This story was told to Anthony Weathers years ago. Upon hearing it, he felt compelled to write a story based on these tragic, true events. Why Ruin Another Life is set in the 1970s in black Mississippi. It is a generational journey about how lives can be altered by an event or person. Hattie is black woman in her thirties who sets off a chain of events that unravel, creating a domino effect. It affects the lives of her daughter, granddaughter, and everyone around them. This one event caused a thunderstorm for generations to come, and the lessons learned were very costly.
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Why Ruin Another Life
By ANTHONY WEATHERS
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Anthony Weathers
All rights reserved.
Shawn is getting dressed for church. He is running late and must hurry because his friend, Paul D, is picking him up. The doorbell rings and Shawn scatters to answer the door.
"Hey, Paul D," Shawn says, leading him into the apartment, "I'm sorry I'm not ready yet."
"It's a'right. We still got coupa' minutes," Paul D says, waving his hand. "First fifteen minutes ain't nothin' but the praise team stirrin' er'rbody up anyway. I reckon we good for 'nother fifteen."
Shawn begins tying the tie swinging from his neck.
"I'll hurry," he says, "I don't want to miss the precession. My friend, Tanya, is leading the song. Let me get my jacket from the room."
Shawn disappears into his room.
"Hey, ya got a sodi pop in da frigidaire?" Paul D shouts.
"No, all I have is orange juice," Shawn calls back. "Help yourself."
"That's too acidy for me," Paul D says, scrunching his face.
"Acidy?" Shawn yells from the bedroom. "You think orange juice has more acid than soda? I'm sad to tell you, soda has two times more acid."
"I don't care," Paul D says, stomping his feet. "I wants me a sodi pop. Orange juice give me dem old sour lips."
Shawn chuckles, "What's sour lips?"
"Like ya been sucking on a lemon or sumptin'," Paul D says, looking into the refrigerator.
"Okay, but don't say I didn't try to save you from yourself," Shawn says, shrugging his shoulders.
Paul D grabs a pie out of the fridge and paces around the kitchen.
"I don't need no saving. When da good lord ready for me, neither ya or me can stop him."
Shawn hesitates and looks over his shoulder.
"Then I guess you got to take your behind to that corner store. Can the good lord stop that?"
"What store ya mean?" Paul D says, with a mouthful of pie. "Store down yonder there? Think it's closed."
"You're so country," Shawn says, searching around the room for his shoes. "You sound like Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer and them—like you're from Mayberry or something. What's the matter, Aunt Bee didn't feed you before you left home?"
"Sorry mister big-city-slickin' man! Not er'rbody can be 'fisticated like ya," Paul D says, licking his fingers, "and God goin' get ya for always funning with my accent."
"Okay Opi, don't be goin' gettin' yourn fiddle all in a twist," Shawn says, reaching into the closet. "Listen, you—"
The closet door falls forward, swiping Shawn on the bridge of his nose. Paul D hears the noise from the kitchen and runs into the bedroom to find Shawn sitting on the f loor holding his nose. Paul D kneels down to Shawn.
"The door came out of nowhere and just fell and hit me," Shawn says, nursing his wound as blood drips through his fingers.
"Told ya God would zap ya," Paul D says, shaking his pointed finger.
"Paul D," Shawn says, hitting Paul D's knee.
"Sorry, I'm just fooling. Let's get ya up," Paul D says, helping Shawn to his feet. With agitation, Shawn brushes Paul D away.
"Alright now, it's not all that serious."
"Ya bleedin'. I'm goin' get some tissue paper out da outhouse," Paul D says, turning to leave.
"Outhouse?" Shawn says, slapping the bed. "You're in the big city now, Barney Fife. We don't have outhouses here."
Paul D comes back and pats Shawn's nose with the tissue.
"I'm just funning with ya. Just wanted ta see what ya say. Thought maybe that door knock some sense up in ya, but I can see that it didn't."
"Remember, I'm the sick one here," Shawn says, snatching the tissue.
"I know, that's why I be cartin' ya ta da doctor now," Paul D says, picking Shawn up under the arm.
"Come on, Paul D. I'm alright," Shawn says, resisting. "I don't want to miss church because of this. I told Tanya I'd be there to hear her sing solo."
Paul D grabs at Shawn, "Ya get her next time."
"There won't be a next time," Shawn says, knocking Paul D's hand away. "You ever heard her sing? She's not all that good. She must have bribed someone."
"Good, so ya can 'ford ta miss it then," Paul D says, handing Shawn his jacket. "Now, we best be makin' our way ta da hospita'. Put on this here coat."
Shawn pushes the jacket away and stands up.
