your own. Deal? Yessir, lemme get this bowl of gumbo for you and get you fed. After we eat, we can go over to Pip’s and see what the boys are up to. I bet you’ll like that. I know I will.

This is the most company I have had in the last two days. I ain’t complaining. I am simply telling you like it T.I. IS. My neighbors are too quiet. Too shot up in themselves — souls clutching onto nothing. I can’t be around those type of folks. I sure can’t. I’ll tell you another thing too, and like Pip says, I’m gonna give you this one for free — they don’t bake their own pies. They buy them. Lawd! If I took a pie to Pip’s I bought from any bakery around these parts, she would have a heart attack right then and there. I won’t be taking no pie to her from them, you can guarantee that. Okay, honey. Here’s your gumbo. Here’s your rum. Go on, taste it and lemme know how it is.

Good, isn’t it? I know…

And by the way, I am Josephine.

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Tre L. Loadholt

Tre L. Loadholt

I am more than breath & bones. I am nectar in waiting. “You write like a jagged, beautiful dream.” ©Martha Manning •https://acorneredgurl.com