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Archive for April, 2007

Anthony Owens (Part IX)

Della wasn’t lying. She was stuck inside of her bathtub. She used a burgundy, terrycloth facial towel to cover her most sacred body part when Anthony walked into the room. He wasn’t sure what to expect. New York City is flooded with perverts. It would not have surprised him if she was going to ask him to have sex as part of an unofficial lease agreement. If his new landlady was summoning him downstairs for something fishy, he was prepared to cast his rod. In the pond of prostitution, it’s foolish to believe that women would not pay a handsome man to skip a few stones across stagnant waters.

 

Della was crying from both embarrassment and physical pain. Anthony’s first thought was to dial 911. Her leg was cocked under her large body. She appeared to have slipped while trying to crawl out of the empty tub. Her leg looked broken. A woman as large as Della couldn’t possibly be that flexible, Anthony thought. She was holding the back of her head. She bumped it during the fall. Blood covered her high-yellow hand and shaved scalp.

 

“Holy cow! Are you alright?” Anthony asked.

 

“No dear, I’m not. I’ve been stuck here for hours. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to bother you. You should not have to pull a naked Black woman to her feet on your first day living here. You were the only living thing close to the sound of my cries. Please give me a hand, young man,” Della begged.

 

He wrapped both of his arms around her and attempted to clench his fists but could not. He fit comfortably between her breasts. The oversized mammary glands parted. One cascaded over the knee that was bent and the other plopped on the arm that was resting on the rounded edge of the bathtub. He threw all of h is weight backwards but she didn’t budge.

 

“Ouch! Oh my Lord!”

 

“I think you leg is broken.”

 

“No, it’s not, dear. This has happened before. There is something stuck inside of me and it’s not a demon. Ouch! Dear God, I’m sorry,” Della cried.

 

Anthony wondered why the foot long dildo was white. “Wow! What an imagination. One could never be that big,” his conscious whispered.

 

His new landlady was in one hell of a predicament and he had to remain serious. The rubber toy was bent like a pretzel and was jammed between her grey rubber duckie and her fat ass.

 

“Don’t get up too fast when I pull you or that thing may wound me,” Anthony pleaded.

 

“I need some ice dear. Please go to my freezer and bring me some ice. That will do the trick.”

 

He walked to her kitchen and past a butcher block table without noticing a large glass bowl covered with a light-blue dish towel. He reached past a frozen chicken, pulled out a tray of ice and twisted the plastic until the cubes broke free from their frozen compartments.

 

“If you don’t mind, you can wait for me in the kitchen. I will be out in a moment,” Della asked while taking the tray from him.

 

“Burr…Me, oh my!”

 

He gladly made his exit towards the kitchen and waited for Della to take the swelling down.

“I have no business trying to raise the dead,” she joking shouted from the bathroom while putting on a fluffy, white terrycloth robe. She washed the dried blood from her head and hands.

 

“I should sue the manufacturers of that thing,” Della yelled from the bathroom.

 

Anthony laughed out loud while peeking to see what was inside the bowl on the table.

 

“Please don’t touch my dough,” Della shouted from the door of the kitchen. “That’s for a batch of cinnamon rolls.”

 

“I assume the kneading got you all hot and bothered,” Anthony chuckled while replacing the towel over the bowl.

 

‘Oh, you’re a perceptive one,” Della giggled while taking a paper bag of whole wheat flour from an oak cabinet above the kitchen sink, “I love to bake. It puts me in touch with my soul and it’s a great way to get rid of the demons I pull out of others.”

 

“You’re a real soul food chef, I see. Wow! I love watching Italian men in pizza joints rolling out dough,” Anthony shared. “My mother made fresh bread every Sunday morning. I helped her with the kneading. I must have been only four or five at the time, but I still remember the soft touch of the dough before it went into the oven. My favorite food in the world is molasses on freshly baked bread.”

 

“I didn’t realize the new generating knew what molasses was. What do you know about molasses, boy?” Della asked.

