Issue 75 — 

Christopher Mulrooney (ArLiJo # 75)
Katie Przybylski (ArLiJo # 75)
Patty Somlo (ArLiJo # 75)


Christopher Mulrooney

Featured on ArLiJo Issue No. 75



Valencia

another place in Spain
where the rain falls
sometimes into a puddle
that looks down upward
where aircraft huddle





seamstress

I should like to know
she said the seam
you like for the dress
fingering the table
as though it were lace



Sodomite

the lay of the cities of the plain
they are no more but ashes ladies
that were what they were long ago
and as recently as yesterday
received the angel of the Lord



Biography:
Christopher Mulrooney is the author of toy balloons (Another New Calligraphy), Rimbaud (Finishing Line Press), and alarm (Shirt Pocket Press). His work has recently appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Communion, streetcake magazine, and Clementine Poetry Journal.
 

 


Katie Przybylski


Featured on ArLiJo Issue No. 75


Gray Down


In so many ways, I am sorry.

Not daily. Not even weekly, but
at the thin corners of
occasional times, when always
I am by myself.

It is acute. And like guilt,
so physical I can taste the gray
pulp in my mouth, and almost swallow.

There was a shifting, I’d like to re-examine.
All the light bits of dust and carrot
shavings that built themselves up into
a solid and then a distance.

There is a pond that was filled in with dirt.
It had green algae and a deep enough cave.

I miss this.
In such a different way. You without even a scent
but still physical and existing.

I could travel from here to eternity and back,
I would like to. And still have so many bowls
filled for you with nothing.


Copyright © 2015 by Katie Przybylski.



Obligation


Many times I came to the same conclusion.
When you die, as all people do,
I will want to die for you.

And when that is not enough,
I will ask everyone else to die, too.

Flowers on a film, fast and ungrowing.

But that isn’t useful.

What I meant was,
How, in all of this giving,
how was nothing returned to you?

Not really. Not real love.

How have we come, at the very end, to a failure?
And who has led you in this way, so falsely, and unarranged?


Copyright © 2015 by Katie Przybylski.


Biogrpahy:
Katie Przybylski is a special education teacher and writer in Brooklyn, New York. Her poems have appeared in Yes Poetry, Verdad, Blood Lotus, Barrier Islands Review, Mosaic, and Xenith.
 

 



Patty Somlo


Featured on ArLiJo Issue No. 75


THE ARGUMENT


By Patty Somlo



Alberta Mae Jackson, known simply as Miz Jackson by proprietors of the small business establishments whose doors were flung wide open on hot summer days up and down and around Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, had outlived every relative with whom she’d shared a trickle of blood. That didn’t stop Alberta Mae from talking to any one of them, depending on the hour and day of the week. In fact, Alberta Mae Jackson was often seen pushing her walker three inches ahead of her and then catching up, one foot at a time, as she conversed with some invisible deceased, while making her way up the boulevard named after the famous preacher and civil rights leader, the Reverend Martin Luther King.



Of course, Alberta Mae Jackson was generally happy to interrupt whatever conversation she had begun with the dearly departed whenever one of the living walked up. That’s what happened the day Officer Janine Taylor arrived.



Janine had been first in her class at the police academy, a fact the chief through his PR flak, Sergeant Ellen Fitzgerald, was more than happy to broadcast. Like so many police agencies throughout the United States, the department was overly white and male and had come under a court order to diversify. Officer Janine Taylor earned the department double points, being female and African American. Chief O’Connor very much wanted to show Officer Taylor off.



The chief personally made sure his new prize got assigned to the city’s most African American neighborhood. Rising housing prices were making the city more and more white. Even the neighborhood surrounding MLK Boulevard was straining under the tensions of gentrification, as higher rents and home prices were forcing out long-term residents to make way for what city leaders liked to call the creative class. Barber shops and barbecue joints were being displaced by brewpubs and cafes that staged poetry readings and exhibited abstract art.



Officer Taylor had only been on the street a short time that morning when she noticed an old woman shuffling toward her from the end of the block. The woman was dressed all in black, as if heading for a funeral. Her head was wrapped in a tight black turban, her thin frame swaddled in loose black crepe that hung a few inches past her calves.



One bit of color could be found on her feet — a pair of bright yellow Nikes. The brilliance of the yellow was only matched by the royal blue stripes on each side.



