The windshield wipers of my 96 Explorer, jet black, froze to the windshield. I wore a black hat, black thermal, and a black hoodie at the request of my cousin. “No red, no blue, and call me when you hit Spear and Colfax” she told me as I warmed up with the heater blasting. The room was cloudy and her eyes were dazed like she was living in a bad dream. She was noticeably high and her apartment was filthy. I stepped on someone’s stuffed animal. It was a brown bear with a missing eye. I had one just like it when I was a kid. It was just after eleven. My cousin grabbed a beer out of the fridge and asked if I wanted one. “No thanks”. I was still hung over from the night before. “What are you… a cop,” Nissi asked breaking up the tension in the room.
Me: Thank you for answering some questions. I have heard a little bit about you. If at any point you’re uncomfortable answering some of my dumb ass questions, please feel free to stop me.
N: Don’t worry, that shit won’t be a problem.
Me: I’m sure it won’t. How old were you when you met K.C.?
N:I was fifteen and he was seventeen. We went to the same high school in Chicago. We both lived in Robert Taylor after his mom and him moved from Minneapolis. I knew his uncle. We went to the same elementary, middle, and high school.
Me: Did you guys start dating initially?
N: Fuck no. He was a pain in the ass. My mom told me to stay away from him. I thought she would eventually learn to love him too.
Now I was uncomfortable. I sat staring into the depths of her large, black pupils. I knew what she was thinking and I could tell she knew what I was thinking.
Me: If you don’t want to answer my next questions, just remember you don’t have to.
N: Let me guess, how was K.C. murdered? I was pregnant at the time. He knew it and I think that made him more interested in making money for us. His late nights got later and the early mornings began coming more frequently.
Nissi pulled out a Marlboro Red, lit it and continued talking in between wheezing breaths.
N: There was a fat black cop and a skinny tall white one knocking on my door early one morning. When I answered, the white cop turned his head as if he couldn’t bear the thought of what was coming next. He must have been a first year officer or something. “Mrs. #####, we found K.C. ####### this morning. He was found in the back of a car in Jersey.”
A tear dripped down the left side of her face. I was filled with sorrow at the thought of how she was feeling.
N: Some think it was a drug deal that had gone badly. Before I got pregnant I found out he had been cheating on me. I never said anything to him. If I knew, some of the old residents of Robert Taylor knew. They weren’t ones to take something like that lightly.
Me: I am very sorry, although that probably means nothing.
N: Your right it doesn’t. He was sawed into several pieces. They dismembered his face and could only be identified by dental records. My son was born a month and a half later. His name is K.C. He is a quiet kid.
I noticed a R.I.P. tattoo on Nissi’s right hand. It was shaking now and her eyes were more hallow and painful than they had been when I arrived. A small sliver of light slashed through the dark room. Smoke formed clouds between us.
Me: Have you told Jr. about what happened?
N: Yeah, I told him we would have gone to Fathers Day bbq’s at his gravesite but his body was so slashed up, I had to cremate him and set him on our fireplace mantle.
She was rightfully put off by the question. If nothing else this interview would help me compartmentalize the situation and find that scary frame of mind that was necessary to write in. The interview tailed off and I ended it with a Thank you. I think about Nissi a lot these days.