From the Vault
Historical Reporter (image)
Mother Knows Best (image)
Sports Reporter (image)
Surfing is Surfing:
an essay on Grant Shilling
by Clayton Webb
Don't Care What You Say
in the Woods
off Main Street
& Play & Adults
People, Vulture Culture & Cars
of the Fittest
Travel & the Dead
& Roll Road Kill, Kill, Kill!
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
“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?”
“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.
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