Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Cabrini Green

Her hair was wet and she preferred it that way. She preferred it to dry without the help of a blow dryer. She didn't need help. She read the magazine while her hair dried. She turned on the the channel. She watched Oprah while she read the magazine. She drank her sixth cup of coffee while she read the magazine and watched the tv. Sixth? She was not counting. Her son wasn't home.

That was the biggest distraction....enough to distract her from the draft coming through the bullet hole in the window. That chill was such a pain. Too much of a pain to replace. Too much of a pain to look at. She doodled "new window pane" with her old Bic pen circling and waiting for the ink to drop. It didn't, so she scratched p a n e into the paper of her shopping list which doubled as a to do list and tripled as a list of things that would not happen.

Her son had stained a floor with green shellac. He was so proud of his green palms; almost intentionally didn't wash it off. He had started a new job. He had joined a crew of painters doing murals mainly for restaurants...sometimes for people with delicious houses. He described the houses to his mother. He was keen..."and this could turn into a permanent job. " He was grinning in overtime. He was sticking with it.

Her daughter. She was in the sixth grade. She had a pink barbie lunch pail. She had government assisted meals, but she took her shiny lunch pail and kept her pencils in it. They found her lunch pail in the stairwell....hinges off. Pencils sticking out of her abdomen. The mother...that was all she was advised to see...which of course made her want to see it. It's your daughter. A neighbor told her. The neighbor pushed her into the kitchen to make the phonecall. "Make the call first. I'll be in the stairwell. " The stairwell?

The police and ambulance take their time when it's a dispatch to Cabrini Green. It gave her time to take in the full scene. The police usually drive right by. But the ambulance did have an obligation. At least take her to the morgue for an autopsy....cause of death...Cabrini Green. Beaten to death by a gang with a gadget called a baseball bat and no where to play. Her son didn't show up for work. Weeks passed. It wasn't in the news as it happens too often to be news.

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