I went through all the clothes in my closet. Pacing back and forth between the drawers, closet and the mirror, trying on different shirt and pant combinations. I have no idea what I'm going to wear and to top it off, I'm running late. I guess I overslept after having been in the studio all day yesterday, then to come home to hear Shayla talking about Joseph's other child only made me upset. I wish she understood why I don't want to talk about her. But I guess it doesn't help when I avoid talking about her, so Shayla doesn't really get it. It hurts to know that my siblings and I have been through so much regarding Joseph. He would discipline us. He would never allow us to call him "dad," and to hear that this little girl gets everything we've ever wanted out of Joseph hurts me in ways I would never imagine. Like, when he was upset with me and Jermaine about leaving The Jackson's, he disrespected us to the highest degree. Janet has never been able to call Joseph "dad" either. And Janet is the baby, of our family at least. So, to know his other child gets to call Joseph "daddy" is like a slap in the face. If anyone should get that privilege, it should be Janet, not some affair baby. And maybe Shayla is right. Maybe he felt since he's older, it doesn't really matter anymore, but would it kill him to extend the same kindness to us as he does his other child? As far as I'm concerned, the girl doesn't even exist to me and I'd like it to keep it that way. That's Joseph's business, not mine. A soft knock came to the door. I take it that's Mariah. It's going to take me a while to get used to her being around. I opened the door, "good morning."
She rubbed her eyes, "hi. Is Shayla awake?"
"No, she's still asleep. What's going on?"
"What do you guys have for breakfast? I'm starving."
"The chef should be here in thirty minutes. If you wait, she'll be able to whip you up something."
"Well, I'm hungry now, so do you have anything to snack on?"
"We have some apples and bananas downstairs."
"I don't want apples and bananas."
"Then you're not hungry," I told her. What the heck was with this girl?
She sighed, "Shayla said I would be getting tutored by the same lady who tutored you. When does that start?"
"I don't know," I shrugged. "Shayla will probably work on that today."
"Is that what you do? You put everything on my sister that way you don't have to do anything around here?" She narrowed her eyes at me.
I don't feel I should have to answer to a sassy eleven-year-old in my house, "I'm actually getting ready to go, Mariah. Shayla should be up shortly, I'm sure she'll tell you everything you need to know about your schooling."
"Don't be out here treating my sister as a maid," she informed me as she went back to her room. I looked back at Shayla who was still asleep. This is going to be one long year if this is what we have to continue to deal with. I finished getting dressed and left, getting in the Black Rolls Royce. It's been a while since I've driven, but I've got to get to the studio one way or another. I started the car and sped out of the compound. I checked the time: 9:45 a.m. I am late... Oh my gosh. Speeding past all traffic, I merged onto the highway. As much as I hate the rat race of the highway, it will get me to the studio faster than taking the street. I weaved through the semi-trucks and cars going fifteen over the fifty-five-speed limit. I have to be at the studio by 10:00. This is cutting it close. I checked my rearview and side mirrors to make sure I was passing safely so as to not cause an accident. I checked the time again: 9:55 a.m. Five minutes. Suddenly, I heard a police siren. I looked in my rear-view mirror to see the familiar red and blue lights flashing behind me. Is he signaling for me? He sped up closer behind me to indicate that he was indeed after me. I sighed, merging over to the side safely. Only five minutes to spare and I get pulled over. Great. I got my license out and put my hands on the steering wheel. You never know with the cops these days. I've heard about the police brutality that goes on around here.
The police officer knocked on my passenger window. I rolled the window down, "do you know how fast you were-" he stopped once he realized it was me. He cleared his throat, "do you have any idea of how fast you were going, sir?"
I looked at the speedometer, "um, sixty?" I lied.
"You were going seventy in a fifty-five," he reminded me.
"I'm sorry. I'm supposed to be at the studio at ten and I was running late coming out of the house."
"That's no excuse, Mr. Jackson. May I please have your license?" He asked. I gave it to him and put my hands back on the steering wheel. "I'll be right back once I figure out what I'm going to do with you," he walked back to his cruiser. I sighed, laying my head on the steering wheel. I'm definitely going to be hearing from Q about this. I hope this cop hurries up. I've got to get to the studio. I mean, it is my fault for oversleeping, but still. I looked out at the traffic speeding fast past me. How come he got me out of everyone else? He came back to the window and handed me back my license. "Here's this back. I've decided to give you a ticket. All you have to do is pay the balance on that and you'll be good."
"Thank you, officer," I looked at the ticket to see that I had been fined sixty dollars. I rolled my eyes.
"Mr. Jackson," he continued to stand at the window. I looked at him. "Would you do me a favor and sign this for me? I'm a big fan. Sorry, I had to give you a ticket. You know it's my job," he looked down sheepishly as he handed me a blank ticket.
I took the pen and paper and began to sign it, "what's your name?"
"Officer Joe Bryant," he told me.
"Thank you for doing your job," I said aloud as I wrote that and my autograph on the paper and handed it back to him.
"Thank you so much, Mr. Jackson," he smiled at receiving my autograph.
"Am I free to go now?"
