Mr Green was having a baby. His face was resplendent with excitement as he announced it to me on that Sunday evening. His wife had lived in Pittsburgh for over two years now. It was where she worked as a full time midwife.
For this reason I had only met her a few times.
‘Manny is pregnant!’ he had announced with glee that evening as he returned from his job and met me working the garden that he had now stocked with various flowers, tomatoes, vegetables, and eggplant. A major part of it was also covered with the eggplant. Till date, I wonder why he so much loved the plant.
I was happy for him. Mr Green and I had grown so close throughout the time I had worked for him. For a white man, he was one among the rest. Apart from the good pay and the trust he so confidently put in me, he had also put in a lot of time in teaching me to read.
I dropped the garden tool in my hand
‘That’s good, Mr Green.’ A benign smile perforated his face from ear to ear.
‘I know, I know’ he said, rubbing his hands together ‘Manny’s gonna be coming over in a few days time. That means,
I’ll need you so much more around the house. ‘She’s already four months now. Said she didn’t want me to know so I wouldn’t get all tensed up and worried. I would not have though’
I recalled that I had never heard anything about Mr Green’s children, and hadn’t bothered to ask him if he had any.
Well, that was for another day. Now he said he needed me more around the house. Yet I had to go to Los Angeles the next day. I had planned to tell him when he returned. I just got an information from one of my sources that Los Angeles was closer to finding Uncle Terry.
I began searching for Uncle Terry five years ago, a few months after Nina was raped. At that time, I had been blinded by fury and the desire to avenge my sister and my family of all that we had suffered, so I began my search for Uncle Terry and the guy who had raped my sister.
What had pissed me off most was that Nina cared little about this guy who raped her. She had always been that- easygoing.
I hated easygoing
Many times I would ask Nina for bits of information to help me with my search for her rapist but she would be unwilling to give it out. One of such times, the conversation went like this
‘Nina , this would be the tenth, maybe twelfth time am asking ya. Who this guy that raped you? Gimme something here. Ama trying to help you’
‘Chap, I’ve told you I don’t know his name. I’ve also told you I think he’s a hood boy cos of his dressing. I don’t know more than that’ her voice had a sombre edge to it, like she was going to burst into tears any moment.
I refused to be moved by the shaky voice ‘I understand it’s hard for you, okay? I understand, I do. But hey, I’m not the villain here. That guy is, and I’m tryna find him.’
‘Why don’t you just forget about him?’ I could see pellets of glassy white form at her cornea. I knew tears were on its way.
I pushed some more ‘Nina, I cannot, I will never let the madman who raped my sister walk around Memphis with his head high. No!’ I had to convince her, so I moved to her side and held her hand.
‘Can’t you see? This boy will go on raping and assaulting young girls till whenever he is caught’
‘But it’s not your job to catch him’ she pleaded, withdrawing her hands. At this point I felt like one of those lovers Mr Green had always told me about in Shakespeare’s books, trying to cajole his mistress.
‘Nina, you of all people, you know that no one will ever look into this for us. Ever. You know we can’t trust the police or any of law enforcement, you know that.
She wasn’t going to give up either ‘Then let’s leave it to God’ she said with a tone of finality
‘Jesus Nina, you know God don’t care about black folk. He’s a white God for white folk and a few rich black folk. What did God ever do for us, huh?’
I looked into her eyes ‘We are poor, and God don’t do nothing for poor people. Poor people have to stick together and work for themselves. Perhaps someday we’ll get rich and God will take a look at us.’
She was now crying. She didn’t retort. I was glad.
Now I had to go to Los Angeles to pursue the lead I had on Uncle Terry. I had to come up with a story for Mr Green though. Nobody knew I was going after Uncle Terry. Not Father, not Bernie, not Nina, not Mr Green, not even Uncle Terry himself.
I felt proud about that. I was going to get Uncle Terry. I would nab him from behind like a lizard will trap its flies. I wouldn’t hand him to the police, how would I? He was a black man that had betrayed black folk. My own damn uncle. I would deal with him like family would deal with family that had betrayed them.
After LA, I would stick around the greater Memphis area, and I would find that rapist, the one who raped my sister. I now knew his name at least.
Bradford. Even Nina didn’t know I knew.