Ides of the Heart, by Michael Robinson

Driving down Miller Boulevard, the chrome 26” Giovanni rims that rolled underneath the body of the flawless silvery-gray Mercedes Benz SL500 gleamed in the sunlight, just begging to be looked at. Turning on National Avenue, the woman driving the luxurious car was oblivious of the things around her. Of course, she glanced and looked at the scenery as she drove, but she wasn’t really in the right state of mind. She was at peace with herself, listening to Terrell Carter’s “Take A Bow,” the cover song to Rihanna’s hit single, thinking about how she was blessed with a job that allowed her to have a six figure salary and ability to travel almost anywhere for a vacation, with all expenses paid. Yes, she was in heaven, but there was something missing: a man that she can call her own. Turning into her driveway, the woman pulled up to her ten foot tall metal gate that surrounded her home, and stopped at the two closed gates. Leaning over her car door, she typed in the security code on the keypad, and waited as the gates opened to allow her access before driving in slowly.

Parking in her four car garage next to her black Suburban, she grabbed her purse, her suitcase and her coffee mug and headed into the house. Marisol, her friend and housekeeper, greeted her when she entered the kitchen. “Hola, Senora Beckley, how are you this afternoon?” Marisol asked, sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper from this morning. The woman went over and gave Marisol a huge hug.

“As good as I could possibly be, Marisol. Today was one of the quiet days at work, so I ended up going to the lakefront for an early lunch and looking at the water roll.” She opened the cupboard and got a glass out and filled it with lemonade that Marisol had made not too long ago. “Then I told my secretary that I was going to be gone the rest of the day, and I ended up going to see my mother and having a lovely chat about my being single, and how she wanted me to find me a man that I can settle down with in this big ol’ home and have a family with before I get too old.” She laughed. “You know how my mother is, always wants me to have a family and not be alone.”

“Ah yes, I do. She loves to tell me that I need me a man, too, Miss Beckley. I tried to tell her that I had some children of my own, and that I already had a husband, but she keeps telling me that I need me a man in my life.” Marisol chuckled. “She’s a dear. I guess she says that we have to find someone like she has, right?”

“Oh, no, Marisol, I don’t think anyone will ever be able to find someone like that. I mean, my father is one in a million. I mean, no one can belch like he can, sing like he can. No one can even try to do the same handshake that my dad gives everyone. My dad makes everything that he does unique, so I know that there isn’t one out here like him unless he’s a twin.”

Marisol giggled. “Miss Beckley, you never know. I mean, you might be surprised with how some of these men these days are acting.” She got up and took her coffee pot to the sink and rinsed them before putting them in the dishwasher. “Are you hungry dear?”

“Yes, ma’am, did you cook anything before I came in?” the woman asked, looking through the letters that Marisol had brought in from the mailbox. All she saw was bills, bills, and more bills. Sighing, she looked up at the middle-aged woman that was getting pots and pans out of the bottom cabinets.

“No ma’am, I didn’t. I didn’t know what time you would be in….”

“In that case, Marisol, let me help you cook. It’s been a while since I’ve really cooked a meal, and I want to get to feel how that feels like I used to. If you want to help out, that’s up to you…” She went around and pulled out some pots and placed them on the flat-topped stove, and spun around. “Now, what to cook…”

Going upstairs, she changed into some gray, loose jogging pants, a black short-sleeved tee and some house shoes, and went back downstairs with her long shoulder-length hair in a ponytail. Once she made it to the bottom of the landing she picked up her phone and dialed her mother. Her mother answered on the third ring. “Hello?”

“Hey, Mama, it’s Shay.”

“Hi, baby, how you doing? You make it home okay?”

“Yes, Mama, I’m fine. I was calling you to invite you to dinner over at my place. Marisol didn’t cook anything when I got home, so I decided to cook for a change, to let her rest a bit. I have no idea about what I’m going to cook, but it’s going to be delicious. Want to join us?”

“Shay, if it’s not too much of a bother, baby, I’ll be happy to join you for dinner. Is there anything that you want me to bring?”

“No, Mama, just bring you. I have everything else covered. See you over here in a little while.”

“Alright, and thanks ahead of time baby.”

“No problem, Mama. Bye.”



*          *          *

When Shay’s mom arrived at her home at 7 o’ clock on the dot, Shay and Marisol had the feast ready and waiting. Shay looked at her handiwork before they arrived and believed that she and Marisol had done an excellent job. They had cooked some pork chops, black-eyed peas with neck bones, candid yams, collard greens, chicken, cornbread, and three different kinds of desserts, peach cobbler, bread pudding, and some blackberry pie.“Come in, Mrs. Beckley, come in,” Marisol said, opening the door and greeting each with a warm hug. “It’s been a while since I’ve talked to either of you. How are you doing?”

“Good, Marisol, just fine,” Mrs. Beckley said, giving Marisol a hug. “What about you?”

“Oh, can’t complain. I’m doing the best I can with the Lord’s help.”

“That’s good. Where’s Shay?”

“Last I saw her, she was heading upstairs. That was about ten or so minutes ago… I haven’t seen her since.” Marisol closed the door and went to the foot of the stairs. “Miss Beckley! Your mother is here!”

“Okay! I’ll be down in a second!”

Marisol turned around and looked at Ms. Beckley and smiled. “I take it she’s changing into something that is appropriate for the occasion.”

“Oh, okay, well that’s fine. I’ll just go and wash up.” Mrs. Beckley set her purse down on the black leather couch that was in the living room and headed toward the bathroom.

Just as she closed the door, Shay came down the stairs, dressed in a black blouse with gray dress pants and one inch black sandals. She looked like she was going to work, but in a casual way. Shay looked around the room. “Where’d Ma go?”

“She went into the bathroom to wash up. You sit down, Miss Beckley. I’ll take care of everything else.” Marisol ushered Shay to the head of the table.“Thank you, Marisol. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“I know, Shay, you tell me that all the time.” Marisol chuckled. “Anyway, you’re like family to me. I’ve been here too long to leave.”

“You are family. From the day I asked you to be my house keeper, you’ve been my best friend and a part of my family. Everyone in my family loves you. You’re good with kids, you love your work, and you put up with me, especially when I’ve had a bad day at work.” Shay shook her head. “Marisol, without you, my house wouldn’t be a home. It would just be an empty house that has no cheer.”

“Oh, thank you, Miss Beckley. I feel a lot better now.” Marisol gave her another hug. “Now I think we should eat now before the food gets completely cold.”

“Girl, y’all ain’t started eating yet?” Mrs. Beckley asked, taking her seat at the table.Shay laughed. “Mama, I was just talking to Marisol about some things, that’s all. We were waiting on you so that we could all eat as a family.”

“Thanks baby, but you didn’t have to wait on me.”

“It’s fine ma, we all here now.”

Grabbing each other’s hand, Mrs. Beckley said grace and they all dug in.

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