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Morning Tea

“I thought you were booked all day Lisa?”

It wasn’t as much of a question as much as it was an observation. Kira always found ways to compete with Lisa and an opening on a pay week Saturday was the perfect opportunity to make her point and in front of an audience too. Ivette’s Hair Creation was bustling that morning, as expected with Easter being the next day.

“No, honey, I am booked until 9 tonight, but I guess Ms. Loretta is running a little late.”

The two women stared at one another long enough for everyone in the shop to believe this was finally the time the snarky comments came to a head. Ivette warned them to cut the drama or they would both go. Everyone knew the threat was empty because they were the shop’s top earners, but she seemed serious enough for Lisa and Kira to at least remain cordial. Usually.

“You talking bout Loretta Robinson?” Mrs. Washington asked as Ivette handed her a cup of tea.

“Yes, please don’t tell me something happened to Ms. Loretta, I just talked to her Tuesday when she asked me to squeeze her in this morning for a press and curl.”

“Oh, no baby, nothing happened to Loretta. But she won’t be coming in here today.”

“Mrs. Washington, please tell Lisa why Ms. Loretta isn’t coming,” Ivette didn’t like gossip, though it kept the shop running.

“That son of hers done got himself arrested again.”

“What did Derrick do now?”

“The papers say him and Clara Bell’s boy got caught trying to rob one of them armored trucks outside the check cashing place on Park.”

Silence swept through the shop.

“Seems like the two of them and some boy that ain’t from round here got it in their heads that they had the smarts to rob that truck,” Mrs. Washington looked up at Ivette who’d stopped working on her hair amazed by what she was hearing.

Ivette quickly snapped out of her trance and went back to work with her curling iron. There were no newspapers in the shop, so a dozen women grabbed their cell phones and started Googling simultaneously.

“The whole story ain’t gonna be on that internet of yours. Cynthia Jenkins was in the fish market and told me everything.”

Ivette stopped again. Kira took two steps closer. Lisa sat in Ms. Loretta’s place.

“Cynthia told me that the truck had to double park because a delivery van was parked out front of the check-cashing place. When the guards got out of the truck with the bags to bring in, a car slammed into one of the guards and Clara Bell’s boy jumped out with a gun and grabbed one of the bags. Loretta’s boy had a shotgun pointed at one of the other ones.”

As Mrs. Washington talked, she realized that the women in the shop had begun to crowd around her. She was reminded of her days teaching kindergarten. Many of the women in the shop that morning had been in her class during one of her thirty-seven years as a teacher.

“I’m surprised the guards didn’t start shooting. They’re trained to kill,” someone said from the back.

“Shhh! Let her finish,” the suspense was killing Kira.

“I’m surprised none of them fired, but it all happened so fast and out in the open, maybe they didn’t want to shoot any innocent people yesterday. Clara’s boy…”

“Lamar,” Kira interrupted her.

“Excuse me, dear?”

“Lamar. Mrs. Bell’s son is named Lamar.”

“Clara’s boy,” Mrs. Washington turned slightly towards Lisa and continued, “grabbed that bag and was running to get back into the car. But that boy don’t got the good sense God gave him. He threw the bag in the car, but the driver took off before he got in.”

The shop took a deep breath.

“Backed right off that sidewalk and took off down the street. In Loretta’s car!”

“No, they didn’t Mrs. Washington?” Ivette asked.

“Yes, baby, they had Loretta’s Buick and call themselves doing a heist. Loretta’s boy standing there looking as stupid as the day is long. Somebody got your money and your mama’s car. Then you realize you got four guns on you. Those fools took off running down Park with the guards behind them.”

The shop erupted in laughter. Mrs. Washington calmly waited for the ladies to settle down.

“They caught Clara’s boy over by the drug store. Three of them jumped on him, beat him up good first, then handcuffed him. Cynthia tell me Loretta’s boy was getting away but saw the police coming his way, so he ran across the street. The guard fell in the middle of the street, must’ve hurt his leg or something. Cops were coming up Park from both directions, so Loretta’s boy ran in the fish market.”

Mrs. Washington stopped to take a long sip from her cup of tea.

“He run in, look Cynthia in her face and said, ‘I’m sorry Mrs. Jenkins’ and ran towards the first exit sign he saw. The problem is the boy rain into a storage closet. He come out and the police, those guards and Old Man Lee from the fish market all got their guns on him.”

There was more laughter, a few women in disbelief and others commenting on the misfortune of Derrick Robinson when the door chime sounded and in walked Loretta Robinson.

“What are you ladies in here gossiping about today?



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