His mother ran into the room and scooped him up. She was saying words to him that he couldn’t hear or understand. He needed to get away from the window, and he couldn’t do that with her holding him. He fought and kicked to get away, tried to make her understand. All that would come out was “Monster! Monster!” Then there was a knock, a banging, on the door, and he was sure that it was the monster coming to get him, and he broke free and ran to his bedroom and hid in the closet.
He hoped his mother would get away, too. He wanted to go make her run away, but he was too scared. He realized he’d peed his pants. He could hear the front door opening and tried to scream at her to run away, tried to go to her to make her stop, but he couldn’t get himself to move. He sat huddled as far back in the closet as he could get himself, hoping the monster couldn’t smell the pee on him or hear him breathing.
There were no screams. No sounds of a monster attacking his mom. But he knew what he’d seen, and he knew the monster had seen him, too.
Then there were sounds of an argument. Someone, a man, accusing his mom of beating her child. That must mean him. His closet door opened, and there was his mother staring down at him. “Jeremiah, I need you to come tell the mailman that I wasn’t hitting you.”
He stared at her. The words didn’t make any sense to him. His mom had never hit him. Where was the monster?
“Is the monster gone?”
“There’s no monster, Jeremiah. I need you to come with me. Come tell the man.”
She leaned down to pick him up. He let her before he remembered his wet pants, then he felt bad and ashamed, like a baby, because he was getting pee all over his mother. She carried him out to the living room where the mailman was standing in the doorway on his phone talking to someone. His mother nearly dropped him.
“What are you doing?” She was yelling at the man.
“Look, lady, I know what it sounds like when someone is beating their kid. I’ve called the police.”
“Get out! Get out of my house!”
But it was too late. The police came. He heard the man telling the police about how his mom had been beating him, about how everyone knew about black women and how they beat their kids and, if you didn’t watch them, about how they would beat everyone’s kids, especially white kids. What was she even doing in this neighborhood, this white neighborhood where niggers didn’t belong. It made him feel ashamed for being black, like he didn’t belong in the world and like he had done something wrong by being born this way. No wonder the white boys wouldn’t play with him.
A policeman took him into another room to talk to him. It made him uncomfortable, this big white man in the blue uniform taking him away from his mother. Maybe it was because the small white man in the lighter blue uniform was saying such bad things, but he wanted to be with his mom, wanted her to hold him, keep him safe from the monster and from the mean mailman.
“Can you answer some questions for me?”
He stared blankly at the policeman for a moment then nodded his head.
“Was your mother hitting you?”
He shook his head no.
“Why were you screaming?”
He hung his head not wanting to say. He didn’t think anyone would believe him.
The man reached out and gently lifted his head up to look into his eyes, “I need you to tell me why you were screaming and why you were calling your mother a monster.”
He tried to answer, but all that came out was a hoarse whisper, “The monster was on the sidewalk.”
“I saw a monster on the sidewalk.”
The policeman didn’t believe him about the monster. He knew the policeman didn’t because he kept going back to asking him questions about whether his mother hit him, and the policeman didn’t seem to believe him when he told the man that his mother had never hit him because he kept asking the question over and over again.
Eventually, the policeman left the room after looking him over for bruises. He wasn’t sure why the man wanted to see if he had bruises. He followed after.
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