Black Lives/Black Lies
by Orville Lloyd Douglas
The bus was only a few minutes away from the terminal as I
mother on my cell phone reminding her to pick me up by midnight. I just
time she will arrive on time. I grab my yellow knapsack and ripped it
open spilling all of
the contents on my lap. I quickly picked up the letter and I read it
once more. I wondered mother's reason for writing me considering she
could of either told me the information over the phone or to my face. I
remember when I first received the letter last week and I was so
concerned about my exams I refused to open it. I stared at it again
cautiously looking at the words and sentences hoping she has only good
news to tell. I tried to concentrate knowing there must be an important
phrase or statement she was trying to make.
My mind is rambling as I have irrational thoughts of something terrible
casually stare in the direction of either the entertainment district
where there are new
theatre complexes or at the people laughing and talking to one another
as they cross the
I've been on this bus for almost three days and I haven't had a
proper shower. I imagine the water racing down my back as I roll the
soap over my body. The idea of finally having a chance to be clean
excites me for the washroom facilities on this Greyhound bus are
deplorable. The area was a filthy mix of urine feces, vomit,
cigarettes, and bad odor. I can't wait to see my mother it's been
almost three months since I last saw her I hope now we can both
reconcile and try to get along at least for the summer. I do miss her
and despite my attitude sometimes towards her she is still my
I gather my belongings and rush off the bus to find her. I walk fast
mother pushing and shoving by people that are calling out for their
relatives. If I hear one
more person scream "Billy over here" I will scream. I am surprised at
all the activity
considering it's close to midnight. I laugh to myself all this time I
complaining about mother and now I can't wait to see her. The amount of
folks at this
terminal is amazing and the sound level is at a feverish high pitch as
a collage of voices
layer on top of one another.
I had maintained my sanity for last couple of days hearing bizarre
from people twice my age discussing about wars, divorces, and family
goodness I am finally on my way home. I hear feet march and stomp
creating a pattern of clanging noises as they pace across the white
linoleum tiled floor. I feel the pressure on my left shoulder and the
soles of my feet since I struggle to move my heavy luggage . No one
bothers to move an inch as I battle to reach the entrance. I am
by my journey through snow capped mountains, corn fields, and gravel
I look and I finally see mother's black Buick. I watch as she smiles
runs up to me placing a delicate kiss on my forehead . I say nothing as
I grab my bags and heave them into the trunk. I enter the car shuffling
inside my pockets for a white kleenex and wipe my forehead. The car
clicks on and speeds out the depot. The road is slick
almost a little bit wet as the car swiftly glides Yonge street and on
We are both quiet there is a tinge of apprehension between us.
brown eyes glance over at me as she attempts to focus on driving. I
force myself not to look at her as I feel my heart accelerate and my
palms become sticky. I look at her anyway and notice she is wearing a
black head wrap covering her long braids and her outfit is casual a
simple white blouse and navy blue knee length skirt. I am surprised she
is wearing black sneakers since she usually wears high heels. I am
certain as I gaze at her lips she is wearing a light coat of pink lip
gloss. Mother's forehead is wrinkled perhaps she is worried as well. I
crack the window slightly open letting a light breeze seep on to my hot
body. My trip had made me accustomed to surviving in humid temperatures
since the air conditioning machine was broken. I pause not looking at
her except slightly through the corner of my left eye and I can tell
she is irritated.
"Justine could you please close the window the weather is a little
" Mother I only wanted to cool myself down." I reply as I close the
"There are going to be some drastic changes at home and I wrote the
letter to prepare
you." She says with a stern look on her face as the car riffles down
" What exactly are talking about?" I asked.
"Girl, you are not listening to me! No one will be sleeping in your
bedroom. I just
wanted you to know that a young Jamaican woman will be working for us
as both a maid
" Who is she and why are you hiring her?" I said.
" Justine I need the help around the house I have my own life to
I was speechless and I became silent as the car reached the highway
exit and then mother made a left hand turn.
"Now I understand your reason for writing me the letter. You just
warn me so that I wouldn't become upset. I am twenty two years old I
really don't care if
you hired a maid." I said as I twiddled my fingers.
" I am glad to have your support since our maid will be permanent."
replied as she smiled at me.
" What's the girl's name?"
" Her name is Rita Taylor and I know her family back home. I was
basically giving her a new chance for a better future. The plan is she
will live with her
aunt and uncle in downtown Toronto but she will work at our house
during the day."
" Mother don't you think Melanie and Claire will resent you even more
you have hired a maid to take care of them."
" Justine I don't care what Melanie and Claire think! Believe me
am doing them a favor.''
