Free Story: Across Liberty Street
Across Liberty Street
Long Branch, New Jersey
Cole checked out his processed hair in the bathroom mirror. He licked his fingertips and used them to slick his hair down over his ears. He grinned at his reflection.
Cool, baby. Fried, dyed and laid to the side!
He leaned closer to the mirror and squinted at the fuzz that was barely more than a shadow over his top lip. Yeah, it was coming in. Slow, but it was coming. Oh well, even what little mustache he had made him look older. He hated when people told him that he had a baby face.
Other folks said he looked like Eddie Kendricks. That was cool. All the honeys liked Eddie. Cole stepped back from the mirror, held up an invisible microphone and started singing, “I know you wanna leave me, but I refuse to let you go…”
He kept singing the Temptations “Ain’t To Proud To Beg” as he left the bathroom and did the Temptation Walk to the stairs.
Before he even got to the top of the steps Cole smelled the mingled odors of sausage, coffee, hot Dixie Peach and frying hair.
Still singing, Cole went down. He was in a good mood this morning. It was Sunday.
“Ow Ma, ow!” Cole’s little niece Connie yelled.
His sister Bernice snapped, “If you stop fidgeting you won’t get burned. Now be still!”
Cole grinned and made a face at Connie as he entered the kitchen. Teary-eyed, she stuck her tongue out at him.
Still singing, he stepped to Bernice and gave her a smacking kiss on her cheek.
Bernice smiled at him and said, “You’re in mighty good spirits this morning. You coming to church with us?”
“Um, I don’t know, Sis. Can’t say yet.”
Cole started singing again and danced to the stove to see what smelled good. He saw that Bernice had cooked up some hot links, grits, scrambled eggs with cheese and biscuits. His stomach rumbled that that was just what the doctor ordered.
“Where’s Joe?” he asked as he made his plate. “Did he eat yet? Cause if he didn’t he’s ‘bout to go hungry.” Then he picked up on the next verse of “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.”
“Joe already ate, “Bernice said, “He went to the Esso station to get some gas. Cole, going to church or not, you need to stop singing that mess and dancing on the Lord’s Day. There’s cheese toast in the oven. And Connie made Kool-Aid. You need to come to church, Cole. You haven’t been more than a couple times since you came up here. Everybody needs a church home.”
Cole looked back from the stove. Ignoring his big sister’s weekly nagging about church he said, “Connie made the Kool-Aid? Then don’t you mean she put a couple of drops in a pound of sugar?”
Connie looked around from her chair. “Forget you, Uncle Cole! Ma, ow!”
“Girl, I told you to be still!”
As he settled into the porch swing he looked across Liberty Street, at Deacon Jefferson’s house.
Come on baby.
His brother in-law Joe’s ’64 Impala rolled to a stop at the curb. Joe got out of the car. He was already in his church suit. Joe was grinning as he came up the walk to the house. Cole knew what was coming.
Sure enough, Joe said, “That don’t look like church get-up to me, boy. You ain’t rolling with us this morning?
“Hey Joe. I don’t know, man. I’m thinking on it.”
“Well don’t think too long, Cole. Can’t keep God waiting.”
Cole shot another glance across the street at Deacon Jefferson’s house, at the window on the second floor. “Amen to that, brother,” he said.
As Joe went inside Cole checked his watch. It was almost nine-thirty.
Come on baby.
He sat and swung and watched the sparse traffic rolling up and down Liberty Street. Not too many cars on a Sunday morning. Hell, still a lot more than he’d see along the dirt road in front of his house down home. And back home there weren’t any houses across the road to look at. Nothing but woods. Cole figured if he had anything to give thanks for on Sunday it was that his sister Bernice married Joe Cherry, and that he’d moved her from North Carolina up here to New Jersey. Yeah, thank the Lord for that. And for the house across Liberty Street.
Yes Lord, thank you Jesus!
Cole looked at the second floor window of the house across the street.
Come on, baby.
Bernice called out from inside the house, “Cole, if you going with us you need to get to stepping! It’s almost ten o’clock, boy!”
Girl, come on!
Across the street the second floor window blinds closed, then opened, and then closed and opened again.
Cole grinned and yelled back into the house, “Nah, I ain’t going today!”
Thank you Jesus!
Across the street Deacon Jefferson came out of the house dressed in a black suit and carrying his bible.
The Deacon was a big man. He reminded Cole of Bubba Eley down home. Built thick and solid, like a bull. Not the kind of Negro you wanted to tussle with. Cole grinned and waved over at the deacon. Deacon Jefferson nodded back at him and tapped the brim of his hat. Then he slid into his black Chrysler Imperial and drove off, on his way to the church to help spread The Word and save souls.
Cole sat back and swung and grinned and sang under his breath, “I’ve got sunshine, on a cloudy day…”
After Joe and Bernice and Connie left for church Cole went upstairs and put a shirt on over his wife-beater. He left the house on foot and headed north up Liberty Street.
He walked casually, telling himself not to run. There was plenty of time. The first service was from eleven until one o’clock. He checked his watch. It was five till eleven. Plenty of time.
He told himself not to run.
When Cole reached the corner of Joline Avenue he crossed Liberty Street and headed south, back the way he’d come but on the other side of the street. He stole a glance around, and then cut between two houses to the back yards. Now he moved faster. He hurried along the edges of the neighbor’s back yards until he reached the back yard of Deacon Jefferson’s house. Gasping more from excitement than from running, he stopped and looked at the back door of the house.
