Hubert “Pigfoot” Miller was a tall, fat, light-skinned, thirty year-old teacher at the Tubman Truth Middle School for the Arts. He stood outside the door to his Art class, as he often did, wheezing and tottering as he spied the conversations of his eighth-grade students. He shook his nappy head and sighed at the sound of Sammy’s latest cruel rhyme. The song was aimed at Venus, one of his favorite students. The students called her Titty Bird for her scrawny body and big breasts.
Pigfoot knew from the weak, percussive mouth sounds accompanying Sammy that another troublemaker named Forty was in on it as swell.
The rhyme went a little something like this:
Laughter roared through the class from girls and boys alike. Pigfoot wobbled into the class and glared at the sea of young black, brown and yellow faces. The children’s laughter drowned out the usual clumping made by his size fourteen sneakers as he flopped his big feet behind his desk. He turned his chubby face just in time to see Venus bury her dark face in her hands and cry.
“Settle down!” Pigfoot yelled. “This is a classroom, not a nightclub!”
“Yes, Mr. Miller,” the class chanted as the laughter tapered off.
Pigfoot’s face was red with anger. “Sammy! I heard the filth that you call rapping.” He glanced at Venus, then looked at Sammy again. “What you just, was the ultimate form of disrespect.”
Venus lifted her head. She reached behind her bifocals with her fingers to wipe the tears off her face. “It’s ok,” she sobbed. “He’s just being ignorant, that’s all.”
Pigfoot shook his head. “No, what he’s being is abusive. And now, he’s also being sent to the Principal’s office.” Miller sneered at Sammy. “Go!”
Sammy jumped up, flexing his arms as he balled up his fists, grimacing as he made an angry, teeth-sucking sound. “Man, forget you, nigga, “ he said in a contralto voice. “You just mad ‘cause I said something ‘bout your fave-rit bitch!”
“Sammy, get out. NOW.”
“Fine, nigga. I’m out.” He gave Miller a dismissive wave. Then, he made one last comment under his breath as he swaggered to the door. “Pigfoot motherfucker!”
Everyone in the class fell out laughing, except for Venus and a few other more respectful students. Pigfoot slammed his briefcase on the desk. The laughter exploded into silence. Pigfoot took two steps towards the door, stopped, then sighed before he went back to his desk. “Here,” he said as he unzipped his bag and pulled out a stack of photocopies. “Read this.” He slapped the stack on his desk. “Venus, when you’re ready----“
“I’m ok, Mr. Miller.”
“Good. Hand these out for me while I deal with Sammy.” He pointed at Forty. “You’re coming too, Forty. Let’s go.”
Forty went a lot more peacefully than Sammy. “I’ll meet you there,” he said, hanging his head in shame as he walked out the door.
Pigfoot addressed the rest of them. “After you read the handout, start taking notes on Chapter 12. I’ll answer any questions you may have when I get back.”
Pigfoot zipped his bag. He threw the strap over his shoulder as he walked out the door. The inside of his pants legs scruffed together in a ruff-ruff-ruff-ruff cadence. He looked at Venus again, thinking of that vulgar nick name the children gave her. He saw her as a wounded creature that he hoped he could give wings. He hoped he could at least teach her to fly with her art.
He had just closed the classroom door behind him when Roberta, a Latina, sprang out into the hallway. “Mr. Miller! Wait! Wait!”
He rolled his eyes, breath bubbling as he inhaled. “What is it, Roberta?” he said as he turned around----slowly, moving one massive side of his body, then the other.
“Look, this thing you want us to do; I can’t do it! I ain’t no kinda psychic.”
“You mean you’re NOT some kind of psychic.”
She huffed. “That’s what I said, man. I ain’t no kinda psychic. Didn’t you hear me?”
“Calm down, Roberta,” he said as he waddled over to her.
She shook the paper at him. “How am I supposed to mold my future? Huh? We thought my cousin Rio had a future, ‘til he got locked up last week for shooting his baby’s mother’s stepfather. How could somebody have molded that?”
Pigfoot swallowed a huge laugh----and the after-taste of a barbecued rib sandwich that crept up from the abyss of his belly. “Look, go back inside and I’ll explain the project when I get back from the Principal’s office. Ok?”
