A knocking sound and the sound of a woman’s voice announcing room service wakes Jessie up as the door opens. Jessie sits up and through sleepy eyes looks over towards the door, as a middle age Hispanic woman pokes her head in.
“Ah! You’re awake, Ms.” She comes inside the room, closing the door behind her.
Jessie rubs his eyes and looks at her “who are you?”
“My name is Lela Alvaro; I’m the maid here at the hotel. You must be Ms. Jessie Ridgewood., Ms. Williams asked me to check on you to make sure you were alright.” Lela looks at Jessie and could see why Ms. Williams had been so concern. The poor thing had bruises all up and down her arms. She could see one at the base of her neck as well.
Jessie gives Lela a puzzled looked.
“I take it you haven’t met Ms. Williams yet?” she sits down at the corner of the bed.
“No ma’am. Who is she?” Jessie sits up straighter, resting his back against the headboard.
“She’s the day time office manager. She had asked me and several of the other housekeepers to check in on you and your little sister during our shift to make sure you were alright. I guess it had something to do with that letter Ms. Burns left for her last night.” Lela glances over towards the crib, where she notices a baby looking at her and Jessie.
“How old is she?” Lela gets up and walks over towards the crib.
“She’s eight months old and her name is Maggie.” Jessie gets up out of bed and walks over towards the crib as well and picks his sister up into his arms.
He turns to Lela “Maggie, this is Ms. Lela.”
Lela just smiles at Jessie and his little sister. You could see the family resemble in their facial features. Where Jessie had long auburn color wavy hair that came down to her shoulders and green eyes, her little sister had straight chestnut color hair and hazel eyes.
“You two look cute together.” A smile forms on her face as Lela continues to look at them.
“Thank you.” Jessie returns her smile with one of his own.
“If you don’t mind me asking, Jessie where’s your mother or father at?”
Jessie takes a deep breath before speaking. He looks directly at Lela “My father abandoned us two days ago and my mother died three weeks ago and my father never told me what happen to my mother. He just said that she had run off. Leaving him stuck with us.” Jessie recalls the conversion he had with his father and the back hand he had received when he called his father a liar.
“Oh, you poor thing.” Lela caresses Jessie’s right cheek. She notices that Jessie had bruises on his face and a split lip.
“Did your father abuse you Jessie?” She kneels to look into Jessie’s eyes.
“Yes ma’am. He was always drunk and took his anger out on me, when my mother wasn’t around. It got worse these past three weeks.” Jessie adjusts the way he is holding his sister.
Now he sort of understood why his father had been abusing him more lately. When his mother was at home, she always got in between him and his father. Now, that his mother is dead. His father could do whatever he wanted to him. He shivers slightly just from the thought.
Lela had held her finger out for Maggie to grab. She could see how curious Maggie was. She reminded her of her own little girls. She plays with Maggie for a while.
She stops and looks at Jessie “I better go back to work. If you need anything Jessie, just ring the front desk and well get it for you. Did you bring any food to eat for you and your sister?”
“Yes ma’am. I stopped by the store on my way here yesterday.” He was fully prepared for Maggie. He had formula and baby food for her.” Jessie adjusts his posture some. His arms were getting heavy.
“Well, if you get hungry, there’s a sub shop down the street that will deliver here. You’ll have to make an order of ten dollars or more, but they are worth it. The food is nice.” She turns around and starts to head out of the room.
“Thank you.” Jessie lays his sister down and checks her.
“Phew! Maggie, what have you been eating?” Jessie steps back to get the diaper bag and starts cleaning his sister. He puts a clean diaper on and a clean jumpsuit he had packed. He tosses the diaper in the trash can and ties it close. He hands wash the jumpsuit he just took off her and hangs it to dry in the bathroom.
He looks down at his sister as he changes out of his mother’s nightgown and into a pair of her jeans and one of her T-shirts. He brushes his hair so it was nice and neat. The bath he took last night, really felt good and after he had wash his hair and let it dry, it was soft to the touch and looked a lot fuller then it normally did.
Once Jessie was fully dress, he looks at the mirror and couldn’t believe how much he looked like a teenage girl dressed in his mother’s clothes. All he needed was his ear’s pierce and he would fit in with a group of girls. He smiles and looks over towards his little sister in the crib. He walks over and picks her up and holds her.
“So, are you hungry little sister?” He tickles her and she just smiles at him.
He fixes some baby food for his sister and feeds her first. Once she is feed, he fixes himself some instant grits and eats it. He had brought some milk to drink, so he has two cups of milk. It felt nice to be able to eat some food. Once he is done, he cleans up the mess he made and picks up his little sister and plays with her. He coos to her and puts her on her tummy, after folding the covers down and let her play on the sheets of the bed. He watches her carefully and enjoys spending time with her.
Jessie couldn’t believe how big she had gotten since his mother first brought her home. He was excited for his mother having another baby, but worried at the same time about his father abusing his sibling the same way he abused him. His father had commented about having too many girls at home. His father had hope that his mother was having a boy, instead of a girl. He said that he already had a girl and wanted a boy. He keeps playing with Maggie and later in the afternoon, after he feed Maggie her lunch and given her a bottle, he lays her down for a nap.
Jessie spends time while Maggie is sleeping straightening up their clothes he had shoved into the gym bag. He reorganizes the diaper bag and cleans the dirty bottles and sterilizes them with the help of the microwave. When he is done with that, he pulls out a school book he had hidden from his father. It was his math book, so it gave him something to do, while his sister slept. Most of the problems in the book he could do from the examples in the book. He had been moved up a grade before his father had taken him out of school to care for his sister. As much as he would like to watch television, he wanted to at least keep his math skills up. He spends the hours his sister slept to do math.
