Take Another Look











{February 20, 2010}   it’s on me, bitch

She used to invoke fear in me.
That is how I can measure what steps have been taken; know how different things have become.

She approaches, begging for a deal, but it is all a play to her. She blinks her surprise at the way I don’t try to shrink back.She tries to blot out her dismay and bewilderment like a person who had their face tattooed while unconscious- when they awaken, in shock, they frantically try to remove marks that are there for good using any means at hand.

I remember how patiently I waited for her passed out mumblings to stop. How I would try and patch them into sense. The only time I relaxed was during the pauses. I’d gazed through her hazed, unfocused eyes trying to make it to her inside. I used to believe- that I remember. I believed in her rehabilitation and is this my fault that she hasn’t gotten better, that her tricks have only gotten worse, more sloppy, less in control, but she was not expecting me to be somebody that would make anything difficult.

Only I still don’t know how to fight and I don’t want to draw attention to her or pull hair or dig my fingers into her skin or kick and yell. I want to count my losses and go, the difference being this time I have no wounds to lick for she doesn’t yield the hot poker stick anymore.

I am the one! The one that got you kicked off, that cut the line from your cliff! I am the one who gave the police sniper the sign to shoot.

I wrote the letter that finally did you in. My words were the words that convinced them you were a lying, thieving, conniving terrorist.

The first time I saw Keisha I mistook her for a twelve year old cancer patient.It was as if she had no hair and we always met in the cancer wing. Her eyes bore out of her skull like a death rattle.Now her ass is so large it takes up the space of two garbage cans when she leans over and she wears glasses that are copycats of the ones I used to wear.

She remarks that my hair is darker and I remark that she is larger- you must understand she was just a small little thing, skinnier than a rod. She says something about she doesn’t want to repeat this charade of mine which has irony seeing as she used to call me fat- my my how we’ve buttered up, must be hard to get at that last button buttered up like a girl in a gingerbread house waiting to be stuck in the oven, you should be afraid for it appears you are ready. Her insults never had that kind of imagination but what they lacked in creativity they made up for in delivery. I wanted her away from me and I got it.

Only later did I hear there had been a bed for her in some treatment program- getting that bed would have been akin to the person from the ghetto getting a full ride to an Ivy League Institution. But my letter cost her the bed because they kicked her out of the program before she could get the bed. So, they supposedly caught her saying something in line about selling cream. They wouldn’t have paid attention if it weren’t for the letter. My letter.

Today she led me through a haze that turned out to be a maze. 15 minutes she had promised. I didn’t know what to do when she suddenly stepped on the bus, and my hands, burning from the bills that had been snatched from me too soon were what steadied me as I climbed on and fumbled for a copy of a purple transfer that was stashed in my wallet.

I hadn’t realized just how much I had mellowed out in the last few years until, in retrospect, I noticed that my heart had not bounced off the walls from wild, primal fear and terror. The kind she invoked in me every time she asked me for anything.I ended up jumping off the bus ten minutes later in a bad neighborhood, sprinting across six lanes of traffic to get to a bus going back in the opposite direction.

Screw the sister that was supposedly going to fix things and make it right- part of me doubted it would be anything less than a war zone. And though she kept changing what she claimed she had said five minutes ago, the words were not changing in my head. Her promises had not unwoven from thread to cheap plastic given the span it takes to turn the TV channel from one show to another. The only thing that changed hands had been money, and boy did it bolster her ego.

Suddenly she says the only reason she isn’t busting my lip open is because we have known each other for so long, but this could change, she warns me as she uses her phone to either ask her sister for a favor or pretend to ask her sister for a favor.

“If it is so easy, just give me my money back.I don’t need anything from you. Here’s what you claim you can get from anybody.”

“No,” cries her shrill voice as we frantically push the elevator buttons, looking around for witnesses and security guards. “It can’t be done like that.”

“I want my money back,” I curse.

As she continues to discount the proposition, starting from a strand of the truth and ending in make believe, I’m shocked at  the time I once spent in her company. Off to classes with people who do nothing but study and practice. But then, those binges of racing time, slowly melted away, turned into a composite that made up a year, or two, spent in the company of whom? Of what. A nice balance, I think. People who  live in academia and plan on never leaving academia, and people who have only ever lived on the street, who believe they can only ever live on the street.

As if one morning I randomly decided to study the make up of sick sociopaths: I wanted to get them to love me; I wanted to find a flower in the desert: I wanted to enrich the soil a little: I wanted to see if it could be done. I hoped they all softened under the radiating beams of lamps put up so they would not be forgotten.

But they needed to be hard to survive- it was all they thought and it was all they’d been taught. Their first and last lesson of every day, the steel had been drilled into them every morning of every day- show mercy you get your head bashed in. I forgot where they came from–

something they spend every dime trying unsuccessfully to do.

The only rush of achievement these people know is the taste of blood.

Too often it ends up being their own.

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