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Ebonee (part2)


“When I got home, I asked to spend the night at my grandma’s. Usually,  I would stay the whole weekend. I was happy there. She and I, we just, well, clicked, you know? We got along so well. Grandma didn't like my father. She says she knew he was a loser when my mom first brought him home. She said that I was the best thing he had ever done in his whole miserable life. Since she disliked him so much, I had never written to him, talked to him or nothin’. I thought of writing to him about my problem but each time I tried, the right words would not come out. No, this had to be done face-to-face. That was the only way. 

“When Monday came around, I went straight to school from Grandma’s as I usually did. After school, I was supposed to go home but, this time, I just couldn't go home afterward. I couldn't take it anymore. I just didn't want him touching me. Just the thought of that sent a shiver down my spine. I just went back to Grandma’s. “When she asked me what was wrong, I began to cry. But I just couldn't tell her. I begged her to take me to see my father. ‘Please, please,’ I said. “She said "Alright, alright, child, if it's that important to you, we'll go see him tomorrow.’ “She called my mother and told her that I was going to spend another night. Mom wasn't there but he answered the phone. He was difficult at first but when Grandma began to question his reaction, he must have caught himself. Grandma said, ‘Just have my daughter call me.’ 

“That night, I tossed and turned. I couldn't wait to tell my father. He would do something. He would protect me, I thought. “The long bus ride to the prisons seemed even longer this time. But finally it was over. We went into a long line of people and were pat searched. They took me behind a curtain and checked my underwear. It was humiliating but I thought it was worth it to see my father. “We were led by uniformed guards to a room with a long line of windows. Each window had a metal chair in front of it. My Grandma stayed over by the entrance of the room and told me to go ‘head. I went and sat on one of the chairs and waited. 

A man finally came out and sat facing me. He was kind of handsome, had wavy hair with a patch of gray that was parted on one side. He had a thick mustache and piercing eyes. He looked at me but didn't say a word. “I spoke through the holes in the glass. ‘I'm your daughter.’ I said. “ I know,” he said. ‘they told me you were coming. You look like your mom,’ he said. “ ‘Mom says I look like you,’ I said. “He seemed so uncomfortable with me. We mostly just sat and stared at each other, suffering in silence. When our visiting time was over and as I got up to leave, he said, ‘You know I love you.’ 

“ ‘Thank you,’ I said. But I was just being polite. How could he love me when he didn't even know me? I just could not tell him about my problem. There was nothing he could do. By meeting him, I realized that he wasn't a big boss, calling shots, or a big time gangster who could put out a contract. He was just what my grandma had said he was. A loser, a helpless loser. He wasn’t tough or strong. He was just another locked-up ass. 


“On the way home, the bus was sort of empty. Grandma asked me why I wanted to see him so badly but I didn’t say anything. I felt a lump in my throat and tears began to roll out of my eyes and down my cheeks. I tried not to break down but I had lost control. I needed her more than ever; there was nobody else. “She asked, ‘What is the matter child?’ Although I was afraid for her health, I had to tell her. Tearful and trembling, I told her, finally. I TOLD. 

“It was like a weight had been lifted off my back. She laid my head on her lap for the rest of the bus ride home and stroked my hair. When we got back to her house, she went straight upstairs and came down with a big, cloth, old-fashioned-type pocketbook. She called it her garment bag. She gave it to me to carry and we both walked up the block and got on another bus, the bus to my mom's house. The bag was heavy but I didn't complain, it was light compared to the burden that had just been lifted from me.

Grandma was silent all the way there. She just sat beside me and stared straight ahead. When we got to our stop, it was getting dark. We walked toward mom’s house. Grandma walked very deliberately. Between the weight of the bag that I was carrying and the speed she was walking, I had to trot to keep up with her. Grandma banged on the door and when my mother opened the door we both went in. There was silence. My mother must have read Grandma's face because she broke the silence. “I know she ain't been telling you that bullshit ‘bout Goldboy have she?" That's when he came into the room. I stepped behind Grandma and she took the big pocketbook from me. He was loud and threatening. “ ‘I'm tired of you lying on me. Ain't nobody touched you. You need a good whoopin’ ” and he began to take off his belt while moving toward us. That's when Grandma reached in the purse and pulled out an old-fashioned sawed-off double-barreled shotgun and let them have both barrels. Boom! Boom! 


