Excerpt from Destination Wedding


Chapter 9: Rockin’ the Boat

Maia was sitting with David on the other end of the top deck. When she envisioned this ride with David to Daufuskie Island, never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that she would see what she was now seeing with her own two eyes. Maia was just happy that her parents were below deck catching up with the Robinsons rather than witnessing this spectacle.
“Come on, seven!”
A clatter could be heard as the objects rolled across the wooden deck and strike the metal wall. Then the ruckus laughter followed.
“Pay up, dude!” laughed the one with the funny shaped head.
“Double or nothin’, man!” said the short wiry one.
There were a group of guys, a couple of them who Maia was sure were Clay’s brothers, in a corner shooting dice.
Loud slurps and moans drew Maia and David’s attention to a pair not too far from the dice rollers. They looked to be seconds away from getting their groove on right there on the top deck. The tall woman with the big breasts was straddling the pretty boy with the silky hair and the gold jewelry.
The rough waves rocked the boat causing them repeatedly slap their bodies together.
“Are they giving each other mouth-to-mouth?” Maia whispered to David in disgust.
“I don’t know, but she could make good money as a lap dancer,” David whispered back. “If she grinds him any faster, the captain could turn off the boat and we could just sail to the island using their momentum.”
David laughed as Maia poked him, knowing he hated that.
“Sorry baby,” he said still laughing, rubbing his side where she’d poked him.
Then there were the girls hanging off the back of the boat feeding extra cheesy Doritos from a super-sized bag to the dolphins swimming nearby. To Maia’s horror, Patrice decided to join them.
“It looks like Patrice has made some new friends,” David commented.
“I’m happy for her,” was Maia’s sarcastic response.
Suddenly, the kissing and grinding couple sprang from their seats and rushed past the girls, bumping them before clunking down the stairs to the lower deck.
“T-Pretty, see what you made me do?!” One of them called after them.
Maia shot David a look that said, ‘What did she just call him?!’
“ ‘T-Pretty?’ ” David’s body just shook with silent laughter.
The girls watched with dismay as a half a bag of extra cheesy Doritos floated into the ocean.
“Great. Giving the poor dolphin high cholesterol isn’t enough so they decided to pollute the waters also,” Maia commented dryly.
“Hey, I’ve got Pringles,” Patrice offered to Maia’s shock and horror.
“Cool, let’s get ‘em,” said the girl.
“Half-Dead! Are you up there shootin’ dice, losin’ our hard earned money?!” shrieked a voice.
Maia and David exchanged horrified glances and then looked towards the dice rolling crowd to see which one of them would answer to the name, “Half-Dead.”
Up walked a lady with a horrible red curly weave, yelling at the top of her lungs. She held herself steady against the rocking boat.
“I knew you was up here,” she yelled at a sleepy looking man who wasn’t saying too much of anything. “Which bag did you put that Imodium in? This damn boat ride makin’ me sick to my stomach!”
The group of men snickered.
“What the hell y’all laughin’ at?!” She demanded to know.
Then she turned on Maia and David. “What the hell you starin’ at?! You don’t know me like that!”
Maia shook her head and stared at the water. As much as she wanted to say something back to this female Bozo-the-Clown, like telling her that eyebrows are not supposed to meet the hairline, Maia refused to combat ignorance with ignorance.
David said shaking his head also, “Nothing, ma’am. Go on and handle that.”
“Phyllis,” admonished the one with the funny shaped head. “You don’t know them people like that!”
“So! They don’t need to be starin’ at people all up in their eye!” Then she turned on Half-Dead, her curly weave quivering angrily on her head. “Get down them stairs!” she snapped punching Half-Dead in the arm.
He climbed down the stairs with a fussing Phyllis behind him.
“Hey y’all we sorry ‘bout Phyllis,” The man with the funny shaped head said. “Sometimes she don’t know how to act.”
“Hey no problem, bruh,” David said good-naturedly.
“Hey man, I’m Lightbulb,” the man introduced himself. “Clay brother.”
“Oh hey, man,” David piped up. “We just met Clay but he seems like cool people. I’m David and this is my wife, Maia. She’s Marissa’s sister.”
Lightbulb looked from the built man to the pretty woman sitting next to him.
“You’re Maia?” Lightbulb asked her.
“That’s right,” Maia said wondering how a man by the name of ‘Lightbulb’ could possibly know her. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Hey gurl, it’s a good thang you married to this dude ‘cause I was sure ‘nough askin’ Clay ‘bout how to get next to you!”
“You don’t even know me,” Maia said to him trying to keep the pretentiousness out of her voice.
