We walk into the corner store drooling for shoelace licorice. My best friend in the whole world, even though he’s a boy, leads me through the too-close aisles, and almost knocks over a rack of Philly Inquirers. His summer buzz cut is so short, he’s almost bald, bony shoulders poke out of his Bruce Lee tank top, cut-offs, no socks in his black Kung Fu shoes. The dog choker chain that holds the two pieces of broom stick together swings back and forth in his back pocket, clanking when he walks. Manny stops in front of a round rack of key chains. He turns the rack, key chains swing, crashing into each other. I stare, hypnotized by the different plastic animals that hang from the key rings. He asks which one I like. I like the monkey best.
I do not know him and never
will: old spitting man, man in suspenders. Anyhow, everyone’s
grandfather is like this. His has some yellow teeth and some are
Radio Lung’aho’s whisper rose from the darkness, barely audible over the hissing of cicadas outside in the Kenyan night.
The little boy is disgusted by the
monkeys but adores the lions as his peers adore their older brothers
The house, so full with the heavy breath of prayer and the shifting feet of the waiting, settles another inch and the long vigil is suddenly over. Ona’s mother is dead. One after another, the women untangle their hands from their rosary beads and feel relief in knowing that now there will be more productive things to do than pray.
August 30, 1957. SS France
Whoopee! Junior Year in Paris. Universite de la Sorbonne, here I come.
Arrived in New York Friday, right on schedule. But let me tell you, baby sister, there’s a big difference between Birmingham trains and the trains up north. For one thing, there are no separate cars. It’s whites and coloreds all together, if you please. And no “Mornin’ ma’am.” Just hustle-bustle.
When my husband called the other day, I thought there was an emergency. We’d only talked once in the five months since we’d been separated.
“It’s about our son, David,” Frank said, as if I might not recall the name of our only child.
“Wait,” I said. “Have you been drinking?” It was one in the afternoon, a Saturday.
“I got a post card from him today,” Frank said. “He’s not in college any more.”
“What?” I said. “Where is he?”
Everyone loves a dead body.
The yellow tape, the grim-faced police officers and the emergency vehicles contrast with the peacefully falling snow and Christmas decorations strung along the cul-de-sac. The children’s thoughts are no longer of Santa Claus as they watch the men unload a black bodybag containing Darlese Claxton. Everyone stands by their doors, staring. Even big Julio Sanchez, who rarely leaves the comfort of his couch, takes in the scene, his three-year-old son in his arms.
After finding the ring in the bar of soap I told Herb there were two things I needed to do before I married him: get the shovel out of the lake and take the red rose from Danny.
Herb looked at me in his brittle, self-effacing way and said, didn’t I love him?
The soap had begun in the shape of a pink mollusk shell. He had given it to me on Valentine’s Day five weeks before, and it had taken me all that time to wear it down to a nub at its center.
February. Plowed hills of gray snow bordered Philadelphia, block after block. Clattering trains and muddy sidewalks echoed unkept promises and, each day on the busy streets near his office, Walt heard the unnerving chatter of businessmen and false camaraderie. After work, Walt bent in against cold air, crossing icy walkways under the hulking metal of the Ben Franklin Bridge. He wanted nothing more than warmth. Uncomplicated company. At the Waterfront Bar, American flags snapped and collapsed in the shifting winds, and Walt spent the better part of each night there trying not to be so angry.