I Use to Cry at Night - Chapter 2
by Tracey Mansfield
When Eyvind’s midnight blue Jimmy pulled into the driveway, he could hear Shay’s Erika Badu CD all the way outside, blasting that damn song, “Next Lifetime.” Shit, I used to kinda dig that song until Shay started playing the hell out of it, Eyvind thought to himself. That’s what she did every time she got in one of her moods. She’d blast Erika, and sit at her computer and write for hours at a time, totally ignoring him and the kids. She had a ton of notebooks full of shit she had written; some since high school.
He made the mistake of packing them all away in the garage one weekend while she was in Atlanta for some Waiting to Exhale thing. She was pissed when she got home. He came close to actually smacking the taste out of her mouth that afternoon, because she had acted such a fool. Of course, hitting his wife would never be more than a thought when he remembered his own mother, Sharon.
He had watched as his mother’s live-in-lover beat her for years. A small, dark-skinned, uneducated hood named Lester. Eyvind held back for years, until the evening of his thirteenth birthday. He heard his mother and Lester arguing over her paycheck. She wanted to buy groceries and get Eyvind’s birthday gifts out of layaway at Airway, but Lester had other ideas. He wanted to get some liquor and do some gambling.
Eyvind heard the pushing and shoving starting, and tried to open his mother’s bedroom door. It was locked so he knocked.
“What punk!” Lester yelled.
“Open the door, ma.”
He knocked again; harder this time. Eyvind was startled by the bass in his own voice and the steadiness of his words. He was already over six feet tall, with defined muscles and facial hair.
“Go downstairs and watch television, Eyvind,” his mother ordered sternly.
“No! Open the door or I’m kicking it down.”
Lester opened the door and slowly walked up to Eyvind until they were almost chest to chest, and eye to eye. Lester was, however, two inches shorter, and was horribly out of shape from years of alcohol abuse.
“Oh, you starting to smell yourself and wanna disrespect me?”
Lester spit in Eyvind’s face as he spoke. The stench on his breath confirmed that he had already been drinking. He pushed Eyvind up against the wall, and thrust his arm up against his throat. Eyvind didn’t think twice about the heavy strike he landed directly against the left side of Lester’s face. Lester fell to his knees, stunned by how hard the teen hit him. Eyvind was not done. He charged Lester and punched him repeatedly in his head and upper body. Any opening Lester left exposed was spontaneously filled with Eyvind’s fist.
His mother was screaming and yelling, even kicking her own son in the side to protect her lover. Eyvind did not stop until his younger brother, Rashaad, pulled him off. He looked at his bloody knuckles, and then at Lester, who was on the floor in the fetal position with a broken nose. His mother cradled Lester.
“Get out of my house!” she screamed at Eyvind.
Eyvind was in a daze. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Get the hell out and don’t come back!”
Sharon was clear and cool as she spoke. It was undeniable that she was serious. His mother never even raised her eyes to look at her oldest child.
“Ma…if my brother goes…I’m going.” Twelve year old Rashaad had tears in his eyes, but his voice was unwavering. He was as serious as his mother.
Eyvind thought about how his grandmother had come to pick him and his younger brother up, and his mother refused to even walk them out. From that day on, it would be him and Rashaad against the world; until Shay. His mind floated back to his wife.
He remembered how in one notebook Shay wrote, “I used to be able to hold this loneliness off with a good book of poetry or my music. Do you know what it’s like to have no song?” She has a song, it’s that damn, “Next Lifetime.” “to read the words of your favorite poet and not be inspired to pick up a pen and write your own poor imitation of her work? I used to cry at night, but now even my tears are gone.”
Now what kinda crap is that?...two kids and a husband, and she got the nerves to be writing about being lonely...Maybe if she’d come out of the damn computer room once in a while. How could anybody be so fine and so screwed up in the head at the same time?
If I had known all this shit seven years ago, I would have never stepped to her.