" Mother they are only children you married George you have a
to also care and love them." I said with anger in my voice.
" No I don't Justine I married their father not them. I am so glad I
thought of this idea since now I don't have to worry about those brats
anymore!" She retorted with conviction. I didn't know what to say since
there was obviously no way I was going to change her mind. Whenever my
mother has a goal she usually succeeds in achieving it.
The black Buick raced down Dixie road and made a right turn on to
street. All the old memories float to the surface of my mind as I
notice the old gas station and the local supermarket as we drive by. I
stare at the swaying oak trees move as the wind touches the branches.
The late spring conditions are pleasant and I feel lost and discontent.
At the back of my mind I wonder if there are more problems at home than
mother is letting me know. The cryptic message from mother's letter was
now becoming clearer. I know Rita Taylor will be cleaning my room and I
will have to talk to this stranger. Mother looks at me and she touches
my hand letting me know everything will be alright.
" Justine I can tell you don't trust me right now with my decision.
The girl is
about your age I think she is twenty four. Let's hope for the best and
pray that the summer will be a good one." Mother smirked at me as she
parks the car into the driveway.
"Well I guess you have everything all figured out." I reply with a
" Justine how many times do I have to tell you I have figured out
We sat in the car for a couple of minutes as both mother and I decided
to have a cigarette break. We both needed a smoke to calm our nerves. I
sat in my seat with a
perplexed look on my face. I wasn't sure what the hell was going on. It
seemed as though
I was a visitor to my own home that nothing I remembered was the same
and my world is
now different. I know my attitude is immature yet I can't help it. I
can't stop thinking that
maybe Rita will find my lesbian magazines or the local gay newspaper in
drawer. There were so many ideas racing through my mind I didn't have a
clue what else to think.
Will I like her or will she hate me? Maybe she will think I am not a
person and that I am lazy? I was crumbling inside. I can't believe
mother could do
something so sudden without even consulting me. Don't I have a right to
opinion. I couldn't take my eyes off of my neighborhood since there was
nothing else I
could focus my energy on. I glimpsed at the rows of houses on Grove
street. The homes
are all detached and were created twenty years ago. The cars in my
neighbors driveways revealed their wealth since there were Jaguars,
Range Rovers, Porches. The homes were enormous yet not the size of
mansions. A few folks had large backyards that contained tennis courts,
swimming pools, and a decent patio to view their gardens during the
brilliant summer. Life on Grove street was interesting and peculiar at
the same time.
Our residence is at the edge of the street in between two broad
evergreen trees and
a freshly cut lawn. The house is made of red brick and by the entrance
on the left hand side of the door is a little garden with purple,
yellow, and red tulips that are set to bloom.
I enjoyed every puff of my cigarette since I needed it I had been
craving for it the
minute I had left British Columbia. I take my smoke and place the butt
ashtray. We finished and mother opened the trunk as I grabbed my
luggage it was
extremely heavy. The deep midnight sky provided me no guidance through
I entered the house at a slow pace gradually moving my belongings into
bedroom. I touched the golden knob and gently opened the door. I am so
exhausted right now. I looked into my closet and I see my old clothes
consisting of blue denim
jeans, sneakers, polo shirts, a blue windbreaker and a white winter
jacket. I feel agitated right now. I am too drained to worry about
unpacking my clothes and I fall asleep on the plush white carpet.
The next morning brilliant rays of sunshine steam into my bedroom as
rise from the carpet. I hear the sounds of robins and crickets making
the familiar noises I have grown accustomed to. I get up slowly and
walk to the window and look at the
bright fresh rose bush in my neighbors yard. I wondered about Rita
Taylor. I had
sympathy for her considering some people from third world countries had
a hard time
adjusting to life in Canada. My mother told me stories about the racial
prejudice of the
immigration officers have towards people of color. It's the exact same
happens when a non white person is accused of a crime the white media
are very quick to
jump to conclusions. The newspapers here do a great job of making the
pictures of men
appear more menacing and distorted. I wondered if Rita was prepared to
leave a black society and enter a world where there are many different
cultures living in the same place?
I know from experience that life on a poor island is not exactly an
uplifting place to
live when you don't have the money to fulfill your dreams. A college
education was a
luxury in most countries especially the Caribbean. I visited Jamaica a
few years ago and I recalled the conditions some people lived in but
everyone had pride. People worked hard and they tried their best that's
what I recalled the most.
The last couple of years the sudden shifts of authority at home caused
turmoil for me. I had a difficult time with George he hates my guts for
many reasons yet he always focuses on the fact that I am a lesbian. I
hope Rita does not become consumed by all of the melancholy in this