“Grandma got both of them with the shotgun. Because of her arthritis, she barely could lift it so she only got them in the legs. Goldboy ran into the kitchen wounded and bleeding. My mother was down on the floor hurt but conscious. “Grandma began screaming, ‘I knowed it. I knowed he weren't no good. You let him rape your own child, your own blood. You is nothin’ but trash. You is trash!’ “The police came and arrested my grandma. They took me to the police station too. They asked me if I would give a statement. They kept me waiting for a real long time,  While I was sitting at the officer’s desk, a lady cop came and dropped a paper on the desk beside me, I looked around a bit but then read the  paper. I don't know if they left it accidentally or on purpose but I read it. It was my grandma’s statement. It read: 

Maternal Grandmother’s statement--- According to the Maternal Grandmother the situation with Ebonee and the mother’s paramour had gotten progressively worse over the years. She says she had not wanted to get involved in her daughter's life but she could not stand to see her Granddaughter miserable. Grandmother says that she first suspected what had been happening when Ebonee came to her home at 4:00 in the morning. Her left eye was swollen and she had several bruises about the face and neck. The child stated that she had gotten in a neighborhood fight and she didn't want to go home because her mother would get mad about her fighting. The Grandmother said she had no reason to suspect her granddaughter of lying but could not understand the lateness of the hour that she came to her home. She assured Ebonee that she would explain to the mother what happened and she was sure things would be all right. When grandmother went to the phone Ebonee became very upset. She begged the grandmother not to call and to let her stay with her for a few days until the bruises went away. The grandmother advised the girl that she could stay but she had to phone the mother to let her know where Ebonee was staying so that she wouldn't worry. 

When the grandmother phoned, Ebonee’s mother  became very angry over the fact that Ebonee was at the grandmother's house and said that the girl was a big liar. This was before the grandmother could explain why Ebonee had come to her house. Grandmother advised the officer that's when she knew something was wrong and made Ebonee tell her the truth. Ebonee told her grandmother that the mother's boyfriend came in drunk about that morning and she was in bed. She stated that she heard him come upstairs and stumble into the bathroom. She said that a few minutes later her bedroom door began to ease open so she pretended that she was asleep. She said the room was quiet but she smelled alcohol and when she opened her eyes he was standing over her naked. She said she began to scream and that's when he began to swing at her. He punched her in the face and yelled "shut up". She said she couldn't fight back because she was dazed from the punch. She said he was really mean when he was drinking. He tried to hold her down on the bed and the more she struggled the more angry he became. According to Ebonee the mother had come into the room by this time and asked what was going on. He told the mother that he had walked into the wrong bedroom by mistake and "she want to act all stupid." The  mother told Ebonee to go downstairs and get herself together and that's when she ran out of the house and walked to the grandmother’s house". 

“My Grandmas statement was exactly right. That was what had happened. I wondered if Grandma felt  something was wrong, why she  didn't do something before? I guess it was because my mom was always telling her to mind her own damn business. After the trial, my grandma was sentenced to five years in prison. Dora and Goldboy testified against her. I tried to tell them why Grandma did it but they wouldn’t let me testify. They said my testimony was irrelevant to the case but I was allowed to testify at her sentencing. I told them all what had happened but nobody seemed to care. My mother kept yelling, ‘Liar, liar.’ They gave Grandma five years in jail. Said it was ‘mandatory’. While she was in prison, I took care of Grandma's bills and put her pension check in the bank before mom could get her hands on it. “Mom did some nasty things like search through Grandmas' house and she stole grandma's new couch. ‘She ain't gon’ need it,’ Mom said. “She even had the nerve to send Grandma a picture of herself, curled up in a pose on her couch in her bare feet. That made me mad. The only good thing mom did was to take me to see Grandma while she was in jail. 

