Sara was on her way to Annie’s house. She was listening to DJ Kurt Bishop on her pink transistor radio, holding it to her ear to hear it better as the cars and buses roared past her on Long Street. Sara hated that it was pink, she asked for a blue one, but knew better than to say something negative about it to Shelia. Better to be pink then to have it taken back for being an “ungrateful brat.”

Sara and Annie had made plans to walk to Franklin Park and hang out. It was Saturday and the day was sunny and bright, so it would be packed with people. Annie liked to sit and people watch, as she called it. They would point out a person and then make up stories about who they were and what their lives were like. Annie always made up nice stories. The people were always successful, loved by many and beautiful. Sara’s stories were, what she felt, more realistic. The people had problems, they suffered great tragedies and harm and sometimes, to make it really interesting, they knocked people off, you know, murder.

The Jackson Five were singing ABC on WVKO AM, the only black radio station that Sara listened to whenever she got the chance. When Shelia came home from work, Sara had to turn the radio in the living room to a jazz station because Shelia loved jazz and could care less about R & B and Pop music. She didn’t hate it but felt that the girls needed to know more about music than learning about their ABCs, because life wasn’t as easy as 1 2 3 and it sure wasn’t as simple as do-re-mi.

Sara sung along, off key, but with gusto. As she sung the last verse, she reached Annie’s front porch. Annie lived in a brick half-a double with her mother. Annie was real funny acting about her father. About her family period. She never wanted to answer any questions about them and changed the subject, so Sara took the hint and stopped asking about them. She didn’t like talking about her crazy family either. Annie, as usual, was sitting on the porch waiting on Sara and jumped up, running down the steps to meet her. Sara had never been inside the front door. She sat on the porch steps with Annie at times but was never invited into the house.

Sara got a look at the front room once when Annie wasn’t on the porch waiting for her. The front door was open, and Sara saw through the screen door the plastic covered couch and love seat. The two lamps that sat on dark brown matching end tables were large and old fashioned, and the beige lamp shades were also covered in plastic. There were heavy dark green curtains that matched the carpet. The curtains were pulled closed so no sunlight could enter the dark plastic bubble. There was no television, but a large old radio was on one of the end tables. Sara was always puzzled about how Annie could be such a glowing shining person yet live in such a dreary dark environment. She wondered what her bedroom looked like, surely it was more cheerful than the living room. If people actually lived in it, because the plastic alone would keep Sara from wanting to sit in the room for more than a couple of minutes.

“What’s up?” Annie greeted Sara.

“Jackson Five! And now the Temptations singing just my imagination, once again, running away with me.” Sara sang.

“You know you can’t sing, let the radio play girl.” 

They both laughed and started singing the song together as they walked to the park. Annie in tune and Sara still off. They got to one of their favorite spots at the park. A clear view of the park traffic and people that provided shade from the two large trees they sat in between. Sometimes, others would be there and then they would have to walk around until they found a nice place for people watching in the shade. Today, it was all clear for them to sit and enjoy the view. Sara and Annie did the usual thing. Point at and make up stories about people. After about fifteen minutes of this, Sara decided to ask Annie something that had been bothering her.

“Annie, how come you got so mad when we was talking about Smooth’s death the other day?”

Annie’s face went from smiling to frowning. She didn’t answer right away, and Sara knew to not repeat the question but to give Annie time to answer. Annie never answered anything that bothered her quickly. Sometimes she didn’t answer at all.

“Who wants to talk about death, Sara?”

“No, it wasn’t that. You was mad, why? Smooth do something to you? I didn’t know you knew him.”

“You don’t have to know a person to hear about a person.”

“And what did you hear that made you so mad? You said, ‘That’s what he gets,’ what that mean?”

“Why you care so much about Smooth?”

“I don’t.”

“Then why you care ‘cause I said he got what he deserved?”

“I’m just asking about you! I don’t give a damn about him!”

“I don’t give a shit about him either!” Annie raised her voice at Sara, jumped up and started walking away.

“Hey, what’s up with you? Where you going? Now you getting mad at me!” Sara jumped up and ran after Annie, really concerned now because Annie didn’t curse, that was Sara’s department.

Annie didn’t answer her, just kept walking. Sara stopped asking questions and walked in silence beside her, finally turning her radio back on. This time it was playing The Back Stabbers by the O’Jays. Sara started singing off key with the song, and began joshing with Annie, until Annie finally started laughing and joined in singing with her. Everything was cool again. Sara still didn’t know what was up with Smooth and Annie, and Annie didn’t know that Sara was present when he was killed. Sara thought it was better to keep it that way.