The Dog Catcher
Cheryl Greene thought she found perfection in Plez Jackson; a man she could stand still with. She also thought he was the perfect father figure for her son, Lawrence. But she soon found what she thought was perfect...was hardly that!
Can she teach this Dog new tricks, or will she leave him as she found him, wagging his proverbial tail?Click here to read Chapter One
Let me go ahead and put the shit out there; men are ridiculous. Worse than that, they’re dogs. They all start biting sooner or later.All the men in my life have been dogs. My daddy, dog number one, is probably the grandfather of all hounds. He finally stopped beating my mama when I turned 15, around the time we moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, from Jackson, Mississippi.
Mama got a job as a surgical tech at Mount Sinai Hospital, but Daddy could barely hold a job that first year. Instead, he spent his days at some bar, usually the Spruce, chasing butt. Not a day went by that Mama and us kids weren’t finding some strange woman’s earrings or watch in the car. One time I found some lady’s nasty panties underneath the car seat. After awhile, Mama stopped letting on that she knew what was happening, even though we knew she knew. She was from that generation where marriage really was, “Till death do us part.” But that meant putting up with all the bullshit in between.
I don’t know how she made it through all of that. Maybe it was her faith in God. She believed that everything was possible through Him. Yeah, everything but my daddy keeping his pants zipped.
By the time I turned 16, I’d had enough. Mama kept turning her head to what was going on, and Daddy wasn’t even trying to hide those bitches he was laying up with.
I got so fed up, I wanted to ask Mama why she didn’t leave him. At that point she was practically supporting us all by herself, so it’s not like she needed him for anything. But I knew she’d say that I needed to stay in a child’s place. That’s one of the things I hated about my mama. She never took the time to explain anything. If she told you to do something, you couldn’t ask why, because she would just say, “Because I said so, damn it!”When my body first started changing, I don’t think she even took the time to explain what I was going through, or what I could expect. The day I first got my period, I was scared. I didn’t know why there was blood in my panties. When I told her, all she said was, “Oh, you’re startin’ to get your service once a month.” Then she went into the closet and fished out a pad and said, “Here, use that.”
Daddy had been getting paid under the table, working as a second-rate fix-it-man around the neighborhood, but finally got a real job unloading trucks downtown. I was just as glad because instead of him being home all day, telling me how no good I was, he’d work all day and hang out at the bar all night. But when he was liquored-up I’d hear it.
One night, I got up to get a drink of water from the kitchen. When I went downstairs I overheard Daddy telling Mama how I had all kinds of boyfriends. “Ain’t you noticed anything different about your daughter?” Daddy asked, deep in the booze.
“Which daughter you talkin’ about, Joshua? Cheryl or Marva?”
“I’m talkin’ about Cheryl. You don’t see nothin’ wrong with her wearin’ all that makeup?”
“Well, she’s gettin’ to that age, Joshua. She don’t wear nothin’ but a little lip rouge,” Mama said.“She’s gonna be a tramp. You mark my words,” Daddy said, taking another swig of booze.
I snuck back upstairs and went to the bathroom to run my hand under the faucet and drink some water. Then I got into bed and cried myself to sleep, because it was sad to live under the same roof with folks who were supposed to be family, and yet they didn’t even know me. If my parents had taken the time to ask me, they would’ve known there was only one person I cared about; dog number two.
His name was Diallo Washington. I’d seen him around the neighborhood during the summer. The first time I laid eyes on him, he’d been outside his house with his friends trying to fix an old, beat-up Buick. His mama stood knock-kneed in the doorway, plump like a Thanksgiving turkey, wearing a blue, and, purple swirled, psychedelic housedress. She was telling him to go to the store to get her some cigarettes. He turned to see me standing on the sidewalk, watching him. That’s when the sun caught his eyes, which shimmered an amazing green. This brotha was fine as hell. I mean, he was all that and a whole convenience store, not just a bag of busted chips.
I could tell he knew he was fine. He strutted around that yard like a peacock, showing off his green eyes. Diallo was black as night, so you know that a brotha with green eyes is gonna catch some attention.
The only other black guy I’d ever seen with light-colored eyes was Smokey Robinson on The Ed Sullivan Show. And just like Smokey, Diallo could sing his ass off. That’s how we finally met for the first time; he was out in front of the store one day, singing doo-wop to a bunch of giggling girls. I couldn’t help but get drawn into it too. I’d close my eyes and it was like Dennis Edwards from The Temptations was right in front of me.
