Wardine say her momma aint treat her right. Reginald he come round to my blacktop at my building where me and Delores Epps jump double dutch and he say, Clenette, Wardine be down at my crib cry say her momma aint treat her right, and I go on with Reginald to his building where he live at, and Wardine be sit deep far back in a closet in Reginald crib, and she be cry. Reginald gone lift Wardine out the closet and me with him crying and I be rub on the wet all over Wardine face and Reginald be so careful when he take off all her shirts she got on, tell Wardine to let me see. Wardine back all beat up and cut up. Big stripes of cut all up and down Wardine back, pink stripes and around the stripes the skin like the skin on folks lips be like. Sick down in my insides to look at it. Wardine be cry. Reginald say Wardine say her momma aint treat her right. Say her momma beat Wardine with a hanger. Say Wardine momma man Roy Tony be want to lie down with Wardine. Be give Wardine candy and 5s. Be stand in her way in Wardine face and he aint let her pass without he all the time touching her. Reginald say Wardine say Roy Tony at night when Wardine momma at work he come in to the mattresses where Wardine and William and Shantell and Roy the baby sleep at, and he stand there in the dark, high, and say quiet things at her, and breathe. Wardine momma say Wardine tempt Roy Tony into Sin. Wardine say she say Wardine try to take away Roy Tony into Evil and Sin with her young tight self. She beat Wardine back with hangers out the closet. My momma say Wardine momma not right in her head. My momma scared of Roy Tony. Wardine be cry. Reginald he down and beg for Wardine tell Reginald momma how Wardine momma treat Wardine. Reginald say he Love his Wardine. Say he Love but aint never before this time could understand why Wardine wont lie down with him like girls do their man. Say Wardine aint never let Reginald take off her shirts until tonight she come to Reginald crib in his building and be cry, she let Reginald take off her shirts to see how Wardine momma beat Wardine because Roy Tony. Reginald Love his Wardine. Wardine be like to die of scared. She say no to Reginald beg. She say, if she go to Reginald momma, then Reginald momma go to Wardine momma, then Wardine momma think Wardine be lie down with Reginald. Wardine say her momma say Wardine let a man lie down before she sixteen and she beat Wardine to death. Reginald say he aint no way going to let that happen to Wardine.
Roy Tony kill Dolores Epps brother Columbus Epps at the Brighton Projects four years gone. Roy Tony on Parole. Wardine say he show Wardine he got some thing on his ankle send radio signals to Parole that he still here in Brighton. Roy Tony cant be leave Brighton. Roy Tony brother be Wardine father. He gone. Reginald try to hush Wardine but he can not stop Wardine cry. Wardine look like crazy she so scared. She say she kill herself if me or Reginald tell our mommas. She say, Clenette, you my half Sister, I am beg that you do not tell you momma on my momma and Roy Tony. Reginald tell Wardine to hush herself and lie down quiet. He put Shedd Spread out the kitchen on Wardine cuts on her back. He run his finger with grease so careful down pink lines of her getting beat with a hanger. Wardine say she do not feel nothing in her back ever since spring. She lie stomach on Reginald floor and say she aint got no feeling in her skin of her back. When Reginald gone to get the water she asks me the truth, how bad is her back look when Reginald look at it. Is she still pretty, she cry.
I aint tell my momma on Wardine and Reginald and Wardine momma and Roy Tony. My momma scared of Roy Tony. My momma be the lady Roy Tony kill Columbus Epps over, four years gone, in the Brighton Projects, for Love.
But I know Reginald tell. Reginald say he gone die before Wardine momma beat Wardine again. He say he take his self up to Roy Tony and say him to not mess with Wardine or breathe by her mattress at night. He say he take his self on down to the playground at the Brighton Projects where Roy Tony do business and he go to Roy Tony man to man and he make Roy Tony make it all right.
But I think Roy Tony gone kill Reginald if Reginald go. I think Roy Tony gone kill Reginald, and then Wardine momma beat Wardine to death with a hanger. And then nobody know except me. And I am gone have a child.
In the eighth American-educational grade, Bruce Green fell dreadfully in love with a classmate who had the unlikely name of Mildred Bonk. The name was unlikely because if ever an eighth-grader looked like a Daphne Christianson or a Kimberly St.-Simone or something like that, it was Mildred Bonk. She was the kind of fatally pretty and nubile wraithlike figure who glides through the sweaty junior-high corridors of every nocturnal emitter’s dreamscape. Hair that Green had heard described by an over-wrought teacher as ‘flaxen’; a body which the fickle angel of puberty — the same angel who didn’t even seem to know Bruce Green’s zip code — had visited, kissed, and already left, back in sixth; legs which not even orange Keds with purple-glitter-encrusted laces could make unserious. Shy, iridescent, coltish, pelvically anfractuous, amply busted, given to diffident movements of hand brushing flaxen hair from front of dear creamy forehead, movements which drove Bruce Green up a private tree. A vision in a sun-dress and silly shoes. Mildred L. Bonk.
And then but by tenth grade, in one of those queer when-did-that-happen metamorphoses, Mildred Bonk had become an imposing member of the frightening Winchester High School set that smoked full-strength Marlboros in the alley between Senior and Junior halls and that left school altogether at lunchtime, driving away in loud low-slung cars to drink beer and smoke dope, driving around with sound-systems of illegal wattage, using Visine and Clorets, etc. She was one of them. She chewed gum (or worse) in the cafeteria, her dear diffident face now a bored mask of Attitude, her flaxen locks now teased and gelled into what looked for all the world like the consequence of a finger stuck into an electric socket. Bruce Green saved up for a low-slung old car and practiced Attitude on the aunt who’d taken him in. He developed a will.
And, by the year of what would have been graduation, Bruce Green was way more bored, imposing, and frightening than even Mildred Bonk, and he and Mildred Bonk and tiny incontinent Harriet Bonk-Green lived just off the Allston Spur in a shiny housetrailer with another frightening couple and with Tommy Doocey, the infamous harelipped pot-and-sundries dealer who kept several large snakes in unclean uncovered aquaria, which smelled, which Tommy Doocey didn’t notice because his upper lip completely covered his nostrils and all he could smell was lip. Mildred Bonk got high in the afternoon and watched serial-cartridges, and Bruce Green had a steady job at Leisure Time Ice, and for a while life was more or less one big party.