“Come on baby push!” Tyrone Black shouted from behind the camera. “Come on you can do it, just concentrate.”
Tonya huffed and puffed, concentrating on not cussing her husband out. But all she could think was damn him and damn that stupid camera. And she loved that camera. It was her bright idea to get it for his birthday. Of course at the time she didn’t see this happening.
“Hey don’t look so mean. You gonna scare the doctor away when he finally does show his ass. Hey-” Tyrone turned to the nurse and lowered the video camera at the same time. “Where the fuck is he anyway? Tell him I’m payin’ his ass way too much for him to be off playing golf or something. Can you do that for me, honey?”
The middle aged Korean woman probably hadn’t been called “honey” in ages, so like all the other women in her age bracket that crossed paths with Ty, she decided right from the get-go that she liked him. She gave a quick nod, knowing full well she’d never relay his message and continued with her duties – filling the pitcher with ice chips and keeping an eye on all the machines. She didn’t say much, other than barking a few directions at Tonya now and then.
“Breathe!” She ordered, as if the puffs of wind coming out of Tonya’s mouth weren’t enough. “You not breathing!”
“If … I wasn’t breathing … I would be dead.”
“Aww, now don’t be like that.” Ty’s voice took on a quality similar to a jockey trying to soothe a skittish horse. “She was just trying to help.”
The tired nurse smiled her thanks before leaving the couple alone.
“I hate snotty ass chicks.” Tonya exhaled slowly as the contractions released her abdomen. “And why the fuck you telling me to push?! The doctor ain’t even here yet! What you gonna do, drop that camera and catch the baby?”
“If I have to.” Tyrone answered with a mega-watt grin. He positioned the camera in one hand, dabbing her sweaty brow with the other. “Much better. Now you ready for your close-up.”
“Ty. Please, baby. Put that thing down.”
“Nope, not until she makes her appearance.”
“How many times I gotta tell you? It’s a boy. I want a boy. Girls too much trouble. Trust me I know.” She sighed, rubbing one hand across her over-sized belly while running the other through her short sassy haircut. “You wouldn’t know what to do with a girl anyway.”
“I handle you just fine.”
“Whatever. Pass me some more of them ice chips.”
Just as Ty tilted the pitcher over into the little plastic cup, his cell phone went off. A quick glance at his already extremely annoyed wife and it was clear that he better not answer that. Not many people in his life commanded the respect that Tonya did. Actually, it was just his wife and his mother, everybody else usually bent to his will. And that wasn’t because of his charm and good looks. The ringing stopped only to start again.
“Don’t even think about it.”
“It’s business babe, I gotta get it.”
“I’ll-I’ll be right back. I promise, okay? Two minutes.” He rested the camera calmly between Tonya’s feet, creating a crater in the blanket, then darted out into the hall. “Yeah.”
“Hey man uhh … we kinda got a problem down here. Chicago PD picked up a few of the young’uns from up off the corners.”
In seconds, Ty put on his business voice, checking the hall to make sure that no one was within earshot. “So handle it. That’s your job. If you can’t do your job, just let me know.”
“N’all, n’all I got it man.”
It was a quick conversation but that wasn’t unusual. Ty rarely talked business over the phone. He hung up and slipped back into the hospital room where Tonya was taking all of her frustrations out on the sheets. She gripped them with both hands, nearly ripping round patches of cloth into the air.
“What I miss?” He smirked and patted his slightly round middle. “She here yet?”
“Do you see her? Really Ty. Damn.”
Twelve hours later little Jessica Raymond Black decided to make her appearance. She arrived on time with a full afro, very much like her daddy. She puckered and yawned while Ty and Tonya surrounded her with love.
“She looks like me.”
“Uh-huh. What happened to you not wanting a girl?”
“Oh just hush up. Look at her.” Tonya grinned and cooed at the sleeping infant in her arms. “She’s beautiful, just like me.”
“Yeah okay, I guess I can’t argue with that. Here, give her to her daddy.” Ty cradled her securely in the crook of his arm and flipped open his phone for the fourth time in twenty-four hours. “What?”
“Don’t snap at me! I’m just callin’ to see how my grand baby is coming.”
“Oh. Hey mama, my bad. She’s good. I’m looking right at her.”
“What she look like?”
“Umm … she got a lotta hair.” Ty shrugged and turned to face Tonya, who was too tired to be mad at this point. “You gonna come see her, right?”
“We’ll see baby. This shit ain’t gonna get cut by itself. And I wouldn’t trust these mothafuckers up in here not to walk off with it. Now what would you do if you ain’t have a mama that knows about this stuff. Ain’t like they teachin’ this in college. I don’t know why your daddy insisted that you go. That’s all he talked about. College this and college that. It cost all that damn money and now what? You don’t even use-”
“Mmhmm.” Ty simply cleared his throat to put an end to the familiar diatribe. His mother could take any occasion and turn it into a platform to make her opinion about a completely unrelated issue known. “She’s pretty mama. Wait until you see her.”
