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.
How can you run toward something that will save you when you can't get away from the thing that's killing you?
A knife to her throat.
"If you leave me, Yvonne, I'm a kill you!"
Scissors stabbing at her hand, her arms, her stomach, round with an eight-month-old fetus.
"Ain't my fuckin' baby, bitch!"
Quick, running up the steps to the landlady's apartment, banging on the door, let me in, let me in, Miss Butler, hurry please Miss Butler, Oh God!, the old woman shuffling to the door and opening it a crack just in time for Yvonne to slip in and push a chair against it.
Miss Butler held her against her chest on the other side of the thin cracking wood.
"That boy gon' kill you one day, you know that, don' you?"
James Reed, the man who might be Yvonne's father, got her a house on Pike Street. Pat would live there when he wanted to. Sometimes he'd come in and give her a kiss and hold her hand while they sat on the couch. Then he'd go outside and come in five minutes later, face drawn and eyes lupine, looking like something from the wild.
"What's the matter?"
His fists came in a flurry.
Sometimes Yvonne's four brothers--and then the three, after Anthony was killed--would find Pat at the corner of 19th and Cumberland, and they would give him what was coming to him.
"Yo 40," they said, surrounding him on the front, back and both sides. "Keep your hands off our sister."
They ripped Pat up pretty good, enough to teach him a lesson but not enough to upset Yvonne.
"You do it again, you know what'll happen."
James Reed knows firsthand what it can do when you put your fists to a woman--since he "once or twice got into physical fighting" with Yvonne's mother--but he wouldn't stand for this punk beating on his daughter. She never cheated on the boy. There was no reason for it.
He paid a visit to Pat's mother.
"Miz Jones, you know what your boy be doin' to Yvonne."
"Nothin' I can do 'bout that," Miz Jones said, peering through the crack of her door.
PW's Summer Guide 2014