First Lessons by Victori bass

   “Put the red dress on her and I’ll put the purple on mine,” I demanded bossily.

  “No! My playmate protested, Mine is wearing the green one.”

   “No, red,” I argued.

   “Green,” she snapped back.

I grabbed for her doll, “She’s wearing red!” She pulled it back. “No  she’s not.”

  Determined, she wouldn’t agree with me,  I punched her hard in her stomach. She started to cry. Dennis bounced up  like Spalding on a basketball and within a second he had hold of my arm, and commenced to spanking my but. His expression stern, his eyes intense, “You  don’t do that, Vickie.”  My playmate  and I were both crying now.

  This was the first day we moved in with the Farrington’s, who became our legal guardians over the next seven years while our mother was ill. Our brother’s Marcus and Ralph had both been  dropped off earlier that day with the Wallace family.  It had been decided by  the adults that Dennis and I should be placed together him being nine years older than me  that way he could protect me if it became necessary. This was  the second foster home we’d lived in, the first time I was eighteen months of age, and at that time all of us had been  placed together  in one home, with the Mosely’s.

   Dennis was fifteen, and from the height I stood he was a man. At  six foot, two he commanded attention his posture  erect but  his long  muscular  legs, made him appear taller, athletic,  he was quick  on his feet. Outwardly,  he appeared confident and self-assured he walked with  his chest  out, shoulders back, and his head held high, later he told me that  he was shy. Over the past year, he had grown serious  and contemplative.  Before we left the Moseley’s  he  had converted from our parents  casual baptist faith and become  a devout catholic, crossing his heart  upon passing any church.  Lately, his handsome face seemed to always look as if he were trying to solve some complex equation.

   That was the first  of many lessons I would learn from  my eldest brother  whom I adored, although that particular one would take more time, because at five I thought, “my  will be  done.” It took me awhile to learn  that  I  couldn’t  have my way, or  impose my  will on another.  It was Dennis who just the year before had  taught my brothers a  work ethic  hustling  peanuts and throwing papers. I  emulated my three brothers  each older than me, each different  in their way. It was  from my brother Marcus that  I’d learned  that assertive  aggression in the  first place, and I immitated Ralph’s oxymoron  of  “innocent  mischeif,” and hadn’t Dennis taught  me  the Lord’s Prayer by heart upon our knees each night before bed!

   The hierarchy of our family unit had changed  since  our parents  separation and Dennis had taken on  the  responsibility  of  being the man of the house  then  when Mother became ill again Dennis was  catapulted  prematurely into manhood.  I relish yet the years we were all together as a family, they taught me the value of sharing, and cohesion. My  brothers  were  my  heart.

   Dennis’s  countenance  would  sometimes wax sad, and I would gaze  up into his eyes trying to penetrate the source,  but  he would catch me glaring,  smile muss my  hair,   and call me, “Vickem’s”  his name for me.  I was never able to penetrate  the source  of his sadness, but to see him smile was  infectious. He  had a great sense of humour and loved a  good  laugh.  There  always  seemed  to be two of him, like synchronous swimmers,  of the same mind. He could be talking in a serious conversation with an adult,  looking them squarely in  the face as stoic as a board but let them turn away for a fraction of a second,  and he’d  look over at  me, make a face,  chuckle,  and send me into peals of laughter then turn back  and resume his coversation as stoic as before.  It was as if he were two  ambiguous people living life in symmetry with  each other.

   He was  very attractive and so popular  as  a teen that I could hardly believe he was  shy. Everytime the  phone rang it  was for  him. He  participated  in track and field had many female admirers and sweethearts. He would  spend  and hour primping  in front of  the mirror  either combing  his afro  or smoothing out his Superfly hairstyle, in the days of zoot suits and  platform shoes.   He loved muscle cars that he  called  his junks. One of his  first  cars an orange  Volkswagen  he always kept shiny  with his name displayed proudly in calligraphic lettering  on the door. Man!  Did he drive fast! I loved it!  We would take these California  freeways  up and down like a rollercoaster what a thrill for a young heart.

     I remember the day that I figured it all out. I thought I  was so clever  as I pieced  together a puzzle begun years before I was born.  I ran to Dennis to share  expecting  encouragement from him in my six year  old psyche.

   “Dennis,” I said, catching my breath, “I  figured it out, you are my step brother huh?  Because you have a different father than we do?”

  Dennis looked me directly in my  eyes .  His expression had changed from expectant  to sad,  his eyes misted over  and his face the color of finished  oak turned red.

   “No, I am  your brother,”  He said. “I’m  not your step anything ,  do you understand? ” My heart  melted and spilled  into the pit of my stomach to see him wax so sad,   and  at once I did understand.

    Hilliard  Dennis Roebuck  was born prior to his parents marriage on June 1, 1953 he met his biological  father James Roebuck  for the first time of his cognizant  memory in 1982 when  Dennis visited  Washington  D.C.  as an adult with one child at the time of his own. He never seen him again.  On  July, 24  2010  my brother died a month  after his  57th birthday. I regret  that I thought I’d have another  chance to show my  appreciation, I told him before he died that I loved him, but neglected to show him just how much  and now I  don’t think I’ll  ever solve the mystery that was my brother.

 

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2 thoughts on “First Lessons by Victori bass

    Francisco Corozo Madrid said:
    March 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Victoria greets Francisco from Ecuador, your writing talent is amazing, you should continue cultivating it, sorry for your loss but I think you did what you could do with the resource you possessed in alquel time.

    Sorry I did not check this page very often, but my job and my daughters monopolize most of my time, I hope to arrange my schedule soon!
    A hug from a distance.

    Francisco Corozo Madrid

      victori7 responded:
      May 9, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks so much cousin. I am revisiting this page today. I want to collect all of this to make my book.

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