 

Anthony smiled. “I’m all country. We like things slow. You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”

 

“Ain’t that the truth,” Della remarked while silently appreciating the twang in his southern accent. His dialect was music to hear ears. It had been so long since a Southerner lived under her roof. His voice sounded so innocent and naive but Della knew that he was as slick as any fast-talking northerner.

She scattered flour on the table and slowly tilted the bowl, removing the dough.

 

“Do me a favor and pass me that rolling pin next to the toaster.”

 

“Oh, sure. I never saw a pink one like this.”

 

Della’s light-brown cheeks turned auburn. “A woman could commit the ultimate sin with that utensil,” she snickered. “I need something that is flexible, otherwise I’ll never get in deep enough to massage my Muladhara chakra.

 

She pressed the large ball of dough with her hands before sprinkling it with flour and rolling it into a square 18” x 18”. “I don’t use molasses in my rolls, but I bet you’ll like these,” Della tempted while unwrapping a stick of Parkay margarine from shinny foil paper. She placed the yellow stick in a small black bowl and popped it in a microwave oven. “I just love microwaves,” she shared. “They call in roaches, but by damn, they cook things fast.”

 

Anthony watched with fascination as she mixed a cup of sugar with a brown spice that she pulled from a wooden rack on the wall, just above her stove.

 

“What is that?” Anthony asked.

 

“Cinnamon and sugar.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Della removed the melted butter and spread it over the flattened dough. She then sprinkled the sugar and cinnamon mixture over the butter and topped it with nuts.

 

“These are chopped pecans. Here, taste one.”

 

Anthony nibbled on the tiny piece of pecan and carefully observed as she rolled the dough up like a wrapped newspaper.

 

“That looks nothing like pizza dough. What did you say it was?” Anthony asked.

 

“The stickiest cinnamon rolls ever made,” Della informed while carefully slicing twelve times across the sweet roll that look a lot like the dildo she used in the bathroom.

 

“Now reach in that oven for me, dear, and take out that cake pan. Don’t worry. It’s not hot.”

 

Anthony took out the pan and brought it to her. The large, square aluminum pan was lined with toasted pecans, drenched in brown sugar and melted butter. He didn’t ask what they were for but watched quietly as she topped the roasted nuts with the sliced dough cylinders and sprinkled the concoction with pure white sugar.

 

“I can never get enough of these damn things, but they take forever to make. Thank heavens for the microwave. I have to let the dough rise again before baking them. Would you like a reading?” Della asked while covered the large square pan with waxed paper.

 

Anthony was petrified. What if she could see inside of him? There were things he didn’t want anyone to see, despite all that he had already witnessed regarding Della’s private life. He didn’t answer her and hoped that she wouldn’t insist on telling his fortune.

 

“Relax, I’ll only tell you the good things. My energy is best when there is active yeast in the house. Come over here boy. Give me your hands,” Della said like a mother calling to her child.

 

He didn’t want to be touched. His nerves were sensitive. Perhaps the sex business had ruined his taste for physical affection. When he had sex for money, he never kissed. Eventually he decided never to kiss anyone. At least he could save that part of himself as something special to be shared on a later date with the right person. The business made him incredibly sad and cold. There was no reason for him to grow attached to anyone, especially his clients. There were always sad good-bye’s in his life. That was all he knew.. When Della touched his hand he jumped and started to tremble.

 

“It’s okay, dear. There is no sin in it. You are free now.”

 

A tear streamed down his high cheek bones. He felt filthy. He had permitted many wealthy men and women to rub their hands all over him. No matter how much he washed or how many baths he took, the feeling never left his heart. He felt better knowing that she didn’t care about what he did for a living, in addition to the job he had at the Armani Exchange.

 

“She lived for as long as she could. She didn’t want to leave you,” Della channeled, speaking on behalf of his deceased mother. Her spirit was filling Della.

 

He closed his eyes and immediately was back with her, lying next to his mother in her big bed with thick quilts and down-filled pillows. It was snowing outside their country home in the hills of Virginia. The two of them were napping in the afternoon. He awoke from slobbers rolling down his chin and onto her firm breasts. She remained asleep. She was exhausted from the illness that was eating away at her inside. He opened his eyes as a little boy again, and watched tiny dust particles cross the stillness of the bedroom. Outside, white flakes of snow came down and the large pine trees that covered the landscape were drenched in a blanket of white. He wanted to go outside and play, but he knew while in his hypnotized state that his mother would be leaving him for good that day. He had already been through this moment in time and this was his opportunity to re-live it. He didn’t go outside this time, but waited next to her side for her to die.

