The apartment building was completely quiet. The college kids were gone between summer and fall session. Martin was sitting in the silent living room, lights out, edging up the volume on the remote.
His sister, from the waist up, looked at him from the screen. Her voice in his living room like any other TV reporter, the business suit a little too serious. This did not coincide with his usual opinion on her wardrobe.
"No shooting deaths in twenty-five days." Against a street scene backdrop, sort of--shady trees and a grassless foot-trodden lot, people in lawn chairs, a housing project in the peak of summer. And a crowd of black faces. "We'll be back right after this, with tonight's installment of Peace In the Hood."
Martin muted the commercial, picked up the glass and sipped slowly, warmly. The quietness was deafening.
When Kelly came back he observed the remarkable disjunction of a segment taped during midday played at ten pm.
"Crips and Bloods rapping," Kelly enunciated clearly, "using words instead of bullets." Not rappin', Martin noted, thank God.
Interviews: straight face saying shootin's no good. We all tired of it. Another black face beside in a chair, looking off in obvious agreement. A woman in the middle standing between them, in background, um-hmm!!
All's people really wants is to be able to walk down the street an' say hey to their friends without havin' to hit the dirt, know what I'm saying'.
At's right, at's right--the sitting companion.
Kelly repeats the story of warring gang factions brought together in neutral territory--Reverend Sarah's church in fact--in an event modeled on the Northern Ireland talks, the Reverend doctor's own idea.
Nodding right along, the woman in the picture sways while standing, as if hearing distant music--suddenly she breaks into brief laughter and runs off very quickly, in that black-girl manner of ducking head and chest and flinging arms up.
Kelly does not comment on the sudden absence, nor does the anchor in the followup live onset chat with her. The oddity is the only real thing in the piece.
Martin calls Gayle in the mixer's booth--did you see that?
In that interview--the girl couldn't keep a straight face. It's obvious.
Gayle told the technician to rewind the tape. What girl--the one in the tanktop and shorts and old-style afro?
I can't believe you ran that. Any black person who watched that is laughing his head off right now.
She just had to go somewhere. Maybe a child calling her. That's all I see.
You're missing it completely.
Martin. You're starting to see things only you can see.
I can't believe this! Ask one of the crew--anybody. I'm not making this up. I can't be!
You're drinking, right?
I'm moving. I've been in this place too long.
If you catch me in a better mood sometime, when you're not having visions, say--I've got a whole extra room at the house.
I was thinking more like the Castle.
Thought you said it was a firetrap when I suggested it?
Hey, call you back when the show's over--I know you're busy, big production decisions to make.
All you have to do is add a phone line.
We'll talk about it later. Bye. He took the remote and eagerly aborted the sportscast.
Martin knew what he saw.