Lead Me Gently Home

Chapter Seven

"A Charmed Childhood; A Troubled Past"


(From Danisha's Journals)

Ah, Paris! Make that 15th Century Paris...

I arrived in Paris late Saturday afternoon; I decided to stay at Fern's house, instead of the Palace of Justice. Besides, Claude had been out all day, according to Fern. It seems he had to round up more disloyal spies.
I settled at the table while Fern poured a cup of tea. She then produced a fifth of Myer's Rum, laughed, and said, "I think you need a little more than tea." I supposed the stress really showed; I had no idea how bad I looked. My eyes were slightly bloodshot; my skin took on an ashened pallor. (Yes, it's possible for Black people to look pale like when they're sick)

Indeed, I hadn't slept nor eaten much since I had that run-in with BC. I saw him again only minutes before I left. He was insistent that we make up for past mistakes, and get back together. No way! BC even rattled me about my "slipping into darkness". He went on to say how my "fast-paced lifestyle is messin' with your health. I can tell, Danisha. You don't look too good." He's sure one to talk, waving that Bible, quoting Scripture, telling me how he's saved, and he's willing to make amends. Well, I'm just as spiritual as anyone; I choose not to wear my faith on my sleeve.

Too many times, I've seen otherwise good people lose touch with reality. Likewise, I've seen many so-called "bad apples" claim they've found God; but, in reality, The Word becomes nothing more than smoke-and-mirrors. To me, BC was the epitome of the latter. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I had a feeling that all was not right with BC He was up to no good.

I never pressed Claude about his religious leanings. In a way, he reminded me of something I read a long time ago, something about men who believe in God, but have a hard time with the 'church' part. I just chalked up Claude's sentiments on The Church as part of his disgust with corruption within the religious establishment.

Corruption...I remember reading about that assistant minister over at Mount Paran...He got himself shot over...That was over fifteen years ago...

"Hey! Earth to Danisha!", Fern heartily laughed as she waved her hand in front of my face. I must've been so wrapped up with BC, that I almost forgot to tell Fern.

Fern informed me that she was leaving for Chateau d'Arcy. Solange was several months into her pregnancy, and Fern had crocheted dozens of baby booties. I was supposed to bring an afghan I had said I'd complete; however, I was so unglued with BC's return, that I hadn't the inclination to bring the afghan along.

Just before Fern left, I asked her about Claude. She had told me earlier that he seemed unhappy. "Honestly, Nisha, I thought I knew the guy. I mean, I've never seen him like this before. He's been extra-moody, sullen everything. I really believe he's not happy with the way things've been goin'."

"You mean the spy bit?"

"That especially, among other things."

I walked Fern to the front door, and handed her the bag of booties. She then said something else; it was about that manuscript. "He worked on that thing ever since that whole conspiracy thing got exposed. I could tell he wasn't pleased with how that whole mess turned out." I said nothing more, except, "Fern? When you come back, we need to talk -- In private."

Fern looked worried. "What about?"

"Don't get all upset; it can wait till you get back."

Fern got into her buggy -- a gift from President Benjamin Harrison, for "Being such a good friend to Caroline."

"Gee Fern, I wonder what 1487 Parisians think when they see you riding in a 19th Century buggy." I laughed when I eyed the horse. "A buggy pulled by a Morgan horse -- A breed that won't be developed until post-colonial America!"

Good old Fern...Time travel certainly has its rewards.

Fern took the reins in hand, then declared, point-blank, "BC's back in town."

"How did you know?"

"That look of fear in your eyes. I remembered that look, after he...Well, I won't say anymore."

I sighed, then said, "At least, he's in the 20th Century, and I'm in the 15th, where he can't find me."

Fern smiled at me. "That's right. You're here, and that's all that matters. Besides", she added, "maybe you can talk a certain magistrate out of his blue funk."

++++++++

After Fern left, I sat down, poured myself a shot of rum, then began to reminisce. How can a strong, savvy, accomplished woman get involved with a loser like BC Bell? After all, didn't our parents make sure we were equipped with the armor necessary to face the real world? Didn't they tell my sisters and me that we, as young Black women, had to set our standards extra-high, if we were to ever make it in this world?

Daddy's favorite dictum: "Everyone out there expects you to fail. It is your job to tell them 'I can'. Stay away from the rowdies and loud-mouths; they'll only bring you down. And stay away from those men who seem charming on the outside, but are so ugly on the inside. No-count hoodlums have been the downfall of many a good Black woman. Leave them alone."

Daddy would then look over his glasses and ask, "Do you understand, Danisha?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you understand, Vernie?"

"Yes, sir."

"Cherie, you're so young, still very much the baby, but I hope you understand."

"Yes, sir."

It's not that Daddy was strict in a mean sense; he was very loving and supportive. He saw to it that, "Our daughters shall have every advantage we can afford them. I want them cultured, refined, and well-educated. Gerry, our girls will make their marks on this world."

And Momma and Daddy made sure we had everything. There were the piano and dance lessons, Girl Scouts and church activities. It was Momma's idea to get us into Jack and Jill, a sort of social training organization for Black children. It was important, according to our parents, that we network with those the business and professional classes. Of course, in our world, the professions -- teachers, ministers, doctors, lawyers -- WERE high-society. No wonder our parents strived for us to be part of that world.

It also helped that my father taught at Crispus Attucks High School for over twenty years, then became social studies department head. Although Daddy had his PhD, he was only able to secure the high school position. In those days, he told us, there wasn't much call for Black college professors, especially in Indiana. But he accepted, as was proud, of what he had achieved, and he tried to impart on us that same pride.

Always, we were to look people in the eyes when addressing them. We were to speak in Standard English. "No 'street-talk'. All right if you're around your own, but leave the slang at home", Momma constantly reminded us. We were required to say, "Sir", and, "Ma'am".

Hmm...No wonder I seemed to hit it off with Claude, despite my first few outbursts...Even he commented on my politeness...

And that was another thing. Everywhere we went, people favorably commented on "those polite Wood children". Whether it was in church, Downtown shopping, or at school, people always complimented Momma on her "well-behaved girls". And Momma made sure we were well-dressed, as well as mannerly.

Momma worked as one of the few Black legal secretaries in Indianapolis; she cut her hours to part-time so she could be home when we returned from school. I guess Momma chose to continue working; because, in her view, a mother can hold down a job AND raise her family. Neverthelees, Momma made sure her family came first.

I had a happy, well-adjusted childhood. I shared many of my fondest memories with Claude -- Except one.

Me, Danisha LeShawn Wood, smart, refined, savvy, kindhearted....But stupid mistakes were made along the way.

One of those mistakes was a charmer named Brandon Cole Bell. I never told Daddy what he did to me. I never told anyone, except Fern; of course, Fern had to know. After all, BC profoundly affected her life, as well as mine.

An accomplished, bright, thirty-something woman, with everything to live for, took a chance on BC Bell.

A near-deadly chance...

To Chapter 8(I)!

Copyright FrolloFreak FSM#14, 1998


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