I wake up early the next morning after a sound sleep. Whatever my Mama was expecting to happen didn’t happen and I was grateful. I wasn’t the first one up though. Ruby and I were the last ones in the room, besides the young white girl on the top bunk to the left. I’m tugging on Ruby so we can get an early start and she’s trying to ignore me.
We finally get dressed and head out in search of the Breakfast Klub. We get all mixed up and decide to stop at the nearest IHOP to eat and decide what our next move will be.
It’s an extremely nice IHOP. We are soon seated and we enjoy a good breakfast. After we are eating Ruby nudges me. She touches her hear indicating that I should listen. I’m still lost and she whispers. “The guy behind you is in real estate go talk to him.”
I immediately stand up and step out of the booth, before I can say a word he says, “I like that hat.”
I pull it off and turn toward him. “What about the haircut?” I laugh.
“Now that that’s out of the way. May I have a moment of your time?”
“Sure. Have a seat.”
“Well, I’m in town and I’m looking for a place to stay. I was wondering if you had any properties, shared or not, that I could look at.”
“So you’re saying you need a place to stay?”
“How much money do you have?”
I look him in the eye. “None.”
Which is the damn truth.
“Not even for food?” he asks.
“Nope,” I say. Which is the truth.
“You need a one bedroom or two?”
“One is fine.” I tell him and giggle.
“Ok, God is good. I see why He sent me here today. I have an appointment at 11:30 and I can meet you here at noon and I will take you to your place.”
“Meet you here?”
“Right here,” he says and pulls out a wad of money as he pays for his coffee.
He leaves and Ruby and I gather our things and get into my car. We drive around until we pass the stadium at Rice University and we just had to pull over and look at the stadium. We walked the huge track and talked about whatever.
Then we got into my car and went to get it washed. If this guy could be a blessing then we want to be sure to present ourselves in a certain light.
We met back up with him at the IHOP. He called before we could even get out of the car. “We’re right outside. We’ll be right in.”
He leads us to a table in the front and he says, “Tell me.” He’s a middle aged black man who looks like Samuel L. Jackson from Formula 51.
Could this man be legit?
“Well, I’m a journalist from Miami and I’m in town to make all of my dreams come true. I’m here with my friend on a hope and a prayer that I can start my own business.”
He looks at me and nods. Ruby sits silently with a pleasant expression on her face. When I pause in my introduction she interjects, “Sir, all we’re trying to do is get her settled into a decent place for a reasonable price. Right now we are limited on funds but we’re hoping to turn up on something great. We can barter. I have excellent marketing skills. She’s a writer. She could also produce some things for you.”
“No problem,” he says and motions for us to stand. “I have just the place for you. Follow me. We’ll go see it.”
Ruby and I stand up and go to our car. She had overheard him say that he was about to pick up a $100,000 Mercedes at the dealership and she relayed the information to me. When we pulled out, looking for his car we gasped at the site of a busted 1989 Acura Integra. That bitch was rusty gold. The rims were mismatched.
“Lord forgive me,” Ruby declared as we followed him through several neighborhoods. “I don’t mean to judge this man by his vehicle. He could be a blessing in disguise. Please show us if this is from you. We need a miracle and we know you can provide it.”
“In Jesus name,” I say.
“Amen,” Ruby finishes up.
“Ok, we’re covered, now look at this city!”
We’re following him through neighborhood after neighborhood and we’re enjoying the scenery. It’s funny how diverse the neighborhoods are even traveling down one street. We saw beautiful condos and apartments, then we’d see nice homes and development, then we saw a man getting pat down on the corner of a park. It’s a big city but the streets are so rushed that you can’t find people relaxing. He stops at a house and we look around. OK. Neighborhood is not so bad.
He walks over to the driver side window where Ruby is sitting.
“I’ll be right back. I have to check on something.”
Ruby says she saw him check his mail and move the garbage can.
He gets back in his car and we follow him again, across the interstate and on and on.
Could this be God?
We finally make a left turn into…a motel.
Ruby and I look at each other and then at him as he steps out of his car. He walks over to my window and I roll it down.
