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?”
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.
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.