Officer Taylor watched the woman slide the walker ever so slowly a few inches in front of her on the stained sidewalk and then catch up with the black wheels, first with one bright yellow-shod foot and then the other. The young police officer felt a tug just under her breastbone as she took in the elderly lady coming her way. She could see that the woman, while employing the utmost concentration to keep her frail body upright, was deep in conversation, though no one was close enough to hear her.



The tug Taylor felt near her heart came from the memory of her grandmother, the woman who raised the young officer. That grandmother had been everything to Janine — a mother, father and grandmother rolled into one — taking Janine in when her single mother chose crack cocaine and the streets over her child. Janine’s grandmother made sure her granddaughter never again had to suffer.



Janine wiped a tear from the corner of her eye, thinking of her grandmother’s last year in the nursing home. She recalled her grandmother’s insistence on getting dressed up, including wearing her Sunday hat and nylons, even though she had no place outside the nursing home to go. Those last visits Janine made to her, the old woman sat in a chair by the window, carrying on long conversations with no one, while she no longer recognized her own granddaughter.



Lost in her thoughts, Janine failed to notice. The old woman in black had finally made her way up the sidewalk. Standing a few feet from Janine, Alberta Mae Jackson stopped to give this unfamiliar sight on Martin Luther King, Junior Boulevard the once-over. Alberta Mae couldn’t believe what her eyes had seen the first time. So she gave Janine the once-over a second time.



“Well, I’ll be,” Alberta Mae shouted, startling Officer Janine Taylor out of her thoughts.



Coming back to herself and the fact that she was on patrol doing an important and dangerous job with a full shift ahead of her, Janine looked at this frail, bent-over woman, smiled and said, “Good morning.”



The old woman did not respond but went right ahead and kept on staring. Her hands gripped the walker’s black metal bars and her head went up and down, pulled from her neck like a turtle’s from its shell.



“And how are we doing this morning?” Officer Taylor asked, making sure to raise her voice several notches, as she assumed the old lady’s hearing was bad.



“Well, I’ll be,” Alberta Mae Jackson shouted again.



“I’m Officer Janine Taylor. Pleased to make your acquaintance. And you are?”



Before the old woman had a chance to respond, a man stepped out of the store the police officer was standing in front of. The man had light brown skin, black hair cut short and large dark eyes. The pale blue oxford shirt with the button-down collar he was wearing appeared to need several minutes more pressing under a hot iron than it had gotten that morning.



“Good morning, Miz Jackson,” he said to the old lady.



As he turned toward the police officer, Miz Jackson shouted, “You see this, Mr. Ali?” Miz Jackson indicated Janine with her chin.



The man laughed and reached out his right hand to the officer. “I am Ali Ansari,” he said. “This is my store. You must be our new neighborhood officer.”



“Yes,” Janine said and smiled. “I’m Officer Taylor.”



“Well, I’ll be,” Alberta Mae Jackson said.



“Did you hear that, Miz Jackson,” Ali shouted, having turned to face Alberta Mae as he talked, so she could read his lips. “This is Officer Taylor, our new neighborhood police officer.”



“She cain’t be no policeman,” Miz Jackson shouted, shaking her head. “Why, she just a girl. Itty bitty thing.”



Alberta Mae Jackson let out a throaty laugh.



“I’m not a girl, ma’am,” Janine said. “There are both policemen and policewomen now.”



“Well, I’ll be,” Alberta Mae said. At that, she began shuffling her way into Ali’s store, the Golden Market, resuming whatever conversation she’d been having before spotting the neighborhood’s new police officer.



“We’re very glad to have you here,” Ali told Officer Taylor.



“I’m happy to be here,” Janine said, then asked, “How old is Miz Jackson, do you know?”



Ali laughed.



“I don’t know. Miz Jackson says she doesn’t know either. She once said she thought she was over a hundred. But I can’t imagine she’d still be walking around if that was true.”



“She looks too old and frail to be going out on the street alone,” Janine said.



Ali laughed again.



“Miz Jackson comes to my store every single day. She buys one, maybe two things at a time. I think she just comes for the company.



“Anyway, I better get in there and see if she’s ready. Miz Jackson doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”



Janine said goodbye to Ali and continued slowly making her way down MLK. She knew the neighborhood was plagued by crime — drive-by shootings, drugs, car breakin-ins, robberies, purse snatchings, and graffiti, of course. On this bright sunny morning, though, the street looked pleasant and calm.



In some ways, Janine still couldn’t believe that she had become a police officer, dressed in a pressed dark blue uniform and sporting a shiny silver badge. In other ways, she had been moving toward this role ever since she’d turned ten.



