Ruin

“I ain’t never seen nothin’ like it. Me and Momma was going to meet my Daddy at the bus station. I was hungry and asked if we could stop for something to eat. We walked by the hot dog man and I wanted one so bad but Momma said she didn’t have no money. I didn’t say nothin’ but—I mean it—if it wasn’t for Momma being there, I’da took one.”

“You wouldna took nothin’! You know how hot them dogs is? You can’t just stick your hand in there and pull one out! That hot dog man be on you so quick.”

“Shut up, Kenny. Lemme finish.”

The three boys formed a half circle. LeMonte, or Montie, as everybody called him, stood almost a foot taller than the others. The charcoal fabric of his slacks were worn grey at the knees. A patch of faded navy covered a hole in one of his back pockets. Kenny purposefully whacked the dusty concrete with the broomstick they used for stickball. Chuck was the youngest. He crouched down real low, like a catcher, his butt up against a street post, listening intently, as he ran his thumbs up and down his suspenders.

“Hurry up and finish telling it then. I wanna play already.” The broomstick flinched with each crack against the pavement.

“We didn’t get no hot dogs but Momma must have felt bad for me ’cause we stopped at one of them newsstands next to the shoeshine boys and she bought me a Charleston Chew. See, I still got the wrapper and everything.”

“Yeah, yeah. We all seen a Charleston Chew before.”

“Kenny! Shut up!”

“Okay okay.”

“So after that, we keep walkin’ and we gettin’ closer to the bus station and everything, when, outta nowhere, all these police cars come shooting pass. Their sirens was goin’. I could see just up the street there was a whole bunch of people crowding up, maybe five hundred people, look like there was something real bad had happened. I asked Momma what happened and she said she didn’t know but she hoped my Daddy was alright.”

“Did you find out?”

An old black car roared pass. The boys squinted through the dusty smoke and into the afternoon sun.

“Momma wanted to go around the crowd but we couldn’t ’cause the police wasn’t lettin nobody pass on the side. We had to walk straight through all them people and what I saw I ain’t never seen nothing like it and I don’t ever want to see nothing like it again.”

“What was it?!”

“Yeah, Montie, quit holdin’ out. What’d you see?”

“Well, you gotta promise not to tell.  ‘Cause Momma don’t know I saw it. She told me to look away but I’d already seent it.”

“What was it?!”

LeMonte leaned in real close and opening his eyes wide as two moons he whispered. “It was a dead white lady.”

Six moons.

“She must have been a movie star or somebody real important too because she had a white dress on, but it was all torn up. The police wouldn’t let nobody get close except for this man taking pictures.”

“What happened to her?”

“Don’t know. She was on the roof of this smashed up station wagon. There was glass everywhere and you could see her foot hanging off the side and one of her shoes was almost in the middle of the street.”

“Dang! You think somebody killed her?!”

“Don’t know. It looked to me like she fell right out of the sky.”

Good Friday

Tishon