We'Re In It For Life

We'Re In It For Life

by Julie Dennis


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781449051259
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 12/22/2009
Pages: 228
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)

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We're In It For Life

By Julie Dennis


Copyright © 2009 Julie Dennis
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4490-5125-9

Chapter One

It was 1965, and I was sitting upstairs in the front window, listening to the neighborhood singing group down on the corner, harmonizing. They called themselves, "Truck Jackson and the Bicycles." On my radio, in the background, the Four Tops were singing, "Baby I Need Your Lovin'." I reached over and turned the radio off, so I could hear "Truck" and the boys a little better. They didn't even know I was listening, until they finished, and I started clapping from up in the window. They all looked up at me and after seeing that I wasn't one of my older sisters, blew me off with a get-outta-here kinda wave of the hand. To which, I yelled, "get off our corner with all that noise or I'm gonna tell my momma."

Just then, I heard Red Dog's falsetto, he was singin', "I did you wrong" ... I got up and ran to the front porch so that I could hear them better, because he sounded so good singin' anything by Smokey, especially, "Ooh Baby, Baby." Lookin' up the street I spotted nosey Ol'e Miss Connie sitting on her porch and I smiled and waved, cause if I didn't she would tell my momma that I didn't ... with her nosey self. Her daughter, Jocelyn came out, said something to her, and ran up the street to my house. We just sat there talking bout how cute Do-ball was lookin' these days, although, allof those guys were least four or five years older than we were.... and wouldn't give us the time of day if their faces were clocks.

They were our heroes, though.... whether they wanted the job or not. Poodie came up the street, bouncing his basketball right in beat with the finger snappin' of the group, then finally stopped, and held it under his arm while he listened.

Uncle Gilbert came out on the porch and hollered, "You boys go on up the street with that nonsense, makin' all that noise out here in front of my house," They started walkin' on up the street, throwin' him one of them you-make-me-sick kinda stares, while keeping the harmony tight. My Uncle Gilbert, daddy's younger brother, was something else. He and my momma never got along because he told a lie on her to my daddy; back when my daddy was in the service. I guess he thought that he was lookin' out for his brother's welfare when he was gone, by keeping tabs on my momma. I never knew what the lie was, but it must have been a doozie, 'cause it put a permanent wedge between them for years.

He was married to my favorite Aunt ... Aunt Lillie; she was the sweetest person in the world next, to my momma, and I love her to death. We all live in a 4-story brownstone in the inner city of Washington, D.C. The brothers bought it together, and raised both of their families in it. We lived in the upper two stories of the house, which I always thought was strange; because, it was more of us than it was of them-and we made more noise-but that is how it was. I remember, when me and several of my girlfriends were sitting on the front porch trying to learn how to curse in Pig Latin-right outside Aunt Lillie's window. Boy, I could speak that stuff.... you know, when you take the first part of a word and put it in the back and add the 'ay'-like a long 'a'-sound, but keep the sound of the word, you know-the word 'cat' would end up sounding like,'at-cay.' We had heard some of the older kids speakin' it. I picked up on it and designated myself the "Pig Latin" teacher to my crew. Little did I know that the adults knew about it, too. I was cussin' up a "Pig Latin" storm-showing off-and explaining to Precious and them that they could do it, too, and their momma wouldn't know what they was sayin'.

Well, Aunt Lillie knew. And she was close enough to that window to hear me when I said, "Iss-may onnie-cay is so osy-nay, I ish-way at-thay itch-bay ould-way ie-day." My Aunt Lillie's voice said "ou-yay etter-bay atch-way our-yay outh-may" Translation: Me, "Miss Connie is so nosy, I wish that bitch would die." Aunt Lillie, "You better watch yo' mouth."

I was so scared that she was gonna tell my momma that I told Precious and them that I had to go in the house, 'cause I forgot to do something. I bet they knew I was goin' in so that my momma wouldn't come outside and beat my tail right in front of God and everybody, which she would have no problem doing. But Aunt Lillie never told, or if she did, she made my momma promise not to get me for it.

My Momma and Daddy were and are the nicest, most respected, and most intelligent people that I have ever known. I could not have asked for better parents, from whom I learned values, responsibility, common sense, and, most of all, love. Oh, did I forget a sense of humor-a great sense of humor to balance all of the above. They could find humor in any just about anything- maybe not right at that moment-but, eventually, they could find something to lighten the situation ... something in there somewhere was funny. Like years later, when Uncle Gilbert passed. Momma tripped and fell going into the church for his funeral. I said to her, under my breath, "You know he probably wished that would happen." To which she replied, just a little louder than she should have, "Yeah! If I thought he did..., I go'n slap his face right there in that coffin." That turned more than few heads..... That's how we were taught get through the good and the bad times..... with humor.

Chapter Two

It was the summer before my first year in junior high school, and I was not as nervous as some of my friends, because I had an older brother who would be in his last year there. So, it wasn't like I wouldn't know anybody. Not only that, my brother had a reputation as a good ball player ... and a good fighter. What folks didn't know was that he got most of his practice fighting me. We fought about everything, from him trying to pull rank and turn the channel on the only TV in the house-while I was watching it, to drinking the soda that I had cooling in the refrigerator that he told Momma and them that he thought it was his ... like I said we fought each other about everything; but, nobody else could fight us.