He finds a good stopping point and closes his math book. His sister was still asleep, so he grabs his jacket and gloves and slips his room key into a pocket on his jacket and steps outside his room. He stands against the railing watching the cars and people as they went about their way. He could tell the plow trucks had been by, because the roads were clear. He inhales the cool air. It felt nice and clean. He closes his eyes and wonders what it will be like to live in Texas. He was born here in Dunbar, West Virginia and has only left a few times when he was little with his mother.
He had visited his grandmother before she had died. He couldn’t remember ever meeting his aunt before. He couldn’t remember if she was married or single either. He wonders what she looked like. He knew she sort of sounded like his mother. Their voices were similar. Jessie hears the roar of a group of motorcycles and a few seconds later he spots them pasing by the entrance to the Inn. He tries to see if he could spot his father’s motorcycle. He knew what it looked like and what his helmet looked like as well. He spots his father’s motorcycle about half-way back in the group of motorcycles. Jessie doubts he would recognize him as he is dressed right now. He watches as the motorcycle gang rides further down the street.
“Excuse me Ms., would you happen to know where the motel’s ice machine is located?” An older gentleman walks up to where Jessie is standing.
“It’s the other way sir. You have to go all the way down past the last room and it’s in a room, where the snack machines are.” Jessie had turned around to face the gentleman. He points back behind him, towards the other direction.
“Thank you” He turns around and heads in the opposite direction.
Just as the older gentleman does that, the phone in Jessie’s room starts ring. Jessie fishes the key out of his pocket and runs into the room to answer it.
He picks the phone up “Hello?”
“Jessie? It’s your aunt Mary. I’m calling to inform you, that I should be there tomorrow evening around seven or so. How are you holding up?” Mary was sitting next to her husband and watching as they drove down the highway. They had left early this morning and were driving till around midnight or so.
“I’m doing fine Aunt Mary. Maggie should be waking up from her nap soon. I just saw my father and his motorcycle buddies ride past the motel.” Jessie glances over towards his little sister.
“Don’t worry about your father Jessie. Your Uncle has a friend that lives nearby and he is going to come by and take care of you. Is there anything you need sweetie?” Mary was concern about her nephew and niece.
“I’m alright Aunt Mary. I have twenty dollars left over after buying the supplies I needed for Maggie. I brought some shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, instant soup, milk, soda and instant grits for myself Aunt Mary.” Jessie felt proud of himself for buying those things.
“I’ll have Charlie bring you some dinner sweetie. How are you for clothes?” Mary had her pad and pen out to write down what she needed to get for Jessie and Maggie.
“I’m okay Aunt Mary. I’m wearing some of mom’s clothes. Some of her clothes fit me, but are either too long in the legs or too loose on me. All mine were either dirty or stunk or were to worn for me to wear. I manage to find a few of Maggie’s jumpsuits and brought them with me. They are clean and when she has an accident in them, I wash them by hand and hang them out to dry just like mom taught me.” Jessie had helped his mother with the laundry and she had taught him how to do laundry just in case she wasn’t home and Maggie needed a clean jumpsuit.
“Well that explains why everyone I spoke to yesterday, kept calling you my niece. Okay, is there anything special you want Jessie?” Mary knew that Jessie took after his mother. She had seen the pictures her sister had sent to her. He looked like the way she did when she was about his age. If he was wearing his mother’s clothes, she could see why people would mistake him for a girl.
Jessie wanted his mother back, but he knew that wasn’t going to happen.
“No ma’am, I just can’t wait to see you Aunt Mary.” He was ready to cry, but he didn’t.
“You’ll see me tomorrow night sweetie. Just take care of your sister and don’t let anyone you don’t know into your room. Your Uncle’s friends name is Charlie Bonds. He goes by CB sweetie. So, he’ll tell you that to identify himself to you, okay?” Mary and Charlie had set this up, so that Jessie would know he was safe to let in.
“Okay Aunt Mary.” Jessie writes the guy’s name down on a piece of paper.
“Alright sweetie, I’m going to let you go. I’ll call you first thing tomorrow morning to let you know we are on our way to you. You take care and protect your sister. Bye sweetie.” Mary ends the call.
Jessie hangs the phone up, just in time. As Maggie wakes up and starts crying. Jessie checks his little sister and changes her dirty diaper and plays with her for a while. She’s pretty much has become the center of his world. He watches her carefully as she tries to flip over on to her tummy. He kept the bed the way he had it before, so she would have a place to lay and try things out, without smothering herself.
Jessie turns the radio on and finds a station he likes. He gets in front of his sister, so she can see him and grabs one of her rattlers and starts singing along with the song Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson. He dances like he had seen some of the female singers had and his mom do. He tries matching his voice to the right pitch as Gretchen’s on the radio. He picks up his teddy bear and holds it to his hips.
Jessie watches as his silly dancing and singing makes her smile. When another song comes over the air, he dances and sings to that one. He entertains his little sister for a while. He felt free right now and was enjoying his little vocation. He walks over when the song is over and places his mouth on her tummy and blow on it, like his mother use to do to him. He gets a batter beat-up story time book; his mother had gotten when he was little and read bedtime stories to him from. He walks over and sits his sister on his lap and starts reading Snow White and The Seven Dwarf’s to her. He tries to duplicate the voices his mother had used when she read it to him. When the song Concrete Angel starts playing, he listens to it as it plays and thinks about the words. It describes how his life has been and how lucky he is, that he is lucky to still be alive and with his sister.
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