Disclaimer: Face Value is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental.
Lord Jesus I don’t believe this! My mother was a common prostitute! My mother, who could recite the bible from cover to cover and so…so holy!
I pulled into the parking lot of Barbell Gym and sat staring into space, my hot head being cooled by the air-conditioning wafting out of the Vitara’s vents.
The shocking news that Pearl had angrily blurted out had started a sea change in my life. Deflated and ashamed, my mother had left without saying another word once she recovered from fainting. She even refused a lift home. My mother, the fallen Madonna.
Pearl filled me in on the rest of the story, told to her by her own mother. My mother had been a prostitute in Nelson Street when she met my father Sinclair, a seaman. Against his family’s wishes they had married. By all accounts they had a happy marriage up until his death when I was 10 years old. His death must have warped her somehow, for it was around that time that she became a judgmental, sanctimonious bible-wielder who turned her back on her sisters and other family members.
I rubbed my weary eyes and checked my watch. I had 10 minutes to change before I trained my first client of the day. I sighed and hopped out of the vehicle, pulling my duffel bag behind me.
I nodded hello and smiled at several persons as I passed through the gymn’s lobby on the way to the employee locker room. I changed quickly into my official trainer’s t-shirt and Nike shorts, smiling as I came across a toy rattle that one of Pearl’s kids had no doubt snuck into my bag.
Children. Well, I guess I can kiss them goodbye. No way is Government going to allow us to adopt a kid, even if Patrick wanted them.
I frowned at the thought of my boyfriend. He was due back today from a business trip and still didn’t know that I had come out to my mother. I wasn’t going to tell him about the other drama though. No, I was going to keep that close to my chest.
I had first met Patrick three years previously at a party thrown by a mutual friend at The Ship Inn. I was immediately attracted to his athletic build and dark, striking looks. During our conversation I discovered that he was 37, nearly 10 years older than me, a public prosecutor and married. I heard his voice telling me he was committed to a woman, but his eyes told a whole other story. I never dreamed I would find myself in the position of “the other man”, but here I was. If being a homosexual didn’t send me to hell, being an accessory to adultery would.
My first client of the day was waiting for me in the weight room and I smiled when I saw his tall, dark frame standing on the matted area in front of the mirrors.
Oh boy, if I wasn’t spoken for I would definitely try my luck….a definite hottie.
I took a moment to admire the muscular biceps, calves and thighs I had helped to create before moving to knock fists with the young man.
“Hey Paul, what up guy, ready to sweat?”
It was then that I realised that Paul was not his usual jovial self. Instead of his trademark grin he looked grim as he acknowledged me.
“Yeah, Pete, what’s up. Look, I just passed through to let you know I’m not really up for the workout today. I have some business to deal with.”
“Must be bad for you to miss a workout. You okay?” I asked concernedly. In the past two years I had been training Paul we had developed a friendly rapport, even though he always seemed rather guarded about some aspects of his life.
He clenched his jaw. “Only time will tell. I gotta run.”
I bade him farewell, glancing back at him worriedly. Typical Paul, so secretive. I wonder what’s his problem?
Around midday, my cell phone rang and I my heart skipped a beat when I saw the number on the caller id.
“Wuh happen, n**ger man ? You now remember me?” I teased as I answered.
“Hey Pete. Man, since I came back Cherie was stuck to me like glue. I now get a chance to call you.”
I sucked my teeth at the mention of Patrick’s wife.
“Look, you don’t think it’s time enough that you put that poor woman out of her misery? When you were away I told my mother, so the ball is in your court now.”
“You ain’ mention my name, nuh?” he asked gruffly.
“No, I didn’t,” I retorted angrily, “and she didn’t take it very well, thanks for asking. She nearly broke every piece of glass in the house. I had to move out to my cousin’s house.”
“My poor baby. You want me to come over and talk?”
I snorted. “Talk is all you want now? Man, you know how badly I missed you? I’m tired with all this sneaking around too.”
“Look, be patient. I goin’ tell Cherie soon and then we can be together. I promise.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it. Anyway, where are we meeting later?”
We made plans to meet later that evening at a little hideaway in St. Joseph and I disconnected.
My mother was not at home when I arrived to collect some of my clothes. Good. I really don’t feel like facing her right now. We definitely need a break from each other.
I stuffed several jeans, t-shirts and undergarments into my duffel bag and headed back out to the front room. Ma had cleaned up most of the mess, although I could still see the spaces on the whatnot where ornaments used to stand. I picked up a photo of my father and touched the yellowing paper through the broken glass.
You were a good man, Da. I’m sure you know how I feel, going against what society dictates. I hope you understand.
I was locking the front door behind me when I heard raised voices. I glanced next door and saw our neighbour Frank Simmons and a young, pretty, dark-skinned girl engaged in a heated argument on the verandah.
I wonder if that’s his daughter? It looks like she’s in the same boat as me, pissing off the parent!
I eased over to my Vitara, not wanting to seem as though I was eavesdropping. They turned when they heard the vehicle start and I could see that the girl was crying. I raised my hand, reversed out of the driveway and pointed my car in the direction of the St. Joseph country-side.
“Oh girl I’m gonna look so hot on Saturday night! I’m gonna set that party on fire! All I need is a hot date and I’m good to go.”
I looked up from my lunch in the gym cafeteria to see one of the trainers, Natalie, striding into the room. Her honey-blond locs swung from side to side in a chic ponytail.
She and her companion, our resident yoga instructor Lisa, retrieved their salads from the refrigerator and sat at my table. They smiled hello, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Lisa nudge Natalie and nod in my direction. Natalie sighed and shook her head, stabbing at her salad.
I refocused on my lunch and the newspaper spread out in front of me and ignored the two girls. Both had flirted with me when they joined the gym staff and both had been gently rebuffed. They no doubt assumed I had a girlfriend to whom I was strongly committed because I always seemed to fly below most “gaydars”. I never gave off the treacherous vibe that sparked poisonous whispers and accusations.
“Anyway,” Natalie continued, “this party is going to be the talk of the town. I hear he’s spending nearly $20, 000 on it!”
“Wow, all that for a renewal of vows? That’s like getting remarried if you asked me!” Lisa, rolled her eyes and sucked her teeth.
“Well, I don’t think money is a problem for him right now. I hear he’s tipped to be the next Director of Public Prosecutions, and he has friends in the reigning political party so you know he’s gonna get it!” Natalie snickered, waving her fork in midair.
That last statement caught my attention. Wait, Patrick always on and on about getting that big job one of these days. Looks like he has competition! I wonder if he knows?
I cleared my throat and spoke up. “Natalie, excuse me, whose party are you going to this weekend?”
“My neighbour’s. You may not know him though. He’s a prosecutor for the Government, Patrick Miller. He and his wife are renewing their wedding vows and planning a blow out party.”
Pride was the only thing that held back a stricken look from appearing on my face. So much for worrying about going to hell when I died. I was in hell right now.