The War in Baltimore
She asked if Id heard of the War in Baltimore. I said No.
She said Are you serious, Mister? Thats messed up.
That war was likea really big deal. Without looking up
from my grading, I said Tell me about it. She said OK, its like this:
People had said that we shouldnt have gone there because
Baltimore was like, mad dangerous or whatever.
I said Dangerous how? Bushwick is dangerous. She said No, Mister.
Like, people were for real fighting. Not over no stupid shit
like these kids here. My uncles friend was one of the people
they had fight there. Hes all addicted to drugs now, though.
He comes around sometimes still, but its kinda sad.
I said How old is your uncles friend? She said I dont know, Mister.
Mad old. Thats not the point. I said Fine. What was this war about?
She said OK, its like this:
People had said that Baltimore might take over the world
with how they thought, or whatever. I asked her if she ever watched
The Wire on TV. She said Mister, Im trying to tell you this story.
What are you talking about right now? I said Never mind.
She continued: Like, people were shook, you know? Other countries
was up there toothey thought the same things as we did.
I asked her if she was sure the war she was talking about happened
in Baltimore. She frowned, squinted, and tried to revisit Mr. Peils lesson
in her head. Maybe not, she agreed. She tried to fill her mouth
with a few different sounds, tested each one quietly
with a breathy whisper to herself. Maybe Valtimore.
Maybe Valitmann. I looked up from my grading. Do you mean Vietnam?
She smiled. Thats it! Viet Mann. So you DO know what Im talking about.
I told her that yes, I knew about it, but that Baltimore was a very,
very long way from Vietnam. She said Oh and dropped her eyes
to the floor. She opened her chocolate milk in silence.
After a few moments, she grew curious again: So where is Baltimore?
I said About three hours south of here. There is a train from Penn Station.
Her eyes became Christmas morning.
Mister Falkner. Do you think we could go there?