That year, on a bright October afternoon, Janine’s grandmother came into her tiny bedroom at the back of the apartment.



“Honey, I need to talk to you,” her grandmother said.



Janine was sitting atop the pink chenille bedspread her grandmother let the girl pick out when she first moved in. Together, they’d painted the walls pink to match the spread.



“I have some news,” her grandmother said, after sitting on the edge of the bed close to her granddaughter.



“About what?” Janine asked.



Her grandmother reached out and took Janine’s left hand and placed it in the center of her two hands. She held onto that hand, letting the warmth from her body move into Janine’s, perhaps thinking her granddaughter was going to need that comfort once she heard what her grandmother intended to convey.



“I have news about your mama.”



Hearing the words your mama, Janine turned away. She tried to wrest her hand from between her grandma’s two palms but her grandmother had pinned the hand there.



The view from the window was blocked by the side of the gray concrete building next door. All Janine could glimpse was a triangle of blue sky, if she leaned her head back far.



“I don’t wanna know anything about her,” Janine said, without turning around to face her grandmother.



Her grandmother sat quietly across from her on the bed. After a good ten minutes had passed, her grandmother patted the top of Janine’s hand, loosened it from between her warm palms and said, “All right then,” and got up and left.



From time to time over the next few weeks, Janine’s mind came back to that day. Whenever the thought came up, Janine tried to retrieve a picture of her mother and was relieved when she could no longer recall what the woman who’d brought her into the world looked like.



Janine’s grandmother never again attempted to have that conversation and Janine made sure not to ask. From time to time, one of Janine’s friends would inquire as to what had happened to her mother. Each time the question came up, Janine answered, “She died.”





A week after Janine’s sixteenth birthday, she came home from school, shouting as she walked into the apartment, “Grandma, I’m home.”



Janine waited to hear her grandmother’s usual shout back in response, “You have a good day at school, dear,” but all she heard was R&B music floating up from the downstairs apartment. Janine stepped from the living room into the kitchen, wondering as she had been lately if her grandmother’s hearing was starting to go. But her grandmother wasn’t there.



“Grandma,” Janine shouted, as she hurried down the hall to the first bedroom, but her grandmother failed to respond. It wasn’t until Janine walked into the bathroom that she discovered why.



“Grandma,” Janine shouted, as she bent down to touch the frail body curled on the black and white vinyl floor.



Her grandmother didn’t move when Janine tried to rouse her. Terrified, Janine placed her fingers under her grandmother’s nose. Warm breath brushed the skin over her knuckles.





The lights in the hospital waiting room were too bright, making the poor, tired folks sitting on uncomfortable straight-backed chairs look slightly yellow. Janine’s throat was so dry from fear she had trouble swallowing but the teenager couldn’t make herself get up and search for a water fountain. She needed to stay right there where she’d told the nurse she would be. After all these years of being cared for by her grandmother, the girl understood that her grandmother now needed her.



She had been waiting to hear how her grandmother was doing for going on two hours. People came and went in the waiting room but no one stepped out from the silver swinging doors through which they had wheeled Janine’s grandmother’s stretcher. No one assured Janine that the person she loved most in the world was going to be all right.



Janine had apologized a good twenty-five times to God for every occasion when she’d sassed her grandma. Lately, Janine had been fighting with her grandmother over all these little things, from the length and tightness of her skirts to the color of her lipstick to how late she stayed out on Friday and Saturday nights. Again and again during those long minutes Janine waited, each one feeling like an hour, the girl assured God she would obey her grandmother without question if only he would let the woman survive.



Sometime during the third hour, Janine noticed a young police officer standing to the side of the silver swinging doors. He looked barely old enough to be out of high school and Janine wondered if he’d donned that dark blue uniform as some sort of joke. He had skin the color of pulled caramel. His black nappy hair was cut short.



Janine couldn’t take her eyes off the officer. His appearance in the waiting room had momentarily pulled her thoughts away from worrying about her grandmother. He was cute and young and African American and a police officer, things Janine wasn’t accustomed to seeing together.



The unexpected sight of the police officer got Janine up from her chair and over to where he stood next to the silver swinging doors. She stopped on the opposite side from where the officer stood, pretending he wasn’t the reason she had come all the way across the shiny linoleum floor. In fact, she stood with her back to the wall, her right side facing the policeman. At first, she didn’t even glance his way.



“Are you waiting for someone?”



