It was a really hot and humid day in Southeast Texas, but the yard had to be mowed. My normal yardman only worked for me on a part time basis. He was there working, but I decided to help out with the mowing. If he could clean the flowerbeds and push mow, then I would use the riding mower and mow the back of the property then we’d be done faster. Zeno was all enthused about that idea.
Zeno had always said he had never seen a woman work as much and as hard as I did, except for his little wife, Toni. He sure did brag about her, which was a good thing. And, from time to time, when we worked together in the yard he would tell me about his kids. He called his youngest child, Angel. Even though she had been born with birth defects, Zeno would say that she was really smart and something to be really proud of. His daughter, Yvette, was a good girl and acted like another mama to the baby. Zeno said his boy, Nathan, was a typical teenager and tried to get away by the short way and sometimes did not do a good job. He said he had tried to instill in his kids the desire to do things the right way.
Today, Yvette is a mama with a bouncing little boy. Nathan is now a Drill Sergeant in the Marine Corp. He is a big man - a very nice looking man. His Angel, is now dancing with the angels in Heaven.
Back when we were working together, this was one of our days to work side by side. We had spent a cooling off period under the shade tree after we had completed the front yard.
“Well, I guess I’ll get after the back yard and you can finish raking the front, if you don’t mind.” I said to Zeno.
“No problem. Don’t you stay out there though and get too hot.” Zeno was always worried that I was going to have a heat stroke or heart attack on him.
I had probably completed the second lap around the back yard, which is about a fourth of a city block, when I happened to look up and see some older man dressed in all white on the porch across the street. Every once in a while he would dab his face with what looked like a white washrag.
“That’s not such a bad idea,” I thought to myself. “Next time I go into the house, I’m going to get me and Zeno a cold rag to dab our faces with.”
At first I thought him to be Chris’ husband. Chris was a wonderful neighbor who took especially good care of her children. When those babies walked out of the house, you’d think they were going to Church she had them dressed to the nines! But, then I noticed that the car was gone and that no one seemed to be at home. The more attention I paid to the man on the porch, the more I came to realize that this man wasn’t Chris’ husband. He was a mystery man to me. Then…I got a REAL shock!
Mystery Man would appear to motion for me to come over across the street to the house. Then he would remove the white washrag and hold it in front of his crotch. When I would mow facing him, he would remove the rag and start stroking his “little john boy”. Now, being reared among a bunch of boys all my life, that wasn’t a real surprise that he might have an itch that needed scratching – but when it continued I knew that this man was sick in the head.
On about the second lap around the yard, I started looking to see if my shirt was buttoned properly or my pants undone. I thought if there were anything array, it might cause this yo-yo to think that I would come his way. Nope, everything seemed to be in order. In fact, I determined that I looked so hideous that I couldn’t understand what the heck his reasoning was for trying to get my attention. Surely the man didn’t find some sweaty, hobo-looking working girl wearing totally mismatched tee shirt, shorts that well covered the subject, all of the necessary undergarments, with my long hair pulled up under a baseball cap, no makeup, sneakers with holes in the soles and toes of both of them – attractive enough to want to play with him!
I stopped the mower and looked around it, appearing to check for something wrong. I left it running and walked up front to find Zeno. Now, Zeno was my buddy, but I didn’t exactly know how to tell him what was going on without embarrassing us both in the process.
“Zeno, would you go look through the window of the old stable, watch me mow, and when I get to the other side and head south on Pennsylvania, watch the ‘ole boy across the street on the porch of the white house with red trim. Then you tell me if you see what I think that I see.”
“Why, Lin, what is he doing?” Zeno asked.
“Zeno, you ain’t gonna believe this one! Just look and tell me what you see.”
I got back on the mower and headed around that way. I didn’t want to look at him, because if anything was to come of this, I did not want him to say I had encouraged him in any way, shape, form or fashion. So, I kept my head downward and looked at the ground. Every now and then I would peak out from under the baseball cap that I was wearing to check on Mystery Man. Sure enough, there he would go again …. “just a strokin’.”
The second time around, Zeno walked out and bent down as if to examine the mower. “Yep, Lin, he’s getting it on.” He said.
“Well what should we do?”
“I don’t know” Zeno said.
“Ok here’s what we are gonna do. You go inside the house and call the law, then call Jerry Edward. Jerry can at least observe while the police are on their way. Then you get the camera – we just put the zoom lens on and you start taking pictures of this pervert. If it is attention he wants, it’s attention he’ll get. In the meantime, I’ll just keep my eyes down and hope the law comes quick.”
Jerry Edward is my cousin that lived next door. I was sure hoping that he would be home because I knew he would have a ring-side seat to all of this. And, luckily not only was Jerry Edward there, but he had a friend over as well and Pam, his wife drove up in the midst of all this and witnessed it all. All three served as witnesses.
I knew that with every round I made on the mower, that Jerry Edward, Pam and his friend were probably laughing their buns off at the sight and what all was going on across the street. Who would have thought?
My patience was wearing thin and I was beginning to think that not only would the officers not arrive in a timely fashion, but that the yo-yo would get tired of the charade and leave.
Finally – the law arrived.
“Sir, can you come to the fence?” I heard the female officer ask him. She was young and slim. I figured she had small children and probably a lot of patience and was going to let him walk.
“Do you live here?” She asked.
“Sho do” he said.