He smiled to himself, and those deep, chiseled dimples rose to the surface of his creamy peanut butter colored face. Those dimples, and that ultra bright smile, were what Shay used to love best about her husband’s handsome appearance. He had to laugh at himself though, because no matter what anybody thought, he was addicted to Shay and all her madness. He loved her from the second he saw her during his sophomore year of college. That night after the black student union mixer, he pointed her out to his roommate.
“Look at her, Ty! God, she’s so fine! Watch, I’m gonna marry her.” Ty told him he was tripping because Eyvind was the biggest playa at Indiana University. He was creeping with at least three different girls on campus.
“Man, you need to kill that marriage bull. You’ve never been with one woman in your entire life!”
“I said I’m gonna marry her, not give up all my other women. You misunderstood me, homey.”
They laughed and watched as Shay strolled past. When she looked Eyvind’s way, he grinned slyly at her. Shay rolled her eyes and kept walking.
“She wants me,” Eyvind bragged to Ty before spotting Lisa, one of the three girls he was creeping with.
He watched Lisa try to act like she wasn’t waiting for him to catch up as he walked in her direction. When Eyvind reached the spot where Lisa and her friends were standing, he purposely walked past. He heard one of Lisa’s less attractive girlfriends comment,
“F that punk! How he gonna try and play you girl?” Typical woman. The ones that can’t get a man, always the first to try and give some advice. Eyvind ignored them and walked a little faster so he could stop Jackson, one of his boys from Illinois, his hometown, who happened to be walking with a group of girls; one of which was Shay.
“Jackson, hold up for a sec!” he called out to his partner. Jackson slowed down. Eyvind and his friend exchanged words, mostly about Shay and who she was kicking it with, as the group of girls watched them in silence.
Cozy, Jackson’s girl, interrupted after a couple of minutes,
“Jackson, we’re gonna to go ahead to the dorm. Call me from the lobby. I’ll be in Shay’s room.” She turned to face Eyvind before walking away, looking him up and down carefully with her hazel eyes.
“I’m Cozy, Jackson doesn’t have any manners,” she uttered in her most irritated voice. She swung her long, sandy brown hair over her shoulder and walked away before he or Jackson could say anything.
“Man, that’s the mess you gotta put up with when you date the pretty ones,” Jackson expressed sincerely.
“I’ll check you out later, man.”
Jackson followed that high yellow prima donna like a puppy. Eyvind was amazed by most brothers’ fascination with the light skinned girls. The deep, dark chocolate sistas he was attracted to had enough attitude for him. He refused to deal with any bull from some chick who thought her shit didn’t stink because she had light skin or long hair. Jackson was right about one thing, she was pretty.
“Ain’t no piece of trim ever gonna have me whipped like that!” he said out loud as he headed back in the direction Lisa was still standing. He sauntered up and whispered, “Let’s go,” in the young, honey colored woman’s ear. Then he strolled off. She followed, making sure not to actually catch up to him until they were out of sight from the crowd. Eyvind explained from the start that he didn’t like people in his business, so they had to be discreet.
Later that same night, Shay, Jordan and some of the other girls from the dorm, were talking about the party. Cozy was telling everybody how the guy who stopped Jackson as they left the party was asking a lot of questions about Shay.
“The fine dude in the blue and white Nike suit,” Shay practically screamed.
“Yeah, damn, were you looking hard enough?” Cozy replied.
“For real girl, you saw the damn swoop, you trippin.” Chrissy, another friend, chimed in.
“Shut up!” Shay laughed and threw her sandal at Chrissy.
“I must say that the brotha does have it goin on.” Cozy interrupted. She and Shay gave each other play.
“Girl, I took a good look at him from head to toe. If Jackson’s ass wasn’t the star running back at this school, Eyvind would be in my bed now instead of him.”
“Don’t play b-. I love you and all, but I’d have to beat you down for him. Girl, he was smiling all hard at me. I had to roll my eyes. You can just tell he thinks his ass is fine.”
