Friday, May 15, 2009

Ghost, Part 3

Ghost, Part 1
Ghost, Part 2

Ghost's dad, Danny, was a small, wiry man with darkened, weathered skin from rough living and hair that looked like it had never seen a brush. He was rarely clean-shaven. I know he must have shaved at some point, because he always seemed to sport razor stubble, but apparently, I always missed that day of the week.

He'd clearly used a lot of drugs in his lifetime, and they'd unwired his brain. That's the clearest way I can explain it. He was there in body, but not in mind or soul.

His involvement with Ghost was minimal. Danny provided a place to live (in a minimalist sense), some clothes, and occasional fast food. That was the extent of his parenting. Ghost started washing his own clothes in elementary school. He never went to the doctor. He bought and cooked his own food. Ghost's mom wasn't around. She'd been hospitalized for schizophrenia years before and no one really knew where she was. So, that was Ghost's home life, in a nutshell.

Home was a not very nice place to lay your head and nothing more.

I do remember sitting on his couch, with bullet holes clearly delineated in some pictures in the wall above me, and the smell of nicotine so deeply ingrained in the house that I thought the smell would cling to me the rest of the week.

The first conversation with Danny went something like this:

"I'm really worried about Ghost."


(an atypically low-key response from a guy who'd just had his house shot up in a drive-by shooting the night before)

"Yeah. Clearly, he's being targeted by QVO. Do you have any idea why QVO would want to shoot up your house?"

"Not really."

"Well, y'all should be careful. At least put the bookcase in front of the window or something. And you know, maybe you could keep Denny from hanging out with Diamond Street so much in your front yard."

"I don't know if I could do that."

It's hard to imagine that there are parents out there who aren't completely wigging about having bullets fired into their living room at 2 a.m., but there are. There are parents out there who have pumped so many substances into their bodies: heroin, crack, nicotine, that they are barely functional.

That was Ghost's dad.

A few months later, his house was shot up again.

This time, our conversation was conducted through a screen door.

"I'm really worried about you and your son."


"At this point, it isn't IF he's going to get shot, but when."


"Do you think you could keep him home more? Or maybe keep the gang members from hanging out in your front yard?"

"I dunno."


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