this post is similar to a previous post called Staircase on Southern Belle
I grew up in government housing, perhaps a small town white version of the hood. I had lots of friends there, many great memories and more than a few that aren't as good. It seemed like most of the trouble came from our house, the reality is, our troubles were were just the more visible kind. It wasn't uncommon to wake up to yelling there, sometimes it was the fighting kind like when a young kid pulled a knife on Bob, and they danced through the yards like a poor version of West Side Story. Once we were awoke by our drunk but happy neighbor, he needed everyone to come out and see the fish he caught, we did. Mostly it was just run of the mill domestic "discussions", with an occasional sledge hammer to a truck window.
Arranged in groups of four, perhaps 44 total, the apartments were made of brick with small little yards,each with a clothesline. Holly hocks were everywhere, I think they were the only flowers that grew there.
Our place had three levels and the staircase between the main floor and upstairs bedrooms holds many memories for me. At the end of that staircase was the large gold frame mirror where once a little girl with an unwanted pixie haircut peered in crying.
About half way down you could see into the living room and kitchen, if I sat there the wall still had me hidden from view but I could see everything going on in that mirror, this is how I watched the troubling tv series Sybil. I wasn't allowed to watch it but something inside me really wanted to. I was hiding there in terror watching as Kunta Kinte had his foot chopped off on the series Roots, for years I couldn't sleep with my foot hanging off the edge of the bed. I spent hours there, playing, running and jumping, skipping steps making large leaps to the bottom, but a haunting memory of violence is most associated with the staircase.
She sat in a flannel nightgown on the kitchen chair, brown print wallpaper behind her and a small white porcelain stove to the left. He stood in front of her wearing blue jeans and a white t shirt like he always wore, he had just gotten home from the bar. His dead dark eyes squinting in anger, he was yelling, at only 5 foot 7 or 8, he was small in stature, but he was a scrapper. The little girl watched from the staircase, she saw his fist rear back, his other grabbed the flannel, the knuckles on both turning white. The woman clasped her hands around his and pulled back, the flannel tore and she yelled, "Bob, NO!"
The little girl screamed, every bit of her body seized in fear yet....no sound came out.
To this day I don't remember the sound, I am not sure anything actually came out of my mouth. I don't remember his fist hitting her face, it probably did like so many other times, violence was normal those years, almost daily.
That incident is so vivid yet, so incomplete.
A little girl on a staircase
with orange carpet
in a brick fourplex
with hollyhocks at the rear entrance,
across the street from a park
in a small town
in North Dakota.