A more recent one.  Title only inspired by The Smiths. 

The Queen Is Dead

 by Ronald Cypress

The neighbors claimed the wailing could be heard from the Whitakers’ place for nearly two weeks after Rosemary left them. Most of the crying came from Harvey Whitaker, the widowed man who had to figure out what he was going to do about the children who were still living with him. Everyone knew that Rosemary had run that family, and it was going to be very hard for Mr. Whitaker to keep it going the way it had been.

Oh my queen! My queen!

It was going to be very hard.

Rosemary had been in excellent health according to everyone around her. She had just dropped suddenly while she was carrying a basket filled with clothes out of the laundry room. The youngest Whitaker, Mark, had found her lying motionless on the ground. He had called the police, but by the time the ambulance got there it was too late to do anything that would bring back Rosemary’s soul. It happened around noon, and instead of working, Harvey had been hanging out with some friends. Mark would come to find out about what his father had been doing at the time of his mother’s passing, and it was something that the eight-year-old boy would never forgive.

They say it was the anger Mark built up that caused him to go the way he did.

There were at least a hundred people at Rosemary’s funeral. She was a popular woman. Not many could actually say they had been close friends with her, but just about everyone knew Rosemary. She was buried close to where her parents lay together. There was a bunch of sobbing that went on at the funeral, but the one who cried the loudest was Harvey. Everyone knew how much he loved that woman. There was even some talk that he might not make it with out her; he could actually die really soon himself.

My queen!

But Harvey did keep going, and many are still willing to give him credit for doing so.

It was just a bad spell that came to the Whitakers. They were respectable people; that’s how they were when Rosemary was alive. No one questioned their reputation. There were blemishes, but everyone has their faults. They were just typical middle-class folks, living in a white two-story home that was starting to show its age in a graceful manner. Three of the Whitaker kids still lived at home when Rosemary passed; they were Yadira, Gary, and Mark. Freeda, their oldest child, had already left home, but she did return after her mother died.

Freeda was the child who was exemplary of her mother’s hard work. Everyone knew that Rosemary had set out to raise honorable children. Freeda had graduated high school early and she had already obtained a bachelor’s degree by the age of twenty. She had just started a new job at a school when Rosemary left them. Freeda must have known that her father would need help with the other kids and himself. There was no other reason for her to return home.

Yadira, the second oldest child, was the first one to start showing how crucial Rosemary had been to keeping the family together. While she was never as studious as Freed, Yadira had always stayed in line when her mother was around. It wasn’t too much longer after Rosemary’s death that Yadira began smoking. Everyone knew that Rosemary wouldn’t tolerate any of her children smoking. It was supposed to be a disgusting habit to all the Whitakers, but Yadira was often seen with a cigarette in her hand as she walked to her high school.

Imagine if Rosemary saw that.

There was no doubt that Rosemary would have slapped the cigarette out the girl’s hand and then slapped her across the face. But Rosemary wasn’t around.

My queen!

Aside from cigarettes, people also began to see Yadira out with boys. Everyone knew Rosemary didn’t let her daughters go around with boys.

God, why my queen!

People knew Yadira was headed for trouble, and they knew that Harvey probably didn’t even know what his daughter was doing outside the house. People figured that even if he had known Harvey wouldn’t know what to do about the situation. The girl was almost eighteen. Soon she would be an adult, capable of breaking free of her family if she wanted.

Yadira’s brother Gary went to the same high school as his sister, and he must have heard about and seen the changes in his sister. The thing about Gary is that he didn’t have much sense. He was probably the kindest boy that anyone could ever ask for, but many people knew him as a simpleton. That was fine when his mother was there to protect him. Everyone knew that no one to mess with Gary unless that wanted to deal with Rosemary’s wrath. On a few occasions, Rosemary had cussed out a few parents because their boys had done something to Gary. The parents always apologized, and after a few days passed there were no hard feelings.

