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Nobody's Perfect

Synopsis

Excerpts
- Chapter One
- Chapter Two

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Questions


Bonus Chapter

Currently Out of Print
Re-Release Date:
TBD

Check Your Local Library for a copy

 

Bonus Chapter

THIS IS AN UNEDITED BONUS CHAPTER and is not contained within the book.

The scene takes place between chapter 16 and 17. This chapter was created so readers will have some more of Nobody’s Perfect to read once they got to the end of the book. It is recommended that you read this chapter after you have completed Nobody’s Perfect. It is the only scene where the three main characters (Ken, Rachel, and Neal) and a few other favorites (Big Mama and Roz) are all together, under one roof.

Enjoy!


Big Mama owned her spot off of Eight Mile. She had lived in the one-and-a-half story brick house for over 50 years. The half of a story referred to the upstairs, which was no more than an attic, because an adult couldn’t stand straight up. Back in the day, the house was plenty big enough for Big Mama, Pa-Pa, and Rachel. Coming home to Detroit for Thanksgiving was a tradition Rachel cherished.

"Umm, umm," Neal blurted as he walked through Big Mama’s front door. Don’t tell me she made my apple cobbler and sweet potato pie, too!

"Now, Neal, you know she did." Rachel took his coat and walked towards the mirrored-coat closet.

Neal grinned and swiftly rubbed his hands together. "See, that’s what I’m talking about."

"Yeah, right. Like you’re skinny behind is going to eat it all."

Neal grinned and rubbed his stomach in large circular motions.

A woman, who was a taller, darker, and slightly older version of Rachel, entered the room.

"Hey, hey, it’s my guy."

"Roz," Neal enthusiastically greeted, "give me a hug, girl. How you doing, sis?"

"Doing fine, Neal." Neal, how’s it going?

"All right. I can’t complain."

"Still taking care of Rachel, huh."

"Somebody has to." Neal glanced at Rachel and gave her a wink.

"You two are talking like I’m not even here."

"Rachel, who’s at the door?" a voice echoed from the kitchen.

"You better get on in there and give Big Mama some ‘shuga’," Rachel whispered and snickered. Elevating her voice, Rachel yelled, "It’s Neal, Mama."

"Neal! Boy, you best get on in here and give me some ‘shuga’."

Rachel, Neal, and Roz all snickered softly. They heard Big Mama give her standard greeting to loved ones thousands of times. This made a thousand and one.

Neal maneuvered his way through Big Mama’s living room. It was a room filled with trinkets of her life, crocheted dollies laced across chair backs, and what-nots strategically placed. An old faded picture of her mother and father hung above the wooden archway, leading into the dining room. The fabric in the couch and three chairs didn’t match. Pictures consumed the antique bureau. Rachel’s parents, a fifty-five year old wedding picture of Big Mama and Pa-Pa, graduation and prom pictures of Neal, Roz, and Rachel, and a galore of Rachel’s childhood snapshots. To polish it off, the trio-framed picture of John, Robert, and Martin Luther King hung behind the sofa.

Neal entered the kitchen and didn’t stop until he was embracing a short, strong, brown-skinned woman who had a multi-colored scarf wrapped around her head and a loose fitting housedress. Rachel stopped buying casual clothes for Big Mama, because she only used two kinds of clothes. Sunday-go-to-meeting dress up clothes and her lounge around the house smocks. Being color coordinated wasn’t at the top of Big Mama’s list of concerns. Today was no exception. Her head rag and dress had a total of no less than 10 different colors. Neal hugged her tight. He had experienced much love in Ms. Emma Walker’s house over the years. She was no less a grandmother to him than she was to Rachel.

"Big Mama, how have you been?"

"Oh, I guess I’ze be fair to midland, chile. I’ze just a blessed to be able to take care myself."

"Big Mama, I’m sorry that I didn’t get by here yesterday. My flight didn’t get in until late."

"Chile, I knows you gots family more than just me," she said while stirring up a batch of fresh corn bread batter.

"Ummm, smells good, and I sure am hungry."

"I was fixin' up a l’il something to eat. It’s almost ready. I just have to brown this here bread. You know Big Mama don’t like no warm-over corn bread. It ain’t gone take but a minute." She opened the oven door and slid in the pan of batter. "When I heard the door, I thought it was Rachel’s friend-boy."

