The Professor Ch. 14

Haziran 20, 2024 Yazar admin 0


Our short ride home was tense and silent. When we got home we changed into comfortable clothes and helped Mom get the lunch on the table. She had baked a ham and scalloped potatoes while we were at church. It was all ready to serve when we walked in. Lissia helped Mom with the ham — slicing off delicious slabs while I loaded the table with the potatoes, rolls, butter and iced tea. There was always a relish plate with green onions and radishes — Dad’s addiction as he calls them. I heard Mom shoo Lissia to me, “Go ahead child, Steven needs your sweet arms around him.” That put a lump in my throat.

She walked on cat paws over to me, “Hi Baby. How’re you doing?” She kissed my neck and I held her to me, my eyes smarting — Mom knew me too well. “I love you my sweet man. You have such a great, good heart I could only stand there while you called out those people in your church — I can’t do what you did.”

“Not such a good heart Lissia if you knew what I was thinking at the time,” I confessed quietly to her. I looked at her and her smile softened and her eyes were gentle like a spring rain refreshing the dryness of my heart, “I love you Lissia — I don’t care what they or anyone else says ever.” I kissed her a lover’s confessional kiss — one of assurance not lust.

She patted my chest, “Let’s put some comfort food in us. Your Momma made a peach pie too,” she was smiling and caressing my hair and face. We turned around to take a seat and saw Mom and Dad smiling — we joined them at the table and Dad offered a blessing. We ate our fill and sat around after lunch sipping coffee and eating pie, just talking like families do on Sunday afternoons in the South.

After lunch we cleaned up the dishes and were sitting in the den when my brother finally showed up. They walked into the den and to their shock saw Lissia and me with our arms intertwined sitting on the sofa. They could hardly speak. I stood up and called them over whispering to Lissia, “Stay seated.” “Hal, Georgie I like you to meet Dr. Phylissia Wright — Dr. Wright this is my brother Harold or Hal as we call him and my younger brother George or Georgie.”

My Dad stood up and gave them the look, “Dr. Wright and your brother are engaged to be married. So welcome her to the family boys.” His words had a familiar edge to them that Lissia didn’t pick up but well-known to us.

“Good afternoon Dr. Wright — it’s nice to meet you,” Hal grudgingly admitted with Georgie following suit, “Good afternoon Doctor it’s nice to meet you.” Talk about awkward this had all the marks of being the worst introduction ever.

Dad told them, “Sit down boys and spend some time getting to know your future sister-in-law. She’s not only beautiful she’s is brilliant and Steven loves her very much which means your Momma and I love her the same way — the way we expect you both to treat her as priceless person she is…because she loves your brother.” No pressure here — whew.

We all chatted for a while and when Lissia interrogated my brothers on their academics they turned into cowards choosing to evade the topic with Hal stating, “We’re not as smart as Steven,” and Dad stepping in by saying, “You’re lazy it’s not about being smart.”

Dad let them up off the mat and they excused themselves as we stood to go back to Lissia’s home. She needed to wash clothes for her committee meeting at the university tomorrow and we were going to a movie in Rice Village. We hugged Mom and Dad, thanking them for their love and support. Lissia kissed my parents like a loving daughter would — with Mom holding onto her, “My babies I love you.”

“We love you too Mrs. Edwards…”

Mom stopped her, “It’s Mom not Mrs. Edwards.” They hugged each other and shocked me to death. Dad and I stood with our mouths open yet again. I would learn later from Dad that she was so angry at my brothers’ behavior that she scolded them and told them that if they ever acted like that again to their sister that they could pack up and leave now. Boy when she changes she radically changes.

Lissia and I went to the car where I opened her door and let her in her seat as she reached across and unlocked my door. We waved to Mom and Dad headed toward her home. She was quiet for a while then, “How can your brothers be so different from you?”

I shook my head as though I was trying to clear some cobwebs, “I don’t know the answer to that other than what my Dad said to Hal about being lazy — it takes work to personally learn about someone else and to be involved in their life; it’s easier just to accept as accurate bigoted statements that you hear because you’re too lazy to check the facts. I guess the short answer is what Dad said, ‘they’re lazy.’

“Have they always been lazy? I mean you work like a field hand do they help out around the house?” she was astonished that they could get away with it.

