My birth into this life was distressed. I fell from the sky naked and smacked the pavement like a raw wet bird. My body was broken, damaged and beyond repair. No one in the smoking traffic stopped to come to my rescue. I felt as if I had to run through the world this way in order to survive. No one gave me a second look or a first for that matter. Trying to figure things out when you don’t know where to begin or end is haunting. You keep thinking your soul will take its last breath and save you, but it doesn’t. Being forced to live is dreadful. I want to pull my life’s cord and relieve me of my misery, but there is no cord, nor is there a map. There are no rules for me to follow. Asking myself what to do and how to do it is fruitless. Dead vines that intertwine and weave into a mound of choking fibers surround me. These fibers tighten, yet never do the deed.
The harsh voice startled me. I remembered where I was although I never forgot. Invisible mystification. It was spinning like an odium filled inferno. Hot bewilderment that could smother me.
When I began to sweat I realized that I had given my soul to the devil. He burned me to a crisp and left my body emitting smoking rank embers for all to see and become repulsed by the smell. I turned to face him as I stood to ask why he had chosen me. Of course no creature was there. The devil doesn’t show himself as a horned red being. He comes to you in the form of your greed. It is when you desire something so much, or you think you do, without any regard to the consequences, is when he shows up. Realizing that you have made a mistake only comes after you have suffered a little more than enough.
I wanted more money and more family. The family I had wasn’t good enough for me. Ray didn’t produce. I cursed Teddy before he was born and tried to destroy him as a baby. Favoritism consumed me when it came to Ray Jr. I thought Mama was a childcare provider for me, more so than a grandmother to my children. Greed for my selfish needs was my devil. I continually beckoned for him and he came. He came with a vengeance. The heat he peeled my skin with showed me.
Window three was a dingy piece of plastic that I could barely see through. A round sweaty woman who took short breaths and smacked and cracked gum looked up to look down again.
“You Adalee Johnson?”
“Sign here. You can get on bus number four and it will take you to a motel a few blocks from here. Next!”
“Miss, wait.” I had questions. Please let her have my answers. “Where can I get something to eat? I need a change of clothing and supplies to wash with. I, I…I don’t have anything.”
“None of yah’ll that come here do. There are clothes and toiletries at the motel. The bus don’t leave til six, and dinner is served at four. Next!”
“But what do I do in the morning? I don’t have anywhere to go.”
Clearly aggravated the woman sighed. She looked at me and saw a walking lint ball that she couldn’t remove from her garment. “The bus will bring you back here. You can get breakfast and then you wait to be interviewed. Next!”
The information she gave would have to suffice. I believed if I asked her any more questions she’d have me arrested for caring about myself. It would seem that any kind of compassion for your own sake wasn’t allowed here.
I walked to the rear of the building to claim a seat in a room filled with people like me. If they thought I was someone who deserved their attention they were wrong. There were crying children, hungry babies, and faces that looked hollow. We loitered around and looked. There were men, women, and children – people standing, sitting and just looking. Faces were sunken in from defeat. So many stories to be told to no one who cared to listen.