As soon as I came on the scene those other girls no longer mattered because he made his way toward me and finished his little ditty of a song, “The Nighttime is the Right Time” as he gazed into my eyes. Realizing they didn’t stand a chance, the other three girls walked off in a huff.
“Eh, what’s your name, lil’ mama?”
“Nice to meet you, Cheryl. I’m Diallo,” he said, taking my hand and shaking it.
“Nice to meet you, too.”
“You got a boyfriend?”
“That’s too damn bad. You’re too pretty not to have a boyfriend. Can I walk with you after you get what you need from the store?”
I nodded my head shyly. After that day, it was a whirlwind romance. He drove me to and from school in that Buick he’d been working on. I felt supreme, being seen getting out of my boyfriend’s car instead of riding around in some rickety school bus with the other students.Diallo was a different breed. He was five years older and didn’t have to talk a lot of nonsense like the boys my age. I felt he was someone I could tell my troubles to. When I told him all about my family drama, he not only lent me an ear, he tried putting thoughts into my head; telling me stuff like my folks were trying to control me. But I knew that wasn’t true, because Daddy was always at the bar if he wasn’t at home or at work, and Mama, true to form, just turned her head away from stuff so I don’t know when anybody had time to control me.
When it came to sex, he seemed thrilled that I hadn’t given up my cookie yet. I tried to resist his charms but those eyes and voice of his finally worked their magic. He literally sang my panties off; singing The Temptation hit “I Can’t Get Next to You.” But my first time wasn’t all precious like you see in a soap opera. He just slapped his dick against my clit a few times and then rammed it inside my pussy.
To say it hurt ain’t telling the whole truth. I felt like my insides were bleeding, that’s how bad the pain was. I begged him to stop, but all he said, in a sex-moan-kind of way was, “Naw, naw. It’ll start feelin’ good after awhile!”
Yeah right! He had no idea. He was just trying to get the pussy, and my dumb ass gave it to him. He was huge in the dick department, and eventually I got into the swing of things. Again and again, that brotha knew how to pound a pussy in. That’s what he used to call it.
He was so good, that he not only owned my pussy, but my heart. At 17, I guess I could’ve been scared when I came up pregnant. But Diallo was my everything. I just knew he would do right by me.
What I found out instead was the quickest way to get a dog to run and hide, is to tell him you’re pregnant. He stopped picking me up from school, and stopped calling altogether. He even slammed the door in my face when I went to his mother’s house where he lived.
I was hurt, and every day I stood in the mirror after taking a shower, watching as my stomach got bigger, it was like feeling the rejection all over again.
Mama caught on pretty soon, even though I tried to hide my stomach by wearing some of my friend Leon’s sweatshirts. She didn’t yell at me or anything. She didn’t have to, because she had a way of saying things with a tone that had the same effect. She just kept talking about how she was gonna get me out of the house and into this place where fast-ass girls like me went to get their situations taken care of. I knew she was talking about me getting an abortion. But I remembered how painful it was for a girl I knew at school, and how raw she felt afterward. I’d be damned if I was gonna go through that myself. This was my mistake, and I wasn’t afraid to feed it or clothe it.
I waited until Mama said she had made arrangements to send me away. I told her that I wasn’t going anywhere. I said that I knew of a girl in my situation who still went to school and worked at night. She was taking care of her business.
That’s when Mama drew back, and I guess all the pain and embarrassment of my pregnancy, plus her own unhappiness with my daddy must have been packed in her hand, because she popped me dead in my mouth.
I couldn’t believe that Mama, a Christian woman—could want me to abort my baby just to save her the embarrassment of us being seen as one of those families. And yet she cursed me, using language that would normally make her blush, calling me all kinds of bitches and whores. And while she’s staring at me, I’m seeing something behind her eyes that I’d never seen before. I knew she saw me as a disappointment.
Of all the days he could’ve come home early, Daddy picked that day.
“Your fast-ass daughter here done got herself knocked-up!” Mama screamed at Daddy.
Before I had the chance to look at his face, I felt a fist hit the side of my head. I hit the floor. Daddy pulled me by my arms, but I was trying to turn loose, so, he grabbed fistfuls of my hair. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have any hair left when he was through with me.