“Well it’s sort of my fault I’d always go behind them when we were working to make sure that the work got done the way Dad or Mom Escort bayan wanted and I fixed what they screwed up…so,” I clenched my lips and teeth in a tight line, “my mistake and it happened so frequently they just expected me to fix what they broke. Dad found out what I was doing and he laid into me told me to stop fixing their mistakes and when I stopped they got burned. Then they called me a tattletale and some ugly things and told their friends that I was a snitch so you can imagine how I’ve been treated for trying to do the right thing. I learned a serious lesson, once you start fix what someone else breaks they never take responsibility for fixing it they just keep breaking stuff. Now it’s better to do what my parents need done without involving them. They’ve spent so much time screwing around they don’t know how to do things properly,” I regretted opening that can of worms, “Sorry baby you didn’t ask for an interpersonal discourse and I gave it to you.”

She started laughing, “You gave me what I asked for in the social dynamics of the family. I couldn’t have scripted your answer better if I had handed it to you. Steven your parents love your work ethic and I especially do — it tells me I won’t have to hound you to help around the house or such as that.”

“You’re right – you won’t have to hound me, I generally start early and that makes Hal and Georgie mad because Dad comes in and scolds them for lying in bed. I finish early so I can study or do other things on my list while they’re still dawdling,” I shared.

“Do you know how to rest?” she pushed the string some more.

“I do when I’m with you but there’s a dichotomy because I want to be the very best for us…so…I’m afraid to relax too much,” I admitted.

“Why baby?” as she grabbed onto my forearm.

“I realize how fragile young relationships are and I never want to give you cause to wonder if you’ve made a mistake,” I told her what was hiding in my heart.

We turned up her street and I didn’t remember driving past her house, “where are you going baby?”

I was so embarrassed, “Sorry, sometimes I can’t concentrate on anything but us when we open up like this,” I turned around in her preacher’s driveway and drove a few houses to hers, parking close to the garage and getting out to open her door.

She put her arms around me as she got out, “My sweet Steven — you are such a gentle man with a great good heart I don’t know how I deserve you — I don’t. I need to be with you all the time — I…I…well…I want to know what you’re thinking and feeling and doing…I want to touch you and hold you close to my heart. I feel so guilty stealing so much of your time from your family especially with your Dad being sick and they love you so much…I don’t know how we do this,” she shook her head and then rested her forehead on my chest.

“Let’s go inside baby so we can get you unpacked and relax for a while. We’ve had a harrowing few days that we need to be alone with one another for a while,” I kissed her slowly and sweetly. I loved her so very much that I wanted to cradle her in my arms forever and keep her safe from the world’s hate but I knew that wasn’t possible — she’d seen far more than my young years would see by the time I reached her age.

We went in through the front door picking up the Sunday Chronicle — we needed to check the movie schedules. We got her unpacked and she began washing a load of clothes for tomorrow and we sat on her sofa and talked for a long while. We had to analyze and reanalyze all that had happened with her family, my family and my church — then she interrupted us and observed, “We’re letting what others do affect us way too much. This is our life and I don’t want someone else’s monkeys on our back.”

I laughed, “You’re right Dr. Wright,” I winked at her.

She rolled over on top of my and started tickling me, “Oh you! If you weren’t so big and strong I’d spank you.”

I held her tightly as she struggled to free herself, “You know I can’t resist you — whatever you want from me you know I’ll do it,” I whispered to her as though we were in a crowded room and I wanted the intimacy of this moment to linger.

“I know you’ll do what I want and I never want to take advantage of your sweetness and generosity. Steven I didn’t know love could be like this with such gentle, sweet passion. I had no idea such a young man could be so confident and mature in his desire and knowing what he wants. You have completely taken me aback from what I thought I knew — you and your love sneaked up on me and captured me forever and I love you. So there,” she punctuated her commitment.