"Paul D, I said I'm alright. Come on, if we leave now we still can make it in time for the precession."
"Nope," Paul D says, folding his arms and taking a stance. "I'm not leaving here 'less we be goin' ta da hospita'."
"What am I going to tell Tanya?" Shawn says, turning to Paul D.
"Tell her there's room on da usher board," Paul D says, extending the jacket. "Now get ya hind part over here and let's go. God 'point me head angel ta see after ya crazy butt. C'mon now."
"Okay, okay, Gomer Pile," Shawn says, yielding to Paul D.
"Want him ta zap ya again?" Paul D says, staring at Shawn with his brow down. "Thought not, then c'mon now."
Shawn and Paul D are in the hospital waiting room.
"We're going to be here all night," Shawn says, nervously repositioning himself in his chair. "That's why I didn't want to come."
"Hush up. It's worth it," Paul D says, putting his hand on Shawn to stop him from fidgeting. "What if ya got a 'fection or sumptin'?
No tellin' who ya had up in there. I 'magine thousand of lil' grimy hands been opening and closing that door."
Shawn pops up, "I can't be waiting in here. I have things to do."
Paul D folds his arms and sits back in his chair.
"Who ya foolin'? Only thing this keeping ya from is some grease and dem nasty movies."
"You're telling on yourself," Shawn says, gazing at Paul D.
"Nothin' wrong with healing hands. Thank ya, Jesus," Paul D says, throwing his hands up. "Don't have me be shoutin' up in here."
Shawn laughs, "I think we're in the wrong part of the hospital."
"I'm not. Just like he ordered my steps, he does the same with my hands."
Paul D gets up and begins doing the holy dance. Shawn folds his arms and stares strangely at Paul D.
"Now, who's going to be zapped?" Shawn says.
"God, forgive me," Paul D says, plumping down in his chair, "forgot myself. Been hanging 'round ya too long."
"Don't blame me," Shawn says, sitting down and shaking his head. "That's between you and your Devil."
"Me?" Paul D says, turning to Shawn, "You's da one upset 'cause da devil won't gives ya mo' work ta do."
"I wish they would hurry up," Shawn says, rocking back and forth in his chair, "so I can get the hell out of here."
"Don't be gettin' yourn violin all in a knot," Paul D says in a snooty voice. They both laugh. "Ya needs ya a sodi pop. Want a sodi pop?"
"No, I don't want that mess clogging my system," Shawn says, waving his hands.
"We in da right place ta snake it out," Paul D says, getting up. "Want one?"
"I said no, Paul D," Shawn says, putting his hand up. Paul D eases up, realizing Shawn is under stress.
"Okay, where do ya think da vending machine be?"
Irritated, Shawn looks up at Paul D.
"I don't know, Paul D. Do you see a vending machine GPS on me? Go around the corner and look yourself."
"Okay, see ya."
Shawn leans back in his chair. While Paul D is away, the nurse comes to get Shawn.
"I understand you got hit by a door?" the nurse says.
Shawn gets up holding his head.
The nurse puts her hand on Shawn's shoulder.
"Mister Thompson, you're supposed to let the door hit you where the good lord split you. How did it get all the way up there?" Shawn chuckles.
"You're funny. My super was supposed to fix this door months ago, but he kept putting it off. It keeps coming off the hinge."
The nurse motions for Shawn to follow her.
"Now, let's see if you are becoming a little unhinged, shall we?" she says. "Let's take your blood pressure."
"My God, you don't miss a beat."
"I can't afford to miss a beat. There are lives at stake, Mister Thompson," the nurse says, walking into a room. Shawn follows and sits on the examining table.
"Okay, I better stop while I'm ahead," Shawn says. The nurse puts down her chart.
"Seems to me that I'm ahead. Now, pull off your shirt."
"That's what I'm talking about," Shawn says, taking off his shirt. The nurse prepares the pressure machine.
"Okay, you win," the nurse says, taking his blood pressure. "Blood pressure is a little above normal. You feel a little tense? Anxious?"
"A little. My friend came with me here," Shawn says, looking toward the doorway. "He had just stepped away when you came and got me. How will he know that I'm back here?"
The nurse removes the pressure band from Shawn. "Don't worry, I'm sure if he comes back and doesn't see you, he will go to the front desk."
Shawn rubs his arm. "You don't know him, he's not all that bright."
"Relax, it will all work out. Now, let's work on getting that blood pressure down. Besides, you have enough to worry about over here," the nurse says, preparing the needle. "I have to take your blood now, and it's my first time."
"What?" Shawn says, pulling away. The nurse winks back at him.