“Grandma was already frail. Bein’ in there made her even weaker. “Grandma said, ‘That couch is going to you when I'm gone, child.’ After about nine months, Grandma got really sick in there and the prison doctors said her heart condition was now terminal and there was nothing they could do. “Each time mom took me to visit her, Grandma looked worse and worse. They finally let Grandma out early because of her health. 

“On the day she finally got out of prison, I rushed over to her house. The front door was open and the house was unusually quiet. I looked all over the house and I went into the kitchen. Grandma was there. Her face was flushed, gray and clammy. She was sweating too much; sweating and struggling to stay awake. “It was like she knew she was supposed to die today and was fighting to stay alive. She tried not to let on but I could see that she couldn’t see well  and she must have been terribly afraid. She kept about her tasks. She had all four burners on the stove going. She was alternating between peeling a pile of potatoes that she had already cooked, cooking a variety of other foods and washing the dishes. I tried to help her but she wouldn't let me. She said, ‘No, I need to do this to keep going, child,’ Her voice began to crack. ‘It's a way of staying alive. ‘If I don't rest, I won't pass on.’ 

“Her weak voice cracked again. It dawned on me that she had been sick a few years back and I had told her that I needed her and said something like, ‘Don't die on me.’ So I asked her, ‘You doin’ this for me, Grandma?’ “She put her hand on the sink to support herself and nodded. She had been holding on all this time just for me. “I hugged her tighter than we had ever hugged before. It was like a good-bye hug. I kissed her on the cheek. I whispered in her ear, ‘Grandma, I have been selfish for too long. I'm old enough now where I can take care of myself. You don't have to hurt yourself any more for me. You can rest now. 

“She paused and said, ‘I think I'd better lay myself down for a while’ but we both knew what she meant. She put her apron on the counter and turned off all the burners I led her into the living room where she laid down on the sofa, Dora's old funky sofa. I covered her with an afghan that she had knitted and a few minutes later she was gone. ‘Good-bye,’ I whispered, ‘Good-bye, Grandma.’ “Now I was truly alone. I had no refuge now. I was stuck with my mother – well, the woman I was born to, anyway, because my grandma was actually a mother to me. She was really the one who raised me, nurtured me and loved me. 

“Things were pretty much stable in the months following the funeral. Goldboy had moved out. He would come over from time to time and I spent a lot of time in my room but the good thing was that he left me alone. Their injuries from the shotgun pellets were just about healed by now. The lesson that Grandma had taught them lingered and I was feeling pretty confident. Then things exploded.“Dora started using drugs heavily, again and said he was going to be moving back in. My world collapsed.  On his first day there, he started accidentally on purpose bumping into me. He started rubbing up against me and touching me. Then the sexual stuff started up again, only worse this time. He started using things like candlesticks and the broom handle. I was afraid to go to the bathroom because once, when I did, he came up behind me and used the toilet plunger handle. 

“I would make sure to pee at school. Rush home up to my room and push the dresser up to the door and wait for mom to come home from work. On the worse day of my life, I forgot to pee at school. I barricaded myself in my room as I did every day and that's when it hit me. I had to go to the bathroom. ‘Oh no,’ I said to myself. I always went to the bathroom at school. How could I have been so stupid? “I was just going to hold it till mom got home but it got worse and worse. I thought I was going to bust. “I looked around the room for an empty soda bottle or a Big Gulp cup or something, anything that I could use. I even thought of climbing out the window and going to the gas station. The only thing that stopped me was that it was a straight, two-story drop from my window to the ground so that was out. 

“I eased the dresser away, carefully, and peeked out the door and down the hall. I thought he must be downstairs so I slipped into the bathroom and nothing ever felt so good as having to pee so badly and finally getting to. Then the latch on the door started to lift up. He was using a credit card or something to unlock the bathroom door. He came in and said, ‘Oh, I didn't know you was in here, baby. “I jumped from the seat and tried to run out with my pants still around my ankles. He grabbed my arm and said, “You don't have to rush out. I’ll give you some privacy.’ “I could smell the liquor it was like it was coming out of his skin. 

