Honorable Mention: "Uncrossings" 

Page 4 of 4

"Keisha ain't stupid," Eddie snapped.

A large sculpture of Martin Luther King's head is on the corner of Auburn Avenue and Fort Street, across from Thelma's Kitchen. If you stand inside his head and look through his eyes you see the interstate and the people who live under it, you see Pal's Lounge and Big Bethel, the church with the blue neon on its steeple that says Jesus Saves.

Keisha stepped out of Sister Malina's and the door closed and locked behind her. She was in her blue dress and pink socks and she was high as a kite. In one hand she was swinging a six-pack of PBR tallboys with two missing, in the other hand was Eddie's bicycle pump. She looked at the three of us and giggled. "Eddie, you smell like a woman. Kisser, you smell like some kind of fucked-up jambalaya. Baby doll, you the weirdest lookin' whore we ever seen down here. That workin' for ya?" and she gestured at my bicycle. "Hey! Y'all want a beer? I got money and I'll be pissed if I die with a dime in my pocket." Keisha held a beer out toward me. I said, "Thank you, but no. I need to get home." She said, "I know that's right. You best get your happy ass outta here. Eddie! You're gonna have a few with me tonight, aren't you?" Eddie hesitated. "Oh, for Christ's sake, Eddie. You gettin' uncrossed for beer and cigarettes again? Beer and cigarettes wreckin' your life? If you're gonna wreck your life, pick somethin' better than beer and cigarettes." Then a softness came to Keisha's eyes. She was suddenly beautiful. She said, "Eddie, be with me tonight. Then I'll watch over you. I'll send your uncrossing. I promise."

Eddie finished putting air in my tire and handed me my bike. "Get out of here, baby doll. Now. Go around, take Auburn." I did as I was told. I rode away north and turned east at Pal's Lounge. There was Pal's graveyard graffiti wall that I had passed by for months and never noticed. The side of the building was full of spray-painted names and dates, drips running grimly to the ground. A red pealing heart said "Miss you." Two large black crosses dominated the wall, flanked by hundreds of little X's scratched into the brick. Below these were liquor bottles and beer cans, withered stuffed animals and faded plastic flowers. I didn't realize I had come to a stop until I heard the yowls of Keisha's party getting started. I sprinted under the bridge and ran the light at MLK's head. I slowed at Vesuvius and looked back down Edgewood Avenue. The kisser was riding away on Eddie's bike. Eddie was walking with Keisha, and Keisha was dancing.

click to enlarge TARA-LYNNE PIXLEY

Chantelle's the captain of the Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons, a group of merrymakers that does playful community arts events like the Beltline Lantern Parade. After a hyper-social spell of ring-leading mania, she enjoys sitting quietly alone and writing. She loves riding her bike as much as the lead character in her story does.






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