Page 27 - Vol. VII #8
P. 27

 There were no invitations extended to join the club of White. In those early days, we were also segregated along race, and I never even saw the inside of my Black friends’ homes, nor they mine. My best friend, a Chicana girl, was forbidden by her doctor father to come to our house. The isolation was terrible.
out who’s who, and who’s wearing what and who
is with who. Oh, I wanted to be there, on the street where people came out of their houses and talked to each other.
At home in our castle house, I’d think of any excuse to call Lainey, volunteer to scrub the pots from din- ner, so I could tuck the black telephone under my chin, and walk back and forth from the stove to the sink with the coiled phone cord swinging and get- ting tangled. My hands were immersed in the water, scrubbing at the glued-on onions on the bottom of the soup pot, my eyes drifting to the neighbor’s back porch draped with flowers, the big square brick
“No, I don’t know,” Lainey said. “Raymond’s been act- ing weird. He’s been snorting coke since yesterday, and keeps saying Mama is cheating on him.”
“The rich White kids
were the most cutting, the most vicious.”
“Course,” she breathed. “I gotta go.” She hung up quick.
“Soo?” I drew out the question.
I pictured her brown eyes wide and worried, her hair puffed out and tangled like it got when her Mom’s boyfriend started using too many drugs. She got too worried to even comb her hair or go to school. Crap.
“You’ll be in school tomorrow, right?” I asked.
I knew not to call back. I spent the rest of the evening staring at my World History book and taking notes, listening to my little sister bang on the piano and the hissing of the iron as Mom pressed the neighbor’s laundry.
 house. Purple flowers, bright as dew, but no life, no people. Just a velvety quiet. I itched to get over to Lainey’s street.
I didn’t worry about Lainey until she missed morning swim practice. Cities were coming up and she was our best diver. She should be at school. Maybe Lainey did sound strange the night before on the phone, but her Mom’s nasty boyfriend Raymond was scary. I decided to skip and make sure that Lainey and her little sister Tammy, were okay. After morning practice, I hid in the locker room until the security guards, Bonnie
“So, how’s Beto? Did he call you?” Maybe some boy drama about Beto and his cute friend Jackson. I pic- tured Lainey on the other end of the line, sitting next to the window on the wobbly kitchen stool, peering down into the alley. Maybe “our boys” were hanging around the back picnic table at the Tastee-Freez, eat- ing chili fries and sneaking cigs.
and Clyde, cleared the hallways, then ran out the side door, and walked downtown to the Baker bus stop. My friends were my life.
“Huh?” Lainey’s voice came out slow, as if she couldn’t pronounce consonants.
“Come up to my room!”
“Are Beto and Jackson around?”
We walked up, with her little sister Tammy tagging along. Noises came from the bedrooms, whimpering. Lainey’s mom and Raymond, I supposed, wrinkling my nose.
Beto would sometimes go stand in the alley with Jackson and whistle if he thought Lainey’s Mom or her creepy boyfriend might be home, and he didn’t want to knock on the door. If Lainey thought Beto was in the vicinity, she’d develop a sudden craving for fries and make an excuse to go to the Tastee-Freez and promenade up and down Springwells to check
Lainey and I kept climbing, up to her attic room. We had painted it all black one day while listening to a Rolling Stones album. A double mattress rested under the front dormer window, behind a curtain and two old ratty couches. Lainey and I climbed on the mattress, cracked
When I got to Senator Street, I could see that Lainey had been waiting for me, watching from the down- stairs porch.
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