NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 62

Marty looks off into her own thinking place, immune and steeled and numb to my circular rubs on her tense back, remembering her mother, Mrs. Irma Clarkson. “I’m an only child,” I share. “I’m married. My husband has nieces and nephews. Dad lives in a senior living center in Florida. He plays tennis down there with men his own age. My mom was a high school teacher in Gary, but she hated the pollution. Wanted fresh farmland instead. She divorced my dad a little bit after I was born. She wanted to live the single life — alone.” I continue. It all comes back to me now. There is no father to keep me in check. There are no aunts to tsk. There is no child to question me. I tell the mourner more: “My mum looked a lot like that black actress who was in a lot of movies in the seventies. You know, Pam Grier? Or so, according to my dad.” 60 “Yes, she’s really beautiful,” Marty cries. “Your mother must have been…” “Well, one night she came home and a man who had been in love with her was in her apartment, near the beach. You know the buildings with one or two levels, sliding doors on a long shared back porch? There was one maintenance guy worked on her place and oh my God, he was just obsessed with mum. When her air conditioner went out, she requested any janitor but him. Well, he found out about it and used the master keys to get in. He raped her and beat her and is sitting in prison for it as we speak. BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 60 My father went to the funeral. I didn’t. They told me the casket was going to be closed, so I would have nothing new to see. I just remembered her as she was.” Marty stares. “Well, I…I…” I’ve stumped her. “It’s okay,” I smile. “I’m quite over it. Really, I am. I was so young. Just make sure you go to therapy. As a matter of fact, please go to therapy.” “That’s what everyone tells me,” Marty says. She is oddly excited now, undaunted. “The whole family should be in therapy, but I’m the only one who’ll go.” “Well, just keep going,” I say. “Take it day by day. Coming back in here, where you got her flowers, probably made you think back to those first few days. This may not be the most pleasant place for you.” “No,” Marty tells me. “It’s not this place. It’s the investigation. You know, my mother was murdered too.” “I beg your pardon?” “Yes,” Marty looks grateful, relieved. I’m one person who doesn’t know her “story,” hasn’t passed it around a few blocks, never pointed at her back from a corner pew. With me, here and now, she is a fresh slate and a blank page and a new tale. “I’m sorry. Who killed her?” Now, Marty tells me: “Well, it was all in the papers. On the news. She was robbed in Hammond Plaza last October. A manager found her when she opened Carson’s the next day. She would’ve froze to death if she hadn’t bled to death. I don’t know which came first. Don’t want to. When she got held up, she drained everything she could at once from her account. She gave them her car keys and her purse. But, well, whoever it was…it wasn’t enough.” Marty stutters out the last part, looks out the door. Tony hums a long a bit before she continues her story. “The bastard dropped his hat, skull cap. Took the crossbones with him. We found out yesterday it could take up to a year for dna tests to get done on hairs police found inside the hat. Federal crime labs just that backed up and bloated.” Now, I remember the story. I hadn’t poked my nose too far into any customer’s business to connect such dots. But I definitely had taken note of the woman’s murder. “We put up a $20,000 reward for information. It’s unclaimed.” 3/29/15 11:41 AM