“Don’t matter. As fine as Marissa is, I knew any sister of hers had to be fine too!” Lightbulb quickly told David, “No offense, bruh. You jus’ lucky that’s all I’m sayin’.”
“I know that,” David said giving Maia a kiss on her cheek.
“Oh this Book, Clay’s other brother, our cousins Damon and Webb. Half-Dead, our other brother just left with his loud mouth wife, Phyllis.”
“But Phyllis was right ‘bout one thing,” said the small wiry one called Book. “This water rough! What up with that?”
“It’s got to be the storm coming,” Maia said. “It makes the waters a bit choppy.”
“We gotta go down, yo,” said Damon. “I’m gettin’ sick up here.”
“It’s nice to meet you two, see you around,” said Lightbulb following his cousins and brother down the stairs.
“How are you feeling?” Maia asked David.
“I’m a little off, but I think I’ll be alright.”
“Let’s go on downstairs. You don’t feel the boat’s movement quite as much.”
They passed Clay and Marissa who were oblivious to all of the activity. The both of them were cuddled together on the seat cushions fast asleep.
“Aw David look,” Maia said softly. “They’re so tired.”
“They’d better get their rest now because it’s going to be another busy day tomorrow,” said David guiding Maia down to the lower deck.
It was pandemonium. The rough seas had made almost everyone a little green around the gills. Poor Marisol was laying her head in José’s lap trying to keep the walls of the boat from spinning. Both bathrooms were occupied. One of them had been unavailable almost since the beginning of the trip.
Lightbulb, Book, and the two cousins had their heads hanging over the railing. Obviously, the wait for the bathrooms had been a little too long. Sarah and Lily nearby witnessing the spectacle, broke into giggles at their discomfort.
“For the last time, Cloretta, we cannot pull the boat over to get food,” Maia heard Big Mama say. “And I don’t ‘wanna hear no mo’ ‘bout Pete’s hypoglycemia!”
David and Maia weaved their way between two children playing with Pokémon cards on the floor. Cousins Xavier and Tony practically knocked Maia over as they ran from the rear of the boat to the front. Apparently the rough waters did not faze them in the least.
When the couple passed Aunt Jennifer, she patted Maia’s stomach and Colin said, “Congratulations.”
Maia and David were going to have to worry about that later.
“I’m going to kill Marissa,” Maia overheard Leah, a thin attractive woman with silky shoulder-length hair, say to Beth, the short thick woman with the athletic build. “First she sweats me for money and now she’s making me sea-sick.”
“It’ll all be over with soon,” said May, an average-height cinnamon-brown woman. In fact, everything about her was average except for her long muscular legs.
“Why did we agree to stay with her?”
Maia didn’t want to hear the rest of this conversation. David gave her a sympathetic glance before passing more friends and family in search of James and Paris. They finally found them with the Robinsons. Poor Mrs. Robinson had her head between her knees.
“Mom, Dad, are you guys okay?” Maia asked.
“We’re fine for now,” said Paris as she rubbed Mrs. Robinson’s back. “Where’s Marissa?”
“She and Clay are upstairs napping.”
“Good because she doesn’t need to know about this!”
“Maia, why don’t you see if the captain has anything for motion sickness,” James suggested before resuming his conversation with Mr. Robinson, who was feeling a little queasy himself, but was determined to tough it out.
“Sure.” Maia got up and headed towards the front of the boat and knocked on the crew door.
“Do you have anything for motion sickness?” Maia asked once the captain opened the door.
“How many?” he asked.
“Everyone,” Maia responded crossing her arms.
“I only have five tablets left,” the captain said. “We used most of them on the earlier runs. That Hurricane Anissa is making the waters rough.”
“Then what do you suggest we do?” Maia asked impatiently.
“We’re going to dock in 15 minutes. You’ll be able to get something from the General Store on the island.”
“Fine,” said Maia and began to make her way back to where her parents were sitting.
She had to pass the bathroom where she thought she heard a groan of satisfaction. A second later, the door opened and the kissing and grinding couple from the top deck came spilling out laughing.
Aunt Theresa pushing them aside and ran in. Maia didn’t even bother to hide the disgust on her face. The big boobed woman looked at Maia with a satisfied expression of someone who had gotten to eat the cherry from the top of the hot fudged sundae.
Maia stormed back to her parents and to David, who had witnessed the whole thing.
“Take it easy, baby!” he soothed, trying to slow the tirade he knew his wife was about to let loose.
“This is my sister’s wedding, not a brothel!” Maia fumed. “I wish they would not carry on like that—um hold that thought.”
Maia, seeing that one of the bathrooms was free, made a mad dash to it, slammed the door shut behind her and clicked the lock in place.


