From the Vault

Historical Reporter (image)

Mother Knows Best (image)

Sports Reporter (image)

Surfing is Surfing:
an essay on Grant Shilling

by Clayton Webb

We Don't Care What You Say

Growth Rings

Babes in the Woods

Exile off Main Street

Kids & Play & Adults

Squeegee People, Vulture Culture & Cars

Survival of the Fittest

True Crimes

Copper Ann

Bodysurfing, Travel & the Dead

Haunted Houses

Rock & Roll Road Kill, Kill, Kill!

Storage Locker


Kids & Play & Adults
by Grant Shilling

A few weeks ago I took my friends Dodge, Boris, Natasha, and Anya to play in the park at Brittania. We go there quite often and the kids run around and I watch and enjoy and help out. Naturally there are a lot of other kids there and this creates a whole lot of energy and sometimes you have to decide when to mediate etc.
I usually leave the kids to it--unless they ask for help. This visit to the park was like most others until I saw a girl, Nattie on the ground. She was moaning, “Oh, oh” and I couldn’t tell if this was a passing “Oh,oh,” directed to a sibling or friend who’d done her a slight--no harm, or a true cry of pain. She lay there moaning for about five seconds ( hard to tell ) and I walked up to her where she lay beside a slide. She held her wrist. It was broken--no doubt--at an inhuman angle to the forearm.

I knelt down beside her and put my hand on her good arm; “ It’s OK sweetie,” I stroked her arm. “You broke your wrist and we’ll get it fixed.”

Her eyes were damp with pain and she looked dry and wasted. Rodney, who had been sitting with me watching his daughter, came over. He knelt down and concluded the same thing--the wrist was broken. The frantic activity of children continued around us. Only Rodney and I attended to Nattie.

“Can you get up?” Getting up always seems like proof of something ( the first step to OK).

Nattie looked like a Colt with a broken limb. Young, graceful, athletic. Fresh and wounded. The accident was like damage to a great beauty and this was heightened by her strong self contained quiet.

I slipped my hand under her ribs and my hand on the bicep of her now--‘good arm’--I pulled her up like the base of a pole balanced against the ground. And walked and talked her over to the bench.

We sat down and Rodney put an arm around her. “You are being such a good girl.” I had completely forgotten about Dodge, Boris, Natasha, and Anya who were buzzin’ about--somewhere.

“Who are you here with?”

“My sister.”

“Is this your sister?” A yes nod. “Hi,” I said to a girl about three. “What’s your name?”


Alicia was warm and fascinated with the attention and activity.

“Where is your mom, Alicia?”

“My mom’s at work.”


She just shook her head.

“Where does your mom work?”

“ At Good and Plenty.”

I looked at Rodney and told him I’d make a phone call. But first I got a bucket of water and tried to put her wrist in it.

It wouldn’t fit. It didn’t help. But I wanted to pretend it did anyhow. Nattie’s owws were getting louder.

I ran off to the San Marco Bakery and sweatily, hurriedly asked for the phone and phone book--someone was hurt, I needed to make a call. A cool panic had taken over me but I still was focused. I found the number of Good and Plenty and dialed.

“Is June there?”

“No June is out.”

“…Well I am with her daughter and she has broken her wrist playing at the park.”

“ How old is the girl?”

“ About 10 or 12 ?”

“ What’s her name?”

For some reason I drew a blank,” I can’t remember.”

“I’m June. I thought you were somebody else.”

“June, could you come to the park?”

“Could you bring her here?”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea. I don’t have a car and she’s in a bit of shock.”

“Just a minute.” I heard the sound of a room, a stereo, chairs shuffling, a man’s voice and then the breath of June on the phone: “ My boss will pick her up. You’re at Brittania?”

“Yes. Thank you.”


I hung up and headed back to the park where a crowd had gathered around Nattie. Rodney was talking to her. Her pain had obviously increased. I felt helpless and at the same time so admired Nattie’s strength and her sister’s friendliness.

I talked to Alicia about the car her mom’s boss drove. What did it look like? “It’s brown.”

Alright, we’d look for a brown car. Rodney was talking about how he wished he knew more first aid and I mentioned that ice seemed to be the best thing. “Oh yeah. So you know something.”

“Just a bit.”

About this time the boss showed up. A black man with a bald head and two shiny gold teeth. Emotionless, and perhaps a bit put out. “Oh Nattie you broke your wrist.”

She nodded. With Rodney’s help she got up. Some wide-eyed kids stepped back to break the circle around us. Alicia skips in front toward the car and the boss puts his arm around Nattie, his back to us and walks to the car.

“Bye Nattie.”

She just nodded to herself.

Rodney and I looked at each other and blew out some air. Then I began to look for the kids.

About a week later I was out walking on Commercial when I saw the boss. I decided to approach. “I have to ask you, how is Nattie?”

“Oh you are the good man who helped out Nattie. Her mother wants to talk to you…”

“ Uh huh. Is Nattie’s wrist broken?”

“Yes. Her mother wants to talk to you. Something about suing the city. She needs a report.”

“Really. I thought she wanted to thank me.”

“Oh yeah, that too.” He said beginning to get it. “ I don’t know what she expects to get from the city…”

“Well, I don’t know. But I’m not going to help her. I already have.”

And this is my report.

Terminal City, June 20 –26, 1996