Pigfoot returned to classroom thirty minutes later. He was pleased to find them all reading, writing and a few of them, like Venus, sketching the plans for their project. He plopped his bag on the floor behind his desk. He faced the chalkboard and wrote three words in big letters:
MOLD YOUR FUTURE.
He coughed into the back of his thick hand as he turned around. “Mold Your Future,” he said. “Your future can be anything that you want it to be.” He sat the chalk down and wiped the chalk-dust on his pants. “Your future is at your command. You can be rich, famous, successful, smart----“ He glanced over at Venus out of habit----“beautiful, whatever.
“At this point in your young lives, the future is full of possibilities. But, those possibilities rise and set on your dreams. Just remember this: if you can conceive, and believe, then you can achieve. Your desire, whatever you truly want to be, will be. Just make a plan, then make it work.”
One of the boys spoke. “So you mean if I wanted to be rich, or maybe like, a doctor, I can do that if I keep thinking about it enough?”
“Yes. But since this is an Art class, I want you to put your vision into an artistic creation. By the end of the semester, I want something---a painting or a sculpture. If you choose to do a drawing, make it top quality, ok? No stick figures and crayons.”
The class chuckled. Venus raised her hand.
“But what exactly is it about our future that you want?”
“That’s up to you. It can be a depiction of you, your spouse, your dog or your house. You could paint a picture of a business that you might want to own some day.” He paused. “You could even do a mural about money if you make it creative enough. Just make sure that whatever it is, it speaks to you about who you are and who you really want to be.”
Venus wiggled around in her seat, trying hard to contain her excitement. The rest of the class started a cheerful round of murmuring as they chattered about what their projects would be.
Two weeks later, Pigfoot was walking down an empty hallway, after school, with Wanda. She was a tall, well-endowed, well-dressed, and well-educated black woman who was well in touch with her Ghetto roots. She played with the ends of her auburn colored hair as she smacked on her chewing gum and cackled to Pigfoot.
“Come on now, Pig---I mean Hubert,” she sassed in a sexy, Southern black twang. “You know you and I are just buddies. Stop playing!” She slapped him on the arm.
The b-word---buddies---made him wince more than her hand did. Despite that, he handed her a folded sheet of pink paper. “Just look at it, ok?”
She shook her head no as she pushed his hand and the paper away. “I don’t care how many pictures you draw for me or of me, the answer is still no.”
“Come on, Wanda.”
She sucked her teeth in annoyance. “Why should I look at another one of these things?”
“Because,” he said. “Just because.”
She giggled as she snatched the paper from his hand. "Boy, you crazy!"
"Wanda, why do you hang out with me when you know I want you? Why, when you know that I---I----"
"Because. You're so nice. You're the only man I can really talk to." She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, leaving a red print of her full lips. "That was a friendly kiss, ok?" She squinted at him. "Don't you get the wrong idea.”
They stopped after they heard Venus’s voice echo around the end of the corridor. "No! You gettin' the wrong idea, boy!"
Pigfoot grabbed Wanda by the arm. "Wait," he whispered. "Just listen."
They heard Sammy yell back at Venus. "Come on, girl! I thought we was like that! I though we was, you know, together!"
Venus continued. "Together? Like what, a pimp and a hoe? I don't think so, bitch!"
Pigfoot and Wanda heard a thud. They imagined that Venus pushed Sammy. They were right.
Sammy screamed. "Look! I told you I was sorry! About the rhyme, everything! I was just mad, ok! Mad about you and Pigfoot! And these pictures! Why you draw all these damn pictures!"
Venus's silence shouted louder than Sammy's rage.
Pigfoot looked over at Wanda. "I think we'd better break this up."
Wanda snickered. "Sounds to me like you ain't the only person around here with a crush on somebody. You better go first, I don't want your little girlfriend to get jealous when she see us together."
He gave her a light, playful tap with his elbow as they started towards the students.
Pigfoot and Wanda rounded the corner just in time to see Sammy slap Venus across the face----hard. She staggered back a few steps, then charged Sammy. The boy grabbed her, spun around as he held her and slammed her face first into her locker.
