Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 16

The room was “furnished” with a rotting futon, a table and two wobbly chairs and an overstuffed armchair under an art deco lamp. That looked to be the only thing worth anything in there. “So…”

“So. You want me to leave Kanesha alone. She’s my daughter.”

“Your daughter who’s heading for a college scholarship and a career as a school teacher. If you don’t screw it up for her.”

“No girl needs college.”

I laughed. “Okay. Put it this way. Do you want to have enough money to retire some day or not? Because she can help you, but not if you sabotage her.”

“So, I’m supposed to leave her in that place?”

“It’s only until she’s 18. Let her do what she wants. What she needs.”

“She’s a girl.”

“So am I. And I sure as heck don’t plan on depending on any man. You want her to depend on somebody who lets her down? Maybe worse than you did?” Below the belt. I knew that.

He growled. “I didn’t let her down. I didn’t do it.”

“Doesn’t matter whether you did or not. She needs to be her own woman.”

And then I heard gunshots.

He moved to the window, but smartly, his body mostly behind the wall. “Just the kids across the street shooting cans again.”

“As long as it’s only cans.” I relaxed. “Look. You’re swallowing a lot of pride even listening to a white chick. I appreciate it.”

“I’m listening because…” He frowned. “…you know her better than I do.” He sounded disappointed.

“I probably do. She’s had to make her own way, and she’s good at it. Her grades are way better than mine. She will go to college. I’m helping make sure of that. But right now you have her so scared she’s looking into emancipating and getting enough income to do that’s going to mess up her studies. Give her…space. And I think she’ll let you back in her life. If you don’t press her.”

“I’ll think about it.”

There was another gunshot. And then another. I used the cover of them to slip back outside, stepping into the street. In a vacant lot opposite there were, indeed, a group of boys shooting air rifles at old coke cans. They were scarily accurate but, I supposed, it was a harmless enough activity.

He’d been nice to me. Or maybe the slight smell of something not tobacco in the place had had something to do with it…

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