Haves and Have-Nots

This time, they made their way to South Dakota, Clyde’s home state. They lived with friends again, until they got on their feet. “We got jobs telemarketing and an apartment. It was cheap. You pay $290 to move in, only $190 a month to live. Things were good, but I started to feel funny. I thought I might be pregnant, and sure enough, I was. We both knew it might not be Clyde’s, but he said we were just going to deal with it, and I said cool.” But Clyde’s love life continued to haunt them. “His ex-girlfriend kept banging on our door, trying to start trouble. So I called my mom and told her I was pregnant and asked if I could come back. She said, ‘If you’re pregnant, you’re definitely coming home.’

“My mom, she played the part with me and stuff. She says she loves me, but since she’s been with Harry, she puts him above me. I don’t know if she means to or what. I let her be in the delivery room, and I don’t like Harry, but I let him be in there. But we made him stand back so he couldn’t see nothing.” Bonnie’s first child, Jacob, was born in November 1998. Then came the enchilada incident.

Jacob was three weeks old. Bonnie and Clyde were living under their parents’ roof. Clyde was trying to do right by them through a new job at 7-Eleven. Bonnie basked in her new role as a mother. “My mom told me to cook for her — enchiladas. I said, ‘Mama, I have the baby. I’m going to take care of the baby now. If you could wait until Clyde gets home, I’ll leave the baby with him and cook the food.’ I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t want to do anything except stay in bed with my son. This was my first kid, so I was real protective. I didn’t even go to the bathroom without taking him with me. Her husband said I was just lazy. I yelled, ‘I’m not lazy! I’ll go wash the dishes!’ And I would carry Jacob with me, even if it would take me forever to wash them.

“I told my mom I had to pick Clyde up at work. I forgot to tell Clyde that my mom wanted me to cook. He was crabby; he had just worked a ten-hour shift. When we got back, she asked me to cook for her. I asked Clyde to watch the baby. I told him, ‘The baby’s asleep, he’s been fed, can you please watch him while I cook for my mom?’ He said, ‘Your mom has been home all day. Why the heck can’t she cook for herself?’ That was true, but my mom’s the type of person who likes people doing things for her. Well, my mom comes in and yells, ‘You son of a gun; I heard what you said.’ She just went off.

“They got into a big old fight. She called the cops and told them, ‘Clyde hit me,’ and all this crap.” The police arrived, and then came the litany of he-said–she-said. “She wanted the cops to throw him out, put him in jail. I told the cops the whole story of how she wanted me to cook the enchiladas and how Clyde made a statement and she don’t like him and she’s messed up. Then my mom said, ‘Look, Clyde’s out there talking to the other officer, and your partner is laughing at me.’ The cop then said, ‘You say my partner is laughing at you. You don’t even know what they’re saying. I think you’re rapped in the head and you’re trying to control these kids. Everything you say is “My daughter this,” “My grandson this.” You want Clyde out of the picture so you can control them. You call me again, and you’re going to jail.’

“Well, she called again that night. She was bothering them for stuff that was not important, stupid stuff. They came. They sent her to her room and us to our room. The cop said, ‘No more fighting. Bonnie, if they harass you again, you call me, and your mom’s going to jail.’ So we left it at that.

“Later that evening, I picked up the phone to make a call, and I heard Harry on the phone, calling Child Protective Services [cps]. I was, like, ‘Oh shit, they’re going to take the baby.’ I went to talk to them and Harry said, ‘Never mind, I’m not going to call on you guys.’ We dropped it off there that night. The next morning, cps was at my door.

“Harry called, but he said he didn’t. The cps lady made me take off all my son’s clothes, because supposedly, Clyde had hit me and the baby. That’s what Harry told them, which is a lie. They took pictures of my son and me. I started being smart and sarcastic, saying, ‘I got beat up pretty badly.’ She said, ‘Yeah, it looks like you got beat up.’ She was nice. She wouldn’t say who called cps but said it was someone in the state. So right then, I pretty much knew it was Mom and Harry.”

After the initial exam, the social worker did a more thorough check. “They asked to see Jake’s room. I showed them where he was staying with us. Then I showed them all the diapers, the formula, his clothes. She asked if that was all the clothes I had. I said, ‘Yeah, but here is my first welfare check with Jake.’ I was getting 400-something, but they raised it to $611 when he was born.”

The social worker left, and the uprooting began. Harry and Bonnie’s mother, Stella, moved out, leaving Bonnie and Clyde holding the bag. “Two days after the cps visit, Mom and Harry are packing up and moving out. The rent was $985 a month. I was getting $611 from my welfare. I gave my mom $450 for our half of the rent. The rest of my check was for my son. Clyde had just started at 7-Eleven, and his check was to go to food, electricity, and the baby.

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