Lundyn Bridges

Lundyn Bridges by Patrice Johnson

Book: Lundyn Bridges by Patrice Johnson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Patrice Johnson
could see people pointing to our apartment because they could hear the argument too. I heard the sirens before I saw the lights, and then the police knocked on our door. Mr. Anthony called my mother a whore and then left with the police officers.
    I remember the day I came home from school, and my mother was still in bed. My mother cried for a long time. It was soon after that when my mother started going out all night. It was then Romen started taking care of us.
    I was eight the first time my mother went to a drug rehab. It was a bitter cold night in March of 1988 when she was arrested for prostitution to support her drug habit. I didn’t completely understand drug addiction, although I was accustomed to my mother’s absences. However, this intervention by the police and the other strangers in the middle of the night was new and frightening.
    The twins, Hustin and Rah'Lee, had just turned one and were too young to understand or question where they were going. They each held Romen’s hand, and he told them
everything would be all right. At thirteen, Romen was able to take care of us; he had been doing it for the past three years. He made sure we ate dinner and took baths, even when my mom didn’t come home for days. Afreeka said when my mom first started leaving at night she used to cry. Tonight, at ten, she wasn’t crying; so I didn’t either. I sat on the couch holding Afreeka’s hand like Romen told me.
    The police and the other strangers left the door open while they spoke to Romen. I heard the officer tell Romen to sit down, but Romen just stood there holding hands with Hustin and Rah'Lee. It seemed like they asked Romen a million questions, and I sat close to Afreeka to keep my teeth from chattering. I was cold and afraid. After what seemed like an hour, a lady in jeans, sneakers and a purple leather jacket came in the door. She spoke to one of the officers, and then told Romen the twins had to go with her. Afreeka volunteered to dress them, but the lady said they could go in their pajamas. Romen didn't want to let go of their hands, and when the police officer made him, he began to cry. The lady quickly put their coats on over their pajamas, and one of the officers helped her carry them out the door. We could hear Rah'Lee and Hustin screaming. Afreeka and I went over to Romen and hugged him – then we all cried together. We had no idea what was going to happen to us. No one gave us any information except that our mother had been arrested and would be in jail for a while.
    That night was the first time Afreeka, Romen and I went to the Holy Family Children’s Shelter. We didn’t see the twins until we were reunited with my mother six months later.
    The case worker temporarily placed us in the Salvation Army Shelter because we were homeless. My mother cried each night and then hugged us every morning. With all the sincerity she could muster, she promised she would never use drugs again. She also promised us life would be better after we left the shelter and moved into our own place. Almost three months passed before we were moved from the Salvation Army Shelter to an apartment on Burrows Street in the Hill District.
    My gratitude for the apartment was overshadowed by having to transfer to another school. I was going to the fourth grade and had already attended three schools. This was also the first time, except for living on the campus of Holy Family, I had lived outside of the East End of Pittsburgh. The view of Burrows Street from my heavily dirt streaked bedroom window obscured the stories I had heard about the grandeur of the Hill District. Although living in the projects was not new to me, this was different. Everyone in Garfield knew us by name, and they would feed us while my mother was away. An older lady, who I only knew as Grandma, lived across the street from us and always seemed to know when my mother was gone. We came to depend on her for a warm Pop Tart in the morning

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