Pigfoot was on Sammy before he could raise another hand. He grabbed Sammy in a bear hug, lifting him up off the ground and shook him. Venus was too dazed to do anything more than bleed, babble and slide down her locker. Her locker door sprang open as soon as she lay down on the floor next to it.
Wanda's jaw dropped after she peeked inside the locker. "Oh my God!"
The locker was lined with sketch after sketch of Pigfoot----clothed, naked, armored like a Moorish knight, with angel wings and one with his head on the body of a sphinx. She even had one of him nailed to cross like Jesus.
Wanda sniffed the air inside the locker. Good Lord! She even got his cologne up in here! But, she shook her head and went back to Venus' rescue. She sat the girl up, held her chin and opened her eyes. Wanda reached in her purse and took out her cell phone. She yelled over to Pigfoot as she dialed 911. "Put him down, Hubert! You're killing him!"
Pigfoot was covered in sweat and stank. He huffed as he held Sammy.
Sammy grunted out his protest. "Let me go, man, let me go!"
Pigfoot leaned the boy against the wall. "You're not going anywhere."
"Let me go you Pigfoot motherfucker!"
"No!" Pigfoot cracked the air out of Sammy's chest.
Wanda dropped her phone. She ran up behind Pigfoot and hit him on his back as hard as she could. "Let him go! Put him down before you kill him!"
Pigfoot dropped Sammy on the floor. The boy pulled himself on his hands and knees, panting, gasping, drenched in Pigfoot's sweat and his own. A thin line of mucus and spit oozed out of the boy's mouth, making a disgusting little puddle on the floor.
Security sprinted around the corner. One of them snatched Sammy up off the floor while the other one did her best to manhandle Pigfoot, grunting as she forced the cuffs around his big, fat wrists. Pigfoot didn't resist. He merely frowned his face as he wondered what was on the jail’s dinner menu.
Pigfoot’s week on administrative leave left him in good spirits. Although Sammy’s mother didn’t press charges, he was still annoyed a bit by the altercation. He sat on the R-40 metro bus with two barbecue rib dinners in his hand. He was on his way home from Annie Mae's, a soul food place in one of the run-down, urban shopping centers outside of his neighborhood. He exited the bus a few blocks from his colonial style house. "I need to work up an appetite" he lied to himself as he hobbled towards home.
He was huffing and puffing by the time he made it to his yard. His mind was so absorbed by the food that he didn't even see her sitting on his steps until she spoke to him first.
"Hi Mr. Miller."
He jumped. It was Venus. She stood up. She was dressed in an all black, form-fitting silky skirt that drew attention from her scrawny legs while accentuating her mature breasts. Her dreads looked dark and beautiful, dangling about her dainty neck and shoulders. Her bifocals were gone, replaced by clear contacts. For the first time, Pigfoot noticed her gorgeous, light brown eyes.
He stopped breathing for a second and nearly dropped his food. Man, he thought, she looks like she's eighteen.
"V-Venus! Is that y-you?" he stammered, fumbling to hold onto his plates.
"It's me," she said. She walked over to him. "Here, let me help you." She grabbed one of the plates.
She smiled more fully, showing off her braces, which brought her back to being thirteen years old in Pigfoot's mind.
"Well," he laughed, relieved at having seen some sign of immaturity on her part, "what are you doing here?"
"I found out where you lived from the schools web site. You ain't been in school all week. We were all worried about you."
"Don't worry about me, I'm fine. I'm on administrative leave for sending Sammy to the hospital. I heard from Wan----Miss Wanda----that he’s out and he’s all right. Thank God Sammy's mother didn’t press charges."
Venus rolled her eyes. "She just shouldn't after what he did to me!" She handed him the dinner plate, then gave him a hug. She leaned back and looked up at him. "Are you ok?"
"I'm fine." He held the food in one hand and reached in his pocket with the other, eventually producing his keyes and unlocking the front door.
"Hubert, are those ribs from Annie Mae's?"
"Fine, MR. MILLER. Are those ribs from Annie Mae's?"
"Yes." He smiled. "You want some?"
He opened the door. "You take these plates into the dining room while I go call one of your parents to come and pick you up. We can eat a little until they get here."