Gary appeared to be down for several weeks after his mother’s funeral, but soon returned to the light-hearted boy that everyone knew. People were happy to see him returning to normal, but they worried about the other two Whitaker kids, Mark and Yadira. While Yadira was the first to noticeably stray from how her parents had raised her, Mark soon beat her at forming notoriety by becoming a delinquent. The eight-year-old had been a normal boy before finding his mother deceased. He was the baby of the family, but much brighter than his older brother and seemingly worldlier than Yadira. Rosemary had always called Mark her mature little man but made sure to keep him in line whenever he got a little too wise.

Mark quickly began to develop a reputation as a thief, and he was eventually apprehended by the police at a convenient store after being caught trying to walk out of the store with items that he hadn’t purchased. The police knew who Mark’s parents were, and they allowed him to go home to be admonished by Mr. Whitaker. Harvey didn’t say much to the boy, but Freeda gave him a lecture until her brother cursed her and retreated to his room

If only she were still here.

The stealing and smoking were just the beginning. There was something bad put on that family, and it wouldn’t leave until it had devoured them.

People eventually began to shake their head when they saw or heard about the Whitakers.

A damn shame.

The whole family fell under this phrase.

Freeda, the one who had come to be the most upright one, had her fall when people began to talk about her hanging around with some woman who had a certain reputation. People began to see them out together in town almost as much as they saw Yadira with her boys. No one ever witnessed the two women doing anything with other, but people still figured that they understood what was going on between the two.

Never knew Freeda was like that.

More and more people in the area were starting to be like that, and they were all stuck with a certain label. Once they got the label, it was hard to break away from the stares, judgments, and assumptions.

Can you imagine if her momma was still alive?

It was hard to say what Rosemary would have done had she learned that one of her children were labeled as being that way. Some thought she may have dragged the child down to the church and had the reverend work on them. Some believed that she would have just kept loving and treating that child the same.

There was no doubt that Freeda must have eventually picked up on how people were talking about her and the other woman, but she didn’t seem to care. Her head still stayed high, and no one ever dared confront her about the rumors. No one ever said anything to Freeda about the talking that went on behind her back. They were saying things about her as well as her siblings. Each day the stories seemed to get worse. People were certain that Mark was heading into a life of crime and it wouldn’t be long before he was locked up for good. They said Yadira was going to get herself knocked up if she kept going out with those boys. And poor Gary was going to be left alone. Everyone knew his father couldn’t take proper care of the boy. And what would Freeda do?

She needs to stop messin’ around with that woman and take care of her people.

Many people had the right solution for the Whitakers. More Jesus and more self-respect along with several other improved virtues. Their reputation had quickly been marred, and there was no one within the family to help lift the Whitakers back up. Harvey was just too helpless to do anything.

My queen left me.

It was clear that he would never be able to regain his former stature.

There appeared to be some hope when Samson, one of Rosemary’s brothers, came to stay with the Whitakers for a while. He hadn’t been seen in years, and everyone was glad to see him come back. People were hoping that he would fix the family, but it soon became obvious that Samson wasn’t looking to become an active member of the household. He was just the typical visitor, settling into the house rather than trying to influence what was happening around him.

Mark kept up with his crimes, most of them going unnoticed by the police. Yadira kept going around with her boys. Gary stayed simple, and Freeda was still the closest thing to Rosemary that the family had. The Whitaker kids were heading towards trouble, and there was no one there to intervene. Samson was frequently seen out, and he always appeared to be in a congenial mood. He was easy to talk to, but no one ever said anything to him about his family. Most people who spoke to him just worked around the subject, never going further than asking about the kids as if they didn’t already know what was happening.

The first Whitaker child to leave was Gary, and he left in a way that surprised all. Poor Gary had been so hopeless without his mother around, and it was easy for those on the outside to get to him. Some boys from the neighborhood got to him one day and began filling his head up with lies about another boy that they didn’t like. They told Gary that the boy had been saying terrible things about Rosemary. They told Gary that the boy had claimed that he had sex with Rosemary when she was still alive. The lies were enough to get Gary upset, but the simple boy didn’t know what to do about the other boy. He had to be led into confronting the boy and fighting him.