 

His mother was a child too now. They both were playing together in the snow. She ate a handful of snow and waved good-bye to him.

 

“She stayed for as long as she could, Anthony, but it was time for her to go,” Della explained.

He immediately pulled his hands away from Della, shocked that she had known so many things about his past life.

 

“Your daddy used his talents to finger-fuck the masses,” Anthony shouted in a deep tone, much lower than his normal high-pitched, queer Southern dialect. It didn’t mean to say those words.

 

His crule statement offered in the moment between conciousness and the dream state went right to Della’s heart. The words burned right through her. She was terrified. She had never encountered such powerful darkness in all her years of doing energy work on others.

 

Continued Here

https://charlestaylor.wordpress.com/2007/05/01/anthony-owens-part-x/

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Queen Anne

Bradley named the calico that has been living in the basement of our Bed-Stuy brown stone ‘Trinity’. She spent the winter under our apartment. I thought I was imagining her.

 

“Bradley, come here quick—that cat is out there again,” I shouted in a whisper. By the time my lover made it to the spare bedroom to look outside, she would disappear. For months, the cat and mouse game between Trinity and I continued. She was playing tricks with my mind and scratching away at my sanity with her tiny white pawls. She almost had Bradley convinced that I was psychotic and delusional again.

 

At first, she could be spotted only during the wee hours of the morning—the time of day and night when the sun has yet to pounce over the horizon. I would sit next to the window in my Queen Anne chair waiting for the day to begin while having my first cup of coffee. The nights were so long—sleepless and restless. I had so many nightmares this past winter that I often would wake-up early and crawl out of bed long before the alarm sounded, not wanting to go back to sleep, just to avoid another bad dream. That is when I would see her. The mere sight of her comforted me back to reality.

 

She never noticed me until I tried to crack the window open to call to her. She would run into the basement before I had the opportunity to whisper “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”

 

Slowly she stopped being afraid and would remain outside while I had my coffee. Bradley finally spotted her too.

 

“Hey mutt,” He said to her. “She’s just a kitten,” Bradley noted. She ignored us at first.

 

The outdoor area was her litter box, not our garden. She went on about her business and pretended we were not calling to her. She became friends with our cat Link. The two of them rubbed noses on several occasions. Link smelled her tail a few times, but turned the multi-colored pussy down because he’s fixed like a gay man.

 

Last weekend I threw some of Link’s dry cat food out the window. She ate the morsels like a pigeon feeding in the park. Eventually she came up to the window and allowed us to pet her.

 

Last evening, she came inside and sat on the Queen Anne chair with me. She loves my white terry cloth robe and thinks I’m her momma. She even began sucking on the plush cloth and kneading the material as if she were feeding from her mother again.

 

Bradley picked her up and noticed that she’s pregnant. Although she’s tiny, her little belly is pink and quite round.

 

We’ve already picked out the names for two of the kittens we plan to keep—‘Neo’ and ‘Morpheus”.

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Anthony scrubbed the claw foot bathtub with a Brillo pad that was without suds. The pink soap that had once covered the steel wood had all been used by the man who lived there before. He found the rusted scouring pad in a soap dish in the small room with a toilet.

“You were one nasty-ass, mother-fucker,” Anthony said to the caked-on stains that formed what looked like the asteroid belt upon the worn porcelain surface.

The bathtub stood in the center of his room directly under the skylight and looked like an artifact from ancient
Rome. Anthony would have to learn to bathe again like he did when he was a child. Back then, his momma washed him in the kitchen sink with water that was heated on a wood burning stove. The tub was huge. His entire six-foot two frame could fit comfortably inside although he would surely miss the convenience of taking showers. The glass of the skylight was covered with leaves and debris. The wind or perhaps a hail storm had cracked the glass of the once distinguished ceiling fixture but the roof window appeared safe enough to take a bath under.

