Rockin Chair

by C. F. Hatten

Lord, that girl don gon back in that alley, again. Look…look at her...that lil’heffa. She got two boys wit her today…makin’ all that damn noise. What the hell they doin’ to her got her screamin’ like that, ya reckon. Maybe her mama come home catch her back there, cut both of ‘em throat…then get wit a baby and don’t even know whose it is. But I know whose it is, that joker who was in there the longest. Can’t see nothin’ but her leg in the air from dis her rockin’ chair. Let me clean these windows so I can see.

Wonder where the baby is wit my groceries. Said she’d be by here fo’ noon. I was gon smother some poke chops, rice, and gravy, hell, I gotta get that stuff in my room fo’it get dark. The other day I was standin’ up in my room under the light tryin’ to fix my radio…some cat standin’ in the middle of the street wit a rag on his head lookin’ up at me. Well that shit won’t happen again. I fixed his ass…took all the bulbs out upstairs, nigga tryin’ ta watch me.

Can’t keep nothin’ round here. Niggas broke in, stole the meat out the goddam ‘frigerator one night. That’s why I take all my meat upstairs at night ta keep in my chester drawers and when I go to sleep, put the lock on the bedroom door. Let me see ‘em break that…wonder where Cyntha at…said she had ta be ta work at two.

Look at Bertha cross the street wit them hot pants all crawled up in the crack of her tail. Ass bigga than mine and I weigh bout three hundred pounds. That girl outta be shame of herself comin’ out the house lookin’ like that, and she betta not bring no more of them collard greens and yams over here…tryin’ ta poison me…talkin’ bout the fourth of July, but I know what she up ta, think she slick. Then she slip some mac’roni and cheese on the plate wit the barbecue ribs cause she know I like ‘em like that. But I fooled her ass tryin’ to kill me. I pretend like I was gettin’ ready to eat…then when she left I threw that shit in the garbage. When she saw me the next day at the mail box her eyes bucked big like that…haha, see she thought I was dead. That’s why I don’t never eat no food from nobody less it’s in a can. That way I know it ain’t been messed wit.

There go the postman right there, let me get down here and get my mail. Gotta rush down to get it cause these niggas round here ‘il steal the carpet under ya feet if it ain’t nailed down. They been stealin’ my dis’bility check for the last five years but I gotta lawyer on their ass, now. Oh, there go Cyntha.

“Hey baby, how you doin.”

“Fine daddy, how you feel?”

“I’m okay...what…why you lookin’ at me like that.”

“You go to the doctor?”


“How’d you get there?”

“You know that bus stop by here for senior citizens, right in front of the house.”

“How was your blood pressure?”


“He check you for sugar?”

“Don’t you start askin’ me a whole bunch of goddamn questions.”

“You know your sisters got it. What did he say?”

“He didn’t say nothin,’ everything’s okay. Told me I need to go on a diet.”

“Well they been tellin’ you that for twenty years.”

“Did you get my damn souse meat? Last time my mouth was waterin’ for some souse meat…got upstairs and it wasn’t none in the bag.”

“Yeah, I got it. You not keeping that meat upstairs in your room, are you.”

“Hell naw, you must think I’ma fool. I take a piece up wit me so I can eat off it when I’m in bed. Girl, what the hell you talkin’ bout…you crazy, haha.”

“You know what I’m talking about taking this food up to your room. It ain’t sanitary. You’re gonna have rats and roaches all over the place. What’s wrong with your phone. I tried to call you three times to tell you I’d be late.”

“You know what’s wrong wit it.”

“Say what.”

“You niggas been messin’ wit my phone…put somethin’ on it so you can tell where I’m at in the house. I know what you up ta, you must think I’ma damn fool listenin’ ta my phone calls. I hear the phone clickin’ when I’m tryin’ to talk…that’s okay, got my lawyer lookin’ into it.”

“Your lawyer.”

“You damn right and he don traced them social security checks and found out you cashed ‘em.”

“Daddy they turned down your claim. They said they mailed some forms to your house and you didn’t sign them and send ‘em back.”

“They ain’t turned down shit, you and yo’ mama don cashed ‘em and I’ma have both your asses locked up in jail…soon as they finish the ‘vestigation. Tryin’ to get me to sign my checks away. I ain’t crazy as you think I am.”

“Damon made the honor roll, again.”

“Sho nuff. That boy smart like his grandpa. Is his daddy start payin’ child support yet.”

“They finally start taking it out of his check.”

“That’s good, let the court handle it.”

“How come you not watching the ‘Young and Restless?’ Thought you never missed that one.”

“You know.”

“Know what.”

“Don’t play me for no fool, here. I here that noise in the TV y’all put in there like somethin’ tickin.’ You niggas always tryin’ ta kill me. What the hell I got you niggas so scared of.”


