Song & Story
By: Youngblood Brasket
Jail was turning out to be fun, Fritzi decided. She stretched her arm through the steel bars and took the cigarette that Daphne offered. Daphne occupied the cell across the narrow walkway. Daphne's friend Stella was Fritzi's next door neighbor, in the cell to her right. The three had become fast friends.
"Daphne and Stella were already in residence when Fritzi arrived. They were long-timers. They had the jail routine down. Fritzi studied their shining faces, unlined and fresh with youth, yet old and haunted with knowledge of the streets. The smooth brown skin, the dark, expressive eyes alight with merriment. She admired them tremendously. They'd been here a long time and yet they weren't bowed. They weren't intimidated. They were just serving their time, patiently waiting for the day they could return to their lives. Waiting with a smile on their faces and a little bit of mischief left in their hearts.
Fritzi lit the cigarette. "Thanks, Daphne," she said.
"Sho'nuff," said Daphne.
"Fritz, was that yo' daddy here this afternoon?", Stella asked, her face pressed against the bars.
"Yeah, that was him."
"What was that he was sayin' about not wantin' to take you home?"
"He's teaching me a lesson," Fritzi said. "Told the policeman to keep me here overnight so I could get a good taste of jail."
Daphne snickered. "Well, how does it taste so far?"
Fritzi smiled wide. "So far I'm likin' it just fine."
"We'll take care of you, girl, you don' worry about that."
"I ain't worried."
"One thing 'bout bein' locked up is can't nothin' get at you in here. You's safer in here than if you was on the streets."
"Yeah? Is that so? What's out there on the streets, Stella?"
"You don' really want to know, child. But you don' worry 'bout nothin', now, leastways not while you're with us."
"I ain't worried, really," Fritzi said.
"You promise now you ain't gonna worry?"
Fritzi had to smile. She was finding more love, compassion and friendship in this jail cell than she'd ever found out in the world. Almost as soon as the bars had slammed behind her, a bond had sprung up between the three girls. Fritzi felt a mystical kinship for Daphne and Stella, as if they had known one another always. As if they had shared the same experiences, walked the same roads. They accepted her. She was one of them. It made no difference to them that she did not share their background or their culture. Didn't even matter that she wasn't a real criminal. She was in jail and that was good enough for them.
"What you thinkin' about, Fritz?", Daphne asked.
"Thinkin' about my mama."
"What about her?"
Fritzi took another drag off the cigarette and reclined across her bunk, propping herself up against the bars.
"Well, she'll be worried, for one thing," Fritzi said. "She's probably imagining all kinds of horrible things. I don't think she's ever been in a jail. She probably don't know what it's like."
"You ever been in jail before?"
"So what you doin' here now?"
"I'm a runaway," Fritzi said. "I ran away from home and they found me in a beer joint down the street. My daddy told the police to bring me to jail."
"What did yo' mama say about it?"
"I don't know. My daddy wouldn't let me see her."
"You think she's frettin' about you?"
"Yeah, she's frettin'. She doesn't know what to do with me. My daddy and I have a war going, see, and I know it breaks my mama's heart but I can't help it. He hates me, and I hate him right back."
"Never had no daddy myself," said Stella.
"No. Don't even rightly know who my daddy is."
Fritzi opened her mouth to speak, to tell Stella that she didn't know who her daddy was, either, but it was such a long story. She didn't feel like going through the adoption explanation, the "bad seed" theory, and all that other stuff. But it was something else they shared, even if Fritzi was the only one who knew it.
"For another cigarette, you can have *my* daddy," Fritzi said.
Stella and Daphne roared with laughter. Fritzi started laughing, too. Daphne made a little high-pitched squeal and slapped her leg.
"Pipe down in there!", the guard yelled, coming to the door. "It's lights out, ladies!" He reached for the big switch above his head.
Stella and Daphne, covering their mouths to stifle the noise, flopped down on their bunks and tittered as silently as possible. Fritzi crushed out the cigarette in the remnants of her evening stew and pushed the steel bowl through the slot in the bars from whence it came. She lay back down on her bunk as the cell block went dark.
"Nighty-nite, Fritz. Sweet dreams."
"Nighty-nite, Daphne. Night, Stel."
Youngblood Brasket is a storyteller who shares her home, with cats Harmony and Bandon, a rabbit, a field mouse and various creatures of the forest on the Texas Gulf Coast. Her varied background includes freelance work in petrochem, the oil patch, trucking, and construction. Youngblood has also tried her hand as a rigger helper, ironworker, demolition technician, roadie for a Rhythm & Blues band, and as a member of the aerospace industry, where she still works today. She is a regular contributor to the Song & Story Section of Moondance.
Youngblood Brasket's Web Site 2
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