“Are you okay?” he asks.
“I’m wondering what we are doing here?”
“This is where you’re going to stay,” he says firmly.
I look at him and raise my eyebrow.
“Come take a look at it,” he tells me.
He walks away from my window and Ruby says, “We’ll check it out and see what it’s like. If it’s wack, we’ll dip out.”
He gets the key and we park and he turns to me, “Why don’t you get all of your stuff out?”
“What do you mean?”
“This is where you are going to live!”
“But I don’t feel like getting my stuff out,” I say firmly. “Let’s see the place.”
We walk up the stairs and into a corner room. I give Ruby a look. She looks away.
Play it cool.
We walk in and he leaves the door open. Ruby and I sit down on the bed. The bed is covered with this disgusting floral spreadsheet and it is hard as a board. The room is obviously a smoking room and it’s coated with a think layer of dust. The tape player is broken. The ceiling is light blue and painted with white clouds.
The man sits in the chair next to the bed and proceeds to talk. I listen for a while and then ask him some questions.
“Why are we here?”
“Because the place I thought I had for you isn’t ready. Until it’s ready I’ll pay for you to stay here.”
I raise my eyebrow.
“And what do you expect from me?”
“I don’t expect anything. You can’t start anything without developing a friendship first. I’m single and I’m single by choice. I have yet to meet a woman who was good enough for me.”
“I’m a man who has seen things on both sides of the tracks. I’ve been a hustler moving kilos and kilos and now I’m legit. I have a business. The biggeste real estate company in Houston. I just got into an accident and I have over $100,000 coming to me. The check just needs to clear the bank. I’m legit.”
I listen politely. Ruby walks over to the sink and washes her hands.
He picks up his silver cell phone with the nice engraved K on the front and reaches toward his keys.
The room key is sitting on the side table directly in front of all of us. I’m watching him as he rises to leave, wondering if he will try to take the key. His hand reaches for it, then pauses and he says, “Call me,” and walks away without taking it.
He closes the door and we sit in silence for…
“Girl, no he didn’t!” I begin looking around the room. “This place is disgusting. He tried me. I’d rather sleep in my car than sleep in this shit.”
“Girl, all we gotta do is go on about our plan. We always have the hostel. He was just lieing his ass off,” Ruby assured me.
We walk down to the front desk, turn in the key and roll out.
On to the next adventure. We’re actually headed up to Katy, Texas because I am looking into a position as a live-in nanny/maid in exchange for free room and board.
We get lost ofcourse, but old trusty Ruby finds her way and before we know it we are standing in front of a nice sized home in a great subdivision in Katy. A white woman holding her 2 year old son emerge from the house smiling.
My eyes catch his little bare feet and I think of my boys.
I miss them so much.
She smiles and shakes my hand. “I’m Nancy,” she says and her sons peeks at me.
“Hi, I’m Ms. Tee. This is my friend Ruby.”
Nancy and I had emailed each other back and forth while I hung out in Louisiana with Ruby. I found her ad that asked for a live in mother’s helper for free room and board. Through our correspondence I learned that she had two children, was married and was just too frustrated by the amount of energy it takes to run a household.
We sat in her living room and chatted. Well, she mostly spoke to Ruby because I was there but I wasn’t there. My mind was racing.
Could I really be living with this white family taking care of children that aren’t mine?
Does she really expect me to…clean?
“So,” she remarked looking directly at me. “Some people have a preference on what they love to do. Some people just love to clean, others just love to cook. If you have a preference you can do whichever you like. I’m really very flexible.” She looked at me as if expecting a response.
Which chore do I like?
I saw Ruby smile out of the corner of my eye. “I love to clean!” Ruby expressed gleefully.
I looked in the other direction.
Cook and clean. Laundry?
Free room and board. No bills. No food bills. A nice place to live with a family instead of being on my own.
My own room. The freedom to work my part time job and do my business.
We tour the five bedroom home and I see the room where I’ll be sleeping. It’s a nice sized room.
Oh Lord. I’m gonna have to think about this.
Ms. Tee, the nanny?