He led her through his living room, into the dining room. Both rooms were huge, with high ceilings and beautiful ceiling fans. The living room was painted pink and decorated with small paintings of Pigfoot’s family and friends. The dining room walls were a mural of African deities from Egypt and lesser-known regions of the continent. Venus sat down at the living room table and stared at the mural, her face beaming in delight, her eyes wide with awe. The entire house smelled of roses and of Pigfoot’s cologne.
Pigfoot stole away into the kitchen and called Venus's parents. Her mother, Irene Posey, answered the phone. She apologized for her daughter's boldness and promised to come right over to pick her up.
Pigfoot plopped down at the other side of the table. By then, Venus had finished half of the food on her plate. She smiled at him through a mouth of mush.
He folded his hands and took a deep breath. “Venus, we need to talk about something.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full.”
She gulped. “Sorry.” She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Want do you want to talk about?”
He sighed again. “I don’t know quite how to say this without embarrassing you.”
Her face calmed into a solemn look. “You don’t have to worry about embarrassing me. Sammy is my----well, was my boyfriend. He didn’t care about embarrassing me.” Tears fell from her eyes. “He made up that rhyme about me and said it in front of everybody! After that, he told the editor of the student paper that I gave him some, knowing damn well that I’m still a virgin! Then he hit me! He would have killed me if you hadn’t been there.”
Venus trembled. Pigfoot ran to her side of the table and hugged her. He stroked her arms as she stood up, leaning her head on his shoulder. She buried her face in his fleshy chest as he rocked her like a baby.
“Venus, I’m sorry. I----I guess this was a bad time, considering everything you’ve been through.”
She leaned away and looked up at him. Their eyes met. Locked. He rolled his lips together in a tense smirk. She sniffed, pulled herself up on her toes. He didn’t realize he was leaning down, until----
She kissed him.
He kissed her. His body tingled. This was the first woman besides his mother who had kissed him in over a decade.
But then, he let go and pushed her away. “Venus, wait. Stop! I’m sorry. I can’t do this. I’m a grown man. I’m your teacher, you know? I---I---“
She kissed him again----hard. She locked her arms around his neck so tightly that grunted as he pried her loose. The two of them were heaving when he finally got her off of him. He licked the blood that came from the front of his mouth; the blood made from the force of her kiss.
She looked down at his crotch. There was no sign of arousal. Her eyes welled with tears again. She rained a fit of fists on him as she screamed. “I thought you liked me! I love you Hubert! I love you!”
Pigfoot took a few blows to the face and chest before he grabbed her hands and held them at her sides. “Venus, please! Calm down! You mother will be here any minute.”
“Noooooo!!!!!!!!” She jerked out of his grasp. She slapped him hard across the face, causing his lip to bleed even more. It took every ounce of control he could muster to keep h
imself from striking back. “Venus, PLEASE!” She stopped. She looked at him standing there, panting and bleeding. A cold wave of shame flowed through her body as she put her hands over her gaping mouth. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Miller.” She reached out to touch his face.
He moved back.
She clasped her hands in front of her. “I didn’t mean to. It’s just that sometimes.... Oh, never mind.” She shook her head. “Never mind at all.” She bolted out of the dining room and crashed a few things over as she ran through the living room. Pigfoot lumbered after her, but she was much too fast. She was almost on the street by the time he reached the front door. Venus was so upset that she didn’t hear the jeep coming. The black jeep ran a stop sign and slammed into her. The screeching of its brakes rang in Pigfoot’s ears for what seemed like an eternity. Venus’ body bolted up into the air. It went limp as soon as it hit the pavement.
The thugged-out drunk driver quickly sobered up after he realized what happened. “Yo, man! I didn’t see her coming! She----is she alright?”
Pigfoot ran over to her body and knelt down.
The driver pulled his dew-rag off his head and cried. “I swear, nigga, she just popped up out of no where!”
Her dead eyes stared up at Pigfoot. He reached down and held the body in his arms. “Oh God, oh God, oh God! What have I done!”
The doorbell rang. Pigfoot sat up in the dark living room. His legs were spread open on the floor. A painting that he was working on lay between them. It was a morbid picture of a gargoyle choking the life out of a naked, fat black man. That man in the painting was of course, Pigfoot.