"Yes, sir. Just please slow down, okay? I would hate to have to give you another ticket."
"Yes, sir. Thank you," I shifted the car out of park and made my way to the studio. I looked at the time: 10:15 a.m. Great.
"Smelly, what's going on? It's 10:30. You're late!" Q made me aware as soon as I walked in the studio.
"I left the house late and a cop pulled me over," I sat down.
"A cop pulled you over for leaving the house late?" He made a face.
"No. He pulled me over because I was speeding," I sighed. "I don't understand why he pulled me over when literally everyone else was speeding as well. I wasn't the only one going seventy in a fifty-five."
"Well, maybe if you hadn't left the house late in the first place, you wouldn't have been speeding."
"I overslept. Don't act as if you've never overslept before," I looked at him. "After he gave me the ticket, he had the audacity to ask for an autograph."
Q laughed, "did you give it to him?"
"Did I really have a choice?"
"You did, but I would have just given him the autograph too," he shrugged.
"I'm just pissed because I would have been here on time had he not pulled me over. I pay good money for this studio time! Now I have to pay the courts for a stupid ticket?" Q slid a piece of paper and a pencil to me. I looked at him, "what's this for?"
"Write about it. Write about why it pisses you off so much that he pulled you over."
I looked down at the paper, "you want me to write about why I'm mad?"
"Whatever comes to mind. Write about it." I looked down at the piece of paper again. What could I possibly write about pertaining to being pulled over? I took the pencil and began writing:
I'm headed for the studio. It's on my mind. And nothing really matters. I've got to be on time. Look in the rear-view mirror. Is he hot on my tracks? Is he getting nearer? I feel heat on my back. Speeding on the freeway. Gotta get a lead way. Doing it on the highway. Gotta have it my way. Mind is like a compass. I'm stopping at nothing. Pull over boy and get your ticket right!
I looked at what I had written and made a couple of notes. Q took the piece of paper and read what I had written, "there we go! What do you think?" he asked.
"What do you mean, what do I think?"
"I mean, what do you think?" He asked again. "Keep writing. Let's see what else you can come up with. I looked at the piece of paper again:
And nothing's going to stop me. Ain't no stop and go. I'm speeding on the midway. I gotta really burn this road. You're the very same one who said the future's in your hands. The life you save could be your own. You're preaching about my life like you're the law. Gonna live each day and hour like for me there's no tomorrow.
Q took the paper again and read over what I had written, "I knew you had it in you."
"What are you talking about?" I asked him.
He pointed at the paper, "this is a song." I read over what I had written again. Maybe he was right. This is a song. I erased studio and put border. I changed "rear-view" to view and continued to make the necessary changes. "What do you want to call it?"
"Speed... Speed... Speed something. Something with speed. What do you got?" I asked.
"Speed driver, Speed guy, Speed dude, Speed Lemon, Speed car," he rambled off. None of those sound right.
"Speed Demon?" I looked at him.
"Speed Demon!" He clapped.
I smiled, "I like that."
"Me too. Go ahead and add that in the song or something. I like how that sounds. I'm going to work on what the instrumental will sound like." I erased and added some words throughout the song. That was pretty therapeutic. I like how Q had me do that. This is why we're a great duo.
"Shayla," Mariah repeatedly knocked on the door. Oh my gosh. What have I done?
"What?" I groaned.
She opened the door, hand on her hip, "what am I supposed to do all day? Am I being homeschooled or not?"
I rolled my eyes, "why can't you just enjoy a break from school for a while?"
"Because I actually like school," she came over to the bed and started jumping up and down. I stared up at her. "When will I start this homeschooling thing?" I ignored her and looked at the clock: 11:15 a.m.
"First of all, stop jumping on my bed or I'm going to kick you off," I warned. She stopped jumping and sat down. "Second of all, have you eaten breakfast yet?"
"Yes, the chef made me pancakes and eggs."
"Okay. So, you've eaten... Why are you still in your pajamas?"
"Because I don't know what we're doing today. Do you mind telling me?"
"I'll tell you what, we're going to work on that attitude for sure."
She made a face, "and how are you going to do that?"
"Go on and get dressed. I'll meet you downstairs in an hour," I sat up.
"Okay, but hurry! I want to see Los Angeles."
"You're not going to see Los Angeles. You should just go ahead and figure out something else you want to do because I am not rewarding bad behavior."
"Fine," she shrugged. "Maybe I'll call Carol to pick me up and take me."
"You will not. I did not give you permission to use my phone."
"Then how am I going to call mom and dad?" she sassed.
"When I call them and give you the phone to speak to them. Go get dressed. I'm not telling you again," she ran off to her room. Sheesh. I tell you she brings out the parent in me that I never knew I had. See, but this is my sister. My kids wouldn't dare act like this. My goodness.
"Shayla, where are we going?" Mariah groaned as we got out of the car. I ignored her repeated question. I think that's why she feels like she can get away with annoying people and getting her way. I'm sure she does this to mom and dad and they just respond to her every request. Not here. She got out of the car as I took Bubbles by the hand. We started to walk, but Mariah stayed behind. "I'm not following you anywhere until you tell me where we're going," she folded her arms. I looked back at her only to find her staring back at me. I sighed and continued walking. I'm not about to play with her. If she wants to have a hissy fit, she can go ahead. I'm just not going to baby her. "You're just going to leave me here?" She asked as I went inside the building. I pressed the button on the elevator and waited. Mariah came running in, "how could you just leave me like that? For all you know, I could be kidnapped!"
