An all night ride on the Amtrak train had always been a soothing and relaxing experience for Vera.Three year old Jaliah claimed her territory at the window seat and for hours at a time was plastered against the large thick glass pane, balancing on her knees. Jaliah's piercing squeals were fortunately absorbed by cabin compression and the droning of the air conditioner.. Baby Malik remained peacefully sleeping next to Vera in the isle seat. The quiet smooth rolling of the train was the perfect dose of medicine to induce hours of uninterrupted sleep for a teething one year old. Vera had slept well in the reclining seats. The leg rest accommodated her long thin legs perfectly.Vera's eyes opened to a dull pain in her abdomen as the train pulled into New York's Grand Central Station. The ache was slowly and steadily tyeing itself into a knot.Vera took deep breaths as she inserted the key into the glass door of her apartment lobby. The children scrambled in dragging hand luggage. While waiting for the elevator to the sixth floor, Vera was thinking about her lessons from past experiences when the knot in her gut was the silent voice that told her that something was not right. Vera's intuition confirmed that something was wrong in her big brother's house in Georgia.Roy and Vera, are ten years apart and are the only two siblings out of 15 to have children. For that reason alone, Vera and Roy shared a special bond. Roy's wife Ida, kept a meticulously clean house, while her husband worked 10-12 hour shifts in his taxi service to downtown Atlanta. Roy was turning 40, and had a fringe of white hairs that traced the front of his hairline. Roy was known to have a violent temper and had paid the consequences of it in the past. His wife Ida, assured Vera on the phone before she visited that Roy was no longer physically abusive to her. Ida had been desperate for Vera's company and to see the new cousins of her children, but that Vera would not come to visit if Roy was still violent. She stayed away for over five years because of Roy and now Vera was desperate to see her many nieces and nephews.The cramped muscles of Vera's thin shoulders and arms found relief after herding out of the elevator and into their two room apartment. Sliding hand luggage across the polished tiled hallway floor, Malik hobbled behind his sister with an air of independence. A quick change of clothes, and the children were fast asleep still drugged from the long train ride. Vera watches Jaliah angelically sleeping. It was a great comfort for her to know that her daughter's life would be more protected and pleasurable without dogmatic restrictions, than her childhood had been.Vera's mind shifts to her two young nieces in Georgia, sleeping in their parents bed. Sofie, the youngest niece was four and a half, and Tammy was almost 13 years old! Vera could not wrap her mind around any reason for her nieces to sleep in the bed with their parents!Leasi, the oldest daughter of Roy and Ida, had left her parents home years earlier and was living in Boston with her two year old daughter Tabetha. No one in the family had ever laid eyes on Tabetha as of yet. Leasi would call her aunt Vera on holidays.Laying next to Malik on the bottom bunk, Vera closed her eyes and imagined the conversation she would have with Leasi in a few hours. It was still early morning. After a short power nap, Vera's eyelids were invaded by morning sunlight slipping between the spaces of tall buildings. It was an Autumn beautiful day that gave no comfort to Vera's thoughts. She would have to ask Leasi about the unusual sleeping arrangements of her little sisters. Vera would have to reveal the dirty little secret about her father as a teenager, molesting his little sisters and the girls in the neighborhood. Vera wondered it this would be too much for Leasi, whose voice revealed discontent in the last conversation. Would Leasi regard her Aunt Vera as a stinking angel from hell, bearing horrible news about her once beloved father? Leasi was always daddy's little girl who worshiped the ground her father walked on. Vera could not understand how this loving father daughter went so cold so fast.Pressure was starting to build up in Vera's mind. She was thinking of backing off. Vera had convinced herself that her brother Roy was cured from his child molestations by having a wife and eight children! Vera felt like a coward. But soon the faces of her nieces Sofie and Tammy appeared in her mind which drove Vera to pick up the phone.With cold trembling fingers Vera pushed several buttons on a portable phone and moved into the other room so that the sleeping children would not be disturbed.“Well good morning to you, Leasi” Vera said enthusiastically, “I hope I didn't wake you, it's almost nine o'clock.” “Oh hi Aunt Vera, I was up with Tabetha already, she's always ready to rip before six in the morning!” Leasi replied.”Yeah, tell me about it” Vera chimes in “How's little Tabetha doing? I hear her chatter-boxing away” Vera laughs slightly. Leasi begins whining about the terrible twos and how Tabetha will not listen to her commands. Vera had to get to the point quickly because she was starting to feel weak. “ Leasi, I was wondering...Have you talked with your little sisters recently? Do you have a communication with them? “No, not really” Leasi confessed. “You know I don't get along with my parents. Anyhow they would not allow me to speak to Sofie and Tammy. They tell my sisters that I am a bad influence, and that I'm going to hell!uuuhh!” “That's too bad” Vera said apologetically “Little sisters need to communicate with their big sister. Tammy and Sofie miss you so much! I can see it in their faces.” “I know, I know, and I