"Nah, Big Mama. It was just me."

"Big Mama looked up at Neal and smile, indicating he was good enough for her.

Neal looked at the clock hanging above the kitchen table. It was already 2:30. "I didn’t think he was still coming, Rachel’s friend I mean." "What time was he suppose to get here?"

Walking into the kitchen, Rachel overheard the conversation and chimed in. "He called this morning around 9:00, and said he was leaving."

Neal checked the time again. "Hmmm. He should be here any minute then. It’s only an hour flight."

"Oh, uh, he didn’t fly," Rachel hesitated. "He’s driving, since it only takes four-and-a-half hours, five if you’re slow."

"Like I don’t know. How many times did I make that drive with you when we got out of college?"

Rachel scrunched one side of her face and shook her head in mockery.

The atmosphere was filled with the smells of down-home cooking and family love. Roz was standing in the doorway. Neal was leaning on the counter, out of Big Mama’s way. Rachel was sitting at the table. Adult as all three were, they were still young-uns in Big Mama’s eyes. Just like the old days, she directed, "Y’all gone and get the table ready."

All three set in motion without a moment of hesitation.

Knock, knock.

Rachel glanced at her watch and excitedly ran to the door. She peeped out, and without speaking a word, her beaming smile confirmed it was Ken. "It’s him!" She pushed the door open and leaned her back against it.

Cool as a cucumber Ken spoke, "Hi, Rachel."

"Hi, Neal," she responded in a giddy school girl fashion. "Come on in. I want you to meet my family." She grabbed his hand and headed for the kitchen.

Roz and Neal were anxious to meet the infamous Ken, the man who had dominated Rachel’s time over the past five months. Big Mama was the calm one out of the bunch. She continued to get the meal ready.

Rachel approached the door with Ken only a few steps behind.

"Well family, this is Ken."

"Hi."

Neal jumped in with the introduction and extended his hand for the brother-shake-and-hug. "What’s up man? How was the drive?"

"Not bad. It’s a straight shot."

"Nice to finally meet you, Ken," Roz said with a handshake.

Big Mama stopped her cooking, turned to Ken, put her hand on her hip, and pushed her glasses up on her face. She took a good look at him and said, "I’m sho glad you made it. Welcome to my home."

"Thank you ma’am. I’m glad to be here."

"It was a pleasure meeting you, Ken. I have to go," Roz said.

"Have to go! Why?" Rachel asked.

"Remember, I told you about the meeting I have first thing tomorrow in L.A. I’ve been on the road the past two weeks, and I need to get back and prepare. I just wanted to hang around long enough to meet Ken."

"A Saturday meeting?"

"Hey, when you’re in business for yourself, every day is a work day."

Big Mama looked at Roz.

"Except for a Sunday, right Big Mama?"

"All right then."

Rachel leaned on Roz’s arm like a kid who’s clinging to a parent that is about to leave. "Stay, please, please." Rachel knew that a ‘please’ coming from her worked wonders with both Roz and Neal. It was a desperate measure, but Rachel felt she had to resort to whatever worked. She wanted Ken to get an opportunity to really meet her family.

"Okay, Rach, I’ll stay through dinner. But, I have to be out of this house by 5:00 in order to get the 7:00 flight."

"We better gets to eating then," Big Mama said. She started putting bowls of food into every available hand standing around. Her Thanksgiving dinner was not complete without black-eyed peas, potato salad, smoked turkey, chicken and dressing, collard, turnip, and mustard greens mixed, fried-corn, mac and cheese, corn bread, succotash, string beans and white potatoes, rice, candied yams, and a host of desserts.

The enticing smell of the food was all the motivation needed to get the food on the table quickly.

Every body sat down and took a breath of relief before eating.

"Well, ya’ll ready?" Big Mama looked around the table.

The long drive to Detroit left Ken hungry. The aroma of the chicken and dressing was rising straight up to his nostrils. He took the brief moment of reflection to mean let’s eat and grabbed the serving spoon stuck in the dressing pan.

Big Mama’s eyes got big and every one seated around the table put their head down in disbelief. Everybody who ate at Big Mama’s knew that not a morsel of food was ever eaten at her table before a thanks was giving. Ken was in trouble.