The voice was surprisingly deep for someone so young.



Janine took her time twisting her neck to the right so she could answer. Before she managed to pull a single word from her mouth, Janine took in the sight of the officer. No, she hadn’t imagined him. And yes, he was for certain an official officer of the law, wearing the regulation dark blue uniform and a shiny badge, and even a holster with a gun.



“You’re a policeman?” Janine asked, not aware that after she’d gotten the question out, she hadn’t even closed her mouth.



“Yes, I am. I’m Officer Jackson,” he said, and reached out his hand.



Janine stared at the smooth caramel skin and then reached out her dark brown one to shake his. He had a strong grip and warm palm.



“What’s the matter?” Officer Jackson asked her now.



“Oh, nothing,” Janine said. But then she added, “I’ve never seen a policeman like you before.”



“You mean, you’ve never seen a black police officer,” he said.



“No,” Janine whispered. “Never.”



“There were three of us in my class at the academy. One was female.”



Janine took that information and cradled it in her mind. A moment later, she thought about what the officer had said and smiled.



“So, what are you doing here?” Officer Jackson asked her. “Where are your parents?”



Janine decided right off not to answer the second question, which she hadn’t been able to answer her entire life. She was prepared to address the first question but hoped she wouldn’t burst out crying in the process.



“I’m waiting on my grandmother.”



“Is she in there?” the officer asked, gesturing with his chin toward the silver swinging doors.



“Yes,” Janine said, and took the opportunity to stare greedily at the young handsome officer’s face.



Moments later, a doctor came out from behind the silver swinging doors and took the officer aside. Janine walked back to her seat and continued worrying.





The stroke left Janine’s grandmother paralyzed on the right side. Since her grandmother was right-handed, Janine had to do the cooking and feed her, help her move around the apartment, and do all the other chores her grandmother had handled before. Janine didn’t mind. She was grateful that her prayers had been answered and God had kept her grandmother alive.



From the moment her grandmother was brought home, Janine vowed to get a good job after she graduated from high school and take care of her grandma, the way the poor woman had always taken care of her. Janine’s fascination with the young police officer led the teenager to wonder if she might be able to do that. The day Janine graduated from the police academy, her one regret was that her grandmother hadn’t lived to see it.





Janine slowly made her way up MLK, Jr. Boulevard. A block up from the Golden Market, she heard music. As she continued walking, Janine realized she was hearing an old jazz standard that her grandmother used to like. Janine smiled as she remembered her grandmother refusing to let go of those old records, long after cassette tapes and then CDs were commonplace.



A block further north, Janine saw a shiny silver saxophone winking in the sunlight. That’s where the music had been coming from.



As she got closer to the sound, Janine took in the man playing the horn. He had on a crushed and stained gray hat, the kind men wore in those old black and white movies. Letting her eyes travel down past his neck, Janine could see that the man had on several layers of shirts, all faded and frayed, thin blue jeans and tennis shoes. She didn’t consider herself a musical connoisseur or expert but it sure sounded like the guy knew what he was doing.



Janine took in the faded and ripped purple fake velvet lining of the case and the big round tin can sitting next to it for donations. She wrestled with the urge to dig into the pocket of her dark blue uniform trousers and pull out a five-dollar bill and drop it in the bucket, then decided to quash the urge. The old man must have been, what, in his sixties, Janine reckoned, and probably slept nights under the bridge. She wrestled again with the notion that it was the old man’s fault, drink or drugs or both, a passel of kids abandoned or abused, while the other side argued that no matter what the guy had done, it wasn’t fair, especially at his age, that he had to sit out there on the sidewalk and beg for spare change, when it was obvious how well he played.



“Mornin’,” Janine heard from behind her and turned around.



That was the first Janine noticed. She was standing in front of another business. The gold letters in the wide front plate glass read, WILLIE’S BARBERSHOP.



“Good morning,” Janine said, studying the man who’d joined her on the sidewalk, as she’d been taught in the academy. He was younger than she would have imagined from reading those gold letters, with a smile Janine hated to admit created a stirring in her.



“You must be our new neighborhood officer.” His comment echoed that of Ali, the owner of the market.



“Yes. I’m Officer Taylor,” Janine said and reached out her hand.



“Willie,” he said and pointed to the window where the gold lettering announced that the barbershop belonged to him. “You’ve met Horn Man, I see.”



He leaned his head toward the old man playing on the sidewalk.



“Horn Man?” Janine asked.



