Papa died when I was four and I wasn’t to know him much. I remember a big man with a belly-laugh that shook our timbers. He’d get drunk some and then crash on the comfy chair and snore. I remember crawling on his knee and layin’ my head upon his chest, letting his beery-breath wash over me as I snuggled into his bear-hug arms. He was soft as soft as she was hard as hard. Momma would haul my little body off my papa’s belly and throw me to the floor.
‘Git your bony lil’ ass off up to ya own bed,’ she would spit and give a kick to my back as I scuttled away like a sewer rat caught chewing on the trash.
Some of Big Jo’s men came and beat my papa for fornicating wiv’ a woman called Jenni but I dint’ know what fornicating was, back when I was four. My momma let them in the house and all I saw of my papa after that was a big bloody mess on the floor. His legs were bent in a way like what legs aren’t supposed to go. His face was mashed potato and he had more blood on the floor than I knew a man had in his body. My momma telt me I had to say goodbye to papa and kicked me out to play. When I came back from my play, papa was gorn.
Momma said, ‘Chile, yo papa is dead.’
The floor had been scrubbed and all that was left of papa was a big pink stain on the floorboards like the big pink stain he left on my life.
Momma shacked up with Billy-Boy pretty soon after that so I’sa guessing he was on the scene before papa was gorn. Not that she woulda telt ya that.
I wasn’t keen on Billy-Boy but he didn’t do me no wrong so I just lived my own life and kept outta momma’s way. She was handy with a slap and that sharp tongue of hers so I did the housework when she telt’ me and skipped off orn out afterwards. If it wasn’t up to ‘her stannards’ I’d get it. Standards. Ha. She had no standards hersel’ ‘cos she was a simple scrubber lady who made her living on her back and let her daughter to do the real scrubbing in the house. She was no lady neither. And every day she had me scrub that pink stain some, on account that one day I’d scrub the old man outta her life.
You can tell I don’t like my Momma none.
Papa had been dead eleven long years. Billy-boy had been around more than me own papa and s’long as he got his booze, he was dandy. Until she pimped me to him.
She tried for babies wiv’ Billy-boy but lost two and couldn’t fall again. So she hatched hersel’ a plan.
She said to me, ‘Now chile, now yor a woman wiv’ ya bleedin, it’s yor turn.’
Like I said, I din’t like nor mind Billy-Boy so much before but I didn’t fancy him none. He was forty, fat and sweaty. I was fifteen and dint’ wanna be fornicating wiv’ anyone. And I definitely dint’ want no babbies.
She put the blues on the old wireless and gave me a glass of vinger vino.
‘To relax ya, girl,’ she said, with that spiky look in her eye.
I knew it was to get me drunk but there was her, him and me and no escape. So I drank. And then some more. I needed that drink. I needed to be drunk for what momma had in mind for me.
She played him too, dressing hersel’ up all fancy in lacy stockings and flashy, floaty silky stuff. Then she told him to get his ass on up and dance. He’d had a few beers an’ so had she, afore we crashed onto the floor, a jumble of arms and legs, right on papa’s pink stain.
The next weekend she plied me some more and cosied hersel’ up to old Billy-boy right in front of my eyes. She called it my ‘education’ and she showed me how to make a man happy. He was game on, sitting there whilst she worked her voo-doo witch magic on his man-piece. I watched, never seen those sorts of things in my life afore. I din’t know of carrying-ons like it and all that sexy stuff made me blush red-raw. She played it well, introdoocin’ me to the ways o’ the woman.
The weekend after that she telt’ me to dance with him, her Billy-boy. She gave me brassieres, stockings, vino and she made my face up with full on red lips an’ all. She even splashed me wiv’ her best sweet-smelling perfoom and laughed when it made me gag some. She put the slow sexy music on to play, just like she knew Billy-Boy liked. He licked his lips when he looked at me and we both knew he was up for it.
And so I had to dance with the devil and all that she meant.
It wasn’t long afore I fell. My momma loved me then. Gave me everything a girl could want if she had a momma who really loved her. And I didn’t have to have no more Billy-boy. He was all hers and I wasn’t to be touching him agin. Didn’t stop him wanting a bit of young ass flesh though ‘cos he still kept comin’ back for sweet meat. I dint’ mind too much ‘cos he called me ‘preeetty’ and hugged me like I’d not been hugged before. He even said he loved me and I thought that was kinda cute. And I’d a gotten used to a man by then and it was her own fault for makin’ me do it the first time.
My baby’s due just after ma sixteenth birthday and then I’m a gorn. I ain’t stickin’ around none. Papa’s pink stain on the floor is gettin’ less and less and I don’t wanna go forgettin’ him any. I don’t wanna be around for the baby none either. Momma tole everyone I was a whore-girl for bringing trouble to yon door so they’ll give me the looks and call me a honky-whore.
I’ve got me a plan. Papa’s been a talkin’ to me at night when I’m alone in my bed. I never thought I’d hear from him agin. I’m a gonna join my papa ‘cos he the only one who loved me for proper. I’m a gonna carve Billy-boy’s name on my heart and make my own big stain on Momma’s floor mysel’. Somethin’ to do with fornicating, just like papa. And she can keep my baby and look at the stains on the floor and the stains in her cold heart and remember some. It’s all her fault ‘cos she wanted me to have her babbies for her. I din’t have no choice. She made me do it.
She made me dance with the devil.