Mary's Little Lamb: After Word
by Lawrence Christopher
"Mr. Hart, I figured that I would see you again. Please come in." Perry Rogers greeted me, along with an invitation into his home. It had been a week after we last saw each other at Sunday service at Holistic Salvation Church. My last sight of Rogers was walking away arm-in-arm, he and his fourteen year old adopted-daughter Sapphire a.k.a. Mary's Little Lamb. Mary was her mother.
Just before departing the church's foyer Rogers and I shook hands. Sapphire gave me a hug. It was when Mary's little lamb returns her arm around Rogers's arm in an escort manner, that I noticed the sparkling jewel on her hand. On Sapphire's left hand ring finger was a two-carat black diamond solitaire engagement ring. It matched the same ring description belonging to Vanessa Landrum, Rogers' now deceased fiancé, which was also reported stolen during the alleged car jacking surrounding her death. Rogers and Sapphire caught me looking at the ring. Rogers' face reflected of uneasiness. On the contrary, Sapphire's cherub face beamed with admiration and confidence, with a devilish grin. Neither of them offered a word of explanation. They smiled with their exit and walked away.
"Really. Why did you figure on seeing me again?" I asked.
"Well, I thought it would either be you or that police detective McIntosh."
"Why would you be expecting either of us?"
"Come on Mr. Hart. We don't have to play this game. I know you saw the ring on Sapphire's finger. And I'm sure you have the burning question, DID Sapphire kill Vanessa to get the ring?"
"I see. I uh . . . am actually here to return this." I handed him Sapphire's diary.
Rogers gave me the teenager's journal a few weeks back to help me find the missing teen, who had run away or was kidnapped. That is depending on whose story you believed, Sapphire's or her would be kidnapper and boyfriend, Dollar Bill. The autobiographical writings in the book gave me insight to both Sapphire and her unhealthy and unrequited love for her boyfriend and adopted-father. Before your mind goes where many have gone who know of this, like my friend Detective McIntosh of the Odelot Police Department; nothing had happened between Sapphire, Rogers or Dollar Bill. This was confirmed through the course of a medical examination of Sapphire.
When I located Sapphire, I called Perry Rogers who recovered his daughter and took her immediately to the hospital to have her checked out. A rape kit examination found that Miss Sapphire Jenkins-Rogers was still a virgin. Quite a few of us were surprised of that bit of news; based on the promiscuous reputation the hot teen had built.
Rogers received the diary from me and took a long look at it. From the mouth of babes; Sapphire's personal poems and writings are revealing and touching.
"So now what", asked Rogers?
"Nothing." I replied.
"So you're going to leave me and my family alone?"
"I'm not the police Rogers. And as far as they're concerned, they have Dollar Bill for your fiancé's murder . . . of course based on Sapphire's testimony that he killed her. By the way, is she here?"
"No. She's visiting with her brother. She spends a lot of time with him."
"You aren't going to mention the ring to the police? You aren't going to ask me how she got it?"
"Ah, again the ring . . . well since you keep bringing it up."
"The guy gave it to her. He killed Vanessa . . . took the ring . . . then he gave it to Sapphire. That's it!"
"That's it. I'm a little confused about his motive for killing your fiancé." Rogers' eyes shifted sharply to one side, indicating he was searching for a creative response.
"He killed her because she told Sapphire about him being on, what was it that, uh, on the down low."
"You mean because she told her he was gay, he wanted to kill her? So, why take the ring and give it to Sapphire . . . maybe because she wanted it?"
"I guess you'll have to ask him."
"Okay. Shouldn't the ring have been turned in as evidence?"
"Uh, I suppose. No one mentioned it."
"No one mentioned it. You're standing there telling me because no one mentioned it, you're okay with that girl wearing your dead fiancé's engagement ring?"
"Of course not! But when she showed it to me, she said that it made her feel like she had a part of Vanessa still with her."
"WHAT!? And you bought that?"
"What else could I do? What could I say? The girl had been through a terrible ordeal, seeing Vanessa murdered and then being kidnapped herself."
"Rogers, the girl needs counseling. And I think YOU do too."
"Me! What for?"
"I'm no psychologist, but even I can see that you are in love with Sapphire."
"That's absurd! It's sick."
"Maybe not for who she is, but for who she reminds you of, her mother. I'm not accusing you of anything and there is no evidence of any wrong doing on your part, yet. But you're playing a risky game here."
"No one is playing any game."
"Maybe you're not. Sapphire is a very smart girl. She's manipulative and she knows how to get what she wants. And it is plain to me that what she wants is YOU Rogers."
The words being spoken aloud seemed to have stunned the middle aged man. The reflective thinking on Rogers's face assured me that he knew I was correct. His eyes darted back and forth several times. I could have let up on my approach but I had to make my point and make it stand.
"Rogers, your fiancé is another victim because of this girl's love for you?"
"What are you talking about?"
"If she had not already been dead, Sapphire was willing to kill her own mother to keep you in her life. You were willing to go to jail to protect her. And look at what has happened to Gerald."
"What about Gerald?"
"He's locked up because of his sister."
"That's because he loves his sister. And I've done everything I can to reach that boy. The only person he listens or talks to is Sapphire."
"Of course . . . and I'm sorry to say but she uses people; men, and boys to do her bidding. She's just like her mother."