He wanted to soak desperately despite the dirt and dust that covered his apartment and he was terrified of taking his clothes off and standing naked inside such filth. Sunlight was streaming in from the window and he planned to float all afternoon, get stoned and allow the rays of the sun to stroke his deep chocolate skin while submerged under water.

The stains would not come out after repeated polishing but he did not care. He filled it to the top with steaming hot water. Surely if the bluish-green liquid were hot enough, the remnants of germs left behind by Ryan West would be scalded away. His new place passed the most crucial test. There was lots of hot water. That is all that mattered. He loved to bathe and knew he found a good home.

K.C. and the Sunshine band played on 106.7 FM from a small clock radio that he found easily without having to unpack all his things—“Do a little dance. Make a little love, get down tonight. Get down tonight…”

He slowly stepped in the water allowing his lanky body to slide carefully down the slop at the back of the tub and carefully picked up his blunt with fingers that had not touched the water. He was immediately erect from the soothing temperature of the water and the ecstasy of the herbal essence. He decided to wait until he got out before wacking-off. If he were to bust a nut while bathing he would likely fall asleep and wake up looking like a raisin.

Della screamed from downstairs. Her voice echoed from the heating vent behind his toilet.

“Anthony? Anthony, are you up there?”

Immediately he thought she had smelled the spliff, but his penis remained rock-hard.

“Yes?”

“Thank God! I’m stuck in my tub. Can you come help me get out?”

He quickly threw on a pair of Adidas underwear and a pair of thick cotton sweatpants without drying off.

“Can I get inside your place?”

Della laughed then cried, “Yes, dear. My door is always open.”

 

Continued here

https://charlestaylor.wordpress.com/2007/04/30/anthony-owens-part-ix/

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Maya Angelou paid Della for ‘inspiration’ and ‘spiritual guidance’. The Harlem writer was not particularly concerned about the events of the future, but rather, came to Della’s psychic center for ‘energy work’ and ‘channeling’. Della stopped short of offering full-body massages with release for clients like Maya. “Oh, God girl, bless you! A little to the left please,” Maya ordered when Della was trying to assist the gifted writer in opening her Vishudda chakra. Della explained to Maya that her writers block could be cured for just $400 a session. Maya came twice a week when Della was willing to lay hands and help lead the blind along their spiritual paths.  “What the hell do you think I’m doing, massaging you, Maya? This is sensitive spiritual cleansing that your neck is undergoing and I advise that you keep your mouth shut while I’m at it.” Maya laughed and moaned while the Kundalini master did her thing on her large, soft neck.  Della’s psychic gift was most accurate through touch, although her powerful third-eye enabled her to see events in the future, the core of her powers were in her hands and the laying of them on others. Her insight went much deeper than mere predicitions. Clients received valuable guidance when the clairvoyant told them specific things about their lives—things that they thought no one else knew, like the names of dead cousins and imaginary friends from their childhood. Anyone sitting down in front of Della’s crystal ball faced a big shock when the woman with short, barber-cut hair took their hands, rolled her eyes and started channeling.   The meetings in Della’s parlor were intimate and warming. Her customers trusted her from the moment her soft coca buttered fingers touched theirs. They felt it—her inner peace. She was able to pull the consciousness of some of her customers into her own psyche, offering a taste of her pure spiritual energy. Often the energy was misinterpreted in a sexual nature. Her female clients benefited most from her gift of touch. Many ladies, like Maya Angelou never knew they had a sexual attraction to the same sex until they let themselves slip inside the soft touch of Harlem’s best known medicine woman.  Offering readings and Yoga workshops to men was different. Males didn’t seem to suck her energy dry. Della had very few men who came by her shop for readings. Black men, no matter how superstitious, are often terrified by the notion that someone can see inside of them. Most do not realize that their very own mothers have the same insight that Della has, although few are brave enough to use it to its fullest effect.  
Readings on men made Della feel better. It was the opposite of what it felt like when she opened her self up for her female clientele. Having all men living in her building helped her to keep her balance. Even though she never touched her tenants or performed readings on them, merely having them on the floors above her soothed the aches and pains associated with doing readings on the very needy women of uptown
Manhattan.  There were certain clients that came to her too much and Della had a hard time trying to explain to them that it simply wasn’t physically or psychically possible for her to see them so often. Clients like Maya stole her energy and put it down in words and made a lot more than $400 for the words written from the inspiration that originally was within Della’s soft hands. Maya was her friend and Della did like a lot of what she wrote, so she kept the poet on her caseload because there was no simple way of turning the writer away.

