“…and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out….”
Busted up car. Rusted paint. Broken windows. I know he’s not stopping for me. Oh no. Not tonight. Not the first one for the night. Why do I always attract them? The broke guys. The broken guys. Guys with ugly wives. Guys with no wives. Guys who think I’m going to be their wife. As if. That’s what I told Rodney years ago. Stupid me. Still can’t believe I said that. Rodney’s skinny little legs shaking in his Wendy’s uniform. His skinny little arms holding a skinny little diamond ring in his trembling skinny little fingers. His thin lips stretching into a thin smile. Didn’t care that he smelled like French fries. Didn’t care that he had no money. Didn’t care that the rain was falling all over his head, plopping on his shoulders, his face, his shoes. Wanna get married? Rodney waiting. Rodney so patient, waiting for my immature bubble-gum popping self to say something, waiting for my words to squeak through the rain and kiss him on the cheek and make him smile and change his whole life, waiting for me to finally accept his love, his sweet little 19 year old love that could’ve grown into something special, into something beautiful, into something safe and wonderful and good. I think I wanted to say yes but I was too stupid to understand what yes meant. As if. My two little words broke Rodney’s smile, his heart, his pride. Broke him down until he stopped calling and stopped coming around and stopped dreaming about me and moved on and made cashier manager and married some other perfect girl and had kids and bought a house and lived in safety. As if. Still can’t believe I said that.
Dude slowed down. Do I even want to work tonight? Dude’s tall, thin like Rodney. How much? he asks me. Old school Rodney would never had asked me that. I was his flower, his tulip. Yeah, that’s what he used to call me. His tulip. I was never his transaction. Never.
I don’t know. I’m feeling weird tonight. Weird, tired, fed up. Why does this dude keep following me? Drive away, man. I’m not working. Let me just keep my head straight. Look straight ahead. Don’t turn to the side. Don’t give him a chance to stop his car and get out. Don’t-
What? Did he just call my name? I’ve got to stop and look. What do you want? I’m staying right here on the sidewalk. What do you want, man?! Dude stops and parks. Leans over to the passenger side. His brown eyes burn in my brain. His thin smile stretches into a thinner smile. His bony skinny fingers clutch the steering wheel. He says my name again. It can’t be. No. It can’t be. It’s been 15 years. It can’t be.
Get in? Something in me says yes. Then something in me says no. He looks like Rodney but it can’t be Rodney. Old school Rodney wouldn’t do this. He would be home watching the game and eating my barbecue chicken that my mother taught me how to make before she died. She said a good man loves a good cook. He would’ve been home eating my barbecue chicken with his bony feet on the couch. Not here. Not on this street. Not in that car, calling my name.
I get in, slowly. But I get in. The moment I slam the passenger door shut, new Rodney smiles at me. His brown eyes sparkle. He says my name again the way he said it 15 years ago. He says he’s been watching me night after night for some time. Says he was shocked when he saw me out here, working. Says that I deserved better, that a delicate flower like me deserved better.
And just as his words started to melt my heart again and bring me back to that day, that night, when he was on one knee in the pouring rain, looking up at me while I was standing on the porch stoop pretending not to understand anything about life or love, new Rodney pulls something out of his pocket.
What is that? He says he doesn’t want to do this but he has to. Says he wants to help me. Says he needs to help me. Says he’s been on the force for 10 years now and when he saw me months ago on the block, he couldn’t believe it.
New Rodney leans over with that shiny thing in his hands. I try to get out, but he locks my door. He grabs my hands and puts something around my wrists. Handcuffs. Shiny handcuffs around my wrists. He says don’t worry, everything will be okay. Says the judge will let me off if I agree to go to counseling and get off the streets. Says my name again. Says it sweet like the old Rodney.
Something in me wants to fight and cuss him out but then something in me wants to surrender. I’m tired, fed up. I say nothing as Rodney flies down the interstate. I say nothing when we get to the station. I say nothing when Rodney leads me out. Bony Rodney, leading me out of the car and into the little cell in the little station. Bony Rodney offering me a cup of water. I say nothing when he disappears and comes back wearing his regular uniform and his gun and his police hat and a wedding ring. Old school Rodney now new school Rodney. I loved him.
Rodney says goodbye when the night gets late. Says he’ll be back in the morning to take me to court. Says that I’m safe here in the cell. Says I should sleep and don’t worry.
But I don’t sleep.
Lord, it’s been a long time since I called on You.
Matter of fact, it’s been never.
I’ve never called You. Never.
Didn’t think You cared for me.
Didn’t think You really loved me like I needed to be loved.
Didn’t think You saw all that stuff that happened, mama dying, daddy missing, no family, group homes, the streets.
Didn’t think You ever heard my stomach grumble.
Didn’t think You felt the blisters on my feet.
Just didn’t think You ever saw me, ever heard me, or even cared.
The only person that ever loved me came back for me.
Did You send him?
Father, I – I want to be loved.
I want to feel Your love.
I want Your love to clean me.
I don’t want to work the streets anymore.
I want to have a home and I want to live in my home, in my home full of love.
I need You to be my very own Rodney, my true Love, a Love that will not propose to me before I’m ready and let me go even though I deserved it while I turned to self-pity and no self-worth and low self-esteem and doing things that I regret doing while he moved on with his life and got married to someone worthy and joined the police force and loved me as best as only a human can do.
I want You to be my big Rodney, Lord.
I want You to love me better than Rodney.
Give me a wedding ring.
Lord, save me.
Save me, Lord.
Save me and love me.
Rodney and his wife are pulling up. Their car’s in the driveway. Get the barbecue sauce, Derek! Derek smiling, kissing me on the cheek, patting my big stomach. Don’t worry, he says. Don’t worry baby, we’re gonna have a good time. Derek beautiful and wonderful. Derek, the spring surprise, the surprise that took me out to dinner two years ago, mesmerized by my eyes, talking to me about his love for God, his love for life, his love for loving others. Sweet Derek, wonderful when he slid the ring on my finger and said the magic words that I finally accepted because I already accepted His love and His ring and His power when He pulled me off the streets and into counseling and into peace and into healing and into something good and clean and right.
They’re here, baby, Derek says walking to the front door of our house we just bought with our little money. I smooth my new dress, my new hair style, calm my new heart. I love You, God. You cleaned me, married me, gave me friends, a new life. I love You.