At Northland Mall, the poverty disappeared. The suburbanites hustled through the mall like Christmas shopping. JCPenny and music stores were all connected. There was also a theatre in walking distance of their homes. Houses so well kept, they mirrored a Better Homes and Garden’s magazine layout. Nothing was boarded up.
Two women dawdled with their purses dangling. No threat of them being stolen. The two ladies giggled. The one who wore Peabody glasses bummed the other’s shoulder playfully. No gunshots.
Uncle Jace might be right, Brice thought. Poor people couldn’t live together. They just killed each other. He made a U-turn then drove up to Nine Mile. He hooked a right, passing the Providence Hospital and the towering apartments where flower plants and tables on the balcony created a homey atmosphere. He drove a little further, spotting Uncle Jace’s house.
The cinnamon and oregano aroma billowed from Jace’s backyard. Brice drove around the circular driveway, goosing his neck out the driver’s window. He peered through the glass storm door. Jace’s television ran highlights of the shooting.
Let me get this before he flips out, Brice thought. He stepped down on a dandelion then snatched it up.
“Come here, Brice,” Jace said.
“I’m safe and sound,” Brice said, bear-hugging his uncle who held a turner in one hand and grill brush in the other. His uncle’s chef hat slipped back, tapping his matching chef jacket. He did everything with a get-up to reinforce he was in charged.
“I told you not to go back there,” Jace said, patting Brice’s chest.
“Watch it.” Brice broke from their embrace, stumbling up the one-step porch.
“Brice, what you think about the landscape?”
“It's just grass,” Brice kicked off his shoes and ankle socks then trampled the grass that felt like shaggy carpet. He played touch football with Bob and Beverly who lived next door. He enjoyed gentle tackling Beverly, ignored Uncle Jace's warnings of being arrested for touching a white girl. His warnings made him seen as the outsider. His high school prom he went with his cousin Jamie not Beverly.
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