February 14, 2007: Kareoke

I left one tape recorder and my camera at the hotel room so that I would not lose them should I get mugged tonight.

I arrived at 7:15 PM. Sherri saw me walking toward her and a smile spread across her face. The others stopped to look. I heard her say: “I told you he’d come. I told you he’d come.” When I got to her she kissed my cheeks and my hands as she so frequently did. Jamacus was there, as was Carroll and the bald young man that sang to her earlier that day. It occurred to me that perhaps Sherri refused to reveal the identity of the person who stabbed her the night before for fear that this boy with the tattooed tear-drop of a killer, this boy who serenaded her would make good on his threat to slaughter anyone that hurt her. I saw him a few days later threaten a man who sat on Sherri’s spot and would not leave; he gave up the spot and apologized like a man pleading for his life.

We hung around Sherri’s until nearly 8:00 PM. She and the others were in a festive mood and smoked a lot of crack in between dodging police in cars and low-flying helicopters that hovered with searchlights, and plain-clothes police disguised as homeless people – spotters. Sherri could spot the spotters from a mile away. She taught me how to see them and we often made a game of spotting the spotters.

Sherri wanted one last hit before we left for Karaoke at the church down the street. A young man I had never seen before handed her his still-smoldering pipe. Sherri took a deep drag, took the pipe from her still-bruised lips and looked at it with eyes that seemed on fire, then she angrily threw the glass pipe onto the pavement so that it shattered into a hundred pieces. She screamed at the man for giving her a pipe with nothing left but smoke. She stood up, threw on her hooded black overcoat and took off down the street; Jamacus and I followed hastily.

Before we reached the church at the corner of 6th and San Pedro Sherri had calmed down enough to hook an arm in mine; I led her to the basement of the church where karaoke was already underway.