IS AN UNEDITED BONUS CHAPTER and is not contained within
scene takes place between chapter 16 and 17. This chapter
was created so readers will have some more of Nobodys
Perfect to read once they got to the end of the book. It
is recommended that you read this chapter after you have
completed Nobodys 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.
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 couldnt 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," Neal blurted as he walked through Big Mamas
front door. Dont tell me she made my apple cobbler
and sweet potato pie, too!
Neal, you know she did." Rachel took his coat and walked
towards the mirrored-coat closet.
grinned and swiftly rubbed his hands together. "See,
thats what Im talking about."
right. Like youre skinny behind is going to eat it
grinned and rubbed his stomach in large circular motions.
woman, who was a taller, darker, and slightly older version
of Rachel, entered the room.
hey, its my guy."
Neal enthusiastically greeted, "give me a hug, girl.
How you doing, sis?"
fine, Neal." Neal, hows it going?
right. I cant complain."
taking care of Rachel, huh."
has to." Neal glanced at Rachel and gave her a wink.
two are talking like Im not even here."
whos at the door?" a voice echoed from the kitchen.
better get on in there and give Big Mama some shuga,"
Rachel whispered and snickered. Elevating her voice, Rachel
yelled, "Its Neal, Mama."
Boy, you best get on in here and give me some shuga."
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.
maneuvered his way through Big Mamas 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 didnt match.
Pictures consumed the antique bureau. Rachels 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 Rachels childhood snapshots. To polish
it off, the trio-framed picture of John, Robert, and Martin
Luther King hung behind the sofa.
entered the kitchen and didnt 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 wasnt at the top of Big Mamas
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
Walkers house over the years. She was no less a grandmother
to him than she was to Rachel.
Mama, how have you been?"
I guess Ize be fair to midland, chile. Ize just
a blessed to be able to take care myself."
Mama, Im sorry that I didnt get by here yesterday.
My flight didnt get in until late."
I knows you gots family more than just me," she said
while stirring up a batch of fresh corn bread batter.
smells good, and I sure am hungry."
was fixin' up a lil something to eat. Its almost
ready. I just have to brown this here bread. You know Big
Mama dont like no warm-over corn bread. It aint
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 Rachels friend-boy."
Big Mama. It was just me."
Mama looked up at Neal and smile, indicating he was good
enough for her.
looked at the clock hanging above the kitchen table. It
was already 2:30. "I didnt think he was still
coming, Rachels friend I mean." "What time
was he suppose to get here?"
into the kitchen, Rachel overheard the conversation and
chimed in. "He called this morning around 9:00, and
said he was leaving."
checked the time again. "Hmmm. He should be here any
minute then. Its only an hour flight."
uh, he didnt fly," Rachel hesitated. "Hes
driving, since it only takes four-and-a-half hours, five
if youre slow."
I dont know. How many times did I make that drive
with you when we got out of college?"
scrunched one side of her face and shook her head in mockery.
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 Mamas way. Rachel
was sitting at the table. Adult as all three were, they
were still young-uns in Big Mamas eyes. Just like
the old days, she directed, "Yall gone and get
the table ready."
three set in motion without a moment of hesitation.
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. "Its him!" She pushed
the door open and leaned her back against it.
as a cucumber Ken spoke, "Hi, Rachel."
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.
and Neal were anxious to meet the infamous Ken, the man
who had dominated Rachels time over the past five
months. Big Mama was the calm one out of the bunch. She
continued to get the meal ready.
approached the door with Ken only a few steps behind.
family, this is Ken."
jumped in with the introduction and extended his hand for
the brother-shake-and-hug. "Whats up man? How
was the drive?"
bad. Its a straight shot."
to finally meet you, Ken," Roz said with a handshake.
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, "Im sho glad you
made it. Welcome to my home."
you maam. Im glad to be here."
was a pleasure meeting you, Ken. I have to go," Roz
to go! Why?" Rachel asked.
I told you about the meeting I have first thing tomorrow
in L.A. Ive 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."
when youre in business for yourself, every day is
a work day."
Mama looked at Roz.
for a Sunday, right Big Mama?"
leaned on Rozs arm like a kid whos 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.
Rach, Ill stay through dinner. But, I have to be out
of this house by 5:00 in order to get the 7:00 flight."
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.
enticing smell of the food was all the motivation needed
to get the food on the table quickly.
body sat down and took a breath of relief before eating.
yall ready?" Big Mama looked around the table.
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 lets
eat and grabbed the serving spoon stuck in the dressing
Mamas eyes got big and every one seated around the
table put their head down in disbelief. Everybody who ate
at Big Mamas knew that not a morsel of food was ever
eaten at her table before a thanks was giving. Ken was in
was on pens and needles, not knowing what Big Mama was going
I hear tell you a man of God. Can you bless the food, before
we start to filling our bellies?"
Ken answered, "Yes, maam." True enough he
was a deacon-in-training, but prayer wasnt one of
his strong suits.
one bowed their heads and held hands for the blessing.
you God for this food. Thank you for Big Mamas cooking
wanted to say, "What, thats it," but wouldnt
and Roz didnt 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.
what yall waiting for. Eat up, for it gets cold."
have to tell Neal twice. He loaded his plate up and dug
in. "Umm, umm, uhm, Big Mama. You put your foot in
you, Neal, but it aint nuthin but some warm-overs."
but theyre good."
food, good company, it was no surprise the two hours flew
by and the clock was rapidly approaching 5:00.
to hit it, huh?" Neal chimed in.
know it." Roz wiped her mouth with the paper towel,
laid it across her plate, slid the chair back and stood
up. "Im going to run upstairs and grab my bag."
"I got it. Just tell me where it is?"
you are too much. Its at the top of the stairs in
gave her hugs and headed for the door. Neal met her with
the suitcase. Everybody crowded around the door for Rozs
exit. She hugged and kissed Big Mama first, then Neal, and
stepped up. "It was nice meeting you Roz."
too, Ken. Here, let me give you a hug, too. Have a safe
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.
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.
Im not staying," Ken said on his way into the
closed the front door behind himself.
not!" Rachel asked.
I have to drive back tonight. My daughter came to visit
me, unexpectedly, from Ohio, and shes staying with
my family for the day, but I do have to get back. Matter
of fact, Im going to get ready to head back now."
you for letting me have dinner with you Ms. Emma. The food
welcome, Ken. Most folks call me Big Mama."
man, its good to finally meet you."
man. Take it easy, man. Take it easy on the road."
we cant talk you into staying overnight? Theres
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."
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. Aint gone
hurt ya son, just wanna pray for ya."
sensed Kens 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.
Ken could hear Big Mama and Neal talking in the kitchen,
he motioned for Rachel to come closer.
in Big Mamas house! Are you crazy? If she catches
us, thats all she wrote for us. You can forget about
getting in her good graces."
but, Im not stupid. Big Mama knows about everything
that goes on in here."
stay if I can sleep with you."
right. Like thats really going to happen. You can
stay, but it sure wont be with us in the same room.
With Big Mama, were lucky to be staying in the same
I guess I have to go back. You might as well get my coat."
Rachel opens the door of the mirrored closet and pulls out
Kens full-length leather coat. The Thanksgiving weekend
wasnt all she had hoped for a week ago, but it was
better than not seeing Ken and her family together at all.