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Zoomin’ On Zena


“Girl don’t you let those boys be zoomin’ on you. I know you remember how that nasty little Troy did you.”

Zena frowned her face up at her mother.

“Mama, you always bringin’ up old stuff. I dated Troy in the tenth grade. I ain’t seen that boy in years.”

Lena smirked before responding to her disobedient and sometimes disrespectful daughter.

“Yea Zena that might have been the tenth grade but you’re still making the same mistakes today. Every boy you take up with is some kind of hustler or jailbird. None of them treat you right and all of them you catch cheating on you. Now, who’s zoomin’ who?”

Zena knew what her mother was saying to be true so she tried to change the subject as quickly as possible.

“Zoomin’? What does that mean anyway? Mama I swear you’re stuck in the ‘70’s or ‘80’s or somthin’.”

Her mother walked over to her old record player and thumbed through her old albums on the side. She found the one she was looking for then put it on. Soon the timeless majestic voice of Aretha Franklin poured out of the old speakers.

“Who’s Zoomin’ Who.”

Once the song was playing she took the time to explain to her daughter for what seemed to be the hundredth time what the song meant.

“You know what this song means girl. I’ve told you this since you first started dating. It means who’s getting over on or taking advantage of who? With you it’s always the boy who’s getting over. I tried to set a good example for you by getting rid of your father and his sorry ways and raising you with a respectable honorable man like Robert.”

Zena rolled her eyes at the mention of her step father, the savior. Lena was so grateful for the man’s presence in her life the past twenty years and for the way he selflessly helped her to raise her daughter. The man loved his wife with all his heart and would do anything in the world for her. Robert was raised in an upper middleclass African American Family, well educated and spiritually grounded.

Zena never quite took to the man even though he had always been more of a father to her than her own father who popped in once or twice a year every year. Jerome only came around to claim his rights as a father and cause stress in the lives of his ex and her husband. The sorry excuse for a dad always reminded Zena that he was her real father and she came from him. Everything that she was and is was because of his genes. Robert was never combative towards the man, only loving toward his wife and step daughter. He respected Jerome’s right to visit but remained secure in his marriage and place in this new family.

“Well Mama not every woman wants a man like Robert. He’s such a square and a lame. I don’t know how you can stand to be with him everyday with his corny self.”

Lena was angered somewhat by her daughter’s comments about the man she loved who had been so benevolent and forgiving in raising the girl since she was five years old.

“You know Zena, it’s a damn shame you don’t call that man dad when he had been the only dad you have ever had. He has done so much to raise you up right, loving and supporting you and you have never returned the love. I’m lucky he never got frustrated through the years and left me behind your nonsense. Believe me honey we have had many discussions about you and your behavior over the years. You don’t want a man like Robert; I guess you want a man like that sorry ass Jerome huh?”

Zena stood defiantly with her arms crossed and her head cocked to the side. Then she lashed out.

“That’s right. My man has to know what time it is and be able to handle his self. I need a strong man with a cute face and fine body.”

Lena interjected.

“In other words you want somebody who won’t work, disrespects you in public and will put his hands on you because he feels small about himself. You want a man with no faith or morals that will even steel from your mama just so he can get high. Your man is actually a boy who is in his late twenties still sleeping on his mother’s couch but got four kids out in the streets by four different women that he ain’t taking care of. Robert raised another man’s ungrateful child while these bums you run around with won’t even go to work to put food on the table for the children they bring into this world. You know what Zena, you’re right! You will never have a God fearing good man like Robert because you don’t deserve him. You’ll always be shacked up with some loser in his mama’s basement but you want to be treated like a hood rat, chicken head, dirty foot instead of a lady.”

Zena was shocked. She had never heard her mother speak to her like that. Her words cut the girl deep with jagged truths and barbed reality. Zena refused to listen to anymore of her mother’s badgering.

“Look Mama; I ain’t got to stand here and listen to this. I’m finna go out so you can save all of that talkin’ for your precious Robert.”

Zena turned and stormed off. Her mother had a few last words for her as she hit the door.

“Zena you better be safe out there girl messin’ with the wrong people. No matter what we are always gonna love you but you better not bring no more of that trash past my door again!”

Outside, Zena’s companion for the night was laying on his horn in an attempt to get her to hurry up. Profanity laced, base heavy rap music poured from the windows of his SUV. Lena looked through the window to see her daughter pull off for the last time. Zena had been in and out of Lena and Robert’s home over the past five years since she dropped out of college. Now twenty-six her mother could no longer control her, she was a grown woman. Lena could only offer words of wisdom and sometimes tough love but Zena would make her own decisions in life. Her decision making wasn’t sound and would soon Zena her life.

That evening in a cheap motel room she would argue with JT; a man she who she only knew by his street name. That night after asking him for money they fought briefly.

“What you mean you can’t give me a few dollars to help me out? You are a sorry excuse for a man. Talkin’ ;bout you be hustlin’ and you broker than the junkies you serve. You ain’t got a pot to piss in or a window to through it out of, got me staying in this raggedy ass motel. Now I know why your baby mama hooked up with Tony; she wanted a real man not a little boy with a little thang. Look broke boy just take me home so I…”

Zena never got the opportunity to finish her sentence. When she turned to gather her things JT swung the hotel iron at her and hit her in the temple. She died a short time later on the dingy floor of that motel room. JT couldn’t take her nasty truthful words anymore; in a fit of rage, he did the unspeakable. After sitting in a panic for an hour or two JT decided that there was no way he was going to get away with it. He didn’t bother disposing of the body, instead he simply left the motel and got high.

Lena would morn the death of her daughter for years to come but she would be granted peace I he spirit from her Lord and Savior. She felt secure in the knowledge that she did all she could to raise her daughter right. Lena also shared her daughter’s story with other young ladies in an effort to help them make wiser decisions when choosing a mate. JT spent the rest of his life in prison and he was mourned and prayed for as well. Fortunately for him after decades of incarceration he would give his life to Christ saving his eternal soul.


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