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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Other · #1690906
Sad night in the city
REVISED STORY FROM FLASH-FICTION CONTEST

"We didn't see her," Tyrone said. "We never saw nothin of her!"

"You didn't see her!" Selma Dee said. "You shot her, but you didn't see her?"

"Hey! I don't know we shot her!" He said. "Come over here. Sit down."

"The police pretty sure you did! Don't be trying to amuse me, Tyrone,” Selma Dee said in her smooth southern fashion. Her voice might have been calm, but her eyeballs were large and full of rage and shame and seemed dangerous-near to exploding like overheated red grapes.

Tyrone sat on the couch under his grandmother's eye. He looked like he had much to say, but not the words and not the time to say it all. The sirens from far off in the warm summer night seemed to slowly close-in on him. There he sat--penetrated by approaching sirens, and his grand-mother's unyielding stare. His left knee bounced in a quick, steady rhythm.

He looks like a damn hoodlum, thought Selma Dee. He dresses like one. Walks like one. Speaks like one. She noted that he also looked scared outta his street-ass-punk mind, which was something entirely new.

She took a deep breath. “You twenty-nine years old! You wasted it! All'a it! You need to be a grown-up. You need be a man!”

Tyrone offered a lukewarm fake smile showing a full-set of his brand new teeth. He patted his thighs, willing her to sit on his lap as she sometimes did long ago, but she only just stood there. She only just stared.

If she would just sit down, just for the minutes they had left, he could explain. Maybe he could at least say good bye. She represented a vast storage-room of hundreds, maybe thousands of episodes out of his past. Her hopes, his heartfelt promises, all thrown together gathering dust. It was a vault filled with an array of outer-shells, like crumpled wetsuits piled on the floor, of the many persons he could have been and should have been and would have been, maybe, if he'd had more time.

Finally Tyrone said, “I sorry,old lady,” and meant it dearly.

Selma Dee saw it. Saw it in his eyes as they now stared at the window. Saw it in his shoulders the way they rose with his breathing. Saw it in his fingers squeezing together like he always done when her baby-boy was troubled and ashamed.

Outside the living-room window beyond the flaking lime-green walls of her apartment building and across the square amid the graffiti covered benches and skinny trees, the sirens were almost upon them. They looked at one another and listened together, frozen, until the sirens stopped wailing, directly outside. Van doors slid open and slid closed again, and other car doors slam-slam-slammed, and then there was only the flashing lights bouncing cross the one window and the tidy room was over-taken by angry colors; an invasion of red-yellow, blue-yellow, blue.

"You don't tell them nothin', Tyrone! You don't tell them nothin', hear?"

The little girl was dead. A drive-by. Happens all the time. So damn sad. Praise Jesus! So damn sad!

A minute later they heard heavy boots coming up the stairs and then coming closer down the hallway in quick-step, military fashion. Selma Dee watched Tyrone remove the chain and open the front door before the footsteps had arrived in the doorway. He then quickly splayed himself face down on the threadbare rug with his hands behind his head. He looked very much to Selma Dee like a skinny-assed nigger that didn't stand a chance. She wanted to tell him to be brave, but it was too late for that. She wanted to tell the little girl she was sorry. And her momma, too. But the little girl was dead and her momma's heart was broken and it was too late for them also. Selma Dee got down on her knees stiffly and with effort. Then she spread herself flat next to her grandson. With one hand she adjusted her flowered dress. Then she put her hands behind her head.

A male voice from the hall suddenly filled the room-- "Who else is in here?"

"Nobody..." the two on the floor yelled as one.

"Who the fuck else is in here?" screamed the voice louder than before.

“Nobody else!” screamed Tyrone into the carpet.

“Nobody?”

“Nobody, man! Nobody!” screamed Tyrone.

“Who's in the back? Don't lie to me, mother-fucker!” A different voice.

"Nobody!" Tyrone said in barely a whisper.

Selma Dee saw that her grandson was crying now, sobbing into the rug with his mouth wide open and his eyes squeezed tightly shut. She wondered if he was crying for anyone in particular. Then she closed her eyes too.

-790 Words-



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