miss them too!” Leasi whines “Look, Aunt Vera, I really can't stand my father. Did you know that he still beats up my mother and that my father forced my mother to get on the phone and tell you that he doesn't beat my mother any more?” Vera was holding her breath too long and was experiencing stages of a faint. Leasi continues. “My mother always makes up stuff to blame on us so that my father could beat us when he comes home.” “ I'm so sorry you had to go through that Leasi, I thought my brother was getting better, maturing. Although I have to confess that your father became quite explosive with me in front of my babies the day before I left his house. I promised myself that I would never ever lay eyes on my brother again!” Vera said forcefully “Oh you sound just like me!” Leasi jumps in “You see, Aunt Vera, I was never going to tell anyone, but my father was having sex with me since I turned 16! Tabetha is almost three and I had my nineteenth birthday last week. That's way I didn't want anyone in the family to see Tabetha because she looks just like my father!” Leasi begins to sob and Vera's vision has become blurred with white dots forming in front of her. Leasi gathers her breath and continues. “Now I have this wretched boy friend, who is old enough to be my father. He gets drunk everyday and beats me for not telling him who the father is of the baby he is taking care of.” Leasi rages on “My mother told me that all this was my fault for walking around the house indecently exposed.Can you believe that? She threw me out of the house when I was pregnant. I hate her more than anything!!” Leasi's voice overflowed with venom. She was forced to let loose a chilling scream. Vera was hyperventilating. She felt a gripping guilt clutching her throat and was unable to utter a word. With knees trembling, Vera took one step backwards and tripped over a toy truck and fell noisily to the floor hitting the back of her head. The thud sounded outrageously loud as the phone flew out of her hand. The polished wooden floors were not laid on top of concrete. The flexible wooden floor absorbed the shock of Vera's fall, but the sudden noise was enough to awaken the children. “Leasi, you still there? I tripped over a toy, but I'm not hurt, I'm in shock and I need to make some phone calls, OK dear? I'll get back to you soon.” Vera hangs up the phone to the sounds of Leasi's crying.After some quick maneuvers Vera plants two bowls of cut up fruit and dry cereal in front of Jaliah and Malik who were already watching morning cartoons. Vera slips away to make another call.Vera's shock had turned into a raging anger against her brother Roy. Her high hopes for her brother's recovery were dashed to smithereens. In times of deep trouble like this, Vera could only think of her favorite aunt, the aunt she was named after.Aunt Vera Sr.was a retired D.C. Public school teacher. She would spend every summer in New York with her brother, Vera's father. She redecorated the entire house when Vera's mother died 15 years ago.Aunt Vera would talk loud, and laugh even louder with Vera's father at the kitchen table until the wee hours of the morning. Vera's father, a Pastor and Reverend never smoked and hated cigarettes. But he never once complained as his big sister Vera chain smoked her way through their rowdy all night conversations. Aunt Vera was single, childless, independent and powerful. She never had to take orders from anyone. Aunt Vera brought new shoes and school clothes for her nieces and nephews every year. Vera felt confident that her Aunt Vera would know what to do about Roy.When Aunt Vera picked up the phone, Vera wasted no time with polite preliminaries. She quickly blurted out her intentions to file charges against Roy for the sexual abuse of his daughter. Aunt Vera begged her not to do it. Her voice was strong and commanding. She had a take charge attitude. “Let me take care of that scoundrel brother of yours” she said “There are plenty of thugs here in D.C. I could hire to take that scoundrel out!” she boasted. “You know Vera, you should have told me that your brother was molesting you and your sister. That's what us old single aunts are for.” Vera boldly replied. “But if I told you, Papa would have found out, killed my brother, gone to prison leaving us as orphans. A six year old could not have handled that. I thought I was having a secret adventure with my big brother!” “Anyway” Aunt Vera gets back to the point, “Just let me handle that scoundrel Roy” she commands, “don't worry, I know just what to do. We don't need to be disgracin the family in court, you hear me? I'll call you in a few days.” Vera meekly agrees and hangs up the phone. Those were the last words she would ever hear from her favorite aunt. Exactly three days later, Aunt Vera died suddenly and mysteriously from a stroke and age 68. No one knew of any previous illnesses Aunt Vera may have had. Being the preacher's daughter, Vera was not immune from her childhood religious indoctrinations. Vera truly believed that it was the hand of God who took her favorite aunt away so suddenly. Now it was time for mourning, making burial arrangements, and selling off Aunt Vera's properties in Washington D.C.One month pasted quickly since Aunt Vera's burial. Vera thought that it was a respectable amount of time before she approached another relative for advice. The closest brother to Aunt Vera was Uncle Mac. Uncle Mac was only one year older than Vera's father. He was single, smoked aromatic fat cigars and traded his car in for a new one every two years. As head chef of a five star restaurant, he could afford such luxuries. Uncle Mac wore wide-rimmed hats and had metal taps on the souls of his shinny