Walking the dog, came upon a corpse. “That ass is black!” said a woman standing by the chain link fence, gazing over at the body. “I say, that ass is black!” The NBC “Turn to 10” news van was parked nearby and the “news woman” in her red satin dress and black spike high heels, ( a size too large) pulled her own shiny white ass out of the van and set up her camera. “Was she naked?” the “newswoman” asked. ” I only know, she got a black ass” replied the bystander. The “newswoman” got on her cell phone. “Well, we’re at the corner of” – she yelled over at me “Where are we?” …”Oh, this is Roosevelt..and what? …well, there’s a church up the street and the body is in the woods…” .. “That’s a parking lot” I told her… “Oh, that’s a parking lot..and there’s a church, and I don’t know the name of the church, let me check on that..” She aimed her camera toward the bushes. She was puffy. A dull blonde with close set eyes. The police were about to pull the body out and take it away, so she aimed straight at the area of interest. The police, as per protocol, held up white sheets to protect the innocence of the newly dead, and the newswoman tried to shift the camera angle to outsmart them. “That ass was black, I tell you..” repeated the bystander… “and I would tell you more but I got a husband who wants his din-din.” I leaned against a chain link fence and watched the sad show. A church parking lot… “They dumped her- I hear she was there for more than four days and that church will be pissed off. The police asked the church if they could cut the fence to get at the body. I saw her ass…she was black as I am.” The whore-like channel 10 newswoman was frustrated by the police barrier. Toddling on her platform spikes, she lumbered in lobster fashion toward a police officer for a potential interview. Cellphone to her ear, she was communicating with The Desk. “I’m trying to find out the specifics, but..” The policeman put up his hand and motioned her away. “but i couldn’t see the body…it was blocked…but… I have first hand information that…it was black.”
Beautiful homeless men across from the Pawtucket Visitors Center, sitting on benches next to their black garbage bags– willing themselves invisible, waiting for the day to begin. Walking the dog, a hesitation…discomfort. I consider a turn around. Then I think about my grandfather. I never knew him, but he was what they used to call a traveling “pen man”. He rode freight trains from town to town searching for work as a calligrapher for newspapers. Not able to sustain family life, he’d left my grandmother and 6 kids in Vermont, and wasn’t seen again until he died of sterno poisoning in The Vermont State Hospital for the Insane. I guess he was a good man, just couldn’t go the straight route, a drunk, yes, but a gypsy and a talent and a heartbreak. One of those homeless men, at one time, could have been my grandfather and there and then they were all my grandfathers and despite myself I walked past and said some good mornings- not slowing down or speeding up, casual, as though they weren’t homeless, as though they didn’t look homeless, as though they belonged there as much as I did.