Jackson wanted to talk, so I walked across the street to his car. "Well," he says,"she's gone." Paul, her boyfriend, is in the Hoover jail. No one came to bail him out. Laura's mother picked her up underneath the spreading Chinaberry branches. There's a sheet of plywood nailed over the doorway. Gone, gone. She's long gone. Gone from Alabama, she ain't never coming home.
Two purple finches dart out from under the heavy branches of the Tulip Poplar tree. The doves who made their home on the mine-trailing pillars holding up my front porch teach their babies how to fly. The sky spreads golden over the interstate and fringes itself with pink. A migrating Broad Winged hawk makes a last swoop through the clouds between the television towers on Red Mountain and I see WBRC light up. I'm suddenly tired. Soul and bone tired like I used to be at the end of a day of horse breaking. It starts in my back and envelopes me like a hug. I'm going to sleep well tonight under the spreading Chinaberry branches.
Jackson tells me what they found in her apartment. A half-starved cat, a few rigs, a plugged toilet. Somewhere, evening starts for Laura . If she can, she'll tie up and nod off. If she can't, she'll be cold and junk-sick. Night will fall. Jackson says she had a wedding picture in her apartment and she looked more beautiful than Brigette Nielson. (In the Rocky days, he clarifies, before Flava-Flav.) David comes home and I hug him for a long time. Our metal artist, drives up and his pretty speckled dog jumps around in the front yard. Corduroy makes friends.
I see another junkie walk up the street and hide in a shrub when he spots a patrol car waiting for him. I see another. And another. If this were a screenplay, I'd make the camera draw back and take a panoramic shot of all the junkies all over town working for a fix before darkness overtakes the city. Life and Death stake their identity on the existence of each other.
Good night track marks. Good night hot rigs. Good night all-night brawls. Good night tac. rifles in my back yard. Good night, Laura. Good night, Me. Good night Birmingham, I couldn't love you more.