A short passage from the historical novel "Like Litter in the Wind."
As she left the squad room which had held her captive for so many hours, on her way through the thin corridor housing a few weary cops in their cubicles, she saw a waste paper basket protruding into her path. Without even thinking, just out of pure anger and frustration Dakota Swinton kicked that can violently out her way. The noise alone jarred the attention of the other assembled policemen.
Once leaving that precinct, Dakota felt completely exhausted. Her body had grown so weary that every part of her ached from fatigue. Her mind felt shaken, thrown into some dark and sociopath alley—where her skull would lay, aching in its bony cage and riddled by terrifying thoughts.
She just wanted to crawl into bed, bury her head beneath the sheets, to fold her body into a fetal position and weep. She wanted to pray that when she awakened, this maddening nightmare would be over and done. It had been almost more than she could stomach just to endure that extended interrogation. Now she had to drag herself home, alone, inside that relentless storm. The clamor of the weather surrounded her with the furor of lightning and the clashing of elements at war in a fight for attention.
She’d tried in vain to hail a taxi, but none would stop. And so, she kept walking. She was walking inside that storm, if only to keep sane.
The rain on her skin felt as if the sky was spitting hailstones at her. The high soprano winds moaned in that haunting way it sounded whenever angels cried. The thunder became like a bounding chorus of howls and rumbles and still that disharmony of cop voices echoed in her mind. This was clearly one of those terrible days, perhaps one of the worst in her life. It was a time and a season that truly tried any mother’s soul.
She weighed along a windswept West 110th Street wondering if people, even those who didn’t know her, would look in her direction and recognize her story. Could they see and read it now? Was it in her face or did it reflect some place inside her eyes? Her irises were hurting because she’d long denied them the privilege or the permission to cry. Her eyes momentarily traced the sky, as if she were expecting to find someplace inside the clouds, the crying windswept face of God.
The Creator was otherwise engaged.
As they always had, people glanced at her in passing. Some did so because she was quite beautiful and a most striking woman. They’d told her this with a a slow, approving smile. She had a face and figure that could stop some people dead in their tracks. Perhaps it was the mesmerizing sable-colored eyes and the soulful gaze which often appeared inside them, especially in those times when she wanted to cry. When people looked at her, they undoubtedly noticed the full and sensuous lips which were, by turns, sometimes alluring and then determinedly matter-of-fact. Her high rattlesnake cheekbones projected a slightly aloof quality. Dakota Swinton wasn’t really so aloof, but she didn’t care if others thought her to be. No matter how attractive some found her physically, she was, first and foremost, a resilient Black Woman, in her own selfish element: frank and stridently outspoken, and she didn’t make a habit of suffering fools too gladly.
While walking though the streets of Harlem, she tried to wear her bravest face. That day, it seemed frozen that way as if bravery were a mask she was afraid to forsake. As the uptown parade bopped forth and drifted by her, there were times when she would almost forget her celebrity status. Yet, people would look at her curiously, having seen her work, and having admired her for it. But even those glances from the strangers felt somehow... different now. She turned to look behind her. She saw a few people trailing her in the rain. She wondered if those people were following her. For a moment, one insane and unbalanced moment, she imagined those people would stone her.
As Dakota walked and tried to keep her head held Swinton-high, she wondered if God was now ashamed of her—not for her past, but for her present. She wondered if something in her stride, her carriage, her posture or in her back silently told the others of this crime. She pondered whether that crowd rushing, shifting and sliding past her thought that she was a corrupt human being now.
With each step, she longed for enough strength just to reach her building. All she wanted to do right now was just to get home, just to shake off the rain, just to cover her ears and scream LOUD enough to drown out the sound of Harlem.
She opened her door slowly and just stood there, gazing into the room. Aside from the careless disarray the cops had left behind, beyond the toppled and trampled furnishings, there was something unfamiliar within the walls and the floorboards of her home now.
She thought she’d known the people who had lived there quite well. They were, after all, her family. But family is often just a word for disparate souls who happen to share the same bloodline.
The reality was beginning to dawn upon her that they’d been nothing more than dwellers within the same space at the same time. As family, they knew each other’s moods, strengths, and weaknesses. She knew the reckless dance of their tantrums, but even she could not always decipher the odor of their secrets.
There was a sad and pronounced odor to the room behind that door now. What was it exactly? Was it the pitiful stick of a loveless home?
The darkest thoughts flew like sightless birds inside the cage of her mind:
I wonder if he still believes in God. If he does, did he bother to think that this awful, unholy thing he’s done is making God cry? I truly do believe that God cried today.
He must’ve looked down upon this earth and saw the way we’ve kept Him out of our lives. He’s seen how little we cared about each other and how we rob, hurt and... kill each other. I see how it’s storming... raging outside. I have to believe it’s Our Father crying. And I swear, by all that’s inside me, I never thought someone I knew... someone I raised and taught, and loved with all my heart, could ever make God cry.