chapter  3
16 Pages

Games

Philip’s in-laws, the Lewises, lived in a three story wooden structure across the street from Shawneequa’s apartment building. It was the lone survivor of the original homes that once dotted Union Avenue, in the present day an architectural anachronism. You could always spot visitors to the neighborhood as they would invariably stop and stare at the little gray clapboard house sandwiched in between the dingy brick and masonry apartment buildings. Worn wooden steps led up to the entry door, which boasted carved detail and beveled glass. The Lewis family occupied the upper floor. Mrs. Lewis and her children all attended Elder Lawson’s evangelical church and were members of the choir. June, the youngest daughter, had a particularly lovely voice. Elder Lawson was known as the burying preacher and was always on call for the family of a departed transgressor in need of that special push from this side of eternity. If Elder Lawson’s ministrations could not intercede with the almighty in the face of a damning earthly existence, there was indeed no hope for an afterlife far removed from hell’s fires. “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, it behooves us not to speak ill of the rest of us. Do I hear an Amen?” Elder Lawson plucked the petals from a white rose and dropped them on the closed eyelids in the casket as the choir moved to the next sustained chord of the somber funeral vocalise and amens resounded around the congregation. June’s pure ringing soprano sounded the opening call and response. June was not quite sure about singing with me for a dance concert; so we went to speak to Mother Lewis. Mrs. Lewis was in the kitchen where the wonderful smell of greens cooking in pot liquor on the stove top mingled with the scent of the pressing comb resting in a neighboring burner where flames from the gas jet curled about the glowing tongs. With a practiced economy of movement, Mother Lewis made neat parallel parts in the crown of her customer’s head and covered the separated clump of hair with grease in preparation for and in protection from contact with the searing comb. “Donald, find yourself a chair. China, get Uncle Donald something cold to drink.” “A dance about children playing. That’s nice. I use to like to play Little Sally Water myself. Oh, I could play that for hours.” June lasted through the first performances of Games at the Charles Weidman Studio Theatre but soon had her fill of show business and declined participation in further

performances. “I can’t be spending all my little allowance on carfare, riding the subways downtown to go to no rehearsals.”