Strangers - Part 4

Bridging the Gaps

An hour had passed. Brice and Charm were appropriating and setting up where the wealth was to go. Brenda and Brandy chose this occasion to move along and meet at their mother’s home and discuss the plan for the family meeting. Brenda, the oldest; married, a mother, and a paralegal, had turned out to be the dependable one with a level head. Charm solicited and valued Brenda’s advice. Brandy was dependable and a life-learner. She learned from her mistakes and consistently worked on improving life for her daughter. Brandy wanted to be a good example for her twelve-year-old daughter, Cinnamon. Sophia, Cinnamon’s older cousin, has also been a positive influence on her daughter’s life. Brenda and Brandy are now at their mom’s home. They walked into the kitchen and saw the food that had been left out on the counter. Brandy says, “I guess this is what mom is fixing for dinner. I’ll put it in the oven.

Brenda asked Brandy, “Do you want lemonade or water?”

“Lemonade, thanks.”

“Let’s sit in the living room,” says Brenda. Brandy follows her and sits in the beige Lazy Boy recliner next to the window. Brenda sits on the couch and takes out her pen and notepad. “Ok, 1. We need to get as much information out of our father as possible, starting with his plans since getting released from prison.

2. Brandy says "We need to know where he is going to live, and is he still going to work as a musician? 3. What has he been doing since his release, and where did he live before coming back here? " The doorbell rang. It was Brianna. “Hey Brandy.”

“Hey Bri,” giving one another a hug when Brianna comes into the living room. She takes off her coat, sits next to Brenda, and gives her a hug.

Brenda tells Brianna, “We’re going over some questions to ask Brice.” Brianna stands up and says,

“Wait, is there anything to drink?” “There’s lemonade and water.” Brandy looked at Brenda, knowing lemonade or water was not what Brianna meant. The cabinet doors were opening and closing. “Where’s the wine? I know Muslim-man did not drink it, and mom sure didn’t.” “Look in the refrigerator,” voiced Brenda.

“Ah, yes, here it is.” She sauntered into where her sisters were sitting, carrying a full glass and the bottle, taking her seat and becoming part of the discussion, wasting no time. “Where’s he been; since the three months being out of jail, and why is he just now contacting us?”

Brandy said, “He already told us he had mom promise to say he died.”

” Yes, we know, but where’s he been?” reiterated Brenda. ” Well, mom has some explaining to do as well. How could she? No matter what she promised him, we had a right to know that our father was alive. It should have been our decision to make once we were old enough to understand.”

“You’re right,” echoed Brenda. “Now about the money. Is he going to use the money he supposedly put in mom’s name?” Just then, the doorbell rang. A lady dressed like a Muslim was standing holding a suitcase. Brandy and Brianna stared at her through the window. "Who is that I wonder?” asked Brianna.

"Well, maybe if you open the door we can find out,” said Brenda. Brianna opens the door. “No, we don’t want whatever you are selling,” and closes the door.

“Excuse…,” the woman says.

“Wait, Bri.” Shouts Brandy, and opens the door back up. The young lady is still there.

” Hello, please forgive my sister. May I help you?” Brenda is now in force at the door.

” Yes, is bro., Davis home?”

"May I ask how do you have knowledge of my father?"

“Bro. Davis is the director of the ‘Boys Youth Program’ at the Ibadah recreation center. I was asked to drop off his suitcase he left at the center.”

” Who should I say dropped it off?”

My name is Mariam, coordinator for our sister’s program."

Brenda asked. “Shouldn’t a male have brought his bag?” ” Yes, but the male’s dawah class is in session. I volunteered to drop it off since I live in the area.

“Alright, thank you for bringing it. I will tell him you dropped it off."

Brianna is in the background being ostentatious, saying, “Before you bring it in the house, pray the blood of Jesus over it.” This embarrassed Brenda and Brandy, as the lady could hear her. Brenda closed the door and shook her head at Brianna. “Do you always have to be an ass?” ” Sometimes, yes.”

“Bri, when was the last time you went to church or picked up a Bible to even say what you said? And knowing Brice is a Muslim. Are you going to say things like that to him?” asked Brandy

Bri sat down, pursed her lips and drank more wine, without responding. ” Yea, that’s what I thought.” Brandy said. The food’s aroma was circulating throughout the house, signaling it was time to eat. Brenda walked to the kitchen, turned off the oven and stove, and glanced at her watch asking, “How long does it take to get banking accounts set up? I thought it would be an hour, but it has been four hours.”

