Cheeks and Balances

I had never heard a more pleasant sound than Alexander’s crying. My tears joined his, pouring out like a waterfall. I kissed his cheeks, his forehead, his little neck and every finger and toe, until he quieted down enough for me to nurse him.

 

When next I looked up, Mr. Taylor had vacated the premises. And so had my mother. I could only assume they were outside in the hall discussing the situation.  

 

Which brought me to Alex. He needed to know his son was OK. Trying not to disturb Alexander, who was nursing like he hadn’t eaten in days, I slowly reached for my phone. Just as I began to key in Alex’s speed dial, he was ringing in.

  

“He’s gone,” he said, breathing heavily into the phone. “I got here and he and Gabrielle were both gone.” 

 

“We got our baby back,” I said, in a rush.  

 

“Are you serious?” he exclaimed. 

 

“Oh, I’m more than serious.” I gave him a quick rundown of what had happened, all the while never taking my eyes off my son. 

 

“Damn,” Alex replied when I was done, “I don’t know whether I should crack his skull or shake his hand.” 

 

“Well, I think my mother’s probably doing a little of both. When I looked up, both of them were gone.” 

 

“Why am I wasting my time talking—my son’s home,” he said, excitement filling his voice. “I’ll be right there.”  

 

“Hurry up. I love you.”

 

“I love you, too, baby. Kiss my boy for me,” he said, before hanging up.

 

I studied Alexander, taking in every feature of him. He had slipped off to sleep, the calmness of his face giving away none of the craziness that had taken place.

 

“So innocent,” I whispered. “I thought I had lost you to Vincent, but I should have known that God was on my side.” I leaned forward and kissed his fat cheeks again. “You are just so beautiful to me.”

 

This time happy tears flooded my face. I cradled him to my chest, slowly breathing in his fresh baby scent.  

 

“OK, you’re going to make me cry.” 

 

I glanced up to see a misty-eyed Yanni standing in the doorway. “Alex just called to let me know,” she explained. 

 

“Isn’t he beautiful?” I asked, holding him up to Yanni. 

 

“Don’t you let Alex hear you calling him beautiful,” she chuckled. “But between me and you, he’s a true cutie.”  

 

“So, you know everything?” I inquired. 

 

She nodded. “And anything I didn’t know, your mother told me in the hallway.”  

 

We both laughed knowingly. 

 

“What would I do without her?” 

 

“Hey, at least yours acts like a mother. Mine, well . . .” Yanni’s demeanor changed somewhat.  

 

“Something wrong?” 

 

Yanni’s eyes flickered for a minute. She gazed at me, and then shook her head. “Nothing I can’t handle. Besides, this is a time to be happy. We got our baby back,” she said, giving me what I knew was a forced smile. 

 

“Umm, Yanni, it’s me. What’s bothering you? Plus, you know I’m dying for some gossip. Being cooped up in here has really put a damper on my social connections.” 

 

“OK. If you must know,” she sighed, “Sabrina’s dead.” 

 

“What?” 

 

“She’s dead. Gone. Soon to be maggot food.” Yanni breathed deeply. 

 

“But how?”  

 

“I don’t even know where to begin.”  

 

“Start at the beginning,” I offered, smoothing out Alexander’s blanket and lying him down. 

 

Then I sat in disbelief as Yanni told me how Red and his girlfriend had been kidnapped, and how his girlfriend was still missing. When she got to Sabrina’s part in the whole scheme and how she and Red had tussled for the gun causing Sabrina to receive a fatal chest wound, I was slayed. 

 

It was like a chapter of our lives had been closed. Or had it? 

 

“So, now that I’ve dished the dirt for the day, what do you have to say,” Yanni asked. 

 

“Well, I’ve got a little dirt of my own,” I replied.

 

Yanni gave me a puzzled look. “Something tells me I need to sit down for this one.”

 

 

“I think you better,” was my response.