I helped her fold her clothes and square the laundry room away. We decided that we’d go to the Gulfgate cinema to see the ‘Sound of Music.’ This was the most popular movie at the moment and we knew we were going to be eyeballed a lot but we were going and we did. There were a lot of shocked people to see us together although no one seemed Bayan escort to have the courage to speak openly to us — mostly middle aged adults and some young couples. Sometimes it’s hard to be ugly when those whom you strive to attack are imposing. We were a tall couple by the standards of the day and based upon the way we felt toward one another I have no doubt that most of the folks there sensed how we felt and gratefully let us alone. The theater was cool and dark, the music was refreshing and it felt like a real date. In those days the only things sold at the concession stand were Cokes, popcorn, coconut logs, Tom Peanut Butter logs and jujubes. We shared popcorn and a Coke. Lissia rested her head against my shoulder and we held hands as we enjoyed the movie and this ‘quiet’ time together. After the movie an older couple came over to us and spoke. The man said, “Pardon me for interrupting you two but I wanted to come over and say how courageous and beautiful that we think you are,” they smiled and we suddenly realized they were a white man a black woman, although a very fair woman.

I introduced us, “I’m Steven Edwards and this is Dr. Phylissia Wright,” as I extended my hand. We all shook hands as they introduced themselves as Dr. and Mrs. Kerbow from Lincoln, Nebraska.

They met right after World War II at a Naval Hospital in Philadelphia where he was a surgeon and she his surgical nurse. We stood and talked for a while and they invited us to have some pie and coffee at mall café. We gladly joined them and spent a delightful evening talking about their history. They quickly asked about us and were surprised at our difference in age and then the whole story came out — well not everything. Mrs. Kerbow was smiling from ear to ear holding Lissia’s hand, “You are so beautiful child I can’t believe that you’re older than Steven and a PhD — indeed!”

“Mrs. Kerbow you flatter me. Steven tells me all the time that I’m beautiful I just thought that love was blind in one eye and couldn’t see out the other…” Her remark brought gales of laughter at the table.

“I’m glad you said that Mrs. Kerbow, she doesn’t know how stunning she is,” I admitted as I admired Lissia’s beauty.

Dr. Kerbow quickly agreed, “You are beautiful Dr. Wright. Steven and Mattie are correct.”

It was now Lissia’s turn to feel humbled for her beauty and her intelligence. She needed to know how stunning a woman she is. We sat with the Kerbows for about two hours. When we left they asked us to stay in touch and to please come to see them in Nebraska maybe we could get married up there in their home. We were shocked and thrilled to meet this mixed race couple. Our ride back to Lissia’s home was animated to say the least. She was talking at high speed and was so excited to finally meet a successful couple that she was going to write the Kerbows a letter as soon as possible so we could arrange a visit. We both felt a strong sense of community now that we had kindred spirits where love conquered the manmade barriers and cleaved the ‘Gordian Knot’ of fear that so tightly bound human relationships. We had had a very long day and were looking forward to some special time to share our day. We were both pretty excited. I was thrilled that other people got to tell Lissia about her intelligence and beauty — I know it’s important for lovers to admire one another but we are sometimes blinded by our love and to hear how others see us or perceive reinforces what our lover has said.

Our days began running together with Lissia having meetings and my having to get ready for training. A week out from my leaving I celebrated my birthday and my parents gave me a ‘birthday party’ — barbecue and family that’s all I really wanted. Lissia had become such an integral part of Mom’s circle that they planned it without my knowledge. I had taken Dad down to Galveston for his appointment with his cancer doc and when we got back they were nowhere to be found. Dad was tired so he took up his place with the dog in the recliner and kicked back. My older brother worked at a large retail company in a neighboring town and my younger brother was ‘somewhere’ probably with his girlfriend — I didn’t know at the time. I retrieved the brass for my uniforms and continued polishing it making sure there was no lacquer on any of it. After about an hour Dad woke up and came over to the kitchen table where I was polishing the brass, “Looking good young candidate.”

“Thanks Major,” I smiled.

He grinned, “You like doing this don’t you?”

“Yes sir I do actually,” I admitted.

“How about the boots and shoes?” she wondered.

“You can see your face in them sir,” I stood to get them.

“No, no that’s okay. I’ll see them another time. I’m proud of you Steven. Has Phylissia seen you in your uniform yet?”

“No sir. She’s seen the uniforms of course but not on me since I’m not authorized to wear them yet,” I told him — he knew the Army regs thoroughly.

He nodded, “She’s Escort gonna love her soldier.”

He was a trouble maker, “Don’t start stirring the pot Dad.”

“Who me?”

“Yes sir — you that’s who,” I pointed at him and just laughed.