He started kicking me; his anger was so wild that I don’t think he cared where his foot stomped me. I covered my stomach, trying to avoid the wash of stomps.
I looked up; the room was blurry through my tears as I saw Mama watching me get beat. Then, she took her car keys and left for work.
“Now this is what you’re gonna do,” he told me at the end. “You’re gonna go upstairs and pack your shit, and take your ass over to that nigga’s house who did this to you. And he better not set foot in my house or I will shoot the motherfucker where he stands, do you hear me?”
I was crying so hard, that all I could do was mumble. In my mind I was saying, “Yeah, Daddy,” but I don’t think it came out that way.
I limped upstairs to the bathroom to wash the blood off my face. My lips were busted. How in the hell could he do that to a 17- year-old girl, and a pregnant one at that?
As soon as I saw my eye was swollen shut, I sank to the floor. I must have been crying in that bathroom for hours because at some point my seven-year-old sister, Marva, came in there.
Here I was slumped on the floor, and that little bitch just stands on her tippy-toes so she can wash her hands for dinner. She didn’t say anything to me, probably afraid my daddy would get in her ass, too.
I called my friend Rexanne. She was in a program that gave her a place to stay since she was emancipated from her parents. They threw her out when they found out she liked females. Found out? Rexanne was more masculine than a lot of dudes in the neighborhood. You mean to tell me that it took her parents coming home and catching her with her face in some girl’s pussy to figure that out?“What’s the matter?” she asked once she picked up and heard me crying on the phone.
“I need a favor.”
“Can I stay with you for a while? My daddy just beat the shit out of me because he found out I’m pregnant. He’s kicking me out the house.”
“What the fuck, man! You ain’t called the police on that motherfucker?”
“No, Rexanne. I don’t need no more trouble. Can I stay with you or not?”
“Of course you can. You can stay for as long as you want.”Rexanne came and got me and I moved me and my few bags to her place. Since I didn’t drive, she took me to all my doctors’ appointments. Here I was, seven months pregnant, hormones all out of control and depressed because I was on my own, feeling like damaged goods. I couldn’t understand why Daddy not only beat me the way he did, but also threw me out the house. I thought blood was supposed to be thicker than water.
I’d started to think that she was beginning to have feelings for me. I ain’t gonna lie, if Rexanne had been just Rex, meaning if she were a guy, I could have seen myself with someone like her. She acted like a real man, but she was tender, too. She thought about me before she thought about herself. No man had ever treated me like that before.
In a way, Rexanne was what I envisioned my perfect man to be. She told me a woman could eat pussy better than a man because a woman has one and knows what feels good. My dumb ass let her try and prove it.
One night, Rexanne brought some Courvoisier home. I don’t know how she managed to get alcohol because she was only 18, but she was always drinking the hard stuff that could put hair on the chest of most men. Since I was feeling lower than low, I thought, “fuck everything,” and started drinking. As the night wore on, Rexanne started inching herself closer and closer to me. She put her arm around me and her warm breath tickled my ear. She told me that I was beautiful, even though I sure didn’t feel that way. With all the drama I had endured with the men in my life, that night, I could understand why some women preferred other women. Rexanne had been so good to me and I trusted her. I knew she liked me, and I figured since she wasn’t hitting me up for any rent money, it was the least I could do, and I was a little curious see if a woman could please another woman. Rexanne was all I had at the time, and she was doing her damndest to make me forget about all of my troubles.
I was good and drunk.. As we talked, I saw her licking her lips, the way Diallo used to.“What would you do if I were to kiss you, right now?” she asked.
“I’d say do what you gotta do,” I said.
I sat up, wondering for a short moment if I really should have been doing what I was doing. Her eyes were so kind, I didn’t mind it when she leaned in, took my face in her hands and kissed me. Her lips were soft; I just closed my eyes and went with it.
When she tried to put her tongue in my mouth, that’s when I pulled away.
“Naw, naw, baby. Just relax. You need to leave them jive-niggas alone. They can’t make you feel the way I can.”I felt helpless as my body shivered. She looked at me with those eyes that usually seemed so suspicious, but were suddenly loving and tender. When she unbuttoned my shirt, I became embarrassed of how big my stomach was. I began trying to close my shirt back up, but she brushed my hands away.
