It was Epsom salt time!
I was feeling out of sorts, out of my mind and more confused after talking to Vickie. The only thing I could think about right now, at this moment, was soaking in my tub filled with Epsom salt. Tomorrow would be here before I knew it and I, along with my parents would be heading south. As I began to run the water in my Sanford cast iron, clawfoot tub someone was ringing my buzzer. “Not now” (I yelled to the air). I continued running my water and pouring the salt thinking about how all my troubles were going to fade away once I stepped my body into this elixir. Somebody was still ringing my buzzer.
“Who is it!” (I yelled through the buzzer).
“It’s us Thomasina, let us in.”
“Who is us? (I yelled back).
“Artesia Ms. Tommie. It’s Artesia. Jay and Anderson are with me. Can we come in?
“Artesia! What’s going on?
“Hey Ms. Thomasina, this is Jay. We just want to talk to you. It won’t take long. Come on, buzz us in please.”
“It’ not a good time. I was just about to take a bath.”
“Girl, come on now. Put on a robe. It won’t take long. We need to talk to you right now.”
“OK, OK Anderson. Give me a minute and I’ll buzz y’all in.”
I turned the water off, grabbed my robe and house shoes and buzzed the trio in. I’m not sure why they were here but it looked like the only way I was going to get rid of them was to see what they wanted. Oh my God. (I thought to myself) I have not talked to any of them since I left on vacation. I hope Linda broke the news to them so I won’t have to look like the tyrant. God, I hope that their severance package was fair, I pray that they got jobs at good properties. Poor Artesia, she’s so shy, hopefully she’s going to be OK with another manager. Anderson, Anderson sounds like he’s pissed at somebody – I hope it’s not me. If any of them can handle the situation it’s Jay. He’s a free spirit and he probably can’t wait to take whatever money they gave him and start his own business. Anyway, Anyway…
“You go open the door or what Boss!” (Jay yelled).
“Hey, come on in y’all. So what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”
“What you got to drink in that fridge Miss Powell?
“Help yourself Jay. It should be something in there to your liking. Artesia, Anderson, you want something to drink, something to eat, some chips or something, there’s some barbecue fritos on the counter, help yourself.”
“So when you leaving? (Anderson asked).
“Tomorrow. I’m heading out tomorrow morning.”
“Well what about us Miss Thomasina. What’s going to happen to us?” (asked Artesia).
“Didn’t Linda talk to you all. Linda did tell you about Mort selling Paradise, didn’t she?”
“Yeah, yeah Boss. Linda told us, she told us everything. Good looking out – Linda told us that you wanted to make sure we got treated right, fair. We all got offers to go somewhere else. I for one go take my small severance and chill for awhile. I don’t know if I want to be a janitor at another property. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I want to be a janitor period.”
“Well Jay. What do you want to do?” (I asked).
“Right now I wanna finish off this golden champale I’m drinking.” (we all laugh).
“Artesia. What about you. What do you want to do sweetheart?”
“I’m not sure Miss Thomasina. I was thinking about going to Community College. You know, take some classes in something. I don’t know though. I’ll be 20 in a few weeks and all I can think about right now is buying me a new used car – something a little more reliable than what I got now. What you think I should do Miss Tommie – should I go to another property and pick up where I left off?”
“I don’t know Tesia. Do you like working in Property Management?”
“Paradise is my first job. I don’t know if I like it or not. I know I liked working for you and working with Anderson. I even like working with Jay sometimes….
“What’s that suppose to mean shy girl?” (Jay asked).
“I mean, I like working in property management at Paradise because you, Anderson and Miss Thomasina work there. Most of the tenants are like my friends, like uncles and aunts that I never really had. I’m not sure if I like the job more than the people that work and live there. It probably won’t be the same somewhere else.”
“Anderson, you got to be thinking about maybe retiring now. I’m sure Mort was generous to you – long as you been keeping that property in working order. What you think old man? You got it in you to maintain another building at this time?”
“I got your old man Miss Powell. But seriously. Ever since Lula Mae passed I’ve been asking myself that same question, better yet, been asking myself who I’m working so hard for now at my age – You know I’ll be 62 next month?”
“That’s all! (yelled Jay). I thought you was at least 80 man, you only in your sixties?”
“Alright young blood. Show some respect to the old man who taught you how to use tools and then some.”
“I’m just playing with you man. You don’t look a day over 60.”
“I know that’s right. If Lula Mae was still alive – she would agree with you. God knows I miss that woman. My only regret is that we could not have children.”
“Why not Anderson?” (I asked).
“We tried. Lord knows we did. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”
“Anderson, where you and Lula Mae from?”
“Well Thomasina. We came to Detroit so long ago – it feels like we from here. We came here, me and Lula, when we were in our teens. We went to high school together, and once we graduated, we followed my brother Don this way. Don had got a job at the Ford plant and helped us out till we got our footing. We came from Clayton. Clayton Alabama.”
“When’s the last time you been down south Anderson?”
“Oh Thomasina. It’s been a long spell. I’m not sure if anybody I know is still there, in Clayton. Me and Lula Mae got here and never looked back. We stayed in touch for awhile with friends and kin folk – after our parents died, we went to the funerals. After that, we never went back.”
“What you doing tomorrow Mr. Anderson?”
To be continued