Tell Me What's Wrong
Disclaimer: Boondocks is owned by Sony Pictures Digital Inc. and Aaron McGruder. All the copyrights associated with Boondocks belong to them. Only the ideas contained within this story are the property of the author. No profit is being earned by the writer of this story.
Chapter Six: Joy & Pain, Pain & Joy
As Huey Percy Freeman arrived at the conclusion of what happened on his end, Jazmine Marie Dubois tried to move the muscles in her jaw in an effort to make her lips part and words to spill out from between her pearly whites and over her bubblegum pink tongue – yet nothing sprung out that was intelligible to anyone except maybe an infant or a one or two-year old child. Her gaze travelled down to her folded hands nestled tightly in her lap, the ruggedness of her blue jeans able to provide somewhat of a small source of warmth in the middle of what she could only describe as a giant, life sized icebox. She knew what Huey would ask, but was she ready to expose the information she attempted to hoard in the farthest recesses of her mind for almost ten years? If she told the complete truth of what happened that atrocious, unforgivable night, what would be her husband's response? To go out and kill the man, the man she knew was still alive to this very day? Would he lash and thrash about in anger, throwing every tangible item in the room in sight, unable to simmer down and possibly endanger not only herself, their daughter and Cindy, but himself as well? What if Huey showed no emotion, no sympathy, no hint of a normal response to the genuine information she would divulge to him, only to find out days later that he would abandon her with their daughter, in a way only he could express how embarrassed he was to be around a woman so vile, one who in his eyes was nothing but a walking pariah. The many scenarios played out on the big screen inside Jazmine's mind, and she was in the front row, eating her buttery popcorn, sucking the dark carbonated beverage in her hand through a straw, scared of what would happen next, even though she already knew the outcome for each event taking place before her eyes.
Jazmine crossed her ankles, her navy blue Keds blending in with the thick curls of the carpet. She couldn't lift her head and look at Huey right next to her, his shoulder inches from her own. She drew in a large breath, holding it in her small lungs like a prisoner sentenced to life without possibility of parole. Every second felt like an eternity. Every minute felt like forever. The hour that passed felt infinite, like a whole day already whipped past them and ushered in tomorrow without a glaring sign. To her left, she could hear the rain start up again, banging against the window pane like tiny pebbles. The eerie hissing of the wind rustling through the large oak tree sent shivers up and down her spine. Was God really trying to scare her into telling the truth? Huey spilled his guts out, it seemed. He rubbed his forehead after his mouth ceased to speak no more. He brought a finger up to his eye, wiping a tear as he recollected about how horrible he felt, being so rotten toward his brother, who oddly had to yell some sense into his ear, as if they were in the Twilight Zone and everything was in reverse – Riley had all the sense in the world, and Huey did not. What made Jazmine twitch as if someone jammed a needle into her stomach was how Huey broke into tears about how wonderful Zora's birth was, especially after they lost their first child they tried to conceive by an unfortunate miscarriage months before he or she was born. Jazmine leaned into Huey, wrapping his arms around his shoulders, kissing him on the lips like what felt to be a hundred times, her own tears mixing with his.
She couldn't hold it back anymore, she thought. The truth had to be revealed, even if it meant someone would get hurt, and she knew at least one person would be put in harm's way. Jazmine's head rose on its own, a miracle considering how it had transformed into a giant lead ball from it being hung low for so long, unable to return to its normal position. The air in her lungs flew faster than a speeding bullet up through her lungs, her windpipe and through her mouth out into the freezing cold room.
She nodded. "Yes."
She looked into his sparkling eyes, moist with tears, surprised his anger had not shown itself yet. "Tell me."
The tingly prickling at the back of her eyeballs returned. The tears – they were coming, she knew it. Jazmine ignored the sensation, willing her mind not to let them come. "A month before I told you I was pregnant, I was with my parents."