I started junior high on the unvarnished heals of my four sisters before me. If I heard, "I can't believe that you are one of the Garrett girls, or the sister of Gloria, Sherry, Brenda, and Paige" once ... I heard it a thousand times. See, I was more of a jokester that they were ... being the baby and all.

Hell, that was the year they started letting girls wear pants to school. This new hairstyle called the "Bush" (also called the "Afro"), came out that year, too. We were a new breed, and had something to prove. I remember it well, because Jean Thomas, my best friend in junior high school, and I had just skipped bookkeeping class and decided to make a hall pass, outta one that Jean had from the day before. We figured we could just change the date on the thing; but, what we didn't know was that the school changed the color of the passes every day. And here we were, walking the halls, as big as dick's dog, with a green pass, while passes for today where blue. As we turned the corner and saw Mrs. Hawkins, the bookkeeping class teacher, we nudged each other like we were gonna put one over on her.

"Jackie Garrett!" she stated, loudly, "What are you two doing out of class?" I was the first to speak-since she recognized me, right off the bat-I said, "Oh, Mrs. Hawkins, we have to go to Mr. Sorrel's class for a special project."

"Let me see your pass," she said. At which time, Jean proudly waved it in her direction. We exchanged a quick we-got-her-now look, when she said, "This pass was for yesterday!"

I should have known something was going to happen, because whenever I hung out with Jean-something would happen. Jean piped up and had the nerve to say "What? Let me see that?" To which, Mrs. Hawkins responded, "You girls come with me to the Principals' Office." Well..... what seemed like a dumb idea, turned into an even dumber one, because all of a sudden, Jean broke out running ... and, like a dummy.... I followed.

We ran out of the school and didn't stop until we were about two blocks away. The only reason Jean slowed down then was because, between deep breaths, I wheezed.... "Ok,..... ok,..... Jean,.... she's not behind us anymore."-She most likely stopped at the end of the hall, and most definitely at the school door.-We, however, had stopped right in front of the 7-11, and so we decided to split a "Slurpee," to help cool us down, and give us a chance to think. We sat on the wall out in front of the store and I said "My momma gonna kill me, Jean."

"No she ain't, 'cause I got an idea ..."

"Jean, you don't know my momma...," I insisted. I couldn't see no way outta this one.

But, according to Jean, if you know one momma, you know 'em all, because she then proceeded to explained how she had worked her momma's nerves so bad 'til, "She just sits in the dark and eats vanilla ice cream now."

I didn't want to do anything to upset my momma like that. "Wow! How'd ya do that ... and, ................... why?!"

Jean snapped, impatiently, "Stop worrying, and listen to me".

This was the plan: We would go over to Jean's house and wash and style our hair in that new bush hairstyle; then go back to school like nothing happened, because-this was the big part-Mrs. Hawkins was old, and with our new "do's", we could make the principal believe that she didn't know what she was talking about ... that she had actually stopped two other students without a hall pass that morning-so how could the students that she was reporting be us?

The girls she stopped had their hair pressed. They didn't have their hair like ours.

"Girl, you are too smart for your own good," I said, impressed, not only by the simplicity of the idea; but, by it's sheer brilliance. We proceeded to put our plan into action.

Ok, tell me that Mrs. Hawkins did not call my momma and tell her that not only was I skipping class, but, I had forged school documents (the green hall pass),had run away from her, and had left the school grounds without permission. Now any one of these four things was enough to get me killed, but,.... oh, no!.... Jean, had all the answers, because she was whole year older than me. She got left back in kindergarten....... Now, I know why. So we went back to school, just as cool as we could be. My hair was still damp at the roots, so my bush was kinda droopin' ... not like the women we had seen in the magazines at all. But, Jean explained that they had short hair like hers and that mine was suppose to droop, 'cause it was longer-but it looked good. Several of our classmates thought so, too-and had just finished telling us outside of Mr. Gregory's world history class- when over the loud speaker came, "Will Jackie Garrett and Jean Thomas report to the principal's office, immediately". I could hardly hear my name being called over the collective, "Ooooh.... you in trouble," that the passing students were crooning. I decided, then and there, that I would never listen to anything else Jean had to say from then on out, because like I told her earlier ... "my momma's gonna kill me."

After the beatin' ... I felt I had learned my lesson, but I guess being grounded for a month was added on for good measure. All phone privileges were taken away. Everyday, the phone would ring, and I wasn't allowed to answer it for fear that I might, accidentally, have contact with anyone other than in school. And no hangin' out 'til the street lights came on, with the kids in the neighborhood. I can't tell you how mad I was at that 'damn' Jean,-not to mention that every other time the phone would ring, I could hear momma saying, "Jean, didn't I tell you that Jackie can't talk on the phone.... So stop calling here."

I coulda killed Jean.