He rubbed his stomach. He was so depressed, he had forgotten to eat for the past few days. He looked down and noticed that his clothes were fitting him looser than normal. He thought he heard three people on the outside of his door, but he wasn’t sure. Why would anybody want to talk to me right now?
It was Venus’s parents.
Her father called out first. “Open up Mr. Miller. Please open up! We know you’re there! You haven’t come out of your house since the funeral. Please, Hubert, talk with us!”
“Go away Mr. Posey!”
Irene shouted next. “Look son, it’s been two weeks. Let somebody take a look at you so that the world knows you ain’t dead.”
Wanda’s voice cut through. “Hubert, open this God damned door before I kick it in!
He shook himself out of his blue haze, then got up and went to the door.
He opened it and stared, right to left. “Wanda, Irene, Vincent-----“ he grimaced and sobbed as he spoke, “I’m sorry about Venus. If there’s anything----“
The Poseys hugged him while Wanda stood at a respectful distance. She hugged and kissed Pigfoot on the cheek when the Poseys and he were finished.
Vincent smiled. “May we please come in, Mr. Miller?”
“Yes.” Pigfoot gestured for them to enter.
Wanda put her hand on the side of his face after the Poseys went inside. “I told Vincent and Irene to come by here to see you. Just listen to them for a minute, ok?”
Pigfoot nodded as he tried to smile away his pain.
They all sat down in the living room. Vincent looked at the painting, shook his head, then spoke. “We’ve really had to lean on the Lord these last couple of weeks. But the spirit has moved us in a way that we didn’t expect.” He looked over at his wife.
Irene continued. “Well, Venus was working on a lot of new things before she died. Ever since she’d been in your class her art just kept growing.” She pulled out a handkerchief and dabbed her eyes. “Of course, she drew a lot of pictures of you. And of that no good little bastard boyfriend of hers.”
“Now, now,” Vincent said.
Irene sniffed. “But she was making something special, really special, for your class. Mold Your Future, that’s what you called it, right?”
Pigfoot nodded as he blinked back tears.
Irene wiped her eyes again. “Well, Mr. Miller, we were hoping that you would finish it.”
Pigfoot froze. “Me?”
Vincent put his hand on Pigfoot’s forearm. “You’re giving our daughter another chance at life by finishing her life’s work.”
Pigfoot shook his head.
Wanda chimed in. “Come on. Hear them out before you decide.”
Vincent continued. “Irene and I have plenty of money. We can pay you whatever you want.
You won’t even have to go back to teaching until you finish this project. We don’t care how long it takes, days, weeks, months, even years.”
“But why me?”
“You were her teacher,” Vincent said, “so you understand her vision.”
“Please son,” Irene said. “Help us out. Her art is the only thing we have to remember her by.”
“Name your price,” Vincent said, “but please, say yes.”
Pigfoot shrugged. “I need time to think.”
Vincent stood up. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll have the statue delivered over here tomorrow, along with a check for thirty thousand dollars. If you don’t want the job, just refuse the delivery of the statue. But keep the check, as our way of apologizing for our part in all this. It hurts me as a father to say this, but I know why she came over here. And I know you are a man of high enough character to not try to take advantage of our little girl.” He offered his hand to Pigfoot. “For that, you ended up with a world of pain. I’m sorry.”
Pigfoot stood up and shook his hand. “That sounds fair enough.”
The statue was delivered the next morning. But it was three more days before Pigfoot removed the tarp that covered it. He had the movers place the statue in the corner of his living room. He regarded the statue with mixed emotions---joy, pain, fear and rage. He still barely ate. He covered the floor with small paintings and sketch after sketch of him being tortured by one mythological being or another. The living room stank from the funk of his unwashed body.
But finally, he walked over to the statue, and slowly removed the covering.
His mouth fell open with awe. The statue was a perfect rendition of Venus as a beautiful young woman. “My God,” he said to it, “She must have put her heart and soul into you.”
He looked into the stone eyes and saw that they had not been finished. Then, he noticed a few other flaws that only a trained artist would see. “Don’t worry Venus,” he said as he caressed its cold skin, “I will finish you. I will give you life.”
The statue’s stillness was all the agreement that Pigfoot needed.
He worked day and night. A week later he called in to permanently resign from teaching, but the school board would not hear of it. They offered him an extended leave and promised there would be a position open for him if he decided to return. Pigfoot was not rude in his rejection. He merely stated that he was never going back.