“ ‘You know it’s nasty not to wipe yourself after you piss and flush that toilet.’“I reached for my pants and underwear. He yelled, ‘Wipe yourself!’ “He pushed my clothes back to the floor. I was scared but carefully wiped and dropped it in the toilet. “ ‘Now flush the toilet,’ he said. When the roar of the flush came, I tried to run again and he grabbed me and picked me up. He was really mad and the more I struggled, the madder he got, He pushed the wooden plunger into my, err inside of me. This time, too far and I started bleeding bad. “He stuffed me with toilet paper and one of my mom's napkins but it wouldn’t stop. “I said, ‘You got to call a doctor,’ but he wouldn't and he wouldn't let me either. He said, ‘That’s just your period coming on,’ but I was too young for that. “I must have blacked out because I woke up in the hospital. My mother had come home and found me passed out in a pool of blood. I was knocked out for days. The doctors said it was a coma. Goldboy had run out and left me there to die. 

“After my operation, the doctors told me that I would never be able to have children. He messed up my insides so bad that they had to take everything out. At only eleven, I was empty inside. I felt like a dried-up old lady. I had no future, never gonna have no kids, no husband, no nothin’. “The police caught Goldboy and he went to prison for what he had done. “My mom got off of drugs because of the guilt she felt for not believing me. She was ridiculous. She apologized every day, every time we passed in the hall, every morning before school and all the time. I began to get sick of it. When there was a thunderstorm she would come in my room and hug me like I was a little kid but it was too late. She was not going to be able to make up for the past. She didn't believe me. She didn't protect me and I will never ever forgive her for that.

 “A few years went by and I was sixteen years old now. My life was getting pretty good. I would only get depressed once in a while when I would see a woman with a new baby or when one of the girls at school would bring her own baby or baby brother or sister to school. I never will have children of my own because of what he done, that bastard. Because of what she let him do. “On the way to catch the bus to school, I had to go past the hoodlums on 52nd Street. “One day there was a familiar voice among the crowd. My eyes whipped around and looked. It was him, my mother's old boyfriend, Goldboy. He must have gotten out of prison. 

“I was not going to tell my mother. I was afraid she would let him move back in. I just didn't trust her. At first he didn’t recognize me. Then he started making comments about how big my titties had gotten. I ran down the street and around the corner to avoid him. The next day and every day following I went to the 53rd street stop just to avoid him. I felt vulnerable and empty. My grades plummeted, I was in a daze. All I could think about all day was him following me home and how I would get past him the next morning. I became paranoid and thought every man walking past was him. I rushed home every day and locked the door. I actually picked the phone up and dialed the first three digits of my grandma's number before I remembered. 

"The police, that's it", I thought, "I'll call them". I gave his name and told them he was harassing me. They connected me to the lady cop who arrested him when he mutilated me. She said she would talk to him but there was nothing she could do unless he tried something. She helped me get a restraining order to keep him away. That must have done the trick because he wasn't out there anymore. Two, three, four days went by and I began to relax. Maybe he went back to jail for murder or something, maybe he found another drug addict woman to move in with. I hope she has Aids," I thought to myself,” I hope she doesn't have a little girl”. It would be horrible if someone else had to go through what I went through.

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Dr. Carlton Payne has more than 30 years of experience in the field of psychology. He earned his BA in psychology from LaSalle University, his MS in Counseling Psychology from Villanova University and his PhD. in Educational Psychology from Temple University. He has taught college and graduate students and served as the Chief Psychologist and Director of Behavioral Health for the City of Philadelphia Prison System. His areas of expertise include Forensic Psychology, Psychological Testing/Assessment, Learning Abilities/Disabilities, Mediation/Dispute Resolution, Suicide Prevention/Grief Counseling, Diversity/Multicultural Education, Anger Management, and Curriculum Design.

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