“Naw, don’t do that. You need to get off that kick of thinkin’ you’re ugly. I think you’re beautiful.”
She got down on the floor and slid my pants and panties down. I could feel my heart beating as she ran her hands between my legs. She leaned in and blew on my pussy. At first I thought, “What the hell is this bitch doing?” but then she took her fingers and started pumping me and rubbing my clit. It had been so long since I’d had anything in there. Spasms of pleasure shot through me as I arched my back the best I could. She buried her face in my stuff and ate me out like it was her last meal.When she raised her head up from her feast, her face was glistening from my wetness. Then she tried to kiss me again, but I was like, “Oh, hell no.”
She got up from the floor and sat back down next to me. I struggled to pull my panties and pants back up, and re-buttoned my shirt. She just stared at me with this shit-kicking grin on her face.
“So, how’d you like that? Am I good or am I good?” she asked, like she had just given the pussy eating of a lifetime.
“It was good,” I said, not knowing what else to say. I didn’t like the smile on her face. It was like she was saying, “Yeah, I got this bitch.” I was doing her a favor.
After that night, Rexanne started acting like we were boyfriend and girlfriend; coming up behind me and wrapping her arms around me, kissing my neck, grabbing my booty. I had to fix that right away.
“Listen, Rexanne, I ain’t gonna lie. I enjoyed the other night. But I’m not like you; I like guys, always have and always will.”
“You weren’t talking that shit when you were moanin’ my name,” she said.
“I may have been moaning, but I know I didn’t call out your name. Now that’s just something I wouldn’t damn do.”
“What you sayin,’ that it was just a fling?”
“I was depressed and feeling sorry for myself. It was an experiment. A lot of people experiment.”
“So what, you’re sorry you did it?” she asked me. Rexanne sounded hurt.
“No. You’re my friend. I wouldn’t have done it with just anybody. But you need to understand that it was just one time.”
Rexanne smiled and said, “We’ll see.”
On November 20, 1974, I gave birth to a son. I named him Lawrence because I always liked that name, and I thought it would fit him because I was going to raise him to know how to treat women; a gentleman’s name for a future gentleman.
I called Diallo’s mother to tell her that Diallo had a son. She sighed wearily into the phone.
“Now, are you sure it’s his?”
“Yes, Ma’am. He took my virginity,” I said, embarrassed to have to explain myself to this woman I didn’t know.
“No, you probably just gave it away. Well, that’s a shame. The last girl callin’ here talkin’ ‘bout she pregnant, was a damn lie.”
“Well, I’m positive; Diallo’s the father because he’s the only one I’ve been with.”
“He needs to learn to wear a rubber since he can’t trust you girls to take care of your own business! Anyway, I’ll tell him you called!” And then she hung up. I was made to feel dirty about something that really was only half my fault. My mother came by the hospital, but I really wish she hadn’t. I couldn’t forget looking up to see her grab her keys and dip out while I was getting beat within an inch of my life. She brought a bag of clothes for Lawrence. I told her she could just put the bag on the chair. I guess I said it with an attitude because when she left, she took the clothes with her. Still, there was no sign of Diallo. That fool couldn’t be bothered to even come by to look at the baby.
Maybe I had it coming. But I thought that maybe when he saw the baby it would hit home that responsibilities awaited him. But no, he disappeared into a mob of his doggish friends who probably encouraged him to act like that.I decided cutting my losses with Diallo was the best thing I could do for me and my son. For our sakes it would have to be.
I didn’t have to sit through an episode of Good Times to know that things were bad for black folks. I lived it.
It was May of 1975, and I was walking around with a six-month-old on my hip, no job, and staying with Rexanne. There was still no involvement from Diallo, though I did run into him at the grocery store one day.He looked down at Lawrence who was sitting in the shopping cart, playing with a bag of chips. “This him?” he asked me.
“Why do you gotta ask such a stupid-ass question? Who else would he be?”He picked him up and held him. Standing in the middle of the grocery store aisle, he actually looked like a proud, new father. He offered me a ride home; this after telling me how fine I looked, and that he couldn’t tell that I’d even had a baby.
“Oh? Now you wanna be helpful?”
“Come on, now. My mama’s been sick,” he said, avoiding my eyes. Any other time he’d proudly flash those green eyes of his.“What’s wrong with her?” I asked, taking Lawrence back and putting him back in the cart. I put his pacifier in his mouth because his little face had started to squinch up, like he wanted to start crying.