Jazmine shut her eyes, complete darkness surrounding her every direction. She continued to talk, every word surprisingly comfortable enough to flow from her as if reciting a poem or movie script. Darkness exploded around her with giant, bright flashes of light, each miniature piece of the wall of pitch blackness replaced by color one by one, until the scene pieced together could be made out fully. Jazmine, nine years younger, mumbled lowly under her breath, her head lowered, her eyes closed, only a little unaware of the voices around her, escalating in intensity as each voice answered the other.
She restored her vision, a smile on her face. Eyeing her food, she grabbed the nearby spoon by her plate and stabbed it into the bowl of French onion soup, a large circle full of thick swirls of light, medium and dark shades of orange and yellow, with dark green specks of green onion floating on the surface of the dish. She threw a few crackers into the middle, submerging them one by one with her spoon.
"I thought we weren't going to start another business. Didn't you decline the offer?"
Jazmine lifted her head and swiveled it to the left at her father, his mouth full of mashed potatoes and green beans, waiting for him to respond to her mother's inquiry. Jazmine slurped some soup from the spoon she held up to her lips and then took a bite of some of the stringy cheese that slid down onto her tongue by mistake – but she couldn't let such cheese go to waste, and devoured that as well.
Tom Dubois explained through a full mouth, "Now honey, Robert and I agreed it would be best to have another source of income in case this economy continues to go south."
Sarah Dubois frowned, her hand around a tall glass of white wine. "I don't mind you starting a business, honey, but a sports bar, with all those women and God knows what else in there?" she paused to take a sip of wine. She shook her head, swallowing before she spoke. "I can't allow it Tom, no way."
Tom's neutral face fixed itself into a scowl. "What's so wrong with that?" he asked. He took a spoonful of food and forced it into his mouth. "It's where plenty of people, especially eligible bachelors, go these days after a long day's work. Why so against it, honey? I don't see any harm in it."
Jazmine let her spoonful of soup hover over the bowl, allowing it to cool off. She almost dropped it handle first into the steaming yellow broth from the sudden sound of her mother's sharp voice. "Haven't you heard the news, Tom? About these bars and clubs in the nearby area that have been robbed and people have waited outside for customers to come out and shoot them down? For no reason, Tom! Innocent people could get hurt, including you!"
"Sarah, we're in Woodcrest, not Baltimore," he said. He gulped down some wine. "There aren't any hoods or thugs in this area, not yet at least."
Sarah narrowed her eyes. "It's not about those – those thugs being here," she said. "It's about you, and your safety."
Tom shrugged. "There's nothing to worry about, all we have to do is-"
Sarah brought her empty glass down on the table. "No, Tom, no sports bar! Tell Robert he's on his own!"
"I knew I shouldn't have brought it up. I knew I should've kept it a secret from you," Tom shook his head. He slid his hands down the side of his face, as if he were about to rub the skin completely off of his skull. "That's what you always do, downplay my ideas," Tom's scowl became more defined, more rough. He shoved his plate six inches in front of him. "I'm tired of it, Sarah! Why do you have to always act so ridiculous?"
Sarah shook her head. "I'm not acting ridiculous, Tom. You are," she said. "For not considering us, your wife and your only child, your daughter," she gestured at Jazmine, who ceased her eating long ago, her head down, staring at her food. "Instead, you only want to think about money, money, money! Like a selfish child!"
Tom's face frowned even harder. "I'm not a selfish child! If anyone in here is selfish, it's you," he said as he pointed at her. "For not thinking of me and what I want, what our family wants. No, the only one you think about is yourself!"
Sarah stood up, knocking her empty glass sideways on the table. "Well maybe if you were here more often instead of at the office or in court defending those stupid bozos that are guilty in the first place, you wouldn't have to hear me sounding so selfish! Hmmm, did you think of that? Huh?"
Jazmine put her head up, her eyes stinging from the tears, her lips trembling. "Mommy! Daddy! Stop it!"