We both heard Mom’s car pull in, “They’re back.”

We met them at the door with puckered lips and that brought a howl of laughter and some very nice kisses I might add. Even though Lissia had wakened me this morning singing Happy Birthday over the telephone she told me again and again and sealed it each time with a kiss. She was not happy that I wouldn’t let her drive out to the house — that I insisted on going to pick her up. So we had a running conversation about me being overly protective of her. I finally said, “It’s not negotiable. I am what I am says ‘Popeye’ — you’re stuck with me baby.”

“I’m hardly stuck with you I’m stuck on you and in love with you but not stuck with you like a consolation prize. I hit the jackpot with you,” she was so charming as her fears subsided and she more and more became that innocent lover she always wanted to be – she could never regain her virginity but her stained being was no longer feeling stained — she was loved and accepted without hesitation and that is what she had longed for in her life — wholeness.

It wasn’t long before our close friends showed up including our pastor Reverend Broughton and his wife Miriam. Several high school friends who would meet Lissia for the first time though they’d heard about her. She and Mom had baked and prepared a four-layer chocolate fudge cake; our neighbors brought homemade ice cream and the Harwells brought barbecue. When everyone had gathered included my Johnny-come-lately brothers and their girl friends they sang happy birthday to me — Lissia held my arm and stayed close by while Reverend Broughton and his wife chatted with us. Everyone had to come ‘meet’ my fiancé and she of course, was gracious and charming. I watched her interactions with our friends — she was amazing fielding questions and speaking at length on various topics including the Selma march and the Civil Rights movement. She exhibited no visible signs of fear but I stayed near her.

Reverend Broughton had prayer and we sat down to barbecue wherever we could find a place — we’d set up picnic tables on the patio and several tables inside. Lissia and I sat outside with Dad and Mom and the pastor and his wife. Lissia wouldn’t let me get tea or food or anything for myself — I was uncomfortable being ‘waited on’ — she pointed her finger at me, winked and smiled saying, “this is your birthday — I can spoil you today like you spoil me all the time.

My face turned red and Reverend Broughton smiled, “that is the right way to get a relationship off to a great start by spoiling your future wife.” His wife patted his arm, “That’s right if momma’s not happy nobody’s happy.”

Lissia leaned over and kissed me whispering, “but I’m gonna make you real happy.”

Dad raised a glass of tea and called everyone to raise their glass in a toast to my birthday which they did and wished me may more. Lissia came over and hugged me and kissed — she was dressed so beautifully and she smelled like citrus, I was completely overwhelmed by what was happening as was she. Mom and Dad hugged and kissed me telling me how proud they were of me. Then Dad stood up and pulled a small box out of his pocket, “Steven I have a tradition to pass along to you,” as he handed me the box, “these are my 2nd lieutenant bars from when I received my direct commission. I want you to wear these proudly, General Akers pinned them on me — they were his.”

My heart was pounding in my chest because that meant he knew he wouldn’t be there to pin them on me. I stood and hugged him with tears in my eyes. Lissia figured it out very quickly and stood and hugged Dad and Mom and then kissed and hugged me. As I watched Dad sit down he smiled and nodded, then patted my forearm, “You can do this Son you have a wonderful wife beside you just like your Mom is beside me. Be a leader Steven, lead with integrity always and remember I love you.”

Lissia had tears rolling down her beautiful face — I kissed them and dabbed them with a napkin, “I love you sweetheart,” I whispered softly to her as she stood up and abruptly left the table going into the house.

I started to get up but Dad grabbed my arm, “Wait a minute she’ll be back.”

She returned with a rather large box that was obviously heavy and set it in front of me, “Happy birthday my sweet man. This is part of your gift — I couldn’t carry all of it,” she smiled and then I stood and took her in my arms and kissed to applause and wolf whistles from good friends. My brothers were in shock. I open the wrapping paper and the box — it held volumes 1 & 2 of the Oxford English Dictionary in blue leather binding. I was in shock these were expensive, “Lissia! Oh my gosh sweetheart this is too much.” My hands were shaking. I set the books down and hugged her, “baby you shouldn’t have done this — I love them. Oh Lissia this is so sweet of you.”

“Now you can never misspell another word — the other eleven volumes are in the house,” she smiled, “Happy, Happy Birthday baby!”

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