*I know this is a lot of reading for a blog. We are so used to seeing a wonderful craft or amazing art. Thank you for reading my story.
With no TV or even a book to read, the hours were long. Since I was next to the wide door, I could lay and watch others being wheeled down the hall. I could smell the ether. I felt close to these girls, it had become our own little world. Each having a life, and when they shared I found myself wanting to know more. These women could be my friends. I didn’t say much, I was grateful to listen. I know that me being in Bed # 1 was hard for them. If I were gone they would talk more, say more about what was going on outside these walls. Deep in my own thoughts when Bed # 7 said, call me Betty. I know my husband is down stairs with bullet holes in him. God only knows where my kids are. I want out of this miserable building, I might just get out of this bed and leave tonight. She asks for a newspaper every time a nurse came by. No one had the time or desires to find her a newspaper. This was a day of talking to each other. Not in whispers with only the girl next to you. Bed # 9 Lily was so black she almost looked blue. She had some kind of beads in her hair, very lovely girl. She asks us where we all lived. And one by one we shared where we came from. Bed # 10 Kate was from Compton over by the Sears store. She had her hair parted down the middle and on each side of her head was a bun of black hair. She seemed to have lost a few of her front teeth. I shared that I worked at that Sears in the Christmas season. I thought about my Dad, who loved their big blocks of chocolate. Then Bed # 8 Fannie spoke, saying she was pushed down a flight of stairs by her husband. She said that she hoped someone had killed him dead. I hope my kids are with their grammie…I live in Watts, or what is left of it. She was really beautiful, her teeth were so white against her really dark skin. She had a high ponytail with a yellow ribbon tied in a small bow. She could be really funny….she made some really funny remarks about the nurses; it did bring a giggle now and then.
One of the funniest things was watching each other walk to the bathroom. The pads we wore were the size of a loaf of bread…they went why up our back and front. We all looked like Zombie’s going to the bathroom or maybe a bow legged cowboy. We all thought it was so funny and found ourselves giggling at each other as we made our way back and forth. Silly things were a great brake, sometimes our silence was so loud. Some of us were starving while others could not eat…I never saw oatmeal that looked like gray paste. The toast is hard as a rock; I had to tear it with my teeth. I gave mine to anyone that would take it. If you didn’t eat or poop, you couldn’t go home. I ate only what I just had too. So I shared what I could not eat. I hadn’t smoked the whole time I was pregnant, and the smell of coffee make me sick. I ate very little during the months of my pregnancy, but I craved lemons, I wanted them day and night. Poor Arney had to go out late at night a few times searching for lemons. I ate them like candy. Right this minute I could kill for a cigarette and a cup of really hot coffee with a lot of sugar and cream. Which brings me to Fannie; it was late at night when I realized Bed #8 Fannie had the glow of a cigarette coming from her bed. She had been very friendly to everyone. Sometimes I thought she was content to be here, she was safe. Fannie, I whispered, do you have one of those cigs to share with me? She whispered back, come and get it, but don’t let the nurse see it. I climbed out of bed, looking like the hunch back of Nostradamus with a loaf of bread between my legs, but I would have walked a mile for that cigarette. I smoked it, and it was so good. Sad to say I would be smoking when I got home. Some of us were cold and others were hot, I thought my feet would fall off they were so cold and others were fanning themselves like they were in an oven. We had gotten pretty comfortable with each other. Of course some of us were quiet. Everyone had a good laugh when I ask for a HOT cup of coffee with lots of sugar and cream. The gal that delivered the meals looked at me like I had two heads…so much for anything but old cold coffee. The milk was really warm. With so much time laying in this horrible bed, you hear all the complaining, and there in the dark with 9 women, there was no color; we were just doing the best we could. I no longer felt the fear that came in this room with me. To me they had become my black angels. The lights were always on in the hall. So it was never really dark in the big room. I found comfort in the light; it lighted the path out of here.
Sylvia and Miss Sarah live in Compton. Martha comes from Watts/ Betty is from Long Beach. Betty and her family were in their car driving to get family. Her parents lived in Watts. They were pulled over by the police when all hell broke out. Betty said she doesn’t remember much since she was knocked out. She woke here in the hospital and was told she lost her baby. She shared that she had a bump the size of an egg on the back of her head. Betty is not very pretty until she starts to talk. She had a large head, and her hair seemed to have a mind of its own. Very large lips. She could spin out a story so fast. Lynn in Bed # 3 asked me why I am in this hospital? Bellflower is a long way from here. I was coming to the clinic to have blood taken ones a week. Lynn shared that she had been hit and fell on something hard. You could see her pain with each word. I was looking for my kids; I don’t know where they are. I hope my husband found them.Bed #3 Lynn had light skin and small features, her hair was not fuzzy, it was long and very pretty. But when you heard her voice you knew she was a negro girl. It was hard to think about what each girl had gone through. What would happen to them when they left this room? What would they find when they got home, or would there be a home waiting for them? What if her kids were killed????? So much to think about.
Bed # 5 is Jessie. I wish you would all just shut up and let me sleep. For the record, I am from Compton. Then she turned over toward the window. My first look at Jessie was a little shocking; she kind of looked like a man. She was a big boned girl. She had a red streak of hair pulled up on top of her head. Her earrings were large, and they pulled her ear lobe down.
It was mid-day when a Negro man came to the entry of the big open doors to our room. He looked like a homeless person. He was dirty, his clothes were torn. His hat was full of holes. He had a newspaper folded in his hand. Miss. Sarah asks if she could look at it? He stepped into the room but when he saw me he went instantly into a rage. It’s your fault; he yelled it over and over. He came toward me yelling ugly words; I had no place to go. He was close enough to hit me when all the girls were yelling back at him to get his silly ass out of here. This child has nothing to do with you. He looked at me like I was the devil, dropped the paper and backed out the door, still yelling it’s your fault! Something happened in those few seconds that changed me forever. The girls were saying that ole bastard, what rock did he come out from under? “Kicking his ass would have made my day.” Then Lynn saw the newspaper on the floor. She got up and put it on her bed. Some of the girls gathered around to see what it said. It is today’s paper Jessie said, Could someone read this, I lost my glasses. Miss Sarah started to read it out load. The headlines said that the National Guard has been called in. The police are not getting control of looters and the fires are overwhelming and spreading, Negros on the move, heading to other towns. I stopped listening.
To be continued……..