His clothes were falling off of him by the summer. He walled himself away from the outside world, leaving the house only to cash the checks sent by the Poseys or to buy food, clothes and supplies. He stopped answering his phone, and would leave the front door open from time to time so that the mail carried would bring his bills inside. He smoothed the statue’s skin so much that it felt real, forged her eyes so that they stared back at him, and had even started on trying to find a way to give her hair a human texture.
Eventually, Pigfoot settled in on making the statue into a nude young woman. He was painting the body a rosewood color when Wanda decided to go through the open door and welcome herself into his home.
Wanda stopped. All she saw was a husky but well-built man dabbing on a naked black woman with a paintbrush. Then she blinked her eyes a few times until she saw that it was a statue. “Excuse me, my name is Wanda Merkel. I don’t mean to, uh, interrupt, but do you know where I can find Hubert Miller?”
“Good Lord, Wanda! Has it been that long since you’ve seen me?”
He turned around. “Girl, call me Pigfoot. All the kids did when I was teaching, and when I was in high school. I don’t mind it so much anymore. It just reminds me of what I used to be, so that I don’t go back there again.”
Wanda looked, and lusted, at him. The pounds had melted away into a handsome man with a strong, thick body. “Oh my! I hardly recognized you. You looking good, Hue. Real good.”
He chuckled. “All I do now is work and work out.”
Wanda focussed on the statue. “Oh my goodness! It looks just like Venus in ten years. You done brought her back from the dead.”
“Well,” Pigfoot said as he turned around and continued painting, “Venus had already done the hard part. All I’m doing is filling in the details.” He coughed. “Hey, did Vincent and Irene send you by here? If you see them, tell them I’ve been too busy working on the project to cash the last three checks.”
“No,” Wanda said, “I just came by to see how you were doing.” Her gaze drifted down to his buttocks. “And to ask you out on a date.”
Pigfoot looked up at the statue and laughed. “I don’t know. My creation here may get jealous and start giving me the silent treatment.”
Wanda looked at the statue’s eyes. They did seem like they were alive----and looking at her with hate. A chill went down her spine. But then, she laughed it off. “Oh shit man, come on. You got me worrying over nothing. What time should I pick you up?”
“You can pick me up at eight.”
Pigfoot’s body was new, but his table manners had not changed one bit. Wanda was shocked that someone who looked like the new Hue could stuff his face like the same old Pigfoot. She just sat there, totally horrified by his appetite. He slurped down the beans, shoveled down a plate of potato salad, smacked his lips on four plates of ribs, and drank a quart of beer by himself. She closed her eyes and rubbed her hands on the lap of her silky red dress as a distraction.
“Oh man,” he said between munches, eating with both of his hands like he didn’t know the meaning of the words knife and fork, “I ain’t been out to eat in months!” He giggled. “ I forgot how much fun this is!”
“Um, yeah. I see.”
He finally stopped gorging. “You should see how beautiful she’ll be. She’ll be so perfect. I’ve got the perfect shade of black paint for her hair. And I’ve got time. All the time I need to bring Venus to life.” He wiped his mouth with a napkin and belched. “You know, I got her a dress just like the one you’re wearing. That and a gold ankh.”
“What’s an ankh?”
“It’s the Egyptian symbol of life. I got in high school from agirl named Mikki. Anyway, I’m going to put it on the statue after the paint dries. I hope she’ll like it."
“Say what?” Wanda frowned her face as she looked around the restaurant and hoped that no one else heard him babbling about a statue. “I think you need to back off this project. You’re losing your mind. I thought it would be a good way for you to mourn, but you’re act like you’re in love with the thing in your living room.”
Pigfoot snickered. “The only thing I’m losing is my old, sorry life. You know, after I caused Venus to die, well, I thought there would be nothing left to live for. But you’re right: I am in love. If I could make her talk, make her walk, make her love me back, I would. That’s the only sad thing about this project. I’ll have to give her back to the Posey’s when I’m done. But at least they’ll know how beautiful their daughter would have been.” He stood up. “You’ll have to excuse me. I need to find the men’s room.”
