Day 18 – Writing 101: Today we’re writing a 1st person narrative from the POV of a 12 year old who lives across the street of a Mrs. Pauley. Her husband died recently and her children are grown and gone. She has no income and has fallen behind financially. Now the landlord is coming to evict her with the help of the police. Let’s see how I do, shall we?
I like the mornings. They’re about the only time a girl can think around here. Just when the sun starts peeking over the tops of apartment buildings and the birds begin their good morning songs. I can sit in the shadows on our stoop and read or watch the world wake. It’s peaceful. Mama says that she thinks I read too much. I hear her talk with her ladies group.
“Don’ know what I’m gonna do wit’ dat girl an’ her books! No boy gonna look at her wit’ her nose in a book.” Mama says. I don’t care. I like books better than boys anyway.
The only other person out in the mornings is usually Mrs. Pauley across the street. She tells me that “Readers make leaders”. She had six boys, and they’re all doctors or engineers or something now. I think she may have a point. She’s not out today. She hasn’t been in a few months. I can understand why.
She and Mr. Pauley were the greatest. They were about the only decent thing left in the neighborhood. Mrs. Pauley always had cupcakes or cookies while Mr. Pauley read stories to all of us kids. I liked his stories. Peter Pan never came to life for me until I heard him read it.
Three months ago, Mr. Pauley died. Mama said that he had a heart attack. I had never thought about it, but he was kind of a big guy. Too many of Mrs. Pauley’s cupcakes and cookies, I guess. Since then, I’ve only seen her a handful of times.
Her boys came for the funeral, and a couple of them asked her to leave this place and go live with them. I guess she said no, because they’re gone and she’s still in there. Mama said she’s been there near forty years. I bet it breaks her heart to see what the place is like now. I’m not sure why she didn’t leave, though I’m kind of glad she didn’t. Guess that’s a little selfish of me.
It’s not a bad neighborhood, most times. A bit noisy and crowded, but everyone treats each other like family. Well, most everyone. Ever since the new landlord took over, some people moved in to the building at the end of the street. Mama calls them trashy. Mrs. Pauley tells me to stay away from them. I it’s a crack house now. I see them go in and come out of there. I usually go inside my house when I see them. They’re all hunched over with their ash grey skin and black teeth.
It’s sad, really. I liked that building. My friend Tanya lived there until her dad took a job in Philly. I miss her, but at least she doesn’t have to see this. There was a beech tree growing in front of the building. I don’t know who took it down or when they did it, but it’s gone. It was a good climbing tree. Mama said girls aren’t supposed to climb trees and get all skinned up, but I didn’t care.
Oh no. They’re here early. I’m not ready yet.
The new Mr. Man pulls up in his Cadillac CTS with a police entourage. I heard they were coming for Mrs. Pauley. Mama said that she hadn’t any income after Mr. Pauley died. It’s only been three months, but the new landlord is already here to kick her out. That’s just cold. She should have gone with one of her sons, but I’m not ready to let her go.
My friends and I came up with a plan. We convinced our teacher Mrs. Pollack to give us the day off from school for this. She even said that she might show, too. We were going to block Mr. Nasty Suit and the police from coming near Mrs. Pauley. We even took up a collection. I just hope its enough.
I look down the street, but still I don’t see any sign of the others. All still snoozing. I guess I have to do this on my own. All right then. Deep breath in, let it out slowly. I can do this.
With the speed that only the 6th grade sprint champion of PS 39 can muster, I bolt for the stoop in front of Mrs. Pauley’s building and I stand my ground.
Landlord just smiles at me. I don’t know his name. I don’t want to know his name. He has four gold caps on his teeth. His hair is slicked back and he smells funny.
“Excuse me little girl.” He tries to brush by me. I step right back in front of him. He laughs. He sounds like a weasel.
He turns to one of the cops. “Can you do something about this?”
The cop steps closer to me and smiles. I know him, he’s pretty nice. He patrols our street most nights. Hate it when nice guys get roped into helping nasty weasels.
“Hey Monica, I’m going to have to ask you to let us in. Official business and all.” The nice cop says.
“Can’t let you do this to Mrs. Pauley.” I say. “Not Mrs. Pauley.”
The weasel sighs. “Little girl, this is business between Mrs. Pauley and me. It’s none of your business.”
“She’s one of us. It is my business.” I fold my arms and let them know I’m not moving. I hear other doors opening. Finally, the others are coming.
Within minutes, the stoop in front of Mrs. Pauley’s is filled with my friends and me. We all stand with our arms folded.
“Now, kids.” The nice cop starts to say.
“Get these brats out of here!” The weasel says. He turns to look at the other cops who are shaking their heads, but not moving toward us.
“Listen!” Landlord turns to us now. “Mrs. Pauley didn’t honor her part of a contract between her and me. It’s that simple. There are consequences when you don’t honor a contract!” His face was purple now. I wanted to laugh, but I wanted to make sure he knew I meant business.
“It’s only been three months, and Mr. Pauley just died. How can you be so heartless?” I ask.
Landlord snorted and looked at me. “I’m a business man. If I made an exception for her, I would have to make one for everybody. I’d be out of business real fast if I did that.”
I hear the door behind me open and Mrs. Pauley’s voice. “What is this?” she asks with her always sweet voice.
“We’re not letting them kick you out, Mrs. Pauley. You’re one of us, and we stick together.” Said Mike from somewhere on my left. I like Mike, but don’t tell him that.
“Oh children. It’s all right. I…they have a right to demand the money I owe them. I…I can’t pay right now…so…”
I have my favorite beaded purse strapped diagonal over my neck and hanging to my side. I reach into it, pull out an envelope, and hand it to her. “Is this enough?”
Mrs. Pauley takes the envelope, but she just stares at it for a moment. I can see the tears already forming in her deep brown eyes. I try to smile at her, but she just stares at the envelope.
“Open it, Mrs. Pauley.” Says another of my friends, but I can’t see who it is.
She does and pulls out a wad of cash. “Oh my.” She says. She looks a bit dazed when she hands the money over to the weasel, and he doesn’t look to happy about it.
“What is this? You can’t…” He splutters.
“It looks like it’s enough, Mr. Bleakman. I’d say it’s enough for a few more months at least.” Says the nice cop.
The other cops smile at us kids and tip their hats. They turn to go back to their cars.
“Wait a minute…I…” Landlord stops and looks at the money. Then he turns to Mrs. Pauley. “Very well. You can stay…for now…”
He still doesn’t look happy, but he huffs and puffs and then turns around back to his car. He opens his door and looks back at us one more time. His face says that he wants to say something more to us, but he doesn’t. He gets in his car, slams his door, and speeds off.
A couple of the cops turn on their sirens and follow him. Even landlords need to obey the speed limit.
My friends and I turn to Mrs. Pauley. “I…I don’t know what to say…thank you children.”
“It’s not just us.” I say. “The whole school helped. Mrs. Pollack was going to be here, but I don’t think she knew it would have been this early.”
Mrs. Pauley smiled and the tears fell free. “Thank you.”
“We love you, Mrs. Pauley.” We all say it. Not all at the same time, but we all do.
“And I love you. All of you.” She gingerly wipes away the tears. “Now, who wants some cookies?”
I love my neighborhood. It may not be the best, but it definitely has the best people.