Pardon the way that I stare.
There's nothing else to compare.
The sight of you leaves me weak.
There are no words left to speak.
Lauryn Hill ~ Can't Take My Eyes Off of You
This was truly sad. We had been in here for about an hour now, and the streets were flooded with water, the rain didn't look like it was about to let up anytime soon. The ceiling was leakin', and water was seepin' onto our classroom floor. Principal Geffen announced through the speakers that all staff and student body on the first floor ascend to the second and third floors.
Mr. Burgess called upstairs to the library, and I assumed he had asked Mrs. Catherielle if we could come up there, 'cause after he got off the phone he told us to grab our belongin's and head upstairs to the second floor, and that he'd meet us up there. That was another reason why I could hang with Mr. Burgess. He didn't make us line up, and hold hands by the door. He understood that some of us were mature enough to walk up a flight of stairs.
"Ain't this some shiggidy?" Huggy said while she walked beside me, headed for the staircase. Some kids that weren't in our class decided it was okay to take the elevator-dummies.
"Look at them," I pointed. Kaliah turned her head, lookin' at the sight over her shoulder. Frowning, she shook her head in discontent.
"I hope their asses get stuck in there. Common sense would tell you it's safer to take the stairs lazy!" She bellowed loud enough for them to hear. See, what I tell ya? Big ass mouth, but I loved her.
"I guess common sense ain't that common then, huh?" I heard Mr. Burgess's monotone voice behind me. Kaliah and I turned our heads to see a grinning Mr. Burgess stare at the both of us. Reflecting his smile, Kaliah and I separated some so he could walk in stride between us.
"I guess not," Kaliah retorted as she gave Mr. B a flirtatious grin. I just laughed to myself and shook my head.
Did I forget to mention that Mr. Burgess was fine as hell? That was a beautiful man right there. Claud have mercy! I wasn't usually not into light skinned males, but Donell Burgess made me wanna try.
I remembered when I first stepped into his classroom the beginin' of the school year. I did a triple take when I first saw this man. He had on his signature cotton shirt tucked in his pleated trousers. Showing off his muscles and abs; mm, mm, mm! You know I never knew what an orgasm felt like, but I knew Mr. Burgess had somethin' to do with it; and you would've thought that was all this man had to offer physically.
No, no. This man had some pretty hair. Natural waves that went on for days and he had the deepest dimples I had ever seen. And mind you, he made it all look good! His teeth weren't the straightest, but he still had a pretty, white smile; and I knew for damn sure any female in the school that he had taught or even walked passed, eye raped the s- outta him way worse than I did. Huggy's perverted ass was prime example.
One day we were in class and Mr. Burgess was sauntering around the room, helpin' the kids out with their assignments. We were doin' a group assignment on infamous black athletes, and Kaliah was my partner, naturally. She called him over-I was still doin' my research lookin' down at my book. She asked him a question and he briefly answered, and when he walked away, she couldn't wait to tell me the dirty clandestine she had discovered.
"Just glance at it when he turns around," she told me. We both stuck our heads back in our book, and waited patiently before he turned around. I slowly peaked at the waistline of his trousers; my eyes dropped down to the bulge imprinted in his pant. Kaliah grinned wickedly, nudging my arm continuously. "Just imagine how big that s- is," she whispered while I continued to stare. Oh my, how would it fit?
"Damn, Autumn, don't stare too hard, girl!" Kaliah whispered harshly, pinching my leg.
"Ouch!" I yelped, quickly turning my head whilst looking the other way. I swore I never looked again…let me stop lyin'. I did look a couple of times, but only because it was in my face when he'd stand next to me when I was sittin' down at my desk.
"You wanna come over my house when we leave? You know my mama's back in town and she wants to see you?" Kaliah said once we had entered the library. I missed Ms. Janelle. The last time I'd seen her was at Kay's birthday party last year. She became the aunt I never had. She was cool as hell, she could burn the mess out of some Jamaican food, and she taught me how to dutty wine.
