15 for 15 2012
|Crenshaw, Lester T. stared at the little girl behind the glass and the little girl stared back.
He tried to see who was with her, she was what, ten? He leaned to the left and saw a pink wall beyond a black and white linoleum floor and to the right, on this side of the Visitor’s door, he saw three guards. The three guards were each looking back at him, as the little girl was looking back at him; waiting and ready and just as hard-ass.
Crenshaw, Lester T. picked up the phone. The girl did the same. She had quick blue eyes and blond hair in need of brushing, or cutting, or maybe it was just a little girl hair thing.
He could hear her breathing into the phone. Her eyes moved back and forth across his face and seemed to stare with such lack of appreciation he found his right leg bouncing as his hand held the phone more tightly against his ear.
“Yes?” he asked, his voice was heavy with disinterest. His eyes closed and remained closed during what seemed a long silence. When they reopened they were narrow, mistrustful slits
Monica’s heart was racing and her mind was racing and she found she had nothing to offer. Whatever plans she had formed and set into motion evaporated the instant the old man with the gray hair and the goatee sat down and stared at her through the smudged and filthy window.
She had wanted to hear his voice.
Her mother wished she would change her mind, but Monica wouldn’t, couldn’t, didn’t. Now, she had both seen and heard enough. Everyone was right. This man had no place in her life. He was a stranger more strange than that woman on Fifth Street that screams at passing cars.
“You, you... don’t know me…” Monica began. The phone felt sticky against her ear and she could only imagine what it would smell like and at that moment she wanted nothing more than to throw the phone at the face in the window and run from the room, and to not throw-up.
“I know you,” the man said. “How’d you get here?”
“Alan brought me.”
“He’s my father,” Monica said. “Well… he’s...”
“I know,” said Crenshaw, though he didn't. “He’s a good man.”
“You know Alan?” her voice rose and her forehead curled in confusion.
“I hear things,” Crenshaw said, though he hadn't. “He’s a good man! Yeah, I hear he's a very good man.”
They stared at one another. Neither smiled. Neither blinked.
“When are they going to let you--”
He slowly shook his head.
“Never,” he said again.
They both looked down at their respective feet inside their shoes.
Crenshaw felt a hand on his shoulder. Finally, and thankfully, their time together was up, though neither one made an effort to move.
“You got a raw deal, kid,” Crenshaw said. “We can’t all be winners.”
“Who can’t be?”
“Some of us,” he said. “Me.
In the end, as he was taken away, Crenshaw, Lester T. looked back and saw his daughter's face, her eyes still watching him. He smiled at her through the gap in the closing doors and chose to believe later, over time, she had smiled back.
by: Winchester Jones (25)