Tom continued to glare at Sarah, ignoring his daughter. "You know what? Maybe that's what I should do!" he stood up from his seat at the end of the table opposite of Sarah. "Maybe I should stay at the office and stay defending those stupid bozos, I mean my clients!" he said. "What's the benefit of staying here, a place where I don't get enough appreciation from my own wife than I do with my secretary!"
Jazmine shrieked at the loud explosion of exploding glass. The thousands of tiny black triangles and squares of glass scattered across the floor after the bottle of champagne flew past Tom's head and into the wall above the kitchen sink. Sarah marched toward Tom, breathing heavily, black splotches of mascara under her eyes, wet with tears. "You take that back!"
"No! I meant every word of it!"
Sarah grabbed another bottle of champagne from the table, holding it above her head. "How dare you talk about that – that brainless bitch in this house?"
Tom ducked and ran away from the table as the bottle was hurled his way, only to hit the wall he hid behind, foaming champagne and bits of glass joining the rest of the mess on the floor and the nearby wall.
Jazmine threw her face down into the table, shrouding it with her folded arms as she wailed into her hand and wrist, unable to deal with no more of the yelling, being called out of one's name and objects being thrown about the room. During the arguing, she found herself sneaking out of the room and into her bedroom, safe and sound, although she could still hear the loud arguing downstairs, the only bright spot being the end of objects used as weapons, at least for now. Lying in her bed, she hugged her pink, smiling, furry rabbit, its floppy ears pushed into her nostrils. Babs's sweet smell always made her feel better. She didn't care that she was nineteen years old and still clutched to her rabbit for dear life like she was ten all over again. All she cared about was returning to that feeling, the feeling she had ten years ago, back when everything was perfect, especially her relationship with Huey.
She sighed. Oh, Huey, Huey, Huey, I miss you so much. Huey wouldn't return from school out of state in Atlanta for another week. Five months were a millennium to Jazmine. She dug deep down into her heart, feeling as if her body were floating on water, like a thick piece of driftwood from a boat that was severely damaged, praying that she could somehow end up in Huey's warm, caring arms, wherever he was, safe and sound in his presence, his aura able to comfort her no matter the circumstances. She couldn't wait until he showed up at her door and run into his arms and stare into his emotionless face, one she could tell was happy to see her by the way his eyes would twitch for a few moments, even his lips might form a small smile. Even though she wished he would express his love for her with words, she was completely satisfied by how he did it through his actions: a gift or poem in the mail, some roses on her bed, or even a short visit to say hello. She wanted to laugh at how soft he became over the years as they went through their middle and high school years, but she couldn't, not right now. Her parents did the complete opposite: they became hardened, bitter, due to their sudden habit of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, what Jazmine felt was too much for them to take, and would make an average alcoholic blush upon learning of her mommy and daddy's habits. Five times, she had to leave and spend a day or two at the Freeman's until things between her mommy and daddy settled down; their outbursts caused by simple, superficial, frivolous things that would make one angry at the other.
But there was another reason why she made an escape to be with Huey, a reason she would live with for the rest of her life. Her bedroom had increased in lightness, the door now open wide, allowing the hallway light to creep in. She whimpered at the footsteps stomping on the carpeted floor. Her chest grew freezing cold, like a bag of ice cubes were shoved down her throat and settled in her lungs and her stomach. The large male figure shrouded in the darkness pounced on top of her, grabbing her by the throat, her skin burning like a tight rope rubbing back and forth on her flesh. Jazmine swung at him, unable to connect with any parts of his body, unable to stop him from unbuttoning her blouse. The sound of the handcuffs and chains rattling as they were thrown on the bed made her want to vomit. She knew what was next to come, for it wasn't the first time this happened to her – it was one of many.
"Please don't do this! Please!" she screamed with all her might. He did not let go. Still holding onto her, she cried, her feet dragging along on the floor as he slammed the door shut. Her voice melted as it became mixed with her sobs. "Please…please…"
Jazmine opened her eyes, now back in the present, her surroundings obstructed by the film of fresh tears that covered every inch of her view, Huey reduced to a large, dark brown, moving blur. She stopped in mid sentence, unable to finish her thoughts. Jazmine jumped when she found herself sucked into Huey's arms and a kiss that found its way on her cheek.