"Hell yah, mi wan see de gyul-she cookin'?" I questioned, producing a laugh from Kay. "I'm serious. Your mama can throw down." I loved Ms. Janelle's cookin'. Once before when I visited, she made some plantain fritters, seared pork chops with coconut rum and caramelized pineapple sauce, and her famous jerk chicken. My ass was on fire when I got home, but that s- was still on point.
"You know she is," Kaliah confirmed, kissin' her teeth. Just then, my phone pulsated in my carrier. I took it out before looking at the caller ID on my screen.
"Who is it?" Kay asked, peekin' over my shoulder.
"It's my dad," I said before I answered it, putting the phone to my ear. "Hey dad, what's up?"
"I just called to see if you were okay. Are you?"
"Yeah, I'm still at school waitin' out this storm." I rolled my eyes at the thought of still being here. "Where are mom and the boys?" I walked off into a secluded corner so I could hear well.
"Your mom's safe at the hospital, and Drew and Stephen just got back at the house from New York. I'm tryna to get a hold of Nate, but he's not pickin' up his phone. It keeps goin' to voicemail." He informed. Even though my oldest brother, NJ didn't live with us anymore, my mom and dad still liked to keep him in the loop. After all, he was still family.
"Don't worry too much. I'm sure he's alright." I assured. Nate was a soldier, so, wherever he was in Cali, I sure was all right, and my dad knew that as well.
"Yeah, I know." He sighed. "Listen, when you get home, go upstairs in my room-look in the closet to your left; there should be a late birthday present for you in there if your brothers haven't set it up already in your room." He said. I hope it's what I know it is.
"You're not comin' home tonight?" I furrowed my eyebrows with a frown; this was one of the many reasons why I hated my dad workin' for the police force.
"They need me and a couple of the officers to stay on patrol overnight. Remember last time that blizzard came and they let me go early?" He recalled. "I gotta stay this time, sweetie."
He was right about that. Sighing, I replied. "Okay." There wasn't nothin' I could do about it, he had to put bread on the table somehow, right? "Hey, is it cool if I stop by Kaliah's house before I go home? Her mother's in town, she wants to see me."
"Isn't it a school night?"
"No, it's spring break, remember?" I grinned at his sudden short term memory loss. Always tryna keep me in the house. I thought while I shook my head.
"Oh, yeah…" He trailed off in thought. "Damn, you got it good, huh? A week and a half off of school." He chuckled, and I smiled wider. "Okay, just don't stay out too late, and bring me home a plate of food if she's cooking. Oh yeah, and tell her I said I'm gonna be over there to check on Jacob sometime this week."
"Okay, pops." I chuckled. See, even dad loved her food. It was crack addicting.
"Alright, Autumn, be safe."
"I will. Love you. Bye." I locked off the phone before he could even say it back. Stuffing my phone back in my bag, I looked up and spotted Kay waving me over to the group of classmates sittin' on the tables and chairs huddled around Mr. B. They must've been talking about something good.
"Alright, I got a question." Brandon raised his hand. "So, you don't like Wayne, or Gucci, Right?"
"No," Mr. Burgess replied, shakin' his head back and forth. I took a seat next to Kaliah on the table, and my other classmate, Déjà before I tuned in on the discussion.
"I still think you're crazy for that." Mike chimed in, shaking his head.
"What about Kendrick Lamar?" The whole group went quiet as we awaited his answer. I could get with Kendrick. He was one of the many few rappers that could actually rap today. His poetic style was what gave me chills, and his flow was real and raw. He was the refresher that we needed in this hip-hop game. Nas ain't never lie when put that track out in '06 'Hip-hop is dead'.
"Now you know what?"
"His ass bouta say somethin' stupid," Gabby commented out loud, causin' some of the kids to rupture in laughter. Mr. Burgess simply dismissed her remark and continued on.
"I like Kendrick Lamar; he's got that allegorical, poetic thing going on. He raps about what a lot of MC's back in the '90's use to rap about. Like, everyday life situations, and political s-, -excuse me I ain't mean to cuss, y'all." He apologized, holdin' his hand up.