The fight took place just across the street from the high school. A small crowd gathered after it began. The boys who had instigated the whole thing laughed as an infuriated Gary went to defend his mother’s honor. It had been years since Gary’s last fight. Everyone expected him to be completely hopeless, and initially he was a sad sight to see as he fiercely swung at his opponent crying and biting on his bottom lip.

You don’t talk about my momma!

Gary’s opponent had a hard time landing blows in on his thrashing opponent, but it appeared that he would eventually get Gary on the ground, hit him with a few hard punches and end the fight. Everyone knew how boyhood fights were supposed to go. What happened was that Gary finally just leaped onto his opponent and began pounding on him. The boys who had started the fight started to look concern while the crowd around them kept cheering. The others didn’t show concern until Gary had wrapped his hands around the other boy’s necked, strangling him and beating the back of the boy’s head into the concrete. The fight ended with the crowd nearly silent and Gary’s opponent lying on the ground unconscious while a sobbing Gary sat next to him.

Adults eventually got into the crowd.

He had been talking about my momma!

The excuse wasn’t going to be enough for Gary. The boy he had beaten was hospitalized, and there was talk about him possibly being left with permanent brain damage if he ever woke up. People were willing to testify on Gary’s behalf but they would have to wait until the trial. Until that time came, Gary was ordered to remain incarcerated.

Lord!

Everyone knew that Gary didn’t deserve it, but there was something wicked working hard on the Whitaker household.

Samson left town shortly after it became clear that there was nothing he could do to help Gary’s situation. Nothing had improved with his time in the Whitakers’ house. Harvey wasn’t doing anything about his kids. All he did was lifelessly work and do the things required for him to just get by. It was rare to ever see him with one of his kids, and many people believed that he spent most of his time at home sitting on the bed and staring out the window. There was really no life there.

Samson was gone for about a month before he returned. He came back because of what had happened to Yadira. She had been riding around with some young men. There were four them in total. She was supposed to be dating one of the young men, but it is said that all four of them got their turn with her one night. Supposedly, Yadira went to them police and told them about what had happened, but nothing was done about the attack. People said that all the police did was questioned the boys and allowed them to deny it ever happened.

My God!

It was Samson who had to take care of the situation, and he took care of it by caring out his own justice. Three of the young men who had were shot in separate incidents before the law apprehended Samson and stopped him from shooting the final young man. All of the young men who had been shoot were expected to live, and everyone knew that Samson had intended for it to be that way. All he wanted to do was make sure that they were punished for what they had done to Yadira and would think twice before doing it again.

Can a girl like that really be a victim?

It seemed like more people were upset with Yadira than they were the young men.

The situation got worse for Yadira after it was revealed she was pregnant a few months after the attack. She claimed that none of the young men were the father, but it was one of the boys from the high school, one of the boys she had been seeing regularly. A rumor around the school was that the child’s father was actually one of the teachers at the school.

Whoever the father is, that child is already in trouble.

It never would have been that way if Rosemary were still around.

What happened to Mark was expected and foreseeable. The boy just refused to stop committing crimes. He was slashing people’s tires. He was starting fires. The thing that he did the most and what eventually got him sent away was the stealing. Everyone knew the boy was a kleptomaniac. Many were actually starting to feel sorry for him, assuming that the illness probably arose from the trauma his mother’s death. When the law finally decided to ship Mark off to where his brother was, the boy was able to face his father one last time before being taken. He looked his father directly in the eyes and cursed him.

If only she were here.

Harvey wept for the boy and had to be helped out of the court.

Everyone knew it wasn’t right, that bad spell taking down the Whitakers. People were willing to pray about it, but it was hard to get rid of something that was so strong.

Oh, Rosie!

There was only Harvey and a pregnant Yadira left in the Whitaker home. Freeda unexpectedly took off after Mark was taken away. Everyone believed that she wanted to go back to her freedom. There were too many restraints in her old home. It was understandable. What had once been home no longer existed. It was a bad thing, what came upon the Whitaker house, and to this day some say they can still hear wailing coming from the house. Many believe it will just go on and on until the house finally collapses.