“I bet she is. She got good genes.”
“Umm … mama Tonya wanna talk to you.”
Tonya was suddenly waving both hands in front of her and mouthing the words no, no, no over and over again. But it was useless. The damage had already been done.
“Hey baby. How you doing?”
“Well, I ain’t gonna keep you. Call me if you need anything.”
Sherry wasn’t one for long drawn out conversations with her daughter-in-law. She wasn’t one for goodbyes either, leaving Tonya to ponder the dial tone.
“Nothing.” She shook her head and handed him back his cell phone. “Just Sherry being Sherry.”
“I’m not! She the one that hung up on me.”
“Hey, hey, hey.” A deep voice interrupted from behind a bouquet of flowers. “Congratulations.” The flowers step into the room.
Damon was Tyrone’s best friend and closest ally. The two men couldn’t have looked more different. Their height was about all they had in common. Damon strolled into the hospital room, bundled up and still covered in snow. He was dark, almost blue-black as they say and ran the streets in Ty’s name with a fierce fist. Through thick and thin. And he was pretty fond of Ty’s wife too.
“Those for me?” Tonya yawned loudly and smiled as he sat the red roses right next to her bed.
“Yeah.” Damon licked his lips and shook his friend’s hand, his usual friendly greeting. “So, is this her? My little god-daughter?”
“Hey man, I ain’t even asked you yet. You supposed to wait to be asked.”
The dark visitor shrugged his thin shoulders, his big head wavering on top of his tall narrow body. “Aight, go ahead and ask me.”
Ty turned quickly back to the bed to find Tonya snoring softly. “Let’s step outside.”
Instantly, Damon recognized the tone. Business always came up at some point.
Ty leaned against the open doorway, his arms crossed over his slightly protruding middle, watching out for any spies in their midst. “So, lil’ man called me. What’s the problem?”
“Ain’t no problem. You know how he is, always panickin’ over every lil’ thang. But it ain’t nothin’ for you to be worried about. Them young’uns know what’s up. I called Getty and he gonna do his legal magic and have ‘em out by mornin’, so it’s all good. I got this. You just go on home and take care of yo’ pretty wife and new baby.”
As soon as the words left his lips, Tyrone felt the weight of them. He was married … with a kid. It was a good thing he wasn’t walking cause he’d have been tripping all over that. But why? He knew this was coming. He’s had months to prepare. He bought all the necessary items, read a few books … he was prepared. Ty didn’t do anything without thinking it through.
“I know what you thinkin.” Damon grinned and his big bubble coat squished and squirmed as he crossed his arms. “You thinkin man … I better not fuck this up.”
Ty glared at his best friend for reading his mind. It wasn’t a big deal. People had kids all the time. And Ty was used to having people depending on him. Hell, an entire economic system was based on what he did and said. Still … somehow this was different.
Tonya was more than capable of fending for herself, he wouldn’t be attracted to her if she wasn’t, so that wasn’t it. He frowned, attempting to think his way out of the newly perceived pressure.
“That’s it, ain’t it? You think you gonna fuck it up.”
“N’all man. I’m cool.”
Damon erupted in laughter and slapped Ty on the arm. “You scared shitless! It’s cool. You can tell me.”
“I ain’t telling you shit, cause it ain’t shit to tell. I said I’m cool man.”
“Aight.” Damon lifted both hands and backed up, still grinning to himself. “I ain’t gonna push it. You know I been there.”
“You ain’t never been nowhere near where I am.”
“What? Come on man.” Damon silently ticked off each finger on his left hand, naming each one of his kids. “Don’t worry, you only got one kid and one baby mama. Relax. Besides, you know Tonya gonna do all the work. That girl is pro active. All you gotta do is not get yourself killed. And that’s what you got me for.”
With that, Ty sighed and headed back into the hospital room, towards the sound of his daughter crying. She was going to have options and a life he’d only dreamed of.
“Damn man, she got some lungs on her. Must get it from Tonya.”
“Or Sherry,” Ty gently raised the little bundle from her hospital bed.
“True that. Ain’t nothin’ ‘bout yo’ mama quiet.”
It was true. Sherry wasn’t the sit back and watch kind of mother. She had opinions on top of opinions. Didn’t matter if they clashed with anybody else’s. Sherry didn’t take orders from anyone, not even her husband when he was alive. She let him believe he’d won certain battles. Like sending Ty to college. He went. Did well. But in the end Sherry got her way regardless. She’d been the wife of one of Chicago’s top players far too long to step out of the limelight just because he got himself shot. She wasn’t willing to part with the minks and jewelry and the cautious tone that people regarded her with. So, a few quick manuevers on her part and Sherry had her son exactly where she wanted him.
Ty thought he would’ve been bored as an astrologer anyway. What kind of job was that? They didn’t make real money. Sherry always said he was a natural at the game, just like his daddy. And that wasn’t something a mother would lie to her son about.