leather shoes. He walked proudly clicking away. Uncle Mac never allowed anything to make him raise his voice. His calm veneer was always present as he sat on the pulpit next to his Brother Pastor every Sunday without fail. Uncle Mac delighted in taking his nieces and nephews for a ride to the airport to watch the planes take off. Uncle Mac's tall strong figure always came through the door carrying four large brown paper grocery bags filled with vanilla and chocolate ice-cream, strings of lollipops, economy size boxes of sandwich cookies, huge bags of potatoechips and cheese doodles, and boxes of peanut brittle, every week, without fail. Vera had the deepest love and respect for Uncle Mac and was not disappointed or disillusioned when he told her to let God be the judge for Roy's sins.” The courts ain't gonna do nothing but shame the family!” Uncle Mac thundered, “and vengeance is mine sayest the Lord” Rev. Uncle Mac states firmly. Vera could feel Uncle Mac's big eyes looking at her over the phone. Again Vera meekly agrees and hangs up.It began to rain very hard as Vera was feeling more and more deflated and annoyed, an annoyance like a biting itch on her back in an area she could not reach. Vera was avoiding the one person who had a right to know what was happening. Big Sis.There was a twenty- five year age difference between the oldest sibling, Big Sis, and the youngest, a teenager. At 30, Vera was some where in the middle. Big Sis was the matriarch of the family even before her mother passed away. Big Sis was the tough principal of an all girls high school in Brooklyn. She did not tolerate trivia, nor had the patience for gossip. There was no married with children written in her play manuscript. Dignity and respect was most important to her, because she cared about what others thought of her and her family. Many years before, Vera told Big Sis what her younger brother Roy had done. Big Sis was angry at Vera more than she was at Roy, whom she has since disowned as a brother. But Vera felt that it was so unfair and cold-hearted for Big Sis to act as if Roy's children did not exist. She never had any interaction or communication with her nieces and nephews.Big Sis was always on the defense. She had more than her share of everyone's problems including maintaining sanity in the Robinson family after the death of Mother Robinson. Big Sis was overwhelmed with meetings to attend, forms to fill and countless social invitations. For her own protection, Big Sis had a policy of only three minute phone conversations to family members. Vera nervously rehearses her brief phone call to Big Sis. Vera was known to stand her ground. She would insist on filing charges against Roy, she would not allow Big Sis to talk her out of doing it.Miraculously, Vera Robinson races through her re-rehearsed speech of four minutes without interruption. Vera pauses, and waits for a reaction. Big Sis did not seem to be ruffled and in a calm and firm voice said, “If you go and press charges against Roy, he will say that our father sexually molested his daughters too!” Vera had tunnel vision and blacked out. She went back in time as an African-American woman 200 years before the Emaciation Proclamation, with the insight to know that slavery would not end for another 200 years!Vera's direction and purpose were deeply buried as she mindlessly performed her parental duties with- out joy or enthusiasm. She certainly was not prepared to receive another knock-out blow that came with a phone call from Leasi. It had been three months since Vera made that call that changed her entire outlook on life.“Leasi, are you alright dear? I'm so sorry that I haven't gotten back to you sooner, You know my Aunt Vera died suddenly, and we had to travel to D.C. For her burial, and to put her properties up for sale...and..” Leasi speaks without any emotion in her voice. “Oh, that's OK. I just wanted to let you know that my mother called me. She found out that you were trying to press charges against my father. My mother told me that if I would ever testify against my father, all of my sisters and brothers would hate me forever for sending their father to jail! Aunt Vera, I hope you have not taken out charges against my father already because I refuse to testify against him, in fact I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO LEAVE ME ALONE!!! Vera jumps as Leasi slams the phone down. She felt that the boomerang effect was in full activation.Justice and revenge are two sides of the same coin. Vera could not get justice and she could not stop wanting revenge. The problem was that revenge was also accompanied by hate. The lust for this hateful revenge was beginning to destroy Vera's physical and mental health. Vera had forgotten that her direction and purpose was with Jalia and Malik. They were accustomed to having a happy and energetic mom. Jalia rallied her mother's attention when she reminded her that her birthday was coming soon and that she had promised her a special gift,...a trip to Gullah Gullah Island!Vera Robinson lived with the children's father in the Caribbean for a few years. She came back to New York after Jaliah was born because of physical and mental abuse from Jaliah's father. He promised to better himself in New York, went to school and received a certificate in sign language. He gave a good performance in his first court assignment, but somehow lost his confidence and self-esteem, returned to drunkenness and physical abusing, and left Vera five months pregnant with Malik, to be never seen again. Vera had tried to cater to him until she realized that she could not make him happy with himself.