"It's okay," he said. "Take your time."
Jazmine shivered in his hug, the thoughts and feelings of that night making her body act as if she were submerged in the Arctic Ocean. "I can't say who it was," she said. "I can never do that. I'll show you who it was."
She reached into her purse packed full of books, papers and other things she always would remind herself to clean out but never did, and took out her large pocketbook, unable to say the name of the person she wished not to think of in over nine years. Flipping through the plastic slips full of various photos, she finally found one of that man, grimacing at his face in the portrait before she handed it to Huey. She couldn't watch Huey's reaction, one that she knew she would never forget, one that would be etched in her memory forever, lingering around like a horrible curse planted on her.
"Jazmine," he said in a low whisper as he gazed at the five by seven picture held before his eyes between his finger and thumb. "I can't believe…it's impossible."
She turned away, unwilling to see the picture ever again, the picture of her horrible father, one who was once the best daddy she could ever have, but over the years transformed into a shell of his former self, almost as evil as the devil himself once he started drinking – the picture she kept to remind her that she survived as part of Cindy's advice in an effort to return Jazmine to her old self, the one Cindy and Huey knew since they were ten years old. After the multiple times she cut of arms, almost succeeded in drowning herself in her bathtub, tried to jump out of her second story window when she was thirteen but was stopped by an unusually concerned and scared Huey, Cindy had enough of watching her best friend suffering through so much pain that she had her live in her mansion with her parents while Jazmine's mother and father separated for an undetermined amount of time – an aggregate of five long, agonizing years.
Jazmine felt nineteen again. The sirens painted the front of her house red and blue, her father being dragged out the front door by two police officers, one at each side of Tom, and thrown into the back seat of the police car. Cindy ran over to Jazmine, completely covered by a large, red towel around the top of her body like a shawl as she sat in the front lawn. She couldn't believe she found herself dragged into another fight between her parents, but this time, she was in the receiving end from her father as she tried to protect her mother who had to be taken to the hospital for second degree burns to her face and a broken arm.
"I'm so sorry 'bout this, Jazzy," Cindy dropped to her knees and hugged a stone faced Jazmine, her face completely sucked dry of emotion except a single, slow tear that dragged down her cheek, taking its time to slip under her chin. "I know how it is," she said. "My daddy was the same way."
"Daddy…my daddy…" Jazmine moved her mouth to say what was on her mind, completely aware of the tears that fell from her eyes, some of them landing in her mouth. She saw herself gesturing with her open hands as if she were describing what happened in the small fight she and Tom had with great detail, but she couldn't tell if anything was really coming out, or if she was only mouthing her words. Cindy nodded her head as she spoke, so she had to be making some sense. Everything felt like a complete dream, like she would wake up and she would be ten years old again, and it was a Saturday morning, ready to eat some of her mommy's strawberry and butter pancakes. They may have not been the best tasting, but she always loved that her mommy would do her best to feed her family over the years. "I wish I had my old daddy again…"
"Jazzy, stay wit' me 'n my moms, okay?" Cindy asked in a manner that was not really a question but a suggestion or even a command, her voice still rooted in its thick African-American accent, one Jazmine noticed as years went by, became more proper, more assured and full of confidence by the time they graduated high school.
Jazmine looked into Cindy's bright, blue eyes, trying her greatest to ignore the various cops in the background talking on their radios. "You sure your mom won't mind?"
Cindy shook her head. "Naw," she said with an assuring smile, one Jazmine guessed was forced. "Moms's cool. Besides, we need another person in the house to chill with."
Jazmine grinned. "Even someone who still talks to her Babs Bunny rabbit at night?"
Cindy laughed, her breath floating around her mouth like mist that vanished as quickly as it appeared. "It's better than talkin' to imaginary ghosts," she said. "Like my father did before the hospital put him in a mental home."