Continued here

https://charlestaylor.wordpress.com/2007/04/25/anthony-owens-part-viii/

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Harlem lost its dark-roast ‘flava’ fast. Before the first scalding breath of high-pressure steam raced through the frothers at the Magic Johnson Starbucks on the corner of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue, the hood had already taken on a white a bubbly surface. Rockafeller wanna-be’s were buying the once abandoned brownstone buildings at unbelievable prices and scooping up the inexpensive real estate like free packets of Equal. Some Black people laughed when they heard about the new Starbucks in town. There was already a Dunkin’ Doughnuts and a Krispy Cream on 125th Street. A cup of coffee is a cup of coffee to most Blacks. Why would anyone living in the hood pay more for a cup of coffee than for a boot-legged copy of a Jay-Z CD? They did not realize just how much milk was being blended into MLK.

The Housing Urban Development Corporation (HUD) financed most of the new construction taking place uptown. Unfortunately, very few poor people, the ones Charlie Rangel tried to help out with congressional ‘soft’ money took part in the revitalization and economic boom. Federal HUD loans were divvied out only to those making a middle-class income, which at the time, ranged from $80,000 - $250,000 annually. The construction being completed on historic landmarks in
Harlem had to be completed by approved construction firms. Eric Anderson, a white man from North Carolina led the construction boom and his firm A&L Community Builders were awarded nearly all the contracts for the HUD construction. The firm hired lots of African-Americans on the construction projects, but it was individuals like Anderson, Al Sharpton and Magic Johnson who benefited most from Charlie Rangel’s hard work in Congress and Bill Clinton’s last minute financial awards for the Black community, before leaving the White House.

Even though Johnson was investing his hard earned NBA cash into his new restaurant and movie theater, most other Harlem builders were financed by the Federal Government. Overnight, they were wealthy real estate owners as the market in Harlem suddenly boomed thanks to gentrification and the business climate of Northern Manhattan. Even Bill Clinton was setting up shop uptown.

The street vendors that Giuliani chased from their sidewalk concession stands either moved out of town, in with their mommas, or ended up on crack.

Della had only 8 units for rent in her building. She wished she could do more as the livelihood of the poor in her community was brewed out from under them. Anthony found it odd that a fancy espresso bar was about to open in a predominately Black neighborhood. He believed African-Americans would not pay more than fifty-cents for a cup of Joe. The green awning with white lettering appeared out of place outside the window of his new apartment. Anthony was cosmopolitan and dressed sophisticatedly despite the fact that he wasn’t rich. He dressed wealthy thanks to the employee discounts he received from his job and his exquisite taste in clothing. He looked like a typical Starbucks patron, but he had to do something to fix up the rundown studio apartment he had just moved into. Dead roaches floated in the stagnant water of a dish drain that the former tenant had left behind. He wanted his new apartment to be comfy and cozy, just like the inside of a Starbucks. He didn’t drink coffee though. The taste on his tongue was bitter. Caffeine made his skinny arms and legs tremble with nervousness. He smoked bud to take the edge off of his jittery life. The last thing he wanted was a zing that reversed the benefits of his medicine.

Anthony liked white people, especially the wealthy ones. In particular he was fond of Europeans like the ones who shopped at the Armani Exchange. He made hundreds each week just from the commissions on what they purchased there.

“Hi! How are you today?” He often asked in a high-tone like a fashion queen. The Europeans loved the attention the African-American sales person gave to them as they strolled inside the air-conditioned showroom of the Exchange. He made them feel like Naomi Campbell. The expensive tags on the garments were no threat to their pocketbooks and wallets. The rich French and German shoppers felt pampered when Anthony explained how the new spring line with fresh pastel colors would look ‘just fabulous’ on their ‘translucent skin’.

