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.
A guy named John wondered what was taking Pat so long to come back to 20th and Susquehanna. He said he'd come back out to drink some more just as soon as he got his son home. It wasn't that far, so John thought he might as well check up on him. He walked down to Uber and saw that the door to 40's apartment was open. He walked in and there he was lying right beside the door, face down, arm outstretched like he was turning the knob and just collapsed.
"Forty," John said. "You a'ight?"
Pat didn't move and so John gently turned him over. He must've come back here to drink and overdid it.
There were flecks of blood on his shirt.
John tried to pull Pat up by his pants buckle.
Right then the police busted through the front door and before John could take a breath he was standing spread eagle against the wall with what seemed like a half-dozen guns pointed at his head.
"It was probably his girl," John said, gripping the wall. "Yvonne Williams. They was fighting all the time."
A detective bent down and hovered over Pat's ear. "Did Yvonne Williams do this to you?"
"No," he said, barely audible. "Jus' get me to the hospital. Get my keys out my pocket and lock the front door."
Yvonne didn't feel right. She sat down on a bench while her sisters went shopping around the Cedar Brook Mall. She called a friend on her cell phone and told her what happened.
The group left Cedar Brook and went to the Cheltenham Mall. Yvonne found another bench and pulled out her phone again. It had been just a couple hours since the fight, and she couldn't stop thinking about him standing in the doorway.
"Meena," she said, "please. You got to call all the hospitals and see what they doin' with Pat."
Tanya wanted to go to the Gallery, so they went to the Gallery. Her sister was ahead of her, waiting at the bottom of the big escalator and talking on her cell phone. Yvonne stepped on. Albria was sleeping over her shoulder and Quadir was clutching her hand, jostling from side to side on the narrow step.
Tanya was crying when Yvonne stepped off the escalator.
"What's wrong, Tanya?"
"Somethin' wrong for you to be crying."
"Yvonne, I just got a call. It's goin' around the neighborhood that Pat didn't make it."
PW's 2015 Gift Guide
Dinner with Luke Palladino