"Man, you good Burgess it's after school hours." Trenton stated, dismissing off his apology; I couldn't agree more. I think Mr. Burgess was the only teacher that didn't use callous profanity durin' school hours. The rest of the teachers just didn't give a damn, and neither did we. You cursed at us, we'd curse at you. It was that simple.
"Yeah, Mr. B, cuss all you want, we don't give f-." Jamal, another close friend of mine stated in an amicable manner; earning a few giggles from the class, including Mr. Burgess. Jamal was such a clown. I also met him back in junior high, 6th grade year in Ms. Hines English class; his affable and comedic attitude was what got me through that borin' period, and was also why we were best friends today. He kinda reminded me of Kevin Hart…with short ass.
"Y'all crazy," Mr. Burgess chuckled, stuffing his hands into his pocket while sitting on the stool behind him.
"You like Nas, Mr. B?" I questioned, and he gave off a conspicuous glare of astonishment.
"What you know about Nas?" He retorted with a smirk.
"He's actually one of my favorite rappers. Next to Common, The Fugees, Naughty by Nature, Wu Tang Clan, Dr. Dre, De La Soul, Yo Yo-I can go on for days." I boasted, counting on my fingers. "I like Kendrick Lamar too, he's cool. I'm kinda like you in away. I can't get with most of today's rap. It took almost four years for hip-hop to get a pulse." I added shrewdly with a lift of my shoulders.
"Okay," he nodded his head, impressed with my knowledge of '90's rappers. I even listened to some '80's rappers too; courtesy of my pops and siblin's. "I gotta trivia question for you, Ms. Mathew. If you get this question right, you get extra credit on your assignments today. If you get the question wrong, I gotta nice, thick history packet waitin' just for you." He winked.
The class ooh'ed as Mr. Burgess gave me a bone-chilling stare. "You wanna take the challenge?" He questioned with a wicked smirk.
"Oh s-, Autumn, he's callin' you out. You better handle that," Huggy hyped. Shrugging, I gave off a cocky grin.
"I'll take the challenge, it's nothin'," I acquiesced, and the class ooh'ed even louder, lookin' back and forth between Mr. B and me. I could tell he grew mislead by my sudden arrogance. I was confident I would know it.
"Okay, Ms. Mathew. Since you claim that Nas is your favorite rapper, this shouldn't be hard at all." He stated with his own expression of cockiness, lookin' me straight in the eyes. I reflected his stare awaiting his answer, not a trace of fear written in my orbs.
Pops always told me weakness was never a option. You stood there and you faced your challenge like a man-well, I wasn't not a man, but I got his point. If you showed even an ounce of fear, you were sure to be left in the dog pound.
"In 2006, Nas came out with an album titled, Hip-Hop Is Dead. He also wrote a song named with that same title. What song did Nas sample from that particular track, and who were the originators?"
A chain reaction of heads flew my way, but I never took my eyes off of Mr. B. He probably thought he had me, but that question was way too damn easy. I was just thinkin' about that album not even three minutes ago.
"In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, by Iron Butterfly," I retorted. A proceeding smirk crept upon my lips.
"Is that right?" Kay questioned Mr. Burgess. He licked his full, blush lips before scratchin' his nose with his index finger. Who knew a movement so simple could be so damn sexy? I thought as we continued to have a staring contest.
"Yeah, she got it." He said with an impressive grin.
"Damn, you wasn't playin' 'bout that extra credit," Déjà joked. It wasn't like I needed it, but just to show Mr. B up was enough for me. He seemed like the type that always had to be right about everything, but not today.
"My girl," Kaliah patted my back.
"My b-," Jamal reached his hand out towards me. My righteous smile quickly vanished as I took my hand and smacked the back of Jamal's rock head. "Ouch, I was just playin', damn!" He frowned, rubbing the back of his now throbbing head.
"Yeah, I was just playin' too. I told you 'bout that b- word, boy," I pointed, tryin' not to laugh at his dumfounded expression.
