Saturday, April 9, 2011
Once Was Blind ~ Part 1
My name is Yolanda Reynolds. I thought that I would be married by the time I turned thirty, but Darnell Oliver not only wanted to be my everything, but everything to every woman he met who had a little change in her pocket and who was easily persuaded. Persuaded to do what? Well, just about anything under the sun.
He wanted his women doing everything, from stealing and selling clothes and jewelry to being a part of the oldest profession. Yeah, you know what I mean, prostitution. My former fiancé was a pimp and proud of it. I admit that I tried things his way for a while, but I guess I didn’t have much street value, so he didn’t try to make me quit my day job to pursue full fledge tricking. I thanked my Heavenly Father for making me fat, and for giving me the strength to leave him before Darnell had starved me to death and forced me to be a full-time whore, whether I liked it or not.
Darnell’s mother, Darlene, and I worked together. She and I had been pretty good friends when she introduced me to her son. The first time I talked to him on the phone, Darlene and Darnell had called me on 3-way. Darnell and I exchanged addresses and promised to write each other at least once every couple of weeks.
His first letter was accompanied by a package the size of a toothpaste box. I, being the type of person who loved receiving gifts, unwrapped the light blue package. When I opened what was indeed a toothpaste box, I found a dozen fake miniature roses of assorted colors. Then I opened the letter which said that the roses were better than real ones because they would last forever. I thought that was sweet gesture. As I held the letter, it dawned on me: I had agreed to date a convicted felon on his seventh year of a ten year bid.
After about two weeks of talking on the phone and exchanging letters, I was ready to meet Darnell face to face. I knew who Darnell was soon as he walked into the visitation room. I recognized him from the pictures of him around Darlene’s house. The guy who reached to hug his mother was a lot thinner than I expected. I had figured all guys gained weight when they went to the pen from lifting weights all day. He had a big gold-tooth smile on his face when he looked at me. As Darnell wrapped his small, but muscular, arms around me, I resisted the urge to touch his shoulder length jheri curl. At that point, I hadn’t known what he had done to get himself locked up, but when I looked at the one inch, perfectly manicured nails and snakeskin cowboy boots, pimping came to mind.
During the first two years of our relationship, I visited Darnell every week, twice a week during the holidays. If my car needed servicing and I couldn’t go see him, he told his mother or brother to bring me.
To make up for the fact that he couldn’t see me on an everyday basis, he was the first man to remember my birthday every year. I sent him money and accepted his calls three times a day. He had friends that would give me money for the phone bill when I needed help. He sent me cards and little notes every Valentine’s and Christmas. He even sent me a mother’s day card and signed it, “My children’s mother to be.” I got to know his entire family including three of his children and their mother. They all made me feel like part of the family. No matter how often my friends looked at me and told me that I should have known better than to get mixed up with a convict, I didn’t listen. I didn’t even tell my dad that Darnell was locked up, because he would have been the very worst critic of all; not just because I was his daughter and he wanted the best for me, but because he had done a decade in prison himself. He knew that everybody didn’t learn from their mistakes.
There were a few times when I said to myself, “This is stupid,” and I wouldn’t go see Darnell or put money on his book. When he would call, I would instruct my roommate, Lolita, to tell him I wasn’t there. I sometimes went out with other guys to try to forget about Darnell, but then he would call on one of his friends 3-way and tell me how much he missed me and that he would be there when I got through running around with all those “nothing –ass niggahs”.
During one of those breakups, Darnell met Roshelle Price through one of the other inmates. Roshelle was ten years older than Darnell, which made her fifteen years older than I. She made her money as a hooker and a clothes booster. Why couldn’t I have left him alone then? Because she ended up going to a federal prison and I didn’t considered her empty promises as a threat to the plans Darnell and I had made together. I didn’t take me long to realize how persistent she was.
After my roommate moved out and I was struggling to pay bills on my own, Darnell convinced me to move in with his mother and we would get our own place when he got out.
Darnell was out a whole week before I knew it, and the $900 he asked me to send to him, before his release had already been blown. His second night home, he screwed some girl in my bed while I was at work. I knew this because I saw an open condom package under my pillow. I should have packed my bags then, but I just told him when we moved out of his mom’s house, that I wanted my own room. We stayed with Darlene a month before we found a house.