Anthony was aware that those same shoppers would be riding double-decker tour buses to Harlem, exploring sites like the Apollo Theater. He saw the new Starbucks as an opportunity for meeting new friends and possible lovers.


Harlem was only a ‘jump-off’ for Anthony. He planned on finding a rich European lover to take him away from the ghetto of America. Anthony wanted to experience what life would be like living in a place like Amsterdam where marijuana is legal. The new Starbucks looked like a gay bar in Europe, hidden along a secluded street on the outskirts of a town such as Berlin or Paris. The possibility of finding love seemed endless with a European style coffee house across the street. He thought he could grind a new lover from that place. Gay white men cling to Starbucks like wet coffee grinds stuck to the sides of a metal steamer basket. His new apartment was within comfortable cruising distance of the super-chain. He could monitor traffic from his bed. Unlike most citizens of Harlem, Anthony was excited about the new café.  

Magic Johnson realized one thing about the hood that most investors did not think of. There were no public restrooms in Harlem prior to 2000. That is why most tourists did not spend very much time above 96th Street. There is no worse predicament for shoppers than to have an armload of bags but nowhere to pee. Starbucks would solve that problem in Harlem. Johnson also realized that white people feel obligated to buy something when they use a restroom inside a place of business. The coffee shop would serve as a tourist respite and a place of fellowship. Not even churches opened their water closets to the masses.  

Johnson studied everything he could about the historical community of Harlem. The design of his Starbucks was inspired by Harlem’s rich cultural heritage and included murals of its Black churches and musical icons. Photographs of Johnson with his basketball also adorned the walls of the new café. His celebrity status ensured the speedy processing of applications through the bureaucracies off community zoning organizations like the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.

Charlie Rangel poured congressional dollars through the filters of such boards which were governed by officers hand-picked by Harlem’s influential church leaders. Rangel personally made the process of building Harlem’s first Starbucks smooth for his celebrity ‘brother’ and others like him—those who rebuilt Harlem for the new iced-Millennium.  

There were objections to the political moves and spending of earmarked Federal dollars. Harlem’s very soul was sold in the spirit of free-enterprise and potent coffee and not everyone stood by and did nothing.  Harlem is no place for Zionism. We know whose bank accounts have been stuffed from African produce since the beginning of mankind. Our children were scattered from our very temple—125th Street and they were chased away from their place of business so that the mayor and his corporate friends could have their way with our promised land,” Rev. Billy T. Walker preached from his pulpit. “Our children are dying in the motherland where coffee grows in abundance, while they make us addicts to yet another substance.” 

Della stood up and yelled, “Praise the Lord! Tell it like it is, brother!” Those sitting in pews near her echoed her calling, although most of the congregation was daydreaming. Della was furious that educated Black folks were sleeping though such a subterfuge, but she hoped that the new white European tourists who most surely would be flooding the streets of Harlem in search of tourist hotspots would find their way to her palm reading shop. At least if they came to her she would have the opportunity to get inside of their consciousness.

Walker and Sharpton were not the only loud-mouthed preachers in town. Della could turn a soul to God in just one reading. Her’s was the church of the poison mind.

She had a restroom at her place of business too and people of all color and economic status were welcome to use it. She thought of placing a ‘public restroom’ sign in her front window under the pink neon ‘psychic advisor’ sign, but changed her mind, not wanting to stoop as low as Magic Johnson had.

Continued here

https://charlestaylor.wordpress.com/2007/04/24/anthony-owens-part-vii/

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Anthony Owens (Part V)

 

The Magic Johnson Movie Theater and Starbucks coffeehouse ripped the soul right out of Harlem. In the spirit of commercialism, a Black basketball player with HIV brought negativity to the once thriving economy of northern Manhattan. Shortly after Mayor Rudy Giuliani chased away the street vendors on 125th Street and stripped the neighborhood of a once prosperous community-based economy, Earvin Johnson dribbled in and slam dunked the hopes of many poor people in Harlem.

