Wednesday, September 9, 2015


This is gonna be about Donna and her daughter, Esther and how it was for them before the murder. They had an apartment in the first floor of a converted row house. Maybe it was always a 'duplex.' They got places like that in Philadelphia, usually at the ends of blocks but not always. Esther's mother paid a guy to put bars on the windows. She asked the landlord. He said - OK, but he never does it. So she gave a guy a hundred and sixty dollars. He got four sets of bars off the windows of an old funeral parlor and jimmied 'em up so they'd fit. There was a little bit too much space on the sides, but no person could get through, 'less they wanted their head to get crushed.

When you went in, you saw the living room, with some cleaned up kitchenette unit from an old Holiday Inn along the left hand wall where Mrs. Gibbs, the landlord's mother, used to have her piano. Not a fancy one... just a big upright.. there was a little table where maybe two people could sit and eat. Between the living room - kitchen and the two bedrooms was a bathroom. Not exactly up to code. No window, or anything. Just an exhaust fan. Tiles were white, but old and dingy... not shiny, 'cause the glaze was all worn off. The old dining room was a bigger bedroom. The original kitchen was now a long narrow bedroom. You had to go through the big room to get into it. Both faced the back alley.

Donna (the mother) paid eight hundred dollars a month for the place. At night, when it was all locked up and the unmonitored alarm system (five plastic for each window and one for the door) from the Five Below store was turned on they felt safe....shades down, curtains closed. They had a TV stand that looked like a fireplace. Esther's mother bought flameless l.e.d. candles to put in it. The little fake flames made it cozy.  She found furniture and stuff in a Big Lot store... area rugs... towels for the bathroom... bed spreads... little lamps... pictures and all. She wanted Esther to have a nice place... Bought books from the library when they had their sales.... a little off brand flat screen TV from the appliance store on the avenue. Nobody bothered them and they didn't bother anybody else.

Since it happened...since Esther was killed, Donna never went out. She goes to work...rings up out change...eats her tuna fish sandwich and goes home. Don't take her medicine no more (blood pressure pills) 'cause she don't care. Only reason she still goes to work is to get money for a tombstone... and to pay off the funeral and all. After that, she wants to die too.

Sometimes she lays on Esther's bed. Sometimes she just stands in the doorway and looks at the room. It's real quiet in that place. Donna don't talk. Who's she gonna talk to. Some nights she eats... some nights she don't.

Looked at pictures from Atlantic City. Took Esther down there almost every week in the summertime. They rode a casino, day trip bus. Driver never charged them. Knew Donna from when they were kids. If the bus was crowded, Esther sat on her mother's lap. They'd walk the boards... maybe go down on the beach and wet their feet... sit on a bench and get some sun.. didn't cost too much for a pork roll sandwich and a root beer. Esther's mother had a little satchel... really a pocketbook for extra tops and underwear... You never knew what might happen. Sometimes Esther went on a ride, or bought a little souvenir, maybe a quarter pound of salt water taffy...That's how they lived.. before Esther died, I mean...

What? You think life is fair?

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