I really wasn't wanting to post this and have been using the baby as an excuse not to write about what happened on Halloween this year. We didn't get very many trick or treaters--don't know if it was the weather or the economy. We did get a couple of knocks on the door from the Chicago Police Department. They were looking for Joey and Picasso. Apparently the boys had been seen on Joey's front porch with spray cans and then there was "a disturbance" as one of the cops put it.
The first cop knock was a male officer asking if anyone lived in the house next door. No wonder they asked. There's broken glass all over the front yard and graffiti on the front stoop. ("He tagged his own house!" Jay-Z's aunt said to me months ago, utterly shocked.) The living room window is broken and hasn't been repaired in months. It's going to be a cold winter in there--if they are still there. People have been by to serve foreclosure papers.
I told the officer, yes, people do live there and gave their last name and a few other things. I had mixed feelings about this. It was an interesting insight into the culture of "don't snitch"--it's not just the fear that someone will retaliate, but the knowledge that people you know and care about are wanted by the police. Even if you know they are a menace, it's not fun to set the cops on people you know.
Then another officer, female, came to the door thinking it was a two-flat and looking for the other occupants. I explained only one family lives here. She admired the baby. I offered her candy; she laughed and declined.
Later, Picasso's mom came to the door. Some mail for me had come to her house by mistake, plus she wanted me to interpret for her so she would understand what the police were saying. I came back out. The cops, at least one of whom had seen me before, were surprised I came out on her behalf. "And who are you?"
"I'm her neighbor and friend," I said. "I speak some Spanish, so I can help you talk with her."
They told her she needed to watch her son more carefully. I told her they said that and added, "you know." I know she knows. Picasso is 15 years old, and she is working. I don't know how often he sees his dad these days. She does her best to keep a leash on him. She already lost an older son to this kind of madness. The cops were just useless.
She wanted to know what would happen to Picasso. "He'll be out of the car in a minute," one of the officers said. I said it again in Spanish. That was probably the only helpful thing that happened out there.
I called Joey's dad that night and told him if he didn't get his truck off my parking pad I was going to have someone else do it the next day. I had heard that people are out to get Joey. A couple of weeks ago, someone threw a brick at the truck and broke the windshield. More recently, someone broke into it and took out the radio. I had been bugging Joey's dad for months about moving his truck--he hasn't paid rent on the space in over a year--to no avail. Until Halloween, when I said, "The cops were after your son today. People here tell me they think this is his house because your truck is on the pad. I have a little one now and I'm afraid."
The next afternoon Joey, his dad, Dawn and Picasso all came to get the truck. "I still want to know who your teachers are," I said to Picasso.
"OK," he said.
Haven't seen him since.