THERE ARE MANY CITIES WITHIN THIS CITY. YVONNE WILLIAMS' OFFERS FEW PLEASURES, MUCH HARDSHIP AND LITTLE HOPE OF ESCAPE. HERE, WHEN ALL ELSE IS GONE, THE CYCLE OF POVERTY KEEPS SPINNING.
As soon as they sat back down, boom, he kicked the lock off the door. The cops chased him that night. Somehow they let him go but locked up Yvonne. It ain't right. She just got a letter from Yvonne. Wait a minute, she'll get it.
I have to one day explain this to my kids. I've learned that the Lord fight for his children. God will walk though with me right now things are dark but God will show me the light. I've had a rough life and I know that you know I had kids at a young age. But God only puts on enough that he know you can cope with and he will give me another chance. He will guide me in the right direction. I have goals that I must achieve. I know that nobody owes me nothing ...
Well, you know something? Yvonne chose her rough life. She wanted it that way. She could've stayed put with her instead of going off with Pat. But Miz Geneva knows how it is, how things can turn in a direction you never meant them to go. She was once young, looking for the right things in all the wrong places.
The lawyers seem to be doing all right. There are two of them from the public defender's office. They've been taking pictures of all the houses, every place Yvonne's run to. For a while Yvonne thought they might be able to show the judge it was self-defense and it would all just be over and maybe she could get her four oldest back. God knows what Pat's mom's telling them.
She's got to get the bail money. They were trying for a while to bring the charges down to manslaughter but the judge kept it at third-degree murder. The lawyers say it's all politics. There was a stab wound 3 1/2 inches deep through a ribcage. Someone died, someone has to pay.
There are all these people with all these questions.
A psychiatric expert on battered women's syndrome: "How did his abuse affect you, Yvonne?"
"There was times I had to get up to go to work at seven in the morning. And sometimes about four or five in the morning, I'm running up the street, running from him, knowing the next couple of hours I got to get up to go to work. I be all tired and worn down, I don't want to get up to go to work."
A social worker asks about the family: "Who's your father, Yvonne?"
"There was Herbert Davis, and he passed away. And there was James Reed, and he's in jail. He was always sure he was my real father but my mother wasn't so sure."
"What happened to your mother, Yvonne?"
"Berta was mentally ill in my teenage years. She had different men beating her up. I seen it happen sometimes. One night she was out at the club and someone slipped her a mickey. I think it was my little brother's father who did it. She lived across the street from us when we was staying at Miz Geneva's. She never was right after that. It throwed her and she been throwed ever since. She died of natural stress on Mother's Day, 1996 ..."
Her mother was the last one watching her kids. She had only the four oldest at the time: Jamal, Aisha, Anthony and Khafese. Baby Albria and Quadir--that crazed, hyper boy, always running in circles after things that can't be caught--weren't born yet.
In 1995 Yvonne took a trip to Atlantic City. Berta and Miz Geneva were watching the kids. Berta was drinking that day--she wasn't a drunk, but she did like to drink her beer--and Miz Geneva was just so tired she couldn't be roused.
Yvonne gave her mother $20 before she left. "Berta, they need Pampers and milk," she said. "Please."
"Okay," her mother said, bottle against her lips.
"I be home tomorrow afternoon. Just staying over one night."
When Yvonne came home, the kids were gone. Miz Geneva was still sleeping and Berta was still drinking. Her mother told her she had called Pat's mother and told her to pick up her grandchildren.
PW's Summer Guide 2015