“That’s what we call him. He’s always here. Rain or shine. I bring him out coffee sometimes. Somebody usually brings him lunch.”



“Well, that’s nice,” Janine said.



“I didn’t know we’d be getting such a young neighborhood officer. They fill you in on MLK? We got a lotta problems here.”



“Yes, they did fill me in. Of course, I have support from the other officers in North Precinct. I’m here as part of our community policing program. We’re hoping to bring a second officer in when we get the new fiscal year budget.”



“Ya’ know, I never met a policewoman before,” Willie said. From his sly grin, Janine thought he was making fun or flirting with her.





In the time that Officer Taylor had been meeting and greeting folks as she made her way up MLK, Alberta Mae Jackson had purchased a box of Quaker Oats oatmeal at the Golden Market. She had rolled her walker up and down three of the market’s narrow crowded aisles, while rehashing a fifty year-old argument with her dead husband Marvin. The argument had started when Alberta Mae discovered a napkin in the pocket of Marvin’s black work pants that she was checking before shoving them in the wash at the corner laundromat with the rest of the darks. The napkin, Alberta Mae could see right off, was smeared with a woman’s careful handwriting. Alberta Mae knew this because women had a way of writing the letters big and round, giving the vowels a lot of air. Marvin, Alberta Mae also knew, scribbled, making his words nearly impossible to decipher. Instead of rounding his letters, Marvin scratched hard, as if he’d taken a knife to his writing and scraped off all the softness. Plus, the writing on the napkin slanted to the right. Marvin’s always leaned to the left.



Martha Wilson. That writing, Alberta Mae was certain, had been put there by a woman. Underneath, this Martha Wilson had added her phone number.



Marvin worked as a waiter in one of the jazz clubs, a few blocks down MLK from the one-room apartment he shared with Alberta Mae. He left for work a few minutes before three o’clock in the afternoon. The club closed at two in the morning. But some nights Marvin didn’t make it home until after four, telling Alberta Mae he’d gone out with some of the other waiters to an all-night diner, to eat fried eggs and grits and to wind down after a busy night. Alberta Mae wasn’t sure if she believed Marvin but gave him the benefit of the doubt, especially since he worked so hard, standing on his feet for hours.



Then Alberta Mae got pregnant. As much as she tried to hold onto her figure, she kept getting terrible urges, especially when she woke up in the middle of the night. When she went to the store, she scolded herself not to buy ice cream and those chocolate cookies with the white icing on top. She couldn’t help herself. Before long, it wasn’t only her belly that had blown up. Her heart-shaped face, with the high prominent cheekbones that drew attention to her large brown eyes, filled out, the cheeks looking like Alberta Mae was storing food in them and her chin beginning to multiply.



When Alberta Mae got back to the apartment from the laundromat, Marvin was snoring away on the foldout couch. She shook him hard, grabbing his right shoulder in both of her hands, while at the same time digging her long painted fingernails into the bare skin



“What’s goin’ on?” Marvin said, shaking his head as he pulled the pillow closer.



“Get up. We need to talk,” Alberta Mae said.



“I’m tired, Alberta Mae. Let me sleep. We can talk later after I’ve slept some.”



Alberta Mae had no intention of letting her husband sleep while that napkin with another woman’s handwriting on it burned a hole in her heart. She needed to remind Marvin that he had promised never to cheat on her, before she agreed to marry him. Alberta Mae had seen what could happen to a woman when the man she loved wasn’t faithful. As a young girl, she watched her mother rock on the front porch all night long, waiting for her husband to come home. Alberta Mae listened to the fights, every one of her mother’s sobs ripping a hole in her young tender heart. She remembered hearing her mother’s anger dissolve into tears as soon as her father threatened to leave them. And then Alberta Mae listened while her mother begged him not to go.



The year Alberta Mae entered junior high, her father walked out the front door one warm July night and never came back home. At first, Alberta Mae prayed that he would come back, since she hoped his return would lift her mother out of bed and get her acting like a mother again. Eventually, her mother did cheer up and cursed Alberta Mae’s father every chance she got. Alberta Mae stopped praying for him to come home and instead vowed that she would never, ever marry, so she could not be abandoned like that.



Alberta Mae was having that argument with Marvin as she headed up MLK Boulevard, one cardboard box of oatmeal cradled in a white plastic bag she’d tied to the metal bar of her walker. Barely weighing one hundred pounds, the bones in her arms and legs frail and brittle and her chiseled face narrow with the chin practically gone, Alberta Mae nevertheless felt fat and pregnant again, forced to waddle when she walked. She was scolding Marvin, as if he were a small child, not a grown man about to become a father.