Fifteen minutes passed from when he left the table to when he started to return. On his way back, he overhead a conversation between Wanda and a party on the other end of her cell phone.
“Oh yeah, you were right. He was eating like a pig. He slimmed down, girl, but he gonna balloon back up to his fat and nasty self. You and the principal owe me some serious money if I fuck him. I hope you got enough to cover what you already owe me on this one. Yes, girl, I’ll give you all the details. The fat ought to have melted away enough for me to feel it if I give him some. What? Am I going to get with him again? Child, please. He may have finally lost some weight, but he ain’t a roughneck, if you know what I’m saying. What? What? I don’t care if he do got big feet, I would need to make sure he is big enough down there where it----“
Wanda finally noticed he was glaring at her. “Let me call you back girl.”
Pigfoot folded his arms.
“How long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough to know that you’re a bitch.”
“Ok, fine, I deserve that. But Pigfoot, let me explain----“
“Don’t worry about taking me home. I wouldn’t want to mess up your car seats with my fat and nasty self.”
He lay on the couch and cried when he got home. The room was swimming around him, spinning, making him feel like he was falling. But then, when the rage and the pain washed away, he looked at the statue. The Venus statue looked at him with compassion.
But he felt like he was alone again. All alone, with only a stone woman for a companion. He blinked for a second as he looked at her. He sat up. “Man,” he said, “I don’t remember putting the dress and the choker on her already. Guess I did that before I went out with Wanda.”
He wiped away his tears and looked at his watch. “Eleven o’clock. Chan’s is still open. They deliver up until midnight. I’ll order some orange chicken and spare ribs.” Chan’s promised to have his food there at the stroke of midnight.
Pigfoot sat on the living room couch. And waited. He drifted in and out of sleep. He dreamed of Venus, his previous year teaching her, the fight with Sammy, Wanda’s mercy flirting, Venus’s rage at being rejected and her death, everything! Then, all he saw was the statue, some times as its dead, stone self, other times as a living woman, holding him, kissing him, straddling him on the floor of the living room among the scattering of tortured art he made during his weeks of mourning.
The knock at the front door jarred him awake. He looked down at his watch. Twelve o’clock midnight.
“Who is it?” he called out.
Pigfoot stood up. He reached his hand into his pocket to get out his walled. As he did, a warm, soft hand grabbed him on his left shoulder.
Pigfoot jumped around and smacked the hand away from him. A beautiful young black woman stood rubbing her wrist. She was dressed in the red dress and wore the ankh that he had bought for the statue. Her eyes, her beautiful, light brown eyes, were very familiar. Only the body, the body of a twenty three-year-old woman, was the love those eyes project finally something that was not forbidden.
“Venus?” he gasped.
“You, Hue. Your passion gave me life. You can love me now, Hue. I’m a grown woman.”
He backed away. “No. Wait. I’m asleep. This can’t be real. It must be a bad dream.”
“No, Hue. I’m real.”
The deliveryman rang the doorbell.
He shook his head. “Venus, I have to get the door.”
She reached out and grabbed both of his wrists with her hands. “No, Hue, you don’t.”
Her grip felt strong, strong enough to scare him. “Let go! Look, girl, the food----“
“The food can wait. Look at me, Hue, I’m real!”
“You can’t be.”
“Hue, the only thing that’s not real is your eating. Your eating to feel loved. Eating to share love, to show joy. Your eating yourself to your own death. That’s what’s not real. That’s the bad dream.”
He looked at the door, then looked at her. He started crying.
Venus came closer to him. But this time, he did not pull away. “Kiss me. I need your kiss to stay alive as a woman. If not, I’ll go back to being a statue. It’s all up to you.”
He looked at the door, then looked at her again. Finally, he leaned down and gave her a kiss that was so soft, yet so strong, that they both forgot that there was ever a time that Venus was not a woman.
Vincent and Irene Posey’s hearts were filled with joy when they saw the slim Hue Miller wearing his Sunday best. He was sitting in the crowded Tricklewood Baptist Church at the eight o’clock service with a beautiful young woman who looked and acted like their beloved daughter Venus.
“Well,” Vincent said, “I’m glad that the Spirit answered our prayers.” Irene cried tears of joy. “I guess a child really can mold her own future.”