“We have never had millions to bank. I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.” Brandy replied. “Call her and see if they are on their way?” ” Hello,” Charm answered. ” Mom, we’re at your house. Did you get everything situated?” ” Yes, the account is set up. Your father has taken me on a date to celebrate. We’re at the Jamaican Sunset restaurant. It is really nice and romantic. The food has a five-star ranking. I feel a little underdressed, but your father said, “You look beautiful and that’s good enough for me.”

“Oh, we saw the food on the counter, and we warmed it for dinner, thinking you were on your way.”

“You girls eat what’s there, and take some home for the girls and Devon.” (Brenda’s husband). We’ll be home in an hour.”

“Alright, well, enjoy yourself.”

Brianna shouts. “Tell mom, a Muslim lady brought her husband’s suitcase over.”

“Mom, we have dad’s suitcase. I will put it in the bedroom. Talk to you soon. Bye.”

“You just never stop. Are you trying to hurt mom?”

“No, but she should be made aware that a strange woman came looking for her husband,” and took another drink.

“Brandy gets up from the Lazy Boy chair and says, “Ya’ll come on, let’s eat this food, I am starving.”

Brenda asked, “Where is my niece; should we fix her a plate?”

“Cinnamon has an after-school debate class. I’ll take her a plate home. Is my fine brother-in-law flying the friendly skies again?” asked Brandy.

“Girl you know it. He gets in tonight, and I can’t wait to show him my new negligee.”

” Where did he go this time? asked Brianna.

“Paris. He’s been gone for four days. Sophia hates when he goes on these long junkets. You know he would not turn it down."

” I’m sure you miss him, too. You guys are joined at the hip,” commented Brandy.

“Yea, fill his plate up with everything, and a big slice of cake because he is going to need his energy for what Brenda has in store for him,'' said Brianna, and they all burst out laughing.

While Brice was paying for dinner, Charm was waiting in front of the waterfall wall, close to the exit. Brice touched the small of her back and kissed her on the cheek. She turns and says, “I’ve seen these before on television and in magazines, but seeing them in person. This is beautiful. Can you feel the coolness coming off the water?

” Yes, baby.”

” Thank you, Brice. The entire day has been absolutely wonderful.”

” I should thank you. You are a very special lady, and the years have only made you more beautiful than I remember. When I left for prison, you were thirty, with our three daughters. I would not have blamed you if you remarried. Words cannot express how thankful I am to Allah, and you waited for me. The love and respect I feel has not lessened, but has grown stronger.” Charm leans into his arms and he gives her a lingering hug in front of the restaurant.

In the car, on their way home, Charm says, “Brice you will have to be patient with our daughters. It is because of our lie, the hard feelings have embedded in their hearts.”

"I hope to rectify all the bad I have done to you and the girls. They will come to learn the person I truly have become. La ilaha illallah.”

“What?” Charm asked. Brice looks at her, confused.

"What is that lala thing you just said?” “There is no God truly worthy of worship except Allah. I say this as a reminder to always give God alone, praise and thank Him for the changes made within me in accepting Islam as my faith.” Charm, reared back and looking at Brice with a look of exploration, says, “I am a Christian and believe in Jesus Christ, as my savior.” And with that, the conversation became quiet. Brice silently reflected. Allah to worship you alone, it is not incumbent upon me to enforce anyone to follow Islam. My becoming a Muslim or choosing Islam as my faith is not what I set out to do. Yet, here I am. A loving and teaching example of what has gone before me is what I can do. I pray our differences in religion do not take her away from me or me from her. Amin.

“Good. The girls cleaned up the kitchen. Would you like some tea before bed?” Charm asked Brice.

"No thank you; a glass of lemon water will be fine."

Sophia keeps blowing up my phone. She has called over five times. Let me check the message. Mom, mom, hoo…, pick up, please pick up. Dad’s flight coming in from Paris is missing. Brenda turns into the driveway - shaking. Sophia has been looking out the window for her mom and comes out to meet her. She can see Sophia’s been crying. Brenda’s heart fell to her stomach and the drum inside her head began pounding. She held onto her daughter as they went into the house nervously to find out what had happened.

Stay tuned and keep following. Part 5, reveals some of the unanswered questions. ~ Clover Journesy

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