In a matter of seconds, Jazmine's younger self and Cindy vanished in thin air, replaced by the quiet, dimly lit room, a sign she was back in the present. Huey handed Jazmine the picture of her father. She took it and just as quickly threw it in her purse. Huey raised an eyebrow. "But Jazmine, how is it that I'm the father? Unless…" he looked at her to say what was on his mind, then rubbed his chin. "You mean…?"
Jazmine played around with her bottom lip, chewing it between her teeth, in a way that was undetectable on the outside, looking as if she kept a perfectly straight face. She found herself gazing into Huey's faces, this time with nothing to hide, ready to finally finish telling Huey the absolute truth, the truth that would finally set Jazmine's locked up spirit free. She smiled a little, stifling the laughter she wanted to put out, realizing that bottling up her frustrations, anger, sadness and regret for so long only made her heart as cold as the North Pole.
"Think, Huey," she said. "What month did you find out I was pregnant?"
"Right," she said. "Now, what month was Zora born?"
"Right. So, unless somehow Zora was the first baby to take eleven months to fully develop," she said. "I was truly pregnant with Zora two months after I said I was pregnant."
Huey nodded. "So you had a problem with the baby and didn't tell me."
Jazmine sighed. "Miscarriage number two," she said. "But like they say, third time's the charm."
"Guess so," he said. "Zora's truly a miracle baby, in more ways than one."
Jazmine swung her legs over the edge of the bed, humming to herself. "So…what do we do now?"
"You just reminded me of something," Huey stood up, offering his hand to Jazmine. She took it and got up thanks to her husband's help. "I have a present for you."
Jazmine smiled, unable to contain her excitement. "Oh you do?"
"Yeah, but this isn't just an ordinary present," he said. He grabbed a black leather coat for Jazmine off the nearby coat rack by the door and tossed it over to Jazmine who caught it with her excellent reflexes. "This is one we have to visit."
"What do you mean?"
"Look in the jacket pocket."
Jazmine eyed Huey, looking to see if he would burst into an uncharacteristic fit of laughter or if he was serious. A sudden flash in his eye let Jazmine know just that – he was serious. She put on the jacket, anxious to stuff her hand in the right pocket, much heavier than the other. She pulled out a tan envelope and tore it open, too excited to spend an extra few seconds to delicately tear the flap open. Jazmine gasped at the elaborate certificate, its flower and star patterned border, her name written in fancy handwriting in the center and a large stamp of approval toward the bottom. What made her so happy the most was the reason for the certificate: the name of the club Huey secretly had her join.
"Oh my God. It's a certificate for the Maryland Horse Club Association!"
Huey nodded with a hint of a smile. "Not just that, it also means you have prepaid lessons and more that comes with it," he said. "You forgot to take a look at the picture in the envelope."
Jazmine stuck her hand into the envelope and pulled out the five by seven picture of a polar bear white horse in mid gallop behind a white fence. She almost fainted at how beautiful the horse was. It almost looked like the pony she wished she could own when she was a little girl, except it wasn't pink, of course. "Huey…are you serious? You mean he or she is…?"
"Yes," he said. "That's yours. She is, I mean."
Jazmine didn't care she was crushing Huey in her embrace, dropping her certificate and picture on the floor. The only thing running through her mind was how lucky and blessed she was to have a husband who was not only patient and willing to listen to her, stay with her through the good and the bad times, but also provide a gift, even when it was not her birthday, Valentine's Day, Christmas, or their anniversary.
"Huey," she looked up at him, staring deep in his eyes. "Thank you so much."
"You're welcome," he said. "Now, let's go and see your present."
After he picked up Jazmine's certificate and picture off the floor, they headed downstairs and out the front door with Cindy and Zora to head to the barn where Jazmine's gift waited for her, a gift she would never…ever…forget.
. . .
Note: I'd really like to thank everyone who took time out of their schedule to read andreviewed this story. I know it took longer than I originally planned to finish, but I had to make a few necessary changes and make sure it came out right. Thanks again.