Daufuskie Wedding Coming this Fall!


The EBook version of Daufauskie Wedding will be coming out this fall, with the paperback to soon follow in the spring! Also don’t forget about The Promise of Palmettos and Marshland, still available online for purchase!

In the meantime, please enjoy an except of Daufuskie Wedding.

Instead of having the cab take him to his condo in Buckhead, Clay gave the driver Big Mama’s address off of Old National Highway. He could have headed to the house he and Marissa bought in Fayetteville, but it didn’t feel right without her in it and Clay wanted company tonight. The cab stopped in front of the small brick rancher and Clay paid the driver before making his way (not before tripping over one Big Mama’s ceramic garden gnomes) to the front door.
“Damn!” Clay shouted as he noted the grass stain on the knee of his new trousers. He’d wanted to pack them to wear on Daufuskie Island. Now he would have to put them in the cleaners tomorrow and pay for 24-service.
“Clay is that you?” called Big Mama from inside the house. Clay knew his grandmother would be up. She had always been a night owl, never going to sleep before seeing her late night shows.
Florine Hightower or Big Mama as everyone called her, raised her five grandsons after their mother, Mary disappeared two days after giving birth to Clay. She had not even given the tiny baby a name when she packed everything she owned and left in the middle of the night. Big Mama had the difficult task of raising five small children, four of which had already shown to be almost impossible to handle even at an early age. But with her youngest grandson only days old, Big Mama looked into his tiny face, saw promise and gave him the name “Clay”. She saw him as a work of art in progress that could be molded into someone worthwhile.
Growing up, Clay had known he was different as well. Big Mama loved all of her grandsons but she was always interested in what Clay was doing and he always made her proud. While his brothers were in the streets, Clay held down a job while maintaining good grades in school. With his academic achievement, Clay was able to get a partial scholarship to Morehouse College where he had recieved his business degree. With the help of Big Mama, his Aunt Lisa (Big Mama’s youngest daughter), and an anonymous benefactor, Clay was able to cover the rest of his expenses without having to work and he had been able to totally concentrate on his studies. He interned at a prominent African American firm, HJ Russell his junior and senior year where he was eventually hired. The downtown firm paid for his MBA which, he’d obtained from Emory University.
Clay pulled open the screen door and answered his grandmother. “Hey Big Mama, I just took a spill out there.” Clay went over to Big Mama and kissed her smooth cheek. She wrapped her thick arms around his neck taking in the smoke mixed in with his cologne.
At seventy-one, Big Mama was still a vibrant woman and had not one wrinkle. She was sitting in her favorite, worn, green chair, listening to a Shirley Caesar CD. Clay, feeling the makings of a small hangover, lowered the volume just a bit before collapsing onto the flowered sofa. The plastic crinkled under his weight.
“Where you comin’ from?” Big Mama asked him.
“Uh, the guys and I decided to hang out,” Clay skirted the truth.
“Hang out, my foot. Ya’ll were watchin’ ass shakin’, that’s where you was.”
Clay opened his mouth in horror. Not for his grandmother’s language, for she had cussed them all out growing up while at the same time being Born Again more times than Clay could count. What had shocked him was the fact hat he’d been busted by Big Mama, no less. If she knew, there was no way in hell he could keep tonight’s whereabouts a secret from Marissa.
“Oh relax yo’ mind boy. You smellin’ like a still and smoke and knowin’ how yo’ brothers like to send folks off, the only place you could be is the booty club. It don’t take no genius to figure that out.”
Clay laughed. “You’re right, Big Mama.”
“So how you feelin’ Clay, ‘sides horny?”
“Big Mama…” Clay groaned with embarrassment.
“Alright, I’ll be good. But seriously, how you doin’?”
“Happy, excited…nervous…”
“Son, it means so much to me that you made your brothers groomsmen. It means so much to them too.”
“Yeah, I just hope…” Clay trailed off.
“What son? What do you hope?”
Clay did not want to finish that sentence, which ended with “they don’t embarrass me.”
“Nothing, Big Mama,” Clay answered instead. “It’s going to be fine.”
“Of course it will. Ain’t nothin’ gonna go wrong ‘long as you let God into it. You was blessed to find a woman as special as Marissa.
Clay knew he was blessed. Big Mama had wrapped her arms around Marissa as soon as she had met her. With all of the trifling women his brothers had brought up into the house, he knew that Big Mama knew the real deal when she saw it and Marissa was the real deal. Clay could see that even his brothers knew that Marissa was a catch. The day Clay found Marissa he did not know that his life was about to be completed.
It was two years ago when Clay had just finished working on a major project for an important client and needed to unwind. He decided to get a drink and listen to some jazz at the Crow’s Nest Club. A peaceful night was not to be had that Thursday evening with the club being as crowded as it was. However, Clay didn’t want to leave without having at least one drink so he found the last empty booth. He was enjoying the group, It’s All Jazz when he was approached by a tall, very attractive, woman with a carefully made-up face holding a large pink drink with an umbrella sticking out of the glass. She boldly asked if she could sit down because there weren’t any more seats.
“I heard about It’s All Jazz and I just had to come see them,” she had said to him. “I guess everyone else did too.”
“Slide on in here, girl,” he had invited. “You’re an awfully brave girl to take a chance and sit next to me.”
“Why do you bite?” The smile never left her face. In fact her smile was the first thing Clay fell in love with. It was so bright and it lit up her entire face.
“As a matter of fact I don’t,” he answered with a grin but he thought, “But I could really sink my teeth into you. Hmph, hmph, humph!” Then suddenly Clay recognized her.
“Hey I know you, you’re Marissa Gardiner. You were a Lady Vol for the University of Tennessee and now you do play-by-play commentary for the Lady Panthers.” Clay was describing her job in addition to the position she held at CNN.
“A fan, I see. I’m flattered.” And Marissa was flattered. She was used to being recognized. What she was not used to, was the totally enthralled expressions this man was wearing.
“Fan is an understatement. You practically brought the Lady Vols to the 1996 Championship single handedly!”
“I was totally in love with you!” Clay blushed after that last part slipped out but Marissa wouldn’t let Clay be embarrassed.
“Well you know my name, what’s yours?” She asked looking at him with large bright eyes.
“I’m Clay Hightower.”
“Clay…is that short for anything?”
“Nope it’s just ‘Clay’.”
“A work of art,” said Marissa flashing another smile.
From that moment on, the two were inseparable.

