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.
In front of her, just a few feet away, there was a steak knife on the living room floor. If she could just grab it, it might just make him afraid enough that she could make it through the front door.
Quadir was cowering in a far corner of the room.
She had the knife in her hand and her arm up high in front of her and still he charged toward her as if their hallway was a wide-open field.
"Stop!" she screamed, and her arm made Z-shapes in the air in front of her.
"Ow," Pat said, doubling over. "My hand!"
She thought she got his hand, she really did. Pat was almost six feet and 190 pounds, and she'll never know how the blade traveled the way they said it did on his autopsy report: single stab wound of left chest wall; five inches below the top of the shoulder; path backward, downward and slightly rightward; penetrating his sternum with such force that it pierced a lung and his heart. There were no defensive wounds and his upper garments, they said, were "not particularly bloody." He was drunk, with a blood alcohol level almost two times the legal limit.
She didn't feel the knife push through his body, didn't hear his shirt ripping, didn't think of anything except getting past him and getting out of the apartment with both of them still alive.
She dropped the knife then, oh my God this boy is cut, ran to the kitchen and dialed 911.
"What's your emergency?"
"Somebody been stabbed at 2132 North Uber Street."
She hung up and fumbled for her keys and looked down and saw the knife on the floor, not even any blood on the tip. Pat was nowhere to be found. He just might try to get this knife, she thought, and she picked it up, walked back to the kitchen, opened the oven door and tossed it inside, hitting the metal with a dull clank.
She found Quadir shaking in the corner, grabbed his hand and made it to the front door. They got into Tanya's car.
"Oh my God," she said, and her voice sounded full of holes. "He was fighting me and the knife done stabbed him."
"We already called the cops 'cause y'all was fighting," Taisha said.
Tanya started the engine and began to back out when Pat appeared at the front door. He was wearing a white T-shirt, but from where Yvonne sat she couldn't see any blood.
"Yvonne," he called. "C'mere. I didn't mean to hit you. I'm sorry."
Please pull off, Tanya, she thought. Please pull off.
"You wanna go back?" Tanya asked.
"No," Yvonne said. "Let's go."
PW's Taste of Philly 2014
Election Day 2014: Tues., Nov. 4