Post Road Magazine #17

Don't Try Me

Dixon Hearne

White bitch up in that school office said she goin’ call the police. I don’t know what the hell she talkin’ ’bout. I ain’t done nothin’. LaTreese one that started it, talkin’ ’bout she goin’ whup my ass. Cut me!

“All right, all right. Calm down,” other white bitch say, with her hair slicked back like a mangy-ass alley dog. “Have a seat.”

“I don’t want no seat,” I tell her. “Sit your own ugly ass down, ’cause I ain’t movin’!”

White bitch sit down and crack a smile across her ugly face and got crooked brown teeth. Look like somebody done shot a couple out. She think I don’t know what she up to, her and that black bitch settin’ up in the co-principals’ office. Ms. White,she call herself. Ms. White, my ass! She blacker’n me. And skanky, too, like them two white bitches up in there, all high and mighty in they butt-ugly dresses.

“Cheveldra,” the black one lean forward and say to me, “we goin’ have to call ya grandmother and the police both. You done been warned.”

I draw back a hand to slap the smart right off her face, but she grab my wrist, put her evil eye up in mine, and grit her brown teeth. “I’m within her rights, girl, so don’t even try,” she say real nasty. And then, pretty soon, here come a couple of tight-ass policemen—one a woman, dyke prob’ly—walkin’ like they both got a ass fulla tacks. The principal quick slam the door and tell ’em I’m a felon. Say I done hit LaTreese with a ball bat and cut her with my knife, which is a lie. The damn knife LaTreese’s. I took it from her ’fore she could cut my ass up like a paper doll. Bitch pulled it on me in the hallway, and ain’t nobody seen it happen but me. I grab it ’way from her and put a fist in her jaw and she start yellin’ I done cut her up.

“The bitch tried to cut me!” I yell. “Drawed that knife on me!” No use tryin’ to tell ’em, though. Straight down to the jailhouse they take me in the vomity-smellin’ backseat of a raggedy-ass cop car. I kick the hell out of it the whole way, I’m here to testify, statin’ my case over and over to the two stiff-asses. But now the black cop at the station, she one butch dyke. Throws me round like a sack of trash, tryin’ to stuff me into a cell. I don’t help her out one bit, I tell ya, that for damn sure. Kill the ass-face bitch if I could.

Thing is, my granny got my baby, and I can’t see her for a while. Law done said they goin’ take her away from me if I don’t stay in school and act right. And Granny, she don’t want no baby round, always threatenin’ to put us out. Hell, don’t nobody in my family want no more babies round. And I can’t get no job till I graduate—and here they done kicked me outta school. How I s’pose to act when somebody come at me with a knife? LaTreese, she ain’t kicked out. But like I say to that black police bitch, “I’m sho gonna kick her ass to the dump when I get outta here.”

They keep me twenty-four hours, then turn me loose to Granny when she finally show up. I ain’t got much use for her no more neither. She don’t believe me any more than the police and them two principal bitches.

“I give up, Cheveldra!” Granny yell at me. And keep yellin’ at me all the way to the bus stop. “You got to go to juvenile court next month,” she spit at me when we finally off the bus. “And I got to be there with you. You done worked my last nerve to the quick! I ain’t goin’ with you no more after that. No, ma’am! You be eighteen in six months. A woman on your own. I’m through takin’ in and takin’ care of my family.”

“I ain’t askin’ you for nothin’,” I snap back at her. “The law what make me stay here with you. Hell, I’d be gone yesterday if I could.”

“Gone where?” Granny mouth pinches real tight at the corners, and her neck veins rise and stretch. “Ain’t nobody goin’ take you in, sister! Take care of that squallin’ baby, feed y’all, put up with you. Hell, I’d have shipped you off ’fore now if I’d had a taker!”

That’s where we let it fall. I set out of school a week—jus’ watchin’ Springer and Montel and playin’ with little Chenille—she the sweetest thing, but she do cry all the time and got a real bad temper. And LaTreese, she don’t bother me no more at school when I do get back. I jus’ show her my tongue and head off someplace else when I see her ugly face comin’.