He hadn’t been moving that fast, hadn’t even broken a sweat. But now his heart started pounding. It was pounding because he saw her standing there, just on the other side of the screen door, looking out at him.
Cole hurried across the back yard. As he leapt onto the porch she opened the screen door for him. And then he was in the kitchen and Francine was in his arms.
They kissed like they were eating after almost starving to death. Her body felt so good in his arms. After Cole had had his first fill of her sweet lips he let her go and stepped back to look at her.
Lord have mercy Jesus!
Francine smiled at him as he looked her up and down. She didn’t act even a little bit ashamed that she was downstairs in the kitchen wearing nothing but a white slip. She didn’t even have a robe on over it. The girl was bold as hell.
And she looked so good, with her big-legged self. Cole couldn’t understand how old ass Deacon Jefferson could get a young, fine piece of trim like Francine to marry him. That Negro had to be at least forty, maybe fifty.
“How’d you get outta going to church?” he asked.
“I’ve been working on a migraine headache since Friday night.” She smiled her pretty smile. “This morning it got really bad.”
Cole grinned at her. “A migraine headache, huh?”
“Mmm-hmm.” She backed away from him to the kitchen counter and looked out through the window over the sink.
“You ain’t worried about old lady Henry next door seeing you through the window with no clothes on?” Cole asked.
“I’m in my house,” Francine said. “It’s my business what I wear…or don’t wear.”
“You got anything on up under that slip?”
She looked around at him. She gave him a sexy smile and said, “Why do you want to know?”
“’Cause I’m the doctor, and I think I’m gonna have to give you a shot to take care of your headache. And it’s not the kind of shot you get in your arm, neither.”
“Oh, is that right? You’re going to give me an injection, Doctor Cole?”
“Ha-ha, yeah, I’ma inject you baby. You got your drawers on under there?”
“They need to come off.”
“I don’t know. Is your injection going to hurt?”
Cole grinned harder. “Yeah baby, it might. But it’s a good kinda hurt.”
“So if I’m a good girl and let you give me your injection, are you going to give me a lollipop…or something else good to suck on?”
“Whoo lord! Yeah, girl!”
He watched Francine with greedy eyes and a hard dick as she lifted her slip and peeled her underwear down. She stepped out of them and kicked them away. As Cole went to her he said, “Now turn that thing around.”
“Don’t you fall asleep!” Francine said as she shook him out of his nod. “You need to go. He’ll be back soon.”
Cole struggled upright on the sofa. “Why that nigga gotta come back anyway?” he grumbled. “Next service is at three-thirty.”
“He always comes home between services. Now fix your pants and go home.”
When Deacon Jefferson got home he saw Bernice Cherry’s kid brother Cole still sitting on the porch across the street. That boy ought to be in church, he thought.
The Deacon went into his house through the front door. He hung his hat and suit jacket on the coat rack. Something smelled good. He headed back to the kitchen.
He didn’t see Francine, but she had a pot of something going on the stove. The Deacon went over and lifted the lid. It was pot roast with white potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and pearl onions.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw something on the floor in front of the refrigerator. He looked, then went over and picked up Francine’s underwear.
The Deacon went upstairs to the master bedroom. He went in and stopped just inside the door.
Francine was in the bed, sitting up with her back propped against the pillows and the bedspread pulled up under her chin.
They looked at each other for a moment without speaking. Then the Deacon said, “Pot roast looks good.”
“Thank you,” she said. “How was the service?”
“Good. The reverend outdid himself. Ida Banks and Annie Wilson got the spirit at the same time. So Roberta Johnson had to go into her weekly seizure. Ushers had to carry her out kicking and flopping.”
Francine smiled. “You know Roberta’s not going to let anyone outdo her catching the Holy Spirit.”
The Deacon looked at his young wife. She held his gaze for a moment, but then looked away.
“How’s your headache?” he asked.
“It um…it went away while I was down in the kitchen.”
“In the kitchen, huh?”
“Yes…” Her voice had gone soft. She still wouldn’t look at him.
Deacon Jefferson tossed his wife’s panties onto the foot of the bed.
Francine looked at them, and then up at him.
“Let’s hear it,” he said.
Francine said, “He made me bend over the sink. I was looking out the window at Mrs. Henry’s strawberry patch while he did it to me.”
With his eyes on his wife, Deacon Jefferson loosened his tie and lifted it over his head. Then he unbuttoned his shirt. “How was it this time?”
“He barely looked at me. He didn’t even bother to take my slip off—just stuck his little mess in and did his business.”
“It wasn’t good to you?”
“All he did was warm me up for you, Daddy. He can’t do me the way you do.”
As the Deacon took his shirt off he said, “The boy’s a fool, can’t appreciate a beautiful woman like you. Can’t do you right.”
Francine smiled and said, “You do me right, Daddy. Nobody can do me like you do, with that big thing of yours. Let me see it Daddy.”
“Let me see you baby.”
Francine flipped the bedspread away to reveal her nakedness.
The Deacon unfastened his suit pants and pulled his stuff out. “Get up,” he said. “Get over by the window.”
Obediently, Francine slid out of bed and went to the window. She bent over and braced her hands on the window sill.
The Deacon stepped up behind his wife. As he pushed into her from the back he looked through the window, out across Liberty Street.
“Looks like he’s singing,” the Deacon said.
© November 2009