"Just a little nurse humor."
Shawn points to a vein in his arm. "I guess this one?" The nurse inserts the needle and Shawn yells, "Ouch! You weren't kidding, were you?"
Hearing the scream, Paul D bursts into the room violently and pushes the nurse out of the way, grabs the needle, and starts yelling uncontrollably. Shawn and the nurse look at him in horror.
"I'm not goin' ta let anybody hurt him while I'm here," Paul D says. "I'm 'sponsible for him. Put a hand on him again, hear? I ring it off. Nobody goin' ta be touchin' him, makin' him hurt. Ya just go 'bout yourn business."
Perplexed, Shawn looks at Paul D.
"I'm not goin' let nobody boss me 'round, tell me what ta do," Paul D says, pacing the f loor like a maniac. "Nobody goin' take 'vantage of me or him."
"It's alright, Paul D," Shawn says, walking cautiously toward him. "Look, I'm alright. She was just drawing a little blood, that's all. Everything is alright."
Shawn grabs Paul D and hugs him. Paul D collapses into his arms, breaking down and crying hysterically.
Shawn is being kept overnight in the hospital for observation. He is in a private room now. Paul D is sitting in a chair by his bedside.
"I knew I done da right thing when I brungs ya here. Want me ta go ta yourn place and pick ya up a few things? Dem britches fresh?" Shawn looks at him, "Paul D."
Paul D gets up to stretch.
"When ya think yourn vittles be comin'? Wants me ta go fetch some for ya?"
"Paul D," Shawn says, trying to get his attention.
"I'm a lil' hungry myself," Paul D says, dismissing Shawn. "Think I'm goin' have me one of dem super big macs, fries, with an orange sodi pop. Wants ya an orange one too? They don't be having no juice—" "Hey," Shawn shouts, interrupting. Paul D turns around.
"What is it? I have a lot ta do. I got ta get ya fed, got ta go ta yourn apartment—"
Shawn interrupts again. "Don't worry about all that. You want to talk about what happened earlier?"
"Nothin' happen. Just misunderstood, that's all," Paul D says nonchalantly.
"Come on, Paul D. We both know it's more than that," Shawn says, wincing. "I—I've never seen that side of you before. I almost didn't know who you were. It was like you were a completely different person."
"Okay," Paul D says, sighing. "I come clean. I may be mild mannered Paul D by day, but at night, I'm da Incredible Hulk. Ya satisfied?"
"Stop playing, Paul D," Shawn scoffs. "You're my friend and I'm worried about you. In these few years that I've known you, I've come to think of you like a little play brother."
"What?" Paul D says, tilting his head. Shawn chuckles.
"I'm only kidding, Paul D. I couldn't resist. I know I shouldn't be playing at a time like this."
"Time like what?" Paul D says coyly. Shawn sits up in the bed.
"All jokes aside, I really want to know what happened back there. What caused you to go off like that?"
"I'm alright," Paul D says, shrugging off Shawn. "The onliest thing we should be thinkin' 'bout right now is gettin' ya better."
Shawn hits the bed. "Paul D, will you stop? Look, when you asked me to go to the hospital, I may have fought you a little, but I went."
"A little?" Paul D says, raising his brow. "I practically had ta get a straight jacket for ya."
"Okay," Shawn says, shaking his head, "I fought a lot. The point is, I let you take care of me and you know our relationship has always been tit for tat. So, now it's my turn to take care of you. Will you let me take care of you, Paul D? Please let me take care of you, Paul D. Please."
"Will ya stop whinin' and carryin' on?" Paul D says, scrunching his face.
"Tell me then."
Paul D sits down in silence. Shawn waits for a while, then continues to talk.
"You may have the broad shoulders, Superman, but even you need taken care of sometime. You can't be the strong one all the time. Please, Paul D."
Paul D turns to Shawn.
"Okay, long as ya stop all this pleasin'. Who ya think ya are—James Brown or sumptin'? Next thing ya be wantin' me ta do for ya is get yourn cape and put on ya while ya down on yourn knees pleasin'."
"Will you stop making a joke of everything and tell me?" Shawn says, impatiently. Paul D sighs nervously.
"Okay, okay. But ya have ta promise, just be between me and ya, okay?"
"Come on, Paul D," Shawn says, agitated. "You know me better than that. You know I wouldn't tell anything that you confide in me."
Paul D begins slowly, "Sumptin' bad happen ta me. Well, not me, but ta my...."CHAPTER 2
Paul D f lashbacks to many years earlier. It's the 1970s in a small, predominantly black, country town in Mississippi. Hattie, a black southern woman in her early thirties dances a victory dance with her boyfriend, Joe Willie, in a small country flat. Both are excited about the new venture they are about to embark. Hattie's daughter, Marva, walks in on the celebration. Marva is fairly attractive, lean and tall, with a dark complexion.
