Sometimes love is so close that no one sees it.
I first met Angelica De Camp, when I was four and a half years old. I was exactly four and a half. I later called her my half year birthday present. She was the first black woman I ever met. At first I was afraid of her, not going near her ... she was different.
But as time went by (all of about fifteen minutes) I warmed up to her and soon we were inseparable.
I thought of Angie as a woman because I was four and she was so much older than me, a whopping eight years older. Everyone else considered her a twelve-year-old girl, which was exactly what she was.
Years later, she told me that in those early days, I would sit on her lap and pet her arm. I would tell her that I wanted to spread her color onto me so that we would be the same. She would laugh and giggle about that.
I think that a little family history would be appropriate, now.
My father, James William Mallory Jr., was an extremely wealthy businessman. He married my mother, Chloe, after his first wife passed away. I think that he really loved his first wife, but they had been childless.
His marriage to Mother was a marriage made on Wall Street. More of a business arrangement than a marriage, Father was about twenty-five years older than Mother.
He got a beautiful bauble to wear on his arm at the various functions they attended, and a male child out of the bargain, me - William James Mallory. Mother got what she wanted more than anything else, wealth and power.
My father made out very well from the deal. My mother was a fantastic businesswoman who helped my father run his business. She was also very, very beautiful and she still is. She is fiercely loyal to my father and I am sure that she has always been faithful to him, even with all of the time they spent apart.
Now this assessment may be very cold and cynical, but I didn't reach this conclusion about my parents until I was older. It happened during one of the few times that my parents were at home having a few friends for dinner. I overheard them tell everyone about my birth, and that they had arranged for my mother get pregnant so that she would have me during the slow season. This way they wouldn't have to take too much time off and be away from their business when it was busy. That really got a big laugh.
My mother brought Angie into our home to be a babysitter and companion to me. Angie's mother had died in childbirth; her father along with her grandmother raised her for years.
Angie's father, James De Camp, was a police officer in the city. When Angie was eleven, he was killed on the job. A year later her grandmother had a stroke and was unable to care for her. This was when Angie came to live with us. She attended the local elementary school and went on to the local high school.
To this day, I have no idea what the connection between the families was, but I no longer care.
Angie lived in our house in the help's quarters, the property manager and his wife watched over her. Mother and Father never went to the help's quarters, however as a child I spent more time there than anywhere else in the house. When my parents were away, which was most of the time, I would live with Angie.
She had a small suite: a nice sized bedroom, a sitting room and a full bath.
Most of the time I would sleep on the couch unless I was sad or scared, then I slept with Angie. At least that was the case in the early years.
I did have some family in my life, my grandparents. My father's parents were alive. I was the apple of their eyes. But their impact on my life was limited. They would be there for the big events, but not much in my day-to-day life.
You have to realize, my grandfather (Gramps) was 75 years old when I was born and my grandmother (Gram) was 71. Gramps was rather sickly and Gram was in a wheel chair. She had fallen down a flight of stairs and was paralyzed from the waist down.
Angie finished high school and went on to take courses at the local community college. She was a conscientious worker and instilled a good work ethic in me. She was a very moral person, and taught me to care for all living things and to treat others with respect.
When I started school, it was Angie who took me there on my first day. I held her hand and cried when she was leaving. She was the one who told me to be brave and that I would have fun.
She would drop me off and pick me up. When I had a school event or was in the Christmas play, it was Angie who would be in the audience clapping and cheering for me.
Angie took me to my T-ball games and later to Little League. She was the one who would console me when we lost and who would celebrate with me when we won. I don't think that my parents even knew that I played baseball.
She was at my kindergarten graduation, my elementary school graduation and my high school graduation. My grandparents would also be there, my parents were just too busy, or were out of town.
They would always throw a graduation party for me as soon after the event as was convenient for them. These would be gala affairs; all of their friends and business associates were there.
I would be dragged out and put on display for a while and then sent off to 'enjoy myself' because "You really don't want to be here with us old fogies."
For once they were right about what I wanted.
On the other hand, Angie would arrange the parties with my friends. Whether it was for my birthday, graduation, or any other event that she believed deserved a party. These were the fun parties with a dozen or so kids running around the house.
These parties were held when my parents were out. These were the ones my grandparents came to.
"I can't stand all of that noise and foolishness," my mother would groan.
"I love having all your friends here, playing and enjoying themselves," Gram would tell me.
Christmas was always a wonderful time. The workers would decorate the den. There would be a huge tree that was perfectly decorated. It had to be perfect, because if anything was not right, and mother was home to see it, there would be hell to pay.
Angie and I would decorate 'our' tree in her sitting room. We would go out and spend hours finding the perfect tree at the local nursery, discussing whether we wanted long needles or short ones; a tall tree or a small one. We would look at it from all angles, deciding which side was the best and what side would face the wall - all the important things about a Christmas tree.
We would carry it home and set it up. Then the next day, we would decorate it. We used ornaments that Angie brought from her Grandmother. Most of them were home made. We would make at least one ornament for each other every year. These were the first ones to go on the tree.
We would string popcorn for garlands on the tree. We started this the first year that Angie was with me and continued doing it. Even as a teenager, I would never think of not participating in our Christmas ritual.
Angie and I would have Christmas dinner with my grandparents. Gramps and Gram loved Angie almost as much as I did. She was family. They would buy her presents. She would sit at the dinner table with us. They treated her as my parents didn't.
Don't get me wrong; I didn't hate my parents for not being there. I never missed them. I had Angie. She was all I wanted or needed.
After finishing up at the community college, Angie went on to a local university and graduated Magna cum Laude, with degrees in Management and Accounting.
By the time I was starting high school, Angie was running the properties that my parents owned. The old manager had retired so Angie took over. She did the inventory, the ordering, and arranging to have things repaired when needed, everything that had to be done in managing the various properties. She kept the books and handled all of the finances involved with running them.
We set up a small office near her suite. It had two desks, as she would do her work, I would do my homework. I loved the arrangement.
My parents loved it. They thought that it was wonderful that this girl from the ghetto was doing such a good job for them.
I will say one thing for my parents; they paid their employees well and they paid for Angie's schooling. They treated them like shit, but they paid.
I used to get angry at what they (Mother) said to Angie and how they (Mother) treated her. But she would tell me that I just had to accept it. They were my parents and they weren't going to change.
One time, I asked Angie why she put up with them and their abuse; she smiled at me and said, "How could I ever leave my boy? I would miss you so much. Not only that, I could never find another job that would pay as much and give me the freedom that I have here."
This was when I realized that Angie worked here and if she ever went somewhere else to work, she would be out of my life completely. I never brought the subject up again.
As I got older, most of the time it would be just Angie and me in the house. The others were day employees so at night we would be alone.
As I entered puberty and began looking at girls and women, I found that my strongest fantasies were about Angie. At first this made me feel ashamed. But as I got older I realized that I was in love with her.
She was the woman that I wanted to be with.
I knew that Angie loved me, but it was more the love of a mother for her child and not the love of a woman for a man.
This was my secret. I did my best to treat her as I always did, but in my heart I was suffering.
.... There is more of this story ...