The old woman didn’t notice any of her surroundings as she carried on that fight, the same argument she and that dark handsome man had been having for more than seven decades now. It was as if the old woman’s mind had gotten permanently stuck on that night. And perhaps somewhere in Alberta Mae’s unconscious, she believed if she kept replaying that argument with Marvin, it would one day have a different ending.



What Alberta Mae didn’t realize all those years back and couldn’t begin to understand now was that the damage had already been done. That good-looking man she had fallen in love with, who had grabbed her soft wet heart, could do whatever he wanted. Marvin was a man who understood the effect he had on women. He could see a woman’s face light up, the moment he stepped over to the small round table in the club she was sharing with her girlfriend. Each time he brought over another round of sweet sticky drinks, he could see that he cradled that woman’s heart in his palm.



Alberta Mae didn’t know that a young man like Marvin wasn’t going to take the admiration he felt from other women and turn it down, just say, “No thank you,” and hurry back home to his pudgy, pregnant wife. He loved Alberta Mae. That much he wouldn’t hesitate to say. But he also liked being a young man who could still have fun. Marvin hadn’t given a moment’s thought to the changes a man might face becoming a father. His body wasn’t being bombarded with hormones, preparing itself to take on this new role.



All the arguing Alberta Mae did, including the cheap shots she took at Marvin that night and the guilt she tried to anchor him with, weren’t going to change that man or his circumstances. And that must have been the reason Alberta Mae couldn’t let go of that fight.



The frail woman who folks in the neighborhood said would probably live forever was so caught up in that argument, she didn’t see Officer Taylor until she’d run her walker smack into the back of her.



“What’s going on?”



The words startled Alberta Mae and she stopped talking to Marvin at that moment to see what the heck was happening.



“Oh, my,” Alberta Mae said, seeing what she’d done. “You all right there?” Alberta Mae asked and lifted a hand off the walker to pat the officer’s side, as if this might give her the answer.



“I’m fine,” Janine said.



She looked at Alberta Mae close up now and once again felt a tug at her heart.



“Miz Jackson. Don’t you have anybody who helps you?”



Alberta Mae raised her head, keeping her hands gripped tightly on the metal bars. She squinted at the officer, as if seeing her for the first time.



“How you know my name?” Alberta Mae asked.



“I met you down the street, in front of the market. Ali introduced us. Don’t you remember, Miz Jackson?”



“’Course I remember,” Alberta Mae insisted.



She then took a long look at Janine. Up and down her eyes went, as if trying to memorize what she’d seen, in order to go back home and tell a friend.



“You a police officer?” Alberta Mae asked, leaning heavily on the first syllable of the word police.



“Yes, Miz Jackson. I told you that already, when we were in front of the market. Don’t you remember me telling you?”



Alberta Mae shook her head. She aimed her walker to the right edge of the sidewalk, where she could see there was enough room to pass. Then she pushed the walker a few inches forward and stepped her right foot ahead to catch up.



“’Course I remember,” she said, before moving her left foot forward to catch up with the right. “’Course I remember.”



With that, Alberta Mae resumed her conversation with Marvin. But instead of starting in on that same old tired argument again, she told him about the most amazing thing she’d just seen on the boulevard named after the Reverend Martin Luther King. A black woman police officer!



“Yes, Marvin,” she said. “I ain’t lyin’.”



That one word, lyin’, brought everything back. The black work pants in the laundromat and the napkin and that woman’s name and phone number. So, only a few yards away from where Officer Janine Taylor watched Alberta Mae Jackson slowly make her way up the sidewalk alongside MLK and once again felt that tug at her heart, Alberta Mae Jackson started in on that argument with Marvin, because she just couldn’t keep herself away from it.



Copy © 2015 by Patty Somlo.


Biography:
Patty Somlo has received four Pushcart Prize nominations and has been nominated for storySouth’s Million Writers Award. Her essay, If We Took a Deep Breath, was selected as a Notable Essay of 2013 for Best American Essays 2014. She is the author of From Here to There and Other Stories. Her second book, Hairway to Heaven Stories, is forthcoming in January 2017 from Cherry Castle Publishing. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including the Los Angeles Review, the Santa Clara Review, Under the Sun, Guernica, The Flagler Review, and WomenArts Quarterly, among others, and in fifteen anthologies.