“She’s got diabetes. Yeah, she ain’t been doin’ too good,” he said, looking at me for the first time. “Listen, I know I fucked up. My sister’s been raisin’ all kinds of hell, telling me what a bum I am.”
“She’s right,” I said, laughing in his face.
When we got to the checkout line, I pulled out my food stamps. I’d put off going on welfare for as long as I could, but finally realized that I had to do what I had to do. He looked horrified and probably sensed my embarrassment. He went into his pocket and pulled out a wad of money, saying, “I got it.” He looked at me, smiling as though he had just made the grandest gesture. If I was supposed to be impressed, I wasn’t.
“So what about that ride home?” he said, smiling that sly, doggish smile of his.I accepted the ride home. I figured it was the least his black ass could do. I sat quietly while he tried to make small talk.“Why you so quiet?” he asked.
“I don’t have anything to say to you.”
“Then why in the hell did you accept a ride from a nigga if all you was gonna do is be rude and shit?”
“Excuse me for not thinking you giving me a ride is anything special! I took the ride because I get real sick and tired of trying to get home with a six-month-old and a ton of groceries! I’m sick of people on the bus sitting there on their asses, looking stupid when it’s obvious I could use a seat, or even a hand!” That shut Diallo right up. He just shook his head and kept his eyes on the road. When we got to the apartment, he insisted on helping me put everything away, as if I didn’t know where fruits and vegetables or lunch meat went.
“Okay, thanks,” I said, motioning him to the door as soon as the last piece of food was stored away. He started smiling again, as though he were hatching a plan. He started looking around the apartment like he was expecting someone to burst in.
“Where’s your roommate?”
“She ain’t here,” I said, giving him the best no-nonsense look I could.
“You wanna do something?”
“Do what, Diallo?”
He walked in closer and squeezed my booty, licking his lips in that sexy way of his.
“Why don’t you gimme some of this ass right quick,” he said, his hands still on my booty.
“Negro, please! You can’t even help me take care of the baby we got, but you expect me to give you some?”
Just then, Rexanne came through the door, which startled both of us. I was glad to see her because then I wouldn’t have to fight him off me, or worse, let those green eyes seduce me into some bullshit. She wore shorts and a T-shirt. She must’ve had one of her lesbian friends cornrow her hair because it looked freshly done.
“Who’s this?” Rexanne asked, all wide-eyed.
“This is Diallo, and he was just leaving,” I said.
“Shake the scene, Turkey,” Rexanne said, posturing like she was ready to throw down.Diallo began to chuckle like she was the biggest joke in the room. “Eh, man, who is this jive-ass, dykey broad?”
“She’s done more for me than you have!” I said.
“You’ve been lettin’ this bitch eat your pussy or somethin’?”
“Fuck you, boy!” Rexanne said as she popped him on the side of the head.
Diallo looked stunned that a female had put her hands on him. Then I saw something snap in him and his eyes got really evil looking, like the devil had entered his body. Rexanne pushed Diallo out the door, slamming it shut. Diallo beat on that door. I was afraid he was going to kick it down.
“Open up this door, bitch! Motherfucker, you wanna act like a man, I’ll treat you like one!”
“Diallo, get out of here before I call the police!” I screamed through the door.
“Yeah, go ahead and do that shit! Call those pigs and tell them this bulldagger put her hands on me. Funky-ass bitch don’t know who she’s fuckin’ with!”Diallo must have stayed out there for another ten minutes. “I’m gonna get your ass for that, bitch! Just you wait!” he screamed, kicking the door one final time before leaving. Rexanne walked around the apartment, her chest stuck out like she had won the victory.
“Rexanne, you shouldn’t have hit him,” I said.
“Man, fuck that punk. He had no business in my house in the first place.”
“He was giving me a ride home. In case you didn’t know, it’s hard shopping with a baby.”
“You’re takin’ rides from that nigga now? This, after you cry to me about how he’s no good and ain’t livin’ up to his responsibilities. Boy or girl, it doesn’t matter, I don’t let anybody talk shit to me in my own house, and if you don’t like it, you can run your ass right after him.”
She had a point. It was her house. But she still didn’t have to hit him. I was scared for her because Diallo wasn’t playing. And he was right; she didn’t know who she was fucking with.