"Ya and Joe Willie wants me ta fix some supper?"
Hattie pulls out a chair and anxiously says, "Come sit down. Mama got good news ta tell ya."
Marva sits down hesitantly as Hattie stands in front of her.
"Mama, what is it?" Marva says, sensing something is wrong.
"Me and Joe Willie," Hattie says, building up confidence, "we finds this man who want ta take care of ya."
"Take care of me? What ya mean, take care of me?" Marva says in disbelief.
"He wants ya ta come live with him," Hattie says assertively. Marva is perplexed.
"We fine just the way we is."
"No, baby. He wants ta take care of ya for the rest of yar life," Hattie says, reaching for Marva's hand. "Ya don't have ta worry 'bout nothing."
"The rest of my life?" Marva says, realizing Hattie is serious. "What about ya?"
"Don't ya worry 'bout Joe Willie and me," Hattie says, throwing her shoulders back. "We be fine. We headed ta the big city ta make a ways for ourself."
"Mama, take me with ya," Marva says, grabbing at Hattie. "Please, Mama."
"No girl, ya crazy. We can't miss this chance—fine man with money and property. Mama is only tryin' ta do what's best for ya," Hattie says, stroking Marva's hair.
An impatient Joe Willie steps forward and interrupts, "Yeah girl, me and yar Mama just starting out. We don't need no extre' baggage."
Hattie turns to Joe Willie in frustration.
"There ya go, puttin' yar negative two cents in. Shouldn't ya be packin' or sumptin'," Hattie says.
"Okay, I'm goin'. But ya need ta handle it," Joe Willie says, walking away.
"And why don't ya go in the bedroom and handle it?" Hattie says, putting her hands on her hip. " 'Cause lord knows I'm tired of trying ta breathe some life in—"
"Hattie, ya better—"
"Just go about yourn business—and I wish ya would handle yourn own business," Hattie says, throwing her hands up, " 'cause I'm not in the mood for that tonight."
Joe Willie stares at Hattie before leaving in a huff. Just then, Hattie remembers that she promised Marva's suitor that she would have her there in the morning. Realizing now that she has very little time to sell Marva on the plan, she desperately grabs Marva's hand.
"Baby, ya know what a blessin' this is? Ta have this man paying ya mind?" Hattie says.
"Mama, but I don't want nothin' ta change," Marva says, pulling her hand away.
"Bubba, Joe Willie's friend, moved where we goin' just a year ago," Hattie says, reaching for Marva's hand again. "He doin' real good, got himself a good job and all. He willin' ta put us up 'til we get ourself settled down. Soon as we make our way we send for ya, hear?"
"Why can't I go with ya?" Marva says, looking up at Hattie. Hattie sits down in a chair next to Marva.
"Bubba nice 'nough ta let the two of us stay. We can't 'spect him ta put up with another body. Stop actin' like a baby. I had ya when I was about yar age. Ya old 'nough ta try ta start making it on yar own. Now, I promised the man I have ya there in the mornin'. I can't go backin' out now. Me and Joe Willie drive ya there."
Marva still tries reasoning with her mother, even though she knows it's useless when her mother's mind is made up. Hattie is frustrated with Marva's resistance.
"Ya goin'," Hattie says sternly. "Now, ya best go in the room and gather up yar things. Ya goin' thank me one day that I didn't let this fine chance pass ya by. Now, get yarself in there and start packin' up yar 'longings."
Marva slumps her head but Hattie will have none of it.
"We have ta get a early start in the mornin'," Hattie says. "We can't be late, he one of dem snooty kind of niggas. He won't deal with ya if ya don't be on time. Go on now."
Marva lifts her head. "Mama," she says, whimpering.
"Go on and do what I say."
"Yes, Mama," Marva says, solemnly obliging. Realizing that she is closer to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Hattie smirks in satisfaction.
Excerpted from Why Ruin Another Life by ANTHONY WEATHERS. Copyright © 2013 Anthony Weathers. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter One, 1,
Chapter Two, 9,
Chapter Three, 16,
Chapter Four, 23,
Chapter Five, 32,
Chapter Six, 44,
Chapter Seven, 51,
Chapter Eight, 66,
Chapter Nine, 74,
Chapter Ten, 81,
Chapter Eleven, 91,
Chapter Twelve, 99,
Chapter Thirteen, 110,
Chapter Fourteen, 118,
Chapter Fifteen, 128,
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