“Didn’t I make you feel like you were the only man-yeaahhh
Didn’t I give you nearly everything that a woman possibly can? Honey you know I did!
And each time I tell myself that I, well I think I’ve had enough
But I’m gonna show you baby that a woman can be tough.
I want you to come on, come on, come on, come on and take it!
Take another little piece of my heart now baby.”
As Brooklyn eased her convertible GTO on to Pecan Lane, the bluesy Janice Joplin poured her heart felt lyrics through the speakers for the twenty-second time. Beyond the field of eighty feet high pine trees and pink crape myrtles, Brooklyn could see the house where she used to spend long hot summers with her grandparents Franklin and Benell Carter and as the sun set behind it she remembered just how beautiful it looked underneath the warm colors of the Alabama sky. Driving up the winding road with rocks and twigs crackling beneath her tires Brooklyn thought about the times she spent on the front porch sitting at her grandfather F.C.’s feet listening to him tell “back in the day” stories, crack jokes and make fun of any and everybody. God forbid if one of his sons or daughters brought a friend home because the poor souls was sure to be teased unmercifully and would leave fuming; some even wanted to fight the old man. Brooklyn felt sorry for the ones who couldn’t take the ribbing, fortunately; her grandmother was always there to calm them down letting them know he was only having fun. Brooklyn always thought it was his way of weeding out the punks.
The better part of Brooklyn’s’ childhood was spent in Alabama; hanging out with her cousins eating pecan pies, homemade ice cream and the best German chocolate cake of all time or taking their golden haired horse Big Boy to the shores of Orange beach and riding him across the soft, white sand. Those were days of pure happiness and sweet indulgence days she now wishes she could have shown her own child. The huge five-bedroom, four-bathroom house on Pecan lane was known as a sanctuary, housing the hungry and the weary until they had the strength to move on. Peace and tranquility was willed to Brooklyn’s mother Erthly Rose. Being the oldest of six siblings Erthly’s parents knew she would be the responsible one who would tend to the maintenance of the house as well as care for their mothers treasured Calla Lilies. Brooklyn had only been back to Loveland twice in the past twenty six years, once for her grandfathers’ funeral and the last time for her grandmothers’ funeral. Through the years Erthly Rose tried her best to convince her daughter to move into the family home, but Brooklyn was reluctant having become a city girl filled with stereotypes about the south. So when Brooklyn did call her mother to say she wanted to move into the house immediately Erthly was all too happy to oblige a little too happy Brooklyn thought.
Parked in front of the three-car garage was a silver four door F 150. Leaning against it is a man wearing a crisp white button down shirt; classic black Levis and a sweet ass pair of red cowboy boots. Brooklyn immediately recognized the man motioning for her to pull around to the back of the house as her uncle Lewis Carter; looking like he stepped out of a Ralph Lauren ad while a cigar hung out of his mouth. When Brooklyn got out of the car his grin spread into a wide smile and immediately gave her a big hug.
“Hey Rusty baby, long time no see! How you do?”
“Hi Uncle Lewis I’m okay and you?”
“Oh I’m hanging in there. Man it’s been a long time since I saw you last Shorty?”
“I know, right … but boy am I glad to finally be here. I’m tired as hell; thirteen hours is a long time to be on the road.”
“Don’t I know; I’ve been traveling up down 65 and 71 since before you were born. But didn’t the drive feel good? All alone, on the opened road, with your mind free to reflect on what you’ve been through and what is bringing you so far.”
“Yes that part was cool…for the first five hours… but enough about me look at you Uncle Lewis, looking all fly with your cowboy hat perched just right. And wait a minute.” Jokingly Brooklyn pretended to smell the air. “What’s that you smoking unc’ it looks like a black and mild but it doesn’t smell like a black I’ve ever bought at the corner store, what yall got going on down here?”
“You know how I do your uncle aint changed. I’m the same uncle that took your easy bake and made reefer cakes…”
“Hey mom told me about that.” Brooklyn starts laughing having heard many outrageous things her uncle has done all for the love of being high. “I can’t believe you really did it, that’s crazy.”
“Yeah I did. But I’ve moved on and now I stuff my reefer in a wood tip black and mild and I go on about my business.” Lewis Carter answered, with a slick southern drawl that made him sound untrustworthy. Blowing out perfect smoke rings he continued, “I’m just a good ole boy Russ and it ain’t easy being green. I keep to myself and I don’t bother nobody. Honestly I don’t know why marijuana’s illegal, not when this shit grows right long side the road … or sometimes in my garden next to my collards; no seeds won’t grow. But, guess what? I grow dirt and I mind my business. Would you like to partake in nature’s sweetest herb with your old uncle?”
“Sure and when you get tired of that ditch weed, I have some fire in my trunk that we can burn later … Ty and I grew pounds straight out of water over the fall.” Taking a long drag off the cigar Brooklyn felt a wave of tension release its hold on her body it was a long drive and she was beat. After blowing out a cloud of smoke she handed the swollen black and mild back to her uncle who placed it back between his lips and continued talking with it dangling from his mouth.
“You know, when your mom called and asked if I could get the house ready because you were moving down here I thought back to the time when you were about three or four years old. I was watching you for your mom; you know trying to give her a break because she worked so hard being a single parent and shit. So on this day I was trying to multitask as they say. I had you in my living room watching TV while I did my thang in my room. Well I guess that wasn’t cool with you and you kept trying to come in my room to see what I was doing. Mean while me and my chick was chilling, getting high and listening to some music when here you come start getting smart and shit, talking back. So I got frustrated and I tell you if you’re not happy you can take your little ass home.
Lord why did I say that, I knew when it came out of my mouth I had fucked up. So when I came out the room looking for you, of course you was gone. I looked everywhere and I couldn’t find you. I was sick with fear. I’m like oh shit I lost my sisters only child what the fuck am I gonna tell her she’s gonna kill me. So I quickly go to her apartment which was right across the street; I’m nervous as fuck about ready to cry when she answered the door. She looks at me and asks, what’s the problem Lewis and I say Erthly, I am so sorry but I lost Brooklyn I don’t know where the hell she went. All of a sudden she bursts out laughing and say’s Brooklyn’s right here, she came in saying you told her to go home. Your little ass waked out of a five story apartment and crossed the street by yourself with not a hint of fear. That’s when I knew wat’n nobody gone have to worry about you, because you was gonna take of Brooklyn Rose no matter the cost. You were head strong then and you’re just as strong now. So welcome home you long neck, pot belly, rusty baby. Welcome home damn it!”
“Didn’t I make you feel like you were the only man-yeaahhh