With the funeral and repast now over, it was cleanup time. Laquetta Burgess-Garden was relieved when Aisha quickly volunteered to help. Most of their other relatives had found convenient excuses to eat and leave without lifting a finger of assistance. Many cited the need to beat the congested evening traffic back to their respective cities and homes. Only Laquetta, Felix, and Aisha remained.
Whatever, Laquetta mused, mentally brushing off her disappointment. At least I still have my husband and sister to help me. She comforted herself with that thought.
Even though Aisha wasn’t actually related to her by blood, Laquetta had always treated her as if she was. The whole Burgess family did.
Unfortunately, Laquetta had no idea that Aisha’s current offer came with an ulterior motive. Yes, her stepsister was generally a helpful person, but today she was simply trying to speed up her own departure. The sooner everything was all nice and neat in Dominic’s house again, the sooner Aisha could leave the entire country and start trying to put this whole thing behind her.
“Aisha, I was wondering if you could stay in town for the rest of the week,” Laquetta said in her usual soft spoken manner as they shared cleanup duties in the kitchen. Felix was busy vacuuming the living room and den areas.
“What for?” Aisha asked, bending to put all the empty paper cups she’d collected into a large black garbage bag near the back door.
“I thought you might want to help me pack up our brother’s stuff,” Laquetta replied, standing near the sink.
“I take it your father doesn’t want to be involved in this process?” Aisha asked, barely hiding her irritation as she stood upright again.
Everyone knew that Daddy Burgess had never fully accepted Dominic’s lifestyle. In fact, he’d caused Dominic a lot of grief over the years because he didn’t know how to love a son that was openly gay. Or rather he found it extremely hard to do so.
Fortunately, there had been plenty of other relatives like Aisha and Laquetta. Those who decided to love Dominic whether they agreed with his lifestyle or not.
“Daddy went back to
“Afraid? What on earth could Daddy Burgess be afraid of?” Aisha’s forehead wrinkled into a frown, which was absolutely not good in her line of work. At the moment she didn’t care.
Laquetta swallowed hard before speaking again. “Daddy’s afraid of finding some kinky sex toys hidden under Dominic’s bed…or something else more shocking.”
If the truth be known, Laquetta was a little afraid, too. That’s why she asked Aisha to help her. She knew that her stepsister was much more experienced and knowledgeable about such things.
Aisha even looked sophisticated, as if she’d seen all the world had to offer twice over and was bored by it. Whereas Laquetta had been a virgin on her wedding night, only knew what her husband Felix taught her about intimacy, and had always looked and acted prim and proper even when she was a child.
Aisha’s mouth went into a straight line at Laquetta’s words. She leaned against the oak counter behind her and folded her arms across her chest. Muscle deep irritation made her body look stiff and unyielding like a beautiful mannequin in a department store window.
“So what if he does find some kinky sex toys under Dominic’s bed. Everybody’s got a little freak in them,” Aisha said through clenched teeth. “I bet even you have a freaky side, Laquetta.”
Laquetta’s cheeks deepened even more in color. Aisha couldn’t have been more right. Although it was still difficult for Laquetta to talk openly about sex, she found it to be highly enjoyable nevertheless. In fact, she tried to have as much of it as possible, making her minister of a husband a very happy man.
“I just thought…” Laquetta’s words trailed off as the room suddenly spun in front of her. She swayed on her feet. Color began to drain out of her face, causing her to look pale now.
“Look, I’ll stay to help out any way I can, Laquetta. Just don’t faint on me, okay?” Aisha moved closer to steady her beloved little stepsister. She looked apologetic about speaking so harshly before. It was a bad habit of Aisha’s to become extremely sharp-tongued when angry.
As for Laquetta, she looked like she was going to pass out from sheer embarrassment. Or perhaps it was from the stress of everything that had happened recently. After all, she’d been the one to receive that late night call from the police. Laquetta had also been the one to identify Dominic’s body. She still had nightmares about that.
“Thank you, Aisha.” Laquetta shook her head sadly. “Dominic’s death must be harder on me than I thought.” She leaned her petite frame, which had never been over a size three in her life, against her stepsister’s sturdier size seven.
“I completely understand,” Aisha replied, assisting Laquetta over to one of the wicker chairs at the glass table in the middle of the room. “Fortunately, I don’t have another photo shoot until the end of the month. So for the next three weeks, I can be at your beck and call.”
Laquetta gave her a weak, yet sincere smile of gratitude. “I really appreciate this, Aisha. Together, I’m sure we can get this place cleared out in a week’s time tops.”
* * *
Aisha quickly discovered that a week was not nearly enough time to sort out their brother’s belongings. It seemed that the more she and Laquetta packed, the more they found they had to pack.
Dominic had two off-site storage rooms full of enough furniture to populate a whole other house. Incidentally, the only freaky thing Aisha and Laquetta found among their brother’s belongings was a pair of ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ underwear. To their knowledge, Dominic had not fathered any children. To be sure they decided to wait and see what his last will and testament contained in case they had nieces and nephews they didn’t know about. After all, if Dominic could hide his drug addiction so well, he could certainly hide the knowledge of a few illegitimate children.
When the will was read, it was confirmed that Dominic really didn’t have any offspring. Subsequently, he’d left everything to his relatives. Even in death he was as kind-hearted as he’d been in life.
Aisha was bequeathed sole possession of Dominic’s beauty salon. Laquetta was left the house, which she offered to let Aisha stay in while she was in town. Daddy Burgess was left Dominic’s two classic cars, which was the one pastime the two men had shared without conflict. Various other relatives were left select furnishings, clothing, and sporting and computer equipment. Nobody felt slighted. All were remembered with fondness.
Aisha decided to visit the beauty salon a week before she left for
Parking in front of the elegant red-brick building that housed the upscale salon, Aisha again wondered why Dominic had turned to drugs. He had what looked to be a very successful business, a new home, and all the personal comforts a person could ever want.
Had Dominic somehow become bored with his life and needed the stimulus of illegal substances to make it more exciting? Although he hadn’t had the full support of his family, he hadn’t been lacking in friends. How could he have been when the church had been jam-packed with mourners two weeks ago?
So why ‘did’ you turn to drugs, Dominic? Aisha pondered as she opened the squeaky clean glass door to the beauty salon.
“Welcome to Dominic’s,” announced a very flamboyant man in a pink satin shirt. He was all smiles as he approached the salon’s newest visitor.
Aisha smiled at the warm welcome she received upon entering the dark-blue on light-blue decorated salon. She overlooked her greeter’s effeminate walk and the fact that he was wearing way too much cologne. As the fragrance tickled the fine hairs in her sensitive nose, Aisha realized that the man wasn’t actually wearing cologne at all. Rather he was wearing expensive women’s perfume. She decided to overlook that fact, as well.
To each his or her own, Aisha mused, reciting her life’s motto.
“How can we be of service to you today?” the flamboyant man continued, pulling her from her thoughts.
“Actually, I was wondering how I could be of service to you. I’m Dominic’s sister, your new boss,” Aisha announced in her usual straightforward way.
All conversations slid to a halt like cars braking on a crowded freeway.
Countless open-mouthed stares popped up all over the salon. Some began to echo, “New boss?” to each other in whispers.
Simultaneously the classical music playing in the distance was turned down, every blow-dryer was switched off, and even the masseuse from the Pamper-Me room came out to investigate this unexpected turn of events.
I see what kind of day this is going to be already, Aisha mused, squaring her shoulders in preparation for conflict.
© 2005 by Suprina Frazier