Second Chance for Love(8)

By: Leona Jackson

Henry opened the door and stepped inside.

“Yes, you are, young man. You may not have liked Ol' Musco, not many people did, but you have to pay respect, and I think Jetta would appreciate you being there.” He crossed his arms. “You know she's having trouble with her family. She's never been like the rest of them. She needs someone there who is on her side.”

“That wouldn’t be me. She hates me.”

“No, she doesn't. Don’t you know anything about women, you fool?” he asked. “She doesn't hate you. She's hurt, and if she's still hurting after all these years, the woman still loves you, and I know you love her.”

“Mind your own business, Henry,” I said, turning to walk upstairs.

“It is my business! Here I am a lonely, old widower. I miss my Tammy every damn day, boy, every damn day. So maybe I'm a little angry at you for having a second chance to make things right and not doing it. Not even trying. And if you're not going to try, you don't deserve her. Hell, maybe you never did!” Henry stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind him. “You’re a damn coward, Chase, that's what you are! A yellow-bellied coward!”

I sat on the bed and put my head in my hands. What the hell was I supposed to do? I didn't want to make a scene at the old man's funeral, but Henry's words had struck a cord. I dressed in the suit I had worn to my uncle's funeral two years ago and headed out the door.

Traffic crawled as the whole town moved towards the church. That's the way it was around here. People who hated you when you were alive would mourn you when you died. It never made a whole lot of sense to me.

I was worried that everyone would think that I was trying to take advantage of Jetta's grief. Once I was caught in the flow of traffic there was no turning back. I could see Jetta's car at the front of the procession, behind the hearse. She was the reason I was putting myself through this. I would be there for her even though I wouldn't talk to her and I definitely wouldn't make a scene. It was the least I could do.

Chapter 9: Jetta

“Why the hell is he here, Jetta?” Mama asked, glancing in the rear-view mirror.

I looked up to see Chase's truck a few cars behind us.

“I don't know, Mama.” I sighed as we pulled into the church parking lot. “I really don’t know.”

“He shouldn't be here. I'm going to tell him to leave. He's the reason you and your daddy had that falling out. Your father wouldn't want him here. You know that. It’s not right.”

“Mom, stop it! Please, I’m begging you. Just stop it!” I said, killing the engine. “I can't handle this today.”

“Oh, Jetta, you never could handle anything. Don't worry about it. I'll get rid of him!” She hopped out of the car. “I'll tell him exactly where he can take his white ass!”

“Mom, leave it alone. If Daddy hated anything, it was someone causing a scene, so don't cause one!”

“Fine!” She hesitated a moment then stomped off toward the church.

I walked inside alone and sat down next to my sisters. Destiny was busy trying to get her children to sit still and be quiet. I tried not to look back over my shoulder, but I couldn't help it. I was curious to see if Chase was really going to show up. I almost sighed in relief when he walked in the church.

It wasn't like the old days though. He wasn't going to sit next to me and hold my hand through this. Hell, even if he’d tried, I wouldn't have let him. I would’ve slapped him for having such nerve. No, Chase’s presence didn't mean I wasn't alone. It just reminded me how alone I truly was now.

I stared at my lap while the preacher talked about good men, heaven, and how we'd all see my father again someday. My eldest sister sang Amazing Grace and talked about how much she'd miss Daddy.

My body felt numb and the whole experience seemed surreal. This couldn't be happening. It had to be some sort of sick joke. Daddy was alive. Any minute now he'd come out of nowhere and yell “April Fools!” or “Gotcha!” since Daddy always loved a good practical joke.

As I stood for my turn to walk by the coffin, my knees started shaking. My sisters clung to their husbands as our mother led the procession. I took a deep breath and focused on moving my legs. This would be the last time I ever laid eyes on my father. The thought was almost more than I could bear.

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