"Damn, y'all, look at the streets!" Someone shouted by the windowpane. A few students, including myself, walked over to the windows to see the sight. I didn't even have to fully walk up to it to see all of the water outside. Oh, my God. It looked so depressin' and dreary; the water was just about over the sidewalks, and the schools entrance pathways; I could only imagine how it looked downstairs now. Probably somethin' out of Deep Blue Sea when LL Cool J was on that boat, excluding the sharks; I'm not 'bout that shark life.
At least the rain slowed down a little. As I continued to gawk at the scene I heard something rev underneath my feet.
"What's that noise?" I questioned. It sounded like an engine running downstairs. I wasn't the only one who had heard it either, 'cause other kids started askin' the same thing.
"It's probably the water pump; I'll go check it out, y'all stay put." Mr. Burgess said before strollin' out the side doors of the library. I glanced out the window once more, staring at the beautiful catastrophe. Times like this I wish I could draw like my brother, Stephen. He had mad skills with paper and pencil. He was like the black Michelangelo; the boy could draw.
"It's pretty bad out there," I turned my head to see Mrs.Catherielle, rubbing her pregnant belly. She looked as if she was ready to pop any day now.
"Yeah, it's like Noah and the Arch," I said, receiving a light titter from her.
"I just hope my car doesn't float away." She joked.
"You drove here?" I inquired, slightly appalled after she motioned her head up and down.
"My husband can't pick me up all the time, so sometimes I have to drive." She shrugged. She was pregnant, she shouldn't be driving; and how did she even drive with that stomach to say the least?
"Where's Mr. Catherielle? Call him and let me speak to him so I can tell him that he needs to be here every day after school at 2:25pm on the dot waiting for you outside. The struggle is too real for you to be driving in your condition, Mrs. C." The tone in my voice was one of reprimanding, but still held hilarity. I had known the Catherielle's for a little over five years now. They use to go to my church on Hamilton Avenue.
I called Mrs. Catherielle my inside out Oreo. White on the outside, but black as could be on the inside. Oh yeah, she was down with the cause. Her husband was big, and stocky, and black as the night sky. This would be their second child. Half of the school thought she was still pregnant with the first one.
That was the remedial half of the school.
As soon as her little boy came out she was pregnant again before the school year had begun. I was like, hot damn! Was it that good that you couldn't have waited six weeks? But I wasn't mad at her. If she got it, give it. If he got it, get it. Get it while the gettin' is good.
"I think your friends are trying to get your attention over there." Mrs. Catherielle pointed out. I looked over my shoulder to see Jamal and Kay by the science fiction section. I didn't know why, but Kaliah stomped the mess out of Jamal's foot.
"Ouch! Dammit." Jamal held his injured foot, hopping around. "A, Autumn, come get your girl before she gets hurt." Jamal said, clapping his hands with each syllable. "I'm dead ass serious, on everything in my lif-Ow!" He yelped again.
Kaliah twisted his ear, and was not lettin' go. "Shut de f- up, yuh ain't 'bouta to hurt nothin', yuh mudda cunt," She shoved him and he stumbled a little. Oh, Lord. He done brought her island out.
"Autumn!" Jamal screeched. Sighing heavily, I rolled my eyes.
"Let me hurry up and get over there before Kaliah makes the boy cry." Mrs. C nodded with a grin.
"Tell your mother I said hi, and she should be seeing me up at the hospital very soon." Mrs. Catherielle retorted, rubbing her spherical belly.
"I will, and I still want that phone call." I pointed at her with a smirk as I started towards my friends. She just laughed and waved me off. I was serious though, Mr. C had better get it together. I know my husband had better be catering to me if I was carryin' his baby.
"Yo, y'all gotta chill. What the hell are y'all doing over here?" I snapped once I had finally gotten over there. Jamal bucked at Kay after she pushed him.
"Ask your girl, she's the one that attacked me-look at my shoe!" He complained, takin' his shoe off, waving it in my face.