Merchants who owned real stores in Harlem were furious that their retail stores were doing so poorly, yet shoppers were buying everything from pirated CD’s to frankincense on the streets right outside their stores. Shopping was exciting in Harlem in the early 1990s. The streets were like a carnival, people were everywhere and the atmosphere was filled with lots of positive energy. Beautiful Black people from all corners of the world put on brightly colored clothing and flooded the streets to walk up and down in the sunshine, not only to shop, but to be seen and to socialize with their brothers and sisters.

There was a time in Harlem, following the exciting days of the Cotton Club and Apollo Theater, when America’s soulful heart beat like a drum in Harlem. Whites were not interested in purchasing the fabulous Brownstone houses then. Immigrants from all corners of the globe were able to afford Harlem before Giuliani took office and wiped away the dreams of many, just so his kind—people like Earvin Johnson, could control the purse strings of the Black community that made its home there.

Della was invited to the grand opening of the Magic Johnson Cineplex Odeon Theater. Al Sharpton stopped by her house on June 30, 2000 uninvited to insist that she attend the ceremony and to represent him during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“I’m not doing any readings today, Al,” Della shared when she opened the door, thinking the Reverend had stopped by for mystical guidance.

“Della, there are few Black women with your grace and prestige. I would be honored if you would attend the grand opening ceremony of the new Magic Johnson movie theater this evening and represent me. Be the woman who brought Hollywood to Harlem,” Al insisted.

“May God forgive me as I say this to you,” Della said with a firm voice. She was tired. The voices in her head were telling her a lot that day and she was agitated from the sensations and vibes that were being sent to her from the powers that be

 “Get thee behind me Satan. I rebuke thee! You did nothing for Harlem when they chased those street vendors off of 125th Street. You were laying down with dogs when you made friends with that greasy Italian mayor, Al. How dare you ask me to represent you!”

“Miss King—I’m sorry, I thought…”

“Shut the hell up and do something with that hair of yours! You are not the reincarnated Martin Luther King. I tell you, Al—that prophet has risen again, but he’s not you. He is back, but my guides are telling me that he’s a white man in this life and he has yet to rise. You need to learn to accept that and stop selling out the soul of our people,” Della explained. “Just because I told you the new prophet would be a white man did not mean that you should simply straighten your hair and assume that you are the new King!” Della shouted while slamming the door on his face.

Continued here…

https://charlestaylor.wordpress.com/2007/04/23/anthony-owens-part-vi/

 

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Anthony did not have much to unpack when he moved into 1211 Lenox Avenue. He managed to bring everything he owned in the trunk of a taxi. Della told him he could use the bed that her former tenant, Ryan West left behind after he disappeared into a crack house on 132nd Street and was never heard from again. Renting a U-Haul would have run him well over $200 and he didn’t have either a credit card or a valid driver’s license. He left his twin-size mattress in Staten Island and settled for a full-size used one already inside his new place. Before taking his clothing from big, black garbage bags and hanging his shirts and pants on wooden hangers, he lit a black jasmine incense to chase away what bad vibes Ryan may have left behind and to ‘spiritually bless’ the place and make it his own. A Rastafarian on the corner of 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. sold him an entire bundle of the authentic African incense for just $2. The wise-looking, partially gray-haired man told him that the particular bled of natural fragrances was used by ‘brothers’ in the home land to fend off bad luck and to ward off evil spirits.  

From what he could gather regarding the personality of his new landlady, he was quite confident that she would not have issues with him for being a pot-head. Her apartment was under his and he knew that smoke follows beauty and the pungent smell of his purple haze would remain in his room due to simple laws of nature.  He attempted to open the only window on the walls of his new place but it was stuck. A painter had obviously used too much enamel on a brush and sealed the frame shut. He would work that minor problem out in the morning. It was nothing that a screwdriver or butter knife couldn’t fix. He was tired from the move. He just wanted to get high and go to bed.  