“He’s a liar” I hollered at the officers.
She walked over and asked me what had taken place. Jerry Edward, his friend Jerry, and Pam and I all gathered around and explained the last forty five minutes of my life. Before the officer walked back across the street to where yo-yo was standing, I suggested that she ask him to unlock the house door. It was logical that if he lived there, he would certainly have a key to the locked door. I knew Chris had reasons not to trust many of her own family members and I also knew that none of them would have a key to her house.
The officer took me up on the idea and asked him to open the door. As I suspected, he couldn’t open the door! Yo-Yo turned around and said, “That white bitch is just trying to get me in trouble. She’s been trying to get rid of the niggers in this neighborhood. She be prejudiced!”
“You got part of that right Homeboy!” I shouted. “I’m sure trying to get rid of the trash – and I don’t care what color they are! They come in all nationalities and I ain’t prejudiced,” I shouted again.
“LinMarie, be quiet. He’s going to come over here and jump all over you,” Pam said. I think of Pam as the peacemaker. She tries to see good in everyone and sometimes that just agitated me! Now was one of those times. How could she see good in this yo-yo after what she had just witnessed?
“Oh, well, the law is here. Let them take care of it.” I thought.
Officer Monday showed up about that time and I realized that the younger officer had called a Sergeant in for a conference. She wasn’t sure what to arrest the deviate on, but at least, she was trying to come up with a charge that would stick.
Officer Monday made his way over to talk to us. “LinMarie, I don’t know if we can keep him or not. We didn’t see him actually doing anything like you all have described.” Zeno walked up about that time and said, “Well, Officer, you might not have seen it, but its right here on film if you want to see it!”
“Hold on then, that changes the scenario!” Officer Monday said over his shoulder as he walked back across the street. Immediately the four officers who were now on the scene went into a conference. They must have agreed that they had a case against yo-yo because the young lady officer asked yo-yo to turn around and put his hands behind his back. When he did, she slapped the handcuffs on him so fast and escorted him to her waiting patrol car. She rolled the window down so that air could get into the back where he was. When the officers’ backs were turned, he would mouth trash my way.
Finally I got fed up and hollered, “Look Homeboy, I’ve always been told that black men were hung, you must’ve got short changed because my son had more than that when he was born!” Yo-yo went radical. I had insulted his manhood!
Officer Monday ask if we could all give statements. “Sure” we all said simultaneously. The timing was perfect on each statement and we had set up their case for them and even got congratulated over the photo aspect of it all. Without the photos, they would have let yo-yo go.
Chris came home about the time the officers started to leave. She told the officers that he was her brother and no, he did not live there. No one had a key to her house except her. I figured when she walked across the street that she would be ready to give me a tongue-lashing. Instead, she hugged our necks and told us to do what we had to do. “Brother or no brother, he won’t do that around my babies and I don’t want him doing it to you, my friends,” she said. That was the Chris we all knew and loved – our good neighbor!
A few months later we were all subpoenaed to appear at a Parole Revocation Hearing. Every one of us showed up. So did all the law who were there that day. I had gotten there a little early at the request of the Parole Officer. I noticed a lady sitting in the hallway next to me. We soon struck up a conversation.
“What are you here for?” I asked curiously.
“My fiancé’ is being tried today.”
“What’s his name?”
When she told me, I could have fallen out of my chair! Here sat this beautiful lady dressed fit to kill. She was the epitome of “having it all together” and she was engaged to YO-YO!
Talk about opposites attracting!
I told her who I was and that I was sorry for her sake to have to continue with the charges. She told me that Yo-Yo had rejected his right to a jury trial and would just go before the parole board alone. She said she did not understand what had caused him to do what he had done. She had a good home where he lived and he had a good mother and good children who loved and cared for him. She began to cry. I could see that she was really hurt.
I hugged her neck and said a little prayer of my own. “God give me the courage to face the outcome of this man’s trial. His life is in the hands of the officers of this court. Give this precious lady the strength to go on without him and perhaps realize that she is worth much more than this and deserves the best in life.”
We were all called into the conference room where we were sworn in. We were told not to discuss the case among ourselves in the hallway. Yo-yo was there. He saw there were 9 witnesses about to testify against him. There were photos that showed what he was doing.
In the hallway, Pam and I chit-chatted about plants and landscaping. The lady sat alone, no other family members were there for Yo-yo.
The door opened, the leading officer appeared, “Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for your appearance. The gentleman has chosen to plead guilty. It will not be necessary for you to appear before this court. You are dismissed.”
We had all gotten dressed up in our finery, had experienced the nervousness of having to testify in court, just to be told to go on home. As we began to turn to go down the hall, I started to turn back to the man’s fiancé’. “No,” I thought, “she still needs time to deal with this on her own.”
That night I sat outside as I do a lot in the evenings. I kept trying to understand why things and people are the way they are. If I could figure that out, I’m sure I could be rich. I guess that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around but people like Yo-yo need some special help. Maybe back in prison he would get that help. Yo-yo is serving the last of his eighteen years without the mention of parole.
I have often wondered about the woman he would have married. I wondered if she had been able to get on with her life. It has been years now since this took place – it was even prior to becoming a Private Investigator. For her sake, I trust and hope that life has been good to her and that she found someone special to share her life with. Life is for living, not just existing. If God shuts a door, he opens a window – and a window to peer out of may be all that Yo-yo has for a long time.