“No, why do you ask?”
“I’ll just throw it out there. Penny is here with Angel at the shop. He keeps going on and on about having a get-together with the four of us and he won’t stop. He wants me, you, him and Penny to have some kind of little get-together here.”
“I don’t have a good feeling about that, Billy,” I said fast and sharply.
“I know you don’t, neither do I. But I don’t want him going off on Penny and me, more than he already has. He’s manipulating us with threats, not outright verbal threats, but he’ll hit something with his fist when I give him excuses why you can’t come over, or why I can’t call you, or why I don’t want to do it. If you go ahead and come over for just a while, we can get past this.”
“When he wants something else from us, what then?”
“We’ll have to deal with that when it happens.”
“Well, I don’t have a bus pass and I can’t ask Mama for money. That’s one of the rules. We don’t ask for money. She gives money when she thinks we need it, but we don’t beg.”
“I’ll get on the bus and come get you. We’ll come over here together.”
“I’ll have to ask Mama’s permission to go, and I’m still not sure I want to.”
“I’ll be with you, he’s with Penny. In fact, he’s making out with her right now.”
“Sooo, what’s supposed to happen at the get-together again?” I asked grinning a little.
“Not sex!” he said laughing. “Angel said that we’d just talk and listen to music.”
“Let me ask Mama and I’ll call you back.”
“Great! I’ll talk to you in a minute,” he said and hung up the phone. She looked at the receiver, frowned and cradled it. That was not their usual good-bye.
She knocked on Mama’s bedroom door, named herself, and Mama invited her in.
Mama was sitting at her nice, rich brown vanity with oval mirror, putting cream on her face. “What can I do for you Ronni?”
I explained about Billy coming to get me to go for a get-together at the motorcycle shop, and who all was to be there.
“No.” she said.
“And that’s okay by me, Mama, I didn’t really want to go. It scares me. But there is one thing that’s hurting me and I don’t know what to do about it.”
Mama turned around to face me standing by her. “What is that, sweetie?”
“Angel is bullying my Billy into doing this, and I don’t want him hurt on account of me.”
“The word is ‘coercing,’ Ronni. He is coercing Billy with threats of violence, and shifting the blame for the violence on you, on your decision. But know this, you are not to blame for Angel’s violence.”
“Thank you, Mama, I already told him I didn’t want to come. I’ll call and tell him that I can’t come. But I’m still scared for Billy,” I said and my eyes tears up and my lip quivered. I went to the phone and dialed. Billy answered.
“Hi, Billy. I can’t come. I was scared to come, anyway.”
Billy whispered, “I was sort-of hoping that Mama wouldn’t let you come. It scared me for you to be here. Don’t worry about me.”
There was a shout in the background. “She ain’t coming, Angel!” Billy yelled. “FUCK!” Angel yelled. “Angel, don’t!” Billy yelled, then “Ow! Ow!” Conk! “AHHHHHH!” the phone dropped and clanked.
I ran into the living room. “Mama! Mama! Angel hit Billy with something! Mama!” I ran around with my hands on my head. “I got to go Mama! Mama! ANGEL HIT BILLY!” I screamed I cried. Mama came running.