Rogers leaps from his seated position on the couch and lunged at me shouting "SHUT UP!" We wrestled to the floor, alternating vantage points in our struggle. I managed to get him in a half-Nelson wrestling hold, forcing his face down into his Burberry carpet.
"WHAT . . . ARE . . . YOU . . . Doing? Can you see that you can't handle this situation without some kind of help?"
"All I need is for me and my family to be left alone."
"You're crazy if you think that. No one is trying to hurt you or your family. I'm saying that you need help. If I wanted to, I could have gone to the police with what I know. That would be enough to have Children Services get involved and to come and take temporary custody of Sapphire and Gerald."
"NO!" Rogers fires back with resurgence in his struggle to get loose from my hold.
"YES. Now, you either seek counseling for you and those kids or I will see to it that it happens. All right? I SAID, ALL RIGHT!"
Not until his physical resistance waned did I let Rogers free from my grasp.
"I'm sorry," Rogers offers. "I just want to take care of those kids. They're all I have left of Mary."
"And you're about to lose them at this rate."
"I know. I know. This is going to sound crazy . . . but, I thought if, if I could keep Sapphire close to me and happy, that I could keep her safe. I mean, if I just ignored that she was in love with me and allowed her to think that it was okay, that I didn't have to worry about her being with some other boy or man."
"What are you saying; that you encouraged her?"
"No, of course not! I just didn't discourage her. If she loved me and I allowed it, then she would be okay. But you've seen her. She's all grown up and out. I can't keep my eye on her all day every day. And things are different today than they were when we were young.
"As a parent, talking to a girl about life and sex used to be simple. That Dollar Bill guy wasn't Sapphire's boyfriend. He told her they were friends with benefits."
"That's where a boy and girl have a casual friendship, with the option of having occasional sex. There's no commitment between them. So with no commitment, that means they could be having sex with multiple people. No wonder the spread of AIDS is as bad as it is."
"But Sapphire is still a virgin, right?"
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean a lot these days. In the past, all you had to tell a girl was to keep her legs closed and she would remain a virgin and be safe. Well, they're doing that. They're keeping their legs closed but they, they're having oral sex and they think that's okay. Kids today don't think oral sex is sex.
"Don't think these guys are going to tell the girls it's wrong, because they want it to happen. So now the conversation has to be, 'daughter, keep your legs, mouth and everything else closed.' What kind of world are we living in?" Rogers exhaled and slumped over.
"Rogers, you can only do the best you can as their guardian. You instill the proper values in Sapphire and Gerald and then let nature take its course. As far as sex goes, it's not just the responsibility of the girl to say no and to know right from wrong. Part of that responsibility also belongs to the guy. If every parent takes responsibility for their own child by teaching them right from wrong, then things will change. You have that opportunity to do your part.
"But you have to know it yourself first and live it for them to see it as an example. It begins with us man, as men. As a man, you can show Sapphire the way a man should treat her. You should show Gerald how a real man should treat and respect a woman. You should be the best example they have. You aren't doing any good by ignoring Sapphire's love for you. It's unnatural and it can only end badly.
"Family counseling is available where my wife works. I'm sure it won't be any problem getting all of you in. It's up to you." I stood up from the floor where Rogers and I verbally and physically barbed. I extended my hand to pull my brother in Christ to his feet. He accepted my hand.
Later that evening I lay in bed next to my lovely wife Latasha, watching television as she prepared for bed. She had her manicure kit out, filing, smoothing and buffing her natural long fingernails. Seeing her perform these little feminine rituals, endears her more than ever to me. I'm brought out of my mesmeric gaze at my wife by the chemical smell of her fingernail polish. This caused me to return my focus to the commentary on the African American Connection television program, Black Men in America.com. The topic for the show was Bill Cosby's comments on the lower income families.
Commentator: "Here are some of the excerpts from comments entertainer Bill Cosby recently made while speaking at a Constitution Hall event in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Cosby had this to say on fashion:
"'People putting their clothes on backwards: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong? . . . People with their hats on backwards, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up to the crack and got all type of needles [piercings] going through her body? . . .
"With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them in jail. Brown versus Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. We have to go in there - - forget about telling your child to go to the Peace Corps - - it is right around the corner. They are standing on the corner and they can't speak English."
Dr. Cosby said this on teenage sex:
"Five, six children - - same woman - - eight, ten different husbands or whatever. Pretty soon you are going to have DNA cards to tell who you are making love to. You don't know who this is. It might be your grandmother. I am telling you, they're young enough! Hey, you have a baby when you are twelve; your baby turns thirteen and has a baby. How old are you? Huh? Grandmother! By the time you are twelve you can have sex with your grandmother, you keep those numbers coming. I'm just predicting . . .
"What is it - - young girls getting after a girl who wants to remain a virgin? Who are these sick black people and where do they come from and why haven't they been parented to shut up? This is sickness, ladies and gentlemen."
Bill Cosby's statements reminded me of my earlier conversation with Perry Rogers and of something I had intended to do. I immediately climbed out of bed.
"Where are you going honey?" Latasha asked bewilderedly. She knows how much I enjoy every episode of Black Men in America.com.
"There's something I forgot to do." I put on my robe and walked out of our bedroom in the direction of my teenage step-son's room. There is illumination coming from the television set, along with the sounds of animated characters from a football game. I knocked on the door, announcing my arrival.
"Hey Mick. What'sup?" T asked.
"T, I need to talk to you about something important." I committed to him.