"Pew," I swatted at it, conveying repugnance.
"She scuffed 'em up with her big ass earth stompers!" Jamal accused, attempting to rub the marks off his white Air Jordan's with his hand. Boys and their Jordan's, I tell you. What was the damn fascination? All you were doing was paying more every year for a re-released shoe.
"Shut up, you're just mad, 'cause your little ass wears a size five!" Kaliah ragged, and I tried my best to not laugh.
"I do not where a size five!" He pointed the shoe in Kay's face. "I wear a size eight, and a half, get it right!" He affirmed through clenched teeth. "And if these marks don't come out, best believe I'ma see yo' ass on Baltimore street tonight." He threatened.
"Pshh, whatever," Kaliah rolled her eyes, taking light of his peril.
"It's alright baby, daddy's got you," I shook my head disappointedly while Jamal sweet-talked his scuffed up shoe. Just when I thought he couldn't get any more ratchet, he dug into his backpack and took out a whole shoe cleanin' kit. What the hell?
"Jamal, really?" I inquired with flat look.
"Yes, really!" He sat down at one of the computer chairs. "Do you know how much I paid for these things?" He questioned rhetorically; his eyes boggled out of his head, shakin' the shoe vigorously. "These muthaf-'s don't come with a two year warrantee." He argued, spraying the foamy solution onto the sullied area.
"And this whole jump off wouldn't have happened, if your reniggin' ass wouldn't have made plans to go over big foots house."
Huggy flipped him the bird and Jamal stuck his tongue out at her. The kids.
"Hold up," I interjected, standing in front of him. "What do you mean I renigged?" I inquired, towering over him with an eyebrow raised and a hand on my hip. Jamal stared blankly at my shirt as I waited for his answer.
"Um, you know what? Usually I would feel comfortable in this position," he started. "But, since I can feel a smack comin' my way, I don't really feel all that comfortable right now. I'm already short, and you're just makin' me feel smaller. So, I-I'm not gonna answer your question with your cooch all in my face like this; I'm sorry, I'm not gonna do it. No." He briskly shook his head.
"I feel you should pull up a chair or something, 'cause this here could go left or right. I could lick it and you'd be like, 'eww, oh my gosh. No. He just licked my cooch.'
Or you'd like it and then I'd feel obligated to finish the job." He rambled, shrugging his shoulders. I heard Kay sniggering in the background. My expression intolerant and confirmed the distaste of his remark.
"Your mind's always in the gutter, nasty," I took my two fingers and pushed his head while, taking a step back. "And don't try to joke your way out of this, you're tryna call my bluff, so proceed." I gestured, folding my arms with pursed lips and flared nostrils. Jamal stood up so that he was at eye level with me. I wasn't that short, but he wasn't that tall. I had him by one inch.
"Let me even the score since you don't wanna sit down." He said before clearing his throat. "You and me were supposed to be practicin' on your new song today, remember?"
"And we are," I shrugged as I mugged him.
"How are we gonna do that when over Kaliah's house, huh? Answer me that?" He stuck his ear out.
"I'm not stayin' all day, jackass-"
"Nope, I don't wanna hear it," he cut me off, waving his hand in my face. "'Cause last time you said that, I was waitin' outside your house sittin' on the porch. I had my guitar in one hand, lookin' like a dumbass when Drew's light skinned ass came outside and told me you weren't there. I called you, you said, 'oh my gosh.
No. I'm sorry. I'm with Huggy. We'll do it next week.' Next week is here Autumn, and where are you? Over Sasquatches house shakin' your ass, and eatin' jerk chicken!" He emphasized, pointin' his finger at me. My hard expression gradually transformed into one of empathy. Damn. I did remember that day. He said he wasn't gonna speak to me for two weeks, but it ended up be two minutes.
"Jamal, I promise I'm not gonna forget, okay? You have my word." I raised my hand in oath. His face was still stoned with irritation, so I pinched his cheeks and started planting wet kisses on them. He hated when I did that.