"Your so-called friend is just adding to your punishment by being so hardheaded and calling here when she knows you're on punishment," momma said. I told her that it wasn't my fault that she keeps calling and that she must not be on punishment like, I AM.

"Oh really ...? And what is that supposed to mean?"

"Jean's momma didn't punish her. Jean just told her that she was sorry and that it wouldn't happen again," I tried to respectfully clarify.

"Well I'm not her momma and if she don't stop callin' here, you will be on punishment until 'pigs can fly'." I can't wait 'til I see Jean, so I can tell her to stop callin', 'cause my momma ain't playin', and she ain't gonna go sit and eat vanilla ice cream in the dark like her momma does, ...... whatever that means .......

Daddy had just come home from work and was sitting in the living room in his favorite chair. I walked up to him, and hugged him 'round his neck, from behind the chair, and said in my best, I'm-the-baby voice, "Daddy could you pleeeze talk to momma for me?"

While never looking up from the newspaper, Daddy said, "about what?" My daddy was so cool ... he never got worked up like some people.... anyway ...

"About this punishment thing ..., I said I was sorry, and it's been two weeks, since I've been able to go outside." He turned the page of his paper.

"Baby, that's between you and yo momma. You know how she is about y'all cuttin' up in school."

"But it wasn't my fault."

"Oh, really? Then whose fault was it?"

I couldn't say anything. "Ok ... Well maybe it was my fault, but no phone or friends for a month is a lotta punishment ... don't you think?"

"Not if your mother doesn't think so."

"Well how 'bout if I could just sit on the front porch? I wouldn't even go as far as the steps ... just up on the porch."

"Well, I don't see any harm in that."

I kissed him hard on the cheek and ran outside.... on the porch.

No sooner had I come out the door, did I see Oopsie and her sister Precious-coming out of Fat Man's store will a bag full of candy. I've known Oopsie, Precious, and their whole family, all my life. They live down the street.

Fat Man's was the neighborhood grocery store, which because of its unique location-smack dab in the middle of the block-made it more like our own personal store than neighborhoods that had their stores on the corner. Also, it was owned and run by a really fat man, his fat wife, and their fat sons, hence, the nickname, 'Fat Man's'."

Stopping right in front of my gate, Precious said, "Hey, Oopsi, have I been out in the sun too long, or did I eat some bad candy from Fat Man's? I could swear I see Jackie outside?"

Oopsie looked up at me, started laughing and said, "If she outside it must be 'cause Ms. Garrett is either sleep or not home."

"Shut up, both of y'all and throw me a piece of candy."

Oopsie started digging the candy outta the bag, but Precious stopped her and said, "Come get it yourself." Sending the obvious message to Oopsie that, yeah.... I might be outside, but, I couldn't come off the porch-while I tried hard to remember why I had ever liked Precious in the first place.

Oopsie, the echo, chimed in, "Yeah, Jackie, come get some."

"Forget it," I said, and looked up the street where Five Pound was just turning the corner on his new ten-speed bike, with the radio attached to the under bar. Five had always been sweet on me, even though he was supposed to be going with Precious.

"I sure could use a box of pumpkinseeds and a sour pickle from Fat Man's ..." Five, came to an abrupt halt in front of us and said, "I'll go get some for you," and was gone just that fast, which made Precious so mad, 'cause she knew that if I wanted a boyfriend; heck, if I wanted Five-which I didn't-I could get him in a heartbeat.

Laughing, Oopsie said, "Who does Five go with, anyway?"

Precious slapped her on the head and stomped off saying. "Tell Five he can take those seeds and that pickle and stickem!" Boy, me and Oopsie fell out laughing, 'cause Precious really had no reason to be jealous.... I wouldn't have had Five Pound on a bet.

Five used to hang out with my brother, you know, playing ball and stuff, and grinning at me every chance he could get. He would call the house and say "Hey Jackie is your brubber home?' to which I always replied." I don't have a brubber." and hang-up the phone. Five was nice, but he always usta sound so dumb. He was kidda cute, though. Five came back sliding to a screeching halt, I guess, to impress me-bike all to the side, got off it and ran up on the porch with the goods. I said, "You know Precious mad at you ..." he just looked stupid and left in a hurry, peddlin' fast, in the direction of Precious' house.


Excerpted from We're In It For Life by Julie Dennis Copyright © 2009 by Julie Dennis . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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We'Re In It For Life 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read! Fuuny, informative and reminiscent of childhood and happier times!
KTL76 More than 1 year ago
I could not put the book down once I started to read it. I finished it in two days. I can't wait for the second book. It left me wanting more.
BeautyForAshes More than 1 year ago
A MUST HAVE....A story of embracing the past and looking forward to the future, "We're In It For Life" has characters you will absolutely begin to relate to from the first chapter. You will quickly recall them as your own family and friends as you begin to turn the pages. The story lines were beautifully written and will have you on a reading marathon, .unable to stop reading, because it draws you into memories of experience once forgotten. With a refreshing lookout to the future including choices, mystery and romance along the way. It does leave a portion of the story for another book, "We're In It For Life" so whatis next for Jackie and the man of her dreams Deon??? BeautyForAshes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago