He was so easy to love. Of course I’d never known what love should be, but in the world that surrounded me, his love was best. The only love I’d ever seen was my mother’s love for the Lord. That’s what she called it. Her devotion to her church and bible were for the love of her Lord. He was the only one that deserved her love. I think my mother loves me because she has to, because the bible tells her to love everyone but every day I could see how much she didn’t like me. My father left when I was just two. I guess he couldn’t stand not being loved as much as Jesus. Not sure why he thought it’d be better for me. Sometimes at night when momma would pray for hours, I’d imagine my daddy sneaking back into the house, lifting me light as a feather from my bed and tip towing to the yard where his beat up Chevy was waiting to take us both away. I wasn’t allowed to have friends. Momma would say, “we may love everyone with our hearts but you ain’t runnin round with no hell bound heathens.” She didn’t know about Genie.
Every day after school she would meet me at the bus stop and we would walk the dusty back road for a mile to Ezekel Baptist Church. Genie’s dad was Reverend Louis, the oldest member of our small congregation. At 72 yrs old people who weren’t from Jasper Mississippi were baffled to learn that he had a 12 yr old daughter, but I’d heard Miss Lisa (Deacon Brown’s wife) say she was really his niece. Reverend Louis had never had a wife, least not one we had seen. Genie was 3 yrs older than me, so as far as I had known she’d always been in Jasper. But sometimes I’d hear the woman suck their lips after we’d walk by and violently whisper while looking after us. Once I stopped walking and went into the cloakroom so I could hear them in the hall. “Eula May I am telling you that girl don’t look nuthin like him” whispered Miss Jean, but Eula May retorted “His niece ain’t gotta look like him to be kin.” “I still don’t see how nobody asked no questions when a old man shows up at a church with a baby and no mammy” Miss Lisa injected. I had heard the story of Reverend Louis’s arrival almost 11yrs ago, at last year’s church revival….