Rachel was on pens and needles, not knowing what Big Mama was going to say.

"Ken, I hear tell you a man of God. Can you bless the food, before we start to filling our bellies?"

Reluctantly, Ken answered, "Yes, ma’am." True enough he was a deacon-in-training, but prayer wasn’t one of his strong suits.

Every one bowed their heads and held hands for the blessing.

"Thank you God for this food. Thank you for Big Mama’s cooking it. Amen."

Rachel wanted to say, "What, that’s it," but wouldn’t dare.

Neal and Roz didn’t look up right away, in fear of snickering if they made eye contact. They both knew Big Mama expected a more powerful prayer from a man of God, especially one who was interested in her Rachel.

"Well, what y’all waiting for. Eat up, for it gets cold."

Didn’t have to tell Neal twice. He loaded his plate up and dug in. "Umm, umm, uhm, Big Mama. You put your foot in this."

"Thank you, Neal, but it ain’t nuthin’ but some warm-overs."

"Yeah, but they’re good."

Good food, good company, it was no surprise the two hours flew by and the clock was rapidly approaching 5:00.

"I gotta go."

"Time to hit it, huh?" Neal chimed in.

"You know it." Roz wiped her mouth with the paper towel, laid it across her plate, slid the chair back and stood up. "I’m going to run upstairs and grab my bag." "I got it. Just tell me where it is?"

"Neal, you are too much. It’s at the top of the stairs in Rachel’s room."

"Got it."

Roz gave her hugs and headed for the door. Neal met her with the suitcase. Everybody crowded around the door for Roz’s exit. She hugged and kissed Big Mama first, then Neal, and Rachel.

Ken stepped up. "It was nice meeting you Roz."

"You, too, Ken. Here, let me give you a hug, too. Have a safe trip back."

In the brisk cold, Neal put the suitcase in the rental car and the rest of the group followed Roz to the front steps. As was customary, they waved goodbye until the Grand-Am was no longer in sight.

"Sho is nippy out here. Well, Ken, you might as well gone and get your bag while we out here." Big Mama turned to go back inside with Rachel close behind.

"Oh, I’m not staying," Ken said on his way into the house.

Neal closed the front door behind himself.

"You’re not!" Rachel asked.

"No, I have to drive back tonight. My daughter came to visit me, unexpectedly, from Ohio, and she’s staying with my family for the day, but I do have to get back. Matter of fact, I’m going to get ready to head back now."

Rachel looked stunned.

"Thank you for letting me have dinner with you Ms. Emma. The food was good."

"You welcome, Ken. Most folks call me Big Mama."

"Neal, man, it’s good to finally meet you."

"Likewise, man. Take it easy, man. Take it easy on the road."

"Thanks."

"Sure we can’t talk you into staying overnight? There’s plenty room, and you is welcome. Rachel can sleep with me and you can sleep in her bed, or you can use the roll-out bed if you like."
"No, but thanks Big Mama. I do have to get back."

"All right, now. Well, if you gotta go, may the Lord keep you safe on the road home. May he watch over you until you gets home." Big Mama stepped forward with a gesture to put her hand on his forehead. Ken steps back. Ain’t gone hurt ya son, just wanna pray for ya."

Neal sensed Ken’s uneasy and spoke up. "Big Mama, let me help you clean off the table." Before she could respond he was halfway to the dining room.

When Ken could hear Big Mama and Neal talking in the kitchen, he motioned for Rachel to come closer.

"Not in Big Mama’s house! Are you crazy? If she catches us, that’s all she wrote for us. You can forget about getting in her good graces."

"Rachel, you’re grown."

"Yeah, but, I’m not stupid. Big Mama knows about everything that goes on in here."

"I’ll stay if I can sleep with you."

"Yeah, right. Like that’s really going to happen. You can stay, but it sure won’t be with us in the same room. With Big Mama, we’re lucky to be staying in the same house."

"Then, I guess I have to go back. You might as well get my coat."

Disappointedly, Rachel opens the door of the mirrored closet and pulls out Ken’s full-length leather coat. The Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t all she had hoped for a week ago, but it was better than not seeing Ken and her family together at all.

 

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