Archive for November, 2012
She dragged her suitcase, which inched on explosion from the last pair of shoes she had wedged in, to the car and Danno lifted it into the truck. She then walked back through the house, making sure windows were shut and that the back door was locked. She threw away any foods with debatable freshness and made sure there weren’t any dishes in the sink.
This was all she had to do. This was enough. A note left to Emmanuel could incriminate her; at the very least he could bring it to her parents. And she couldn’t handle any disruption in her plans to leave. She arranged her hair the best she could, using a bobby pin to smooth away the cowlick that seemed to spring forth with the hacking off of her hair. Her mind wandered into a trance as she wondered whether or not the man who cut her hair had had a family.
“Are we leaving?” Danno called through the screen door.
“Yes,” she said, doing one last scan to make sure she wasn’t leaving anything behind.
She turned the dial in the car quickly, trying to find jazz music on the radio in order to take her mind off Danno driving to the racetrack, which was the last place she wanted to be. They hadn’t discussed going, but she recognized the route and knew it was better not to dispute the visit. He had to go, and that was final.
Her parent’s house looked dark, even with the sun shining across the roof and front lawn. She didn’t see cars in the driveway, but this didn’t mean they weren’t home. Her stomach constricted as they cruised past and she tried to take deep breaths and not think about how there was a good chance that she would never see them again. And there was a possibility that they wouldn’t care if they were out of her life.
She rubbed the back of Danno’s neck as he turned into the parking lot. He pulled into a spot and left the engine running as he reached for a file in the backseat. A large woman with greasy long hair rushed two small children into a car across the lane. One of them, a small boy, was crying and she grabbed his arm while stuffing a French fry into his mouth. The child coughed, gritty white potato pieces flying from his mouth, and the woman slapped his face. Ala’s cheeks grew hot as they did whenever she watched someone innocent endure violence on television. She reached over with a shaky hand and opened the car door. Climbing out, she screamed at the top of her lungs.
“Let him go!” She surprised herself by the volume her voice reached.
The boy looked at her with pink eyes as the woman cocked her head to the side.
“What did you say?”
“Let him go you awful cow.” Danno was now out the car and rushing around to Ala’s side.
The woman grimaced and twisted the boy’s arm, making him scream in pain. Ala ran over and grabbed the woman’s damp hair. She twisted and pulled as hard as she could. The woman let go of the child and elbowed Ala in the ribs. Immune to the pain, Ala stomped down on the woman’s foot as hard as she could. She had never laid a hand on anyone before being taken away and held against her will. It felt really good and terrified her. She didn’t want to stop. She wanted to kill this terrible woman.
Danno was now trying to break the women up as a security car that always circled the lot was now headed toward the scene. The little boy climbed into the car next to the other child and slammed the door shut.
Ala blocked out the obscenities the stringy woman screamed at her and watched the spit fly from her crusty lips. She smiled.
“You’re an animal,” Ala said.
“It’s none of your damn business,” the woman said, scratching at her scalp. The patrol guard stepped out of the car calmly and addressed Danno with a head nod.
“Is there a problem?” He said, pushing his sunglasses to the top of his head.
“Well…” Danno started.
“Yes, there is. That woman was abusing that boy. I saw her nearly rip his arm off.”
“That’s not what I was doing,” the woman said. “She yanked my hair out. I wanna press charges.”
“I can contact the police if you’d like,” the guard said, “You’ll both have to give statements.”
Ala looked at the small boy, who somehow seemed to be drifting off to sleep amid the chaos. This was not the first time his mother had touched him, and she knew it wouldn’t be the last if she didn’t do something.
“Call the police,” she said.
“Ala,” Danno whispered, “What for?”
“That boy isn’t safe.”
“We’re supposed to be getting out of here,” he said, with his hand on her chin. The patrol guard walked back to his car to get his phone. Ala looked into Danno’s pleading eyes. He did not want to even be going to Burma, but he was for her. She could tell her was afraid, even though he wouldn’t admit it.
“Hello Arlene, it’s Cliff. Yeah, I’m going to need to contact the authorities,” he said into his radio. The woman leapt into her car and started the engine.
“She’s leaving! Stop!” Ala yelled as the woman sped away, leaving a cloud of dust. Coughing, Ala ran after the car, but had to stop to avoid oncoming traffic. Danno had followed her and now took her hands.
“I got her plate number,” he said. Ala began to cry, knowing that the boy would probably be given a severe punishment because of her.
“We can file a report in the office,” the patrol guard said.
“I’ve got a few things to take care of,” Danno said, relieved the woman was gone.
“I’ll go,” Ala said, climbing into the patrol guard’s car.