There were many characteristics about his room that he had not noticed when he agreed to rent the place. There were holes in the black and white checkerboard linoleum floor—cigarette burns most likely. They had grown larger over time due to the pitter-patter of feet pacing the place. What a lonely room it could be when not decorated properly. The white walls, plastic floor and unflattering lights made the room feel like a prison cell. Someone who had lived there in the past must have walked a lot inside that tiny room. The realization that a man trapped inside his own mind once lived in that room frightened Anthony and his mind starting racing from the herb he was smoking.  During the day, the place looked bright and charming. A ceiling skylight lit the room up like a crack pipe. When Della opened the door to show him the quarters, he immediately begged, “I’ll take it if you’ll have me.” 

“I’ll have you alright,” Della giggled while informing him that the roof leaked right over the bathtub, along the seams of what she described as “an ugly-assed ceiling window.” 

“I don’t mind at all,” Anthony said while putting his hands on his hips. “I’ll fix this room up in no time. I have excellent interior design skills,” he said, a little like a ‘sista’ while winking at Della. He turned his charm on heavy to ensure he got the apartment.  

“The ceiling is no place for a window. There is no reason for God to see us from above,” Della noted, not particularly offended by the fact that Anthony was ‘coming-out’ to her and in a sense, was hinting about his sexual orientation by the tone of his voice.  She knew he was gay the moment she opened the front door. He spoke in a manly tone when he first started to negotiate with her for the place, but she saw right through the façade. She was pleased that he was gay. The house was filled, by her choosing, with nothing but young men. She was tired of being the only feminine being living under the roof of her own house.  

“Try to avid your neighbor, Gillie. He lives next door to you. He is trying to stop drinking and wants to be a poet,” Della explained.

“A poet? I’m a poet too. We’ll get along just fine. I’m more of a lyricist. I write words for music. Some people consider that poetry.” 

“It’s interesting that you love music. Have you ever heard of Miles King?” Della asked. 

“Of course. His music was from back-in-the-day though. My momma wore his records out.” 

“He was my father. This was his place and at one time, this was the room he slept in.” 

“Get the hell out of here,” Anthony exclaimed while grabbing his cheeks like a damsel in distress. 

“Welcome to our home,” Della offered. 

The room was dark and lonely at night. It was nothing like the glistening spectacle of an apartment as it appeared in the daytime. The only electrical light in the room was a spiral fluorescent bulb, just inches away from the leaky skylight. It turned on and off with a pull-string.  

Anthony started to grow paranoid after nearly finishing his first joint of the evening. His muscles were aching from the heavy loads he had carried to and from the taxi earlier that day. He hadn’t had anything to eat all day and the hydro went straight to the sensitive side of his head. He pulled the string and turned off the light and sat down on the full-size mattress and listened as a fire truck screamed by outside. 

He started to worry if he would have enough money to last until payday. He had only one bag of weed remaining. The $500 security deposit had depleted almost all of his financial resources. He didn’t want to have to turn a trick just to buy more weed. Payday was still eight days away.  There was a dim light glowing from inside a small room in the corner that served as a tiny bathroom. He walked across the sticky floor to investigate. The light was coming from a heating ventilator on the floor just behind the toilet. He slowly slid the grate open and noticed there were no ducts connecting the heat-register to a duct system. There was simply a hole in the floor with a grate over it. Anthony remembered the house he grew up in. It had the same type of heating system. Only the lower floors receive direct heat from a boiler in the basement. Heat rises through the floors and those types of holes and warms the top floors. He missed his mom and wished he had a more stable life. Life was so much quieter in Virginia where he grew up. Harlem was cold and dark. 

Below was Della’s bathroom decorated tackily as a lot of bathrooms in the hood are—pink carpeting surrounded the toilet and it matched the rug in front of her hand sink.  Anthony smoked the blunt until it was down to the skin on his fingers. He threw the little brown piece of tobacco into the toilet, pulled down his pants and whispered, “It’s time to bless this place.” 

He was so stoned, he forgot to make sure there was toilet paper in his new bathroom. There wasn’t, but he didn’t care. He washed his ass in the hand sink with warm water.  

Continued here

               https://charlestaylor.wordpress.com/2007/04/20/anthony-owens-part-v/                                    

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