“ Yeah, lets go back to Gullah Gullah Island where you were born!” Vera shouted. Jaliah squeals with an open mouth smile and jumps around the room on her bare feet.Vera's energy and optimism were returning steadily. It was easy for her to visualize Jaliah and Malik barefoot and walking on soft sandy beaches under cloudless blue skies, carrying red and blue pails filled with wet sand to build a castle. The smell of blue-green oceans, coconut trees, red and yellow tropical flowers, perfume scented air, are among the many impressions Vera retains from her years in the Caribbean.One month later, Big Sis calls and reports that Aunt Vera's houses have been sold and the money is to go to her nieces and nephews. “HALLELUJAH! THANK YOU AUNT VERA” Vera shouts, with a few hops and her hands raised in the air. Big Sis was just about to hang up. “Wait” Vera shouts, “ What about Roy's share of the inheritance..” a pause and Vera continues “Roy's share, $20,000. should go to Leasi and her daughter Tabetha..” a longer pause, and Vera continues, “ Aunt Vera told me before she died that she would take care of Roy, and I think this is how she would have wanted it. Please, please Big Sis, give the money to Leasi!” another pause then Vera pushes the right buttons, “ I can pay for a lawyer to redraft the will for special circumstance.” “Oh that won't be necessary” Big Sis says coming back to life. “I mailed your check this morning and I will mail a check for Leasi tomorrow. Now book your flight, pack your bags and get out of town! You make too many problems for yourself, give yourself a break once in a while!”Daylight Savings Time does not exist in the Caribbean where everyday is Summer fun! Time flies by unnoticed. Long cold winters are a fading distant memory. Malik and Jaliah have grown taller than their mother. They are children of the New Age, with computer classes in school and the Internet's social media. Jaliah is a high school senior who spends every available moment giggling and laughing to herself as she digitally chats with her friends on My Space, Face book and Twitter. Malik finally receives his promotion to Black Belt in Wado-Karate-Do after six years. Malik practices his form around the house, yelling as he strikes the air. He has matured with discipline and self-confidence. Malik has remained the top honor student of his schools for the last six years!Vera is ready to retire for the evening when Jaliah calls her to look at her screen. “Mom, take a look at this guy, he said that you are his aunt and he is requesting friendship.” Vera takes a long hard gaze at a middle aged man. “Oh, I know who that is, he's my brother's son John.But he looks so old. Has that much time passed already? “ Yeah mom, you know we've been living in the Islands for 14 years. We left New York right after my 4th birthday. Now I'm about to graduate and go to college in New York!” Jaliah announces joyfully. But Vera was not listening, she was in deep thought. She wanted to know if John could contact Leasi, and the whereabouts of his parents. Nervously, Vera left a message for John. His reply would not come for two whole nerve racking days and Vera was certainly not prepared for what John had to tell her.John's lengthy message began with the divorce of his parents, shortly after Vera left New York. John states that his father had beaten his mother into a coma. Three months later when John's mother came out of the coma, she was blinded in one eye, lost the use of her limbs, and had only partial memory. With that the D.A. Formed a strong case against John's father and he was sentenced to 25 years without parole. After he had served only a year, he was bludgeoned to death by inmates.Leasi graduated from Nursing School and began to work the graveyard shift at a local hospital. She entrusted the nightly care of her teenage daughter Tabetha to a new boy friend. One morning, Leasi returned home to find Tabetha hysterically crying. She said that her new step father forced himself on her and violently raped her. Leasi went directly to the precinct and filed charges. The boy friend was convicted and sentenced to 25 years without parole. Child molesters do not last long in prison, so he was also killed by inmates within a year.Tabetha is receiving treatment for server depression!Vera remained in a dream-like state for an undetermined amount of time. She was unable to think or feel any emotion.Justice and revenge had been served along with the suffering of the innocent.!Vera needed time to absorb the turn of events, events that she had purposely distanced herself from. Rapidly Vera rebounded, as she had always done throughout her 45 years of hard living.Jaliah's graduation and departure from the beloved Gullah Gullah Island left a void that was a black hole in Vera's universe. Jaliah represented herself in a better life, a life where she had a mother throughout all of her transitional years, a mother she could call on, and would listen without bias to whatever she wanted to say. Through the Internet's social media,Vera was able to remain close to her daughter.Vera began to research her favorite topics of interest. She researched sexual abuse and child molestations. The statistics were clear, one out of three girls and one out of seven boys are molested by a family member or friend. Discussion groups had formed in every state. Participants were shocked to hear their same stories of abuse from their closest friend, or neighbor, or sister, or brother. The days of secrecy and shame were dwindling fast. Society and government were enforcing investigations and prosecutions in every social class. A child could be heard and no one was damned for telling anymore.Vera was seeing the readings of the Emancipation Proclamation arriving just in time!