His phone vibrates. He looks at it. His little girl tries to stay straight on a pink bike. He hardens, hangs onto the pink seat. “Fuck.” Undertoned so his daughter doesn’t hear. She peers at him, waits. She knows riding is over. She holds the handle-bars. They have plastic streamers. “Just gonna be a minute, okay?” He knows he’s hoping. She doesn’t care. “Just a minute” as she puts her feet permanently on the ground. “Don’t got it.” “Don’t know. Comin’ clean wit-chu, man.” “Don’t know whadda tell you. Don’t got it.” “What? The fuck you say to me?” “You threatening my family?” “I’m gonna fuck you up!” “You threatening my kid?” The bike lays on the cement. He spins around desperate for his daughter. She’s down the breezeway talking to a baby palm tree in a huge gray planter. She waits for it to talk back. He softens, turns: “You get your fuckin’ money, okay?” “Soon.” “Not gonna happen, man.” “Don’t got it, plain.” Now he looks scared. It covers him like darkness. He sweeps windows, scours for signs. Turning around and around scanning, hurried, stumbles toward his little girl, touches her head, she looks up at him, she’s happy, points to the palm tree, the gray planter, tugs at his shorts. “The tree wants Daddy.” He says: “Yes, baby. It is.” He keeps his hand on her head. “I’ll get you your fucking money.” The girl digs in the potted palm, tries to climb in. “Tomorrow.” She’s looking for worms saying, “Here, worm, here, wormy-worm.” “Tomorrow. Stay away from my girl.” It’s over. The phone goes into his shorts. He picks up his little girl. He walks past the bike, stops, looks at all the windows, goes back, picks up the bike in his other hand, leaves.
(from I Can See You — A Collection of Neighbors)
In twelve years in Los Angeles, have you ever seen a neighbor?Death Becomes Her
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