But I know I gots to see her come court day. And then here they come, her and her fat, goggle-eyed mama and bald-headed old daddy, struttin’ in the courtroom like uptown white folks. Granny, she make a little nod at ’em, but I don’t even look. LaTreese the bitch done caused me all this mess, and I ain’t forgettin’. She lucky I didn’t cut her throat with her own damn knife when I had the chance, all I got to say.

Judge Canter, he a black man—which surprise me—and he sho ain’t friendly none. Lookin’ down at me through Coke-bottle glasses, with a pouty face like a Moon Pie. He proceed to give us all a lot of heretos and court talk I don’t know one damn thing about, till finally down come his little hammer, and next thing I know, he got me settin’ up there beside him like a witness. I thought we was jus’ all goin’ stand up like they do on People’s Court and yell at each other till the judge make a decision. I guess he ain’t that kinda judge.

Anyway, he say to tell him what happened, and I do. Then he get real mad and tell me he goin’ put my young ass under the jail if I point and call LaTreese “bitch”one more time. Make me so mad I could take that little hammer and shove it up his blind old fat black ass. And then I get real pouty, which don’t please nobody but me, and the judge tell me to step down.

Then he call the bitch up and tell her to tell him what happened. I turn round, and there sets the principal and the black and white co-principals—all jus’ noddin’ right along with every word that lyin’ LaTreese say. And ain’t nobody there on my side. Not even my own granny.

“She’s lyin’!” I yell out. “That bitch lyin’ through her teeth. It was her goddamn knife! I jus’ took it from her.” Miss LaTreese get all wide-eyed and shake her head no, and that’s when my ass come unglued from the chair and I find myself collared by a white cop ’fore I can reach the little bitch settin’ up there lyin’ to the court. Judge say I ain’t got no more warnin’s and make the white cop stand right beside me the whole rest of the time. Cop smell like sweat and Aqua Velva, and now I gots to smell it for three damn hours.

And that’s how I landed my ass here in juvenile hall, to answer your question. But hell, I don’t really give a damn no more. Soon as I’m out, I’m takin’ my baby and we goin’ to New Orleans. I get somethin’ to do down there. Don’t care if it’s whorin’. I’m pretty good, I been told—Chenille daddy, for one. He stay down there somewhere, last I heard. Maybe run into his sorry ass. We be okay, though, soon as we get settled.

They let me take some classes here in juvie and get my GED. I ain’t dumb like they think. “Cheveldra,” one white juvie teacher say to me, “you too smart to waste it like this.” I tell her she a dumb bitch and mind her own damn business. She don’t like it none, but she don’t talk down to me no more neither. They say Granny can bring Chenille twice a week, which she do. She can’t wait till I’m out, though, so she don’t have to take care of her no more.

And I sure as hell ain’t told Granny ’bout my plans to leave, to go to New Orleans. Ain’t told nobody. ’Cept you. Child service jus’ waitin’ for any good reason to take my baby. Jus’ waitin’. I done mapped it all out in my head. Done saved enough money for bus fare all the way to Baton Rouge. We catch us a ride with somebody from there. I done heard they got money floatin’ round in New Orleans after Katrina, so I plan to claim we homeless from the hurricane and done lost my family. Like I told that last white bitch, I ain’t dumb. We’ll make it if I have to turn tricks night and day. And this town can kiss my pretty black ass. Jus’ don’t let me lay eyes on that damn LaTreese Jenkins ’fore I go. I’d kill the bitch, no lie, and end up in prison somewhere in Dykeville and lose my baby to the mean-ass world out there. She got a temper, that chile—won’t take no shit from nobody, that much I already know. I growed up to be my own sorry mama, and I don’t want her growin’ up to be me, if I got a choice.

Well, I guess we better get our ass back in line. Warden bitches here’ll turn you in if you fart crooked. I sho ain’t lookin’ for no trouble ’tween now and eighteen. And if you get me into any, I’ll cut your ass too. Don’t try me.

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