CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-SIX
“Okay,” Jabari said. “This is Trey. He’s called that because he’s the third person to have his name. He doesn’t like being called ‘Trey’ so Mama said we could change it to his real name.”
“Which is?” Jill asked.
“I’m William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, the third,” Trey said.
Jill thought that he looked like he was about four or possibly a mature three years old. His words were slurred in a kind of accented baby talk. He blushed when talking to Jill.
“Nice to meet you,” Jill said. “I’ve ready your. . .”
“Great-grandfather,” Jabari said, helpfully.
“I like his work,” Jill said. “What would you like to be called other than Trey?”
“Will,” the boy said.
“Good to know,” Jill said. “I will call you ‘Will’ until you change your mind or we make it official. Would you like that?”
The boy nodded and moved away from her. Jill glanced at Tanesha who nodded.
“He doesn’t like to be touched,” Tanesha said. “Has a lot of scars.”
Jill gave Tanesha a sad look and turned when Jabari tugged on her arm.
“This is our little brother,” Jabari said. “His dad was a football player. He died last week. He and Trey were living with his daddy’s parents but they died too.”
“What is his name?” Jill asked.
“Bubba,” Jabari said. “He doesn’t like that name either because our mom used to call him ‘Blubber.’ He wants a new name too. But he wants to keep his dad’s name.”
“Okay,” Jill said. “What does Bubba like to be called?”
The boy looked up at her. He was probably just a smidge older than two years old. His eyes were big and deep brown. His face was round and his body thick with little baby muscles.
“I am fat,” the boy said in a soft but clear voice.
“You look like a little boy to me,” Jill said. “You’re probably the age of my boys. They’re about like you.”
“Can I meet them?” the boy asked.
“Absolutely,” Jill said. “We hope you’ll be good friends.”
“Are they white like you?” the boy asked.
“They are,” Jill said.
“They probably won’t like me,” the boy said.
The boy seemed so lost and sad that it was all Jill could do to not pick the boy up and cuddle him.
“My dad just died,” the boy said. “And my grandparents. They’s all dead.”
The boy nodded and went back to playing with his brothers.
“He’s really sad,” Jabari said.
“I bet,” Jill said. Knowing that the little boy was monitoring their conversation, she added, “I thought my parents died when I was little. I was sad for a long time. So I understand.”
“Me too,” Jabari said.
“What does he want to be called?” Jill asked Jabari, who shrugged.
She looked at Tanesha, who shook her head. Since introductions were over, Jabari returned to playing with his brothers. Used to the vagaries of interacting with young children, Jill got up. She touched Tanesha’s shoulder and they walked over to where Heather and Sandy were working on cookies.
“The boy was really close with his father,” Tanesha said softly. “His grandparents are the ones who took him and Trey into their home when Annette lost custody. It’s a big shock for them.”
“Poor babies,” Jill said, nodding. “How do they like their room?”
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...
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