“Do you have to curse so much?” Jordan jumped in. “You think you’re fine too, so what’s wrong with him thinkin it?”
“I can’t have a man that thinks he looks better than me. That’s to much ego in one bed!” They pulled out the football brochure from last week’s game to get Eyvind’s information. She read his biography out loud,
“6 foot 4 inches...from Illinois...pre-law major with a GPA of 3.8...thank you Lord,” Shay yelled, and then turned to give Cozy some more play.
“He does look better than you girl, and how’d he get from thinking he’s fine to being all in your bed anyway?” Chrissy added her two cents now.
“Shit, that man was just asking about you cause you all got a class together and he needs some notes. He probably just gonna use you to get to me.” They all laughed. Shay knew Chrissy was kidding. She’d only been with one man in her entire life, Eric. The two had grown up in a small town that was predominately white in Southern Indiana. Eric dropped Chrissy the second week of their freshman year. She hadn’t been the same since. Chrissy had consistently gained weight since the breakup, as a consequence, her self-esteem suffered. She didn’t think any man would ever be interested in her again.
When Cozy left their room thirty minutes later, Shay went with her. She had to quiz Jackson some more about Eyvind. His answers would keep her up all night.
Two days later her phone rang,
“Hi, is Shay in?” the deep sexy voice asked.
“Speaking. Who’s this?” Shay questioned wondering whose voice it was on the other end of the phone causing chills to run down her spine.
“This is Eyvind. I know you don’t know who I am.”
Eyvind was quiet for a moment. Shay let him go on although she was fully aware of who he was.
“I saw you over the weekend at the party and got your number from a friend of mine.”
“Who?” Shay knew it was Jackson, but wanted to make Eyvind less sure of himself.
“Jackson. He’s on the football team with me. He dates your girl, Cozy.”
“Yeah. Jackson is my boy, but I’m not sure who you are. You said you play ball?” Shay was really playing with him.
“Yes. I’m a sophomore. You are too, right?” Eyvind’s voice cracked a little. He wasn’t used to women acting like they didn’t know who he was. Women usually sat by the phone waiting on him to call. Shay was beginning to get on his nerves. He knew damn well Jackson had mentioned him to Shay and she was just being difficult. It was time to put her little game to an end. Shay started talking before he got a chance to do anything.
“Yes, Eyvind, I’m a sophomore also. Listen, you wanna hook up and do something later? I’m sure my boy Jackson wouldn’t set me up with you if you weren’t straight.” She could tell from the silence that Eyvind was probably growing tired of her game.
“Yeah, you wanna come to my dorm room tonight and watch a movie?” That’s what I thought. Eyvind smiled to himself.
“That’s cool. What dorm are you in, and what time?” Shay asked coolly.
“McNair in Hall C, Room 120. Come by around 8 tonight.” Eyvind knew he had her from that second on.
“Sounds good. I’ll be there.”
“Later.” Eyvind hung up. Shay dropped to her knees and thanked God for her phone call from that beautiful, black man she’d been dreaming about for two days.
They watched a movie later that night and fell asleep in each others arms. A month later, they were hot and heavy. Two years later, and one week after graduating from Indiana University, Shay gave birth to their first child. It would be another two years before Tyson Jordan, named after his Godparents, would walk down the aisle as the ring bearer at his parent’s wedding.
As Eyvind thought back, he had to admit he’d done some jacked up stuff to Shay. He kept screwing Lisa for a whole year after he began seeing Shay. Shit, he tried to break it off, but Lisa told him it didn’t matter that he loved Shay. She still wanted to be with him. When Shay found out, she was furious. Even though she never admitted it, he heard she’d slept with one of those Greek brothas. She could have just about anybody on campus, and she knew it. It wouldn’t surprise him at all if she’d done one of them just to get even. Shay always made him pay dearly when he got caught up. So, he had learned early on in the relationship to hide his shit good, and to never admit a thing.