“Got the damn TV so it’ll work when you want it to. Turn it on, go head, turn it on…see what I mean. It’ll come on when you do it and I go over there and the lines ‘il start jumpin’ round and the screen blinkin’ like…”

“…Probably needs some repair work, daddy. Did you see what Jill said in court about John Abbott yesterday.”

“That girl somethin’ else, she put somethin’ on ‘em he couldn’t turn loose. That’s how she got ‘em back, now she bringin’ up all them nasty things in the divorce. You think they gon let him die.”

“Naw, he’s one of the main characters.”

“Just wait til Jack finds out what she up ta. He’ll probably be paralyzed from the stroke…that happened to me the other day. I was layin’ in bed and some kind of force was right here heavy in the middle of my chest…tryin’ ta hold me down, but I pulled up reallll slow…knocked it out the way. I beat it…see yo’ ol’ daddy got power too, haha. Look here baby, I got dis here letter from Reader’s Digest bout a contest ta win a million dollars and a free trip to New York.

I’m one of the finalist. All expenses paid.”

“Let me see that.”

“You ain’t gotta see shit. I’ll handle dis. I gave the lady yo’ name.”

“What lady?”

“You ain’t heard a damn thing I said…the lady in New York…in the office. She said we have ta come over there and take a family portrait when I win and…and…and we gon be on the TV.

“Daddy you didn’t send nobody no money, did you?”

“Hell naw, they gon send me some money. Is you listenin’ to me, girl, or is I’m talkin’ to myself. Only thang I did was subscribe to the magazine.”

“Well, if anybody ask you for money you let me know first before you send anything cause it might be a scam.”

“Oh yeah.”

“It’s been in the news about all these contest ripping off the elderly.”

“Hmmm. I’m gon buy you and the baby a big house wit a pool…and you and the baby can live wit me, anywhere you want, like befo’ the divorce. I was thinkin’ bout movin’ to California or Florida, somewhere the weather’s nice. She said I could get it in a lump sum or yearly or every month if I want.”

“Yeah, well, I have to head out to work, now, you want me to help you put those groceries up.”

“Naw, I’ll take care of it, but I need you ta run by the bank and pick up an application for a credit card.”

“Credit card, whose gon pay for it?”

“Don’t you worry bout who gon pay for it. You and yo’ mama always tryin’ to figure out what I’m doin.’ Where my money comin’ from. That’s all you niggas think about is money…money…money. Y’all hold a nickel so tight, make the buffalo squeal like a pig. I wrote my congressman a letter and he said couldn’t nobody deny me credit cause of my age…if I apply for it. Hey, Cyntha you know how I signed it.”


“From the best man in the state of Ohio.”

“You didn’t sign your name?”

“I didn’t sign shit. Say, you got time to run by the store and get me some butter, and I need some of those bell peppers and grits, too. I forgot ta put that on the list.”

“Why don’t you go with me. I’ve got an hour before I have to be at work. We can run up there and pick up everything you need.”

“So now you workin’ wit them, huh…tryin’ to get me out the house.”

“What you talking about?”

“You know what I’m talkin’ bout that sonofabitch wit that rag on his head. Y’all think y’all slick standin’ round like you don’t know what the fuck is goin’ on…must think I’m fuckin’ crazy…tryin’ to get me outta here so he can climb in that damn window…gon end up wit a bullet in his ass. That’s why I turn out all the lights…so I can see them but they can’t see me. They can’t get me if I see them coming first.”

“Okay, give me a hug. I…I love you.”

“I love you, too, baby. What’s the matter. Don’t look at me like that. I’ll be okay.”

“I’ll drop those things off tomorrow on my way to work, is that okay.”

“That’s fine baby. I’ll be lookin’ out for you. Kiss that baby for me, oh, Cyntha, bring me a quart of buttermilk, too. You gon have enough for all that.”

“Don’t worry about it. I got you covered. Bye daddy.”

“Bye baby.”

Well, I betta go cut the fat off dis meat, and peel the skin off the chicken…like the doctor said…take my medication, then put dis meat up in the freezer so it’ll be froze by the time I take it upstairs, tonight. That way it won’t spoil by mornin’ when I put it back in the freezer, and I can put the poke chops I cook in the bottom drawer cause the top three drawers gon be full, now.

Look at that little Sarah, ain’t no mo' than twelve years old, and her belly already stickin’ out wit her second baby…what’s that…they over there smokin’ that damn crack…guess that’s why they daddy in jail, now, goddamn crackhead runnin’ round here sellin’ his daughter’s body…shoulda hung that nigga. Well, let me get up from dis here chair, and go cut up my greens fo’ it get dark.”

Rockin Chair by C. F. Hatten

© Copyright 1996. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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