So both her brother and sister were mad at her, BooBoo was systematically destroying her sofa, she was terrified something would happen to Dad's car while it was in her care, and her sot of a neighbor was making her life miserable.
God, why had she ever bought a house? If she had stayed in her apartment, none of this would be happening, because she hadn't had a garage and pets hadn't been allowed.
But she had fallen in love with the neighborhood, with its older, nineteen-forties-vintage houses and corresponding low prices. She had seen a good mix of people, from younger families with children to retired people whose families visited every Sunday. Some of the older folks actually sat on their porches during the cool of the evening, waving to passersby, and children played in their yards without worrying about drive-by shootings. She should have checked out all her neighbors, but at first blush this had seemed like a nice, safe area for a single woman to live, and she had been thrilled at finding a good, solid house at such a low price.
Because thinking about her neighbor was guaranteed to prevent her from going back to sleep, Jaine linked her hands behind her head and stared up at the dark ceiling as she thought about all the things she wanted to do with the house. The kitchen and bath both needed modernizing, which were big-ticket improvements and something she wasn't financially ready to tackle. But new paint and new shutters would go a long way toward improving the exterior, and she wanted to knock down the wall between the living and dining rooms, open it up so the dining room was more of an alcove than a separate room, with an arch that she could paint in one of those faux-stone paints so it looked like rock...
She woke to the annoying beep of the alarm clock. At least the damn thing had woken her up this time, she thought as she rolled over to silence the alarm. The red numbers shining at her in the dim room made her blink, and look again. "Ah, hell," she groaned in disgust as she leaped out of bed. Six-fifty-eight; the alarm had been going off for almost an hour, which meant she was late. Way late.
"Damn it, damn it, damn it," she muttered as she jumped into the shower and, a minute later, jumped out again. As she brushed her teeth, she dashed into the kitchen and opened a can of food for BooBoo, who was already sitting beside his bowl glaring at her.
She spat into the sink and turned on the water to wash the toothpaste down the drain. "Of all days, why couldn't you have jumped on the bed when you got hungry? No, today you decided to wait, and now Idon't have time to eat."
BooBoo indicated that he didn't care whether she ate or not, so long as he had food.
She dashed back into the bathroom, did a hurried makeup job, slipped earrings into her earlobes and her watch onto her wrist, then grabbed the outfit she always grabbed when she was in a hurry because she didn't have to fuss with it: black trousers and a white silk shell, with a snazzy red jacket topping it off. She jammed her feet into her shoes, grabbed her purse, and was out the door.
The first thing she saw was the little gray-haired lady who lived across the street, putting out her trash.
It was trash-collection day.
"Hell, damn, shit, piss, and all those other words," Jaine muttered under her breath as she wheeled and rushed back into the house. "I'm trying to cut back on my swearing," she snapped at BooBoo as she pulled the trash bag out of the can and tied off the tapes, "but you and Mr. Congeniality are making it tough."
BooBoo turned his back on her.
She dashed out of the house again, remembered she hadn't locked the door, and dashed back, then dragged her big metal garbage can down to the curb and deposited the morning's offerings inside it, on top of the other two bags already in it. For once, she didn't try to be quiet; she hoped she woke up the inconsiderate jerk in the house next door.
Copyright © 2000 by Linda Howington.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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