Braddock’s Point Cemetery…and Other Places

A few posts ago, I encouraged visitors of Hilton Head to visit Braddock’s Point Cemetery that is located behind the gates of Sea Pines Plantation. Upon doing so, I was reminded of the story that I read concerning the Sea Islands in a 1987 issue of National Geographic. Lord knows where the publication is now (somewhere in the attic of my childhood home), but I remember that there was picture of a woman looking at headstones through a gate. Luxury condominiums served as its backdrop. It’s an odd experience to watch the past and the present collide in such a manner. To me, it’s an unsettling feeling. It makes me wonder if people realize that places like Braddock’s Point Cemetery is more than just a bunch of headstones but a historical record of self-sufficient people who built, lived, and thrived on Hilton Head Island. Up until a few years ago, few people respected that fact. The descendants of the Braddock’s Point Slaves and Freedmen even had to pay to enter the Sea Pines Plantation just to visit the cemetery. The plantation powers-that-be put a stop to that after the wrong was exposed in the National Geographic article.

Another story of the present clashing with the past takes me closer to home. My husband and I went to visit one of my loved ones in the Joe Pope Cemetery, which is located near Broad Creek. First we stopped at the Piggly Wiggly to buy flowers, but we didn’t return to the car, to drive to the destination as was probably expected. It wasn’t necessary. If husband was surprised that I walked through a fence next to the supermarket and into the neighboring cemetery, he never let on. I knew that it was odd to him though that a place so sacred did not have its respected space.

Finally, one summer while I was in college, I worked for one of he resorts on nearby Daufuskie Island. The only way to access this island, even now, is by boat. As we would chug slowly to the docks, one of the first sights of the island was a cemetery near the water. With the surrounding oaks and palmettos, it was actually a beautiful site. But then the welcome center for the resort was right next to it, just marring the whole image. It wasn’t more than a couple of weeks after working at the resort did the islanders tell me that the building wasn’t right next to the cemetery. It was right on top of the cemetery and there was a big lawsuit going on for the resort to move the welcome center. I was appalled but it wasn’t surprising. A lot of the older graves on the Sea Islands are either unmarked or the headstones have sunken into the soft earth. I just wonder why development has to occur right next to or practically on top of these final resting places, as if our ancestors never existed. I’ve been to a few cemeteries over the years in places like New Orleans and Philadelphia where they are apart of the cities’ character. I feel as these places are respected as places that contributed to this country’s history rather than as places that are an inconvenience to someone’s plans for development.

If you have read either The Promise of Palmettos or Marshland, you will find that I make references to the cemeteries to help the reader understand that these aren’t just places to bury loved ones. These places are also a part of our history. It displays our traditions. This cemeteries on the islands are the only places undisturbed by time. They are a record of our past.