Updated: Jul 4
The hours home were excruciating. Sam could not ever remember them being so much so. Not a word was said all the way from Tomson to where they lived, outside of Lafeyette. After Sam's Dad was railroaded and put in jail, they moved in with Nana because Sam's mom was unable to make ends meet financially, as well as, raise Sam. The drive for Sam, he had to admit, was almost as bad as the meeting with his dad.
Sam wondered if the only reason she stayed married was for the semblance of stability it offered. She didn't seem to love him anymore. Maybe she was just scared? He also wondered if the only reason they lived with Nana was because it was convenient. She didn't seem attached to anyone, not Sam, not Nana either. Mona Parker had not been herself, at all, for two years now.
Carrying the weight Sam's dad had carried, plus her own fears, late nights working at the nursing home, keeping these appointments at the prison on Saturdays when she wasn't working, was taking a toll on her. All to raise a 12 year old boy to adulthood, maybe she resented Sam? Everything seemed encompassed about with the fear that Sam's fate would be the same as his dad's.But what, exactly, would make his prospects for a better life, different? If the terror that had wreaked havoc on their lives was just as indiscriminate toward the black innocent ones when Sam grew up?
Sam blinked his eyes open after falling asleep in the back of the large blue Oldsmobile. All the angst had faded into a pleasant dream, until the rude awakening by what appeared to be flashing lights from behind his eyelids. The only words Mona had said the whole trip was just then, "What is this?!" Except this wasn't passivity or annoyance, this was great alarm.
"Wh.....what's wr...wrong?" Sam's eyes were fully open now to the reality that there was an ambulance and a police car in front of their tiny pink house.
Various neighbours stood around outside in a frantic shuffle, some with house dresses on, and some still wearing their work clothes. Kelly, the next door neighbour's daughter was wearing her pyjamas. She was Sam's age. All were gathered in a semi- circle like an ill planned and frazzled "welcoming committee". Mona slammed the driver's side car door shut in exclamation to the scene that lay before her. "Oh Mona!" cried Hilda, Nana's best friend from a few door's down ran to Mona's side, her little terrier in tow "Stel's had a heart attack!"
Sam was quietly coming up behind the conversation when Mona grabbed him, apparently to cling to something, or not let whatever had transpired here take Sam too. When she finally responded, she did so hesitantly "Is...is she okay?"
"Oh sweetie," Hilda rubbed Mona's arm in as warm a gesture as she thought Mona would accept "I just don't know. I am the one that called the ambulance."
"You?" Mona held Sam in a near choke hold at this point. Her eyes fixed on the front door, now barely cognoscente of the little white haired lady rambling incessantly.
"Yes! Stella called me, said she wasn't feeling well and......" Hilda melted with a shudder into position to pick up her small dog who had decided barking at the ambulance crew was a nobel cause. She continued her story as the EMTs emerged from the house with Sam's Nana on a stretcher. Sam could no longer take standing still, stagnant in his mom's death grip. He broke free, details of how this came about left in a whirl to run straight toward her.
"N......Nana!" the tears overflowed from his stopped position right next to her on the stretcher. His vision blurred so that he could only see the white cloth on the stretcher and grabbed it with fullest determination. Nana looked at him and closed her eyes again, he had not perceived it.
"Get that kid outta here," came a thunderous response, but not at close proximity to the herd of medics that surrounded Stella Parker. Sam wasn't sure of the source, but felt that it was a police officer.
"He can come with us," someone grabbed his arm in quieter, gentler manner "come on, son, if it's okay with your mom."
"But, what about the officer?" all faces were still a blur and everything was moving so quickly, Sam's chest heaving in it's rhythm. He wasn't sure who made the remark about the angry sounding officer, but thought it was a younger EMT who echoed his fearful thoughts.
"Oh, Mike will get over it," Sam looked up to see another officer who startled him, as he emerged from the house, after everyone else. He smiled weakly in Sam's direction and soberly focused on the task at hand. Sam let out a sigh and blinked away his tears, rubbing his face to make sure, by the officer's expression, that the he meant what he said.
Sam glanced over at his mom, who was still standing in the herd, hoping that she would understand where he was going without having to yell anything over the chaos, or say too much around the police. He knew how a lot of black boys faired in situations concerning the police. He had been taught from very young how to stay out of trouble.
"I'll find you there, Sam," Mona shook her head and covered her face with her hands.