A Life Without Consequencesby Stephen Elliott
Paul is a ward of the court continually moved through the Chicago juvenile system. Paul tries to succeed in schools where children aren’t taught to read. He tries to get straight in homes where drug abuse and violence are the norm and find affection in families where the children are constantly being moved and the guardians are paid six dollars an hour to look… See more details below
Paul is a ward of the court continually moved through the Chicago juvenile system. Paul tries to succeed in schools where children aren’t taught to read. He tries to get straight in homes where drug abuse and violence are the norm and find affection in families where the children are constantly being moved and the guardians are paid six dollars an hour to look after kids they have no stake in or relation to.
- MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
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Read an Excerpt
Nancy squints when she smiles. She has thick legs, a short body, a big ass. On the outside she's just another woman in a long skirt. In here she's more.
I stare at her legs when she talks, daydreaming about getting between them, about sliding up between her feet, her knees, until I crawl inside of her completely and go to sleep.
"You have a twitch," she says. I look up. "Right over your nose."
"Sometimes I'm nervous."
"I read your file."
"You must have a lot of time on your hands."
Nancy smiles. I play with the frays on my jeans, hunch my back, touch my knees. I can be like an ogre.
"Your father used to beat you."
"You could say that."
"A few times. It could have been worse. Mostly it was verbal." I look up, she's squinting. Fuck. It's like talking to an absence. "He shaved my head a couple of times. Handcuffed me to a pipe."
Nancy nods. I look at her feet; she's wearing blue nylons. Papers and books stack the wall behind her and next to us a big window with not much to see. Nancy squints. "Do you think you're looking for a mother figure? Someone to replace your mother?"
"My mother didn't do anything but sit on the couch and die for five years. I don't want to replace that." A silence hangs over us for a few minutes. I play with my fingers, stare at my folded hands. Her floor is the same as every floor in the hospital. A calendar hangs over her desk with a picture of a dove with its wings spread. A Bible sits by the window, the same cracked Bible that was in the car.
"You're very intelligent for your age." I shrug my shoulders, think to myself: I'm smarter than you. "You talk like an adult."
"I write poetry," I blurt out. Damn. I look at her ankles, then up to her shoulders.
"Look at me," she says. Her eyes shine, she squints. "I'd like to read your poetry." I shrug my shoulders. Her ankles. Time's up. We stand, shake hands. "We'll talk next week." Her hands her soft.
Meet the Author
Stephen Elliott grew up a ward of the court in various institutions and group homes in Chicago. He earned his Bachelors degree at the University of Illinois and a Masters degree from Northwestern University. He has worked as a stripper, a cabdriver, a bartender, and a law school admissions consultant.
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