Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Best Friend You've Got is a Railroad Track (Neighborhood Part 8)

STONEYO was picked up on some outstanding warrants last week. Jackson said he admitted being a loyal customer of Laura. I couldn't resist a toldyouso, so I didn't. I imagine he struck out on his tiny motorcycle for parts unknown and less hot with the wind in his hair and a needle between his toes. Laura doesn't have many clients anymore. I think she must be on the last legs of a desperate downward spiral courtesy of her friend, China White or more probably at this point, plain old black tar. She's not a day-tripper now. She's a gutter junkie with some experience. Laura's boyfriend was last night's collar. He, too, had some outstanding warrants. When the cops finally got inside her apartment, they found Laura's boyfriend and his girlfriend. Laura, they said, was hidden under some dirty clothes in the closet. The word is that she's officially been evicted, but apparently, it takes three months to evict someone Hallelujah, Amen. One of the artist neighbors beat it back to Michigan last week. I've just had enough of this, he said. So have I, but I'm invested. On the heels of a quick pleasedtomeetyou, his girlfriend said I'm spending the night in Memphis with or without you. I can't dig this anymore. I was sorry to see him go.

Jackson patted the boyfriend down and put one hand over his head before shoving him in the back of the car. It was a learned gesture. I know in my heart that Jackson doesn't really care if he bashes his head on the roof of the car or not. He just doesn't want to get stuck with a hot rig. The girlfriend lit a cigarette in the darkness and tried to make her battered car start. When it wouldn't go, Jackson fired up his bullhorn and said Ma'am, you're gonna have to release that emergency brake. She was so flustered that he had to help her find it with the bright beam of his Maglite. She beat it down the street, ashes glowing. I imagine I won't be seeing her again. When she arrived that afternoon, she had smiled at me as she slid over to the passenger side of her car to let Laura's boyfriend drive. She seemed to think she was some kind of teenager on a date, and I guess she might have been. Tough luck is a hard lesson. I never smiled back. After the arrest, Laura tottered down the street on four-inch high heels, her face hidden in her sleeves. I watched this scene from my front porch while eating a hamburger with spinach and tomato. Cops inside, Cops outside but with better reception.

The day before, I met Laura's uncle as I hugged the artist and his girlfriend goodbye. He's an attorney and he told us how worried he was about her. Her son hasn't heard from her in weeks. He's apparently so upset that he's dropped out of school and moved in with his grandmother. They don't know where she is. They don't know how she got there. They don't know how to get her back. He tried to give us his phone number but we didn't want it. I don't know what he expected from us. I'm sorry, he said. I'm sorry for all of this. After he had gone, the remaining artist observed the contrast. I'm the neighbor who can't sleep. He's the family who can't sleep. I hope they get her soon. For all of our sakes.

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