It’s a little before six in Denver on a Thursday morning in April. People are starting their cars, including a diesel truck Disability Dave next door has to let idle for twenty minutes. Starlings and crows squawk in the still-bare branches. Across the street, Gerda’s husband, Crackhead Willie, is coming home from his shift at the truck stop. Next to them, the Johnson twins play hip-hop as they get ready for school. Park Hill is east of downtown, a mix of black and white, though not many Hispanics, and the houses are run-down, neglected because of its proximity to the now-defunct Stapleton Airport. Why fix up a house that could be obliterated by an airplane?
But the airport moved thirty miles east and north onto the prairie, and now Park Hill is quiet, relatively. I have been up for an hour, already measuring, mixing, kneading dough. An aroma of cinnamon and raisins fills my kitchen. My house is brick-painted-beige, one story. The roof is flat. In back, the cement patio is fraying at the edges, and there’s a chain-link Elcar fence sagging from its posts. I was nineteen and pregnant when Luther moved me in here fifteen years ago. I don’t remember who was President or what was happening in Denver at the time. Luther was a Fed-Ex driver, and I was a maid in the Excelsior, a hundred-room airport hotel.
Everything about the house was shabby—peeling paint under the eaves, split wood around the doors, one filthy bathroom no amount of pilfered, industrial-strength cleanser could make sanitary. Every interior wall needed patching from where the previous owner had put a fist. But Luther’s been gone now eight years, and I am working my way back to sanity.
Continued in Confrontation 119, Spring 2016.