Ruthie Mae stared across the street at the State Fair of Texas. She lived close enough to see and smell the smoke when Big Tex had burned to a crisp. Some days she imagined her husband was still around, coercing her to ride on the Ferris wheel, trying to recapture their youth. She shook off the nostalgia and picked up the lunch she had packed for her daughter, Shontaye. Every Monday through Thursday for over a year now, she fixed a chicken sandwich, mixed salad, potato chips, cookie, and orange juice and stuffed it in her soft-sided cooler. Dialysis made Shontaye so weak that she needed to eat and take a short nap before she returned to her job training people at the gym. “Whipping them into shape,” she’d said.
Her phone rang as she headed toward the front door. Telemarketers. But wait, maybe it was Shontaye. Ruthie Mae knew she was running an errand with one of the trainers before meeting her at dialysis.
“Mom,” Shontaye whispered. “Don’t panic. Just listen.” Ruthie Mae pushed the speaker button and eased down onto the brown leather recliner that had belonged to her husband before he passed away. “Call my parole officer and tell her I was riding in the car with another felon when the police pulled us over. It’s a parole violation.”
Ruthie Mae interrupted her. “Lordy, Jesus.”
“Mom, listen. They’re going to hold me. My P.O. can tell you what to do. I’m at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, the Dallas County Jail.” Ruthie Mae picked up the pencil from the end table and wrote Dallas County Jail onto the calendar. “Mom. You there?”
She remembered years ago when Shontaye had called and said she was in jail. That day she handed the phone to her husband to let him handle it.
“I didn’t know he was a felon,” Shontaye said.Read More