I looked at her, "but you didn't, did you?"
"No," she shifted. The elevator door opened, and we all got in. "Are you going to tell me where we're going?"
I sighed, "Mariah, I have no obligation to tell you where we're going. I'm the adult and you're the child. All I'm supposed to do is keep you safe. I don't have to tell you anything, so quit asking me."
"I want to go home with mom and dad," she folded her arms. I ignored her request and we stood in silence. Bubbles was getting a little bothersome, so I picked him up to calm him down. Once we got to our floor, we all exited and made our way to the apartment I came to see in the first place. I knocked on the door. "Who are we here to see?" Mariah asked. Again, I ignored her and continued to knock on the door, finally, someone opened the door.
"May I help you?" The caregiver asked.
"Hi, I'm Shayla-Elizabeth, Michael's wife. I was given this address to speak with Mrs. Rose Fine for her tutoring services?"
"Come on in and have a seat. I'll tell her you're here," we filed in and sat on the couch.
"If you would have told me we were coming here in the first place, I wouldn't have had to ask you a million times where we were going," Mariah sassed.
"During this meeting, I want you to zip it. You don't speak unless an adult tells you to speak. Do you understand?" She continued to stare forward. "Do you hear me?"
"You told me not to speak."
"When an adult asks you a question, you speak, okay?"
"Sure," she slouched, rolling her eyes. What has my mother done? They must have held off on discipline when it came to Mariah because this is absolutely ridiculous. Mrs. Fine came in the room as escorted by her caregiver.
"Hi, Mrs. Fine," I stood up to greet her. "I'm Shayla-Elizabeth, Michael's wife."
She smiled, "Michael's wife? He didn't tell me he was married!"
"He didn't? Well, I certainly apologize on his behalf, we got married three years ago."
"Oh, my word... You are so beautiful and sweet! You tell Michael the next time I see him, he's in trouble."
I laughed, "yes, ma'am, I will."
"Who else do I have the pleasure of meeting today?" she looked at Mariah.
"This is my little sister, Mariah. We brought her all the way from Ohio to stay with us for the year."
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Mariah," Mrs. Fine smiled. Mariah didn't say anything.
"Mariah..." I warned.
She sighed, "hi, Mrs. Fine. I would talk, but Shayla told me not to talk unless an adult asks me a question. So, if you expect a response out of me, you'd have to ask a question." I shook my head; this little drama queen is definitely going to be a piece of work.
"How are you, Mariah?" Mrs. Fine asked.
"Do you like California?"
"Because I haven't been given a tour yet."
Mrs. Fine looked up at me, "are you going to give this young lady a tour any time soon?"
"Once she fixes her behavior, I will for sure," I looked at Mariah who only rolled her eyes. "Mrs. Fine, we were wondering if you would be interested in tutoring Mariah. I don't want to put her in any public or private schools. I think it'd be best if she had a personal tutor."
"What is the reasoning for not putting her in a school?" She asked me
"Well, if you can't already tell, Mariah is mature for her age. I'd say a little bit too mature. She needs to be around more kids because oddly enough myself and our other siblings are all older than her. My parents are nearing their seventies. She's around adults all the time. I think she needs to be around kids, but with the lifestyle Michael and myself have, it would only seem right to put her in a private school, right? No, Mariah is already spoiled and snobby as is. We brought her over here to fix it, not make it worse."
"I see," Mrs. Fine nodded. "Well, I wouldn't mind tutoring Mariah. How do you plan to have her around other kids though?"
"Michael and I have tons of nieces and nephews. There's no problem there."
"Okay, well, I have no problem tutoring her for you."
"Thank you so much! How much do we have to pay you?"
Mrs. Fine looked around, "pay? What do you mean?"
"Um, there's a fee, right?"
"Michael must not have told you that he's responsible for this apartment," she laughed.
"He is?!" I looked around.
"Yes... There is no fee, sweetheart. I can tutor Mariah as soon as possible. I'm sure Michael will have a car available for me to ride over to your house, right?"
I nodded, "yes, ma'am!"
"Great. I'll give you a list of books to buy and I can start tomorrow if you like."
"That would be great! Is eleven a.m., okay?"
"That's fine," she nodded at me. "Mariah?"
"Yes?" Mariah looked at her.
"I'll see you at eleven tomorrow morning, okay? Will you be ready for your first lesson?"
"What grade are you in?"
"Good. I'll figure out a lesson accordingly. I'm excited about our lesson tomorrow, are you?"
Mariah shrugged, "I guess."
"Thank you so much, Mrs. Fine. Mariah will be ready for her lessons tomorrow. It was a pleasure meeting you," I hugged her, gathered Bubbles and left. Mariah followed behind me in silence. Maybe Mrs. Fine will be able to make an impression on Mariah as well because I need all the help I can get.