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Gimme an A!

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The elderly residents accept the food with apparent satisfaction. As Melodie leaves they stay at the fence, nodding and muttering, watching until the carts are out of sight.

It is dark now; the streetlights cast an eerie amber glow. Cars drive by, and the drivers stop to chat with friends standing astride bicycles. They surround Melodie curiously, and she appears overwhelmed by the attention. No one takes food any longer. Instead they talk to Melodie in Spanish, Creole, and slanged-up English, flirting boldly in the patois of the street. A faint blush rises in Melodie's cheeks.

Finally, with difficulty, she extricates herself from the throng of young men and starts home, but two young Haitians insist on walking her back to the Villa, one pushing the now-empty cart in a gesture of chivalry. She relents to this patriarchal courtesy, and they start back toward the house.

Before long, a police car rolls up and stops. The officer gets out and walks around the car. He is tall and thin, his ramrod-straight posture making him all the more imposing. "What've you got there?" he asks, apparently meaning the cart but eyeing the two young men.

"Yogurt," Melodie answers good-naturedly, explaining the food distribution. "Would you like some?" He declines and asks where she "operates" from. When she tells him, his face registers familiarity. He knows the house on Lake Street, he says cryptically. (Everyone does, Melodie says later, particularly the police.)

Then he pauses, looking at the empty boxes, at Melodie, at the young men. She offers what's left of the food again, and again he declines, explaining that he's about to get dinner.

After he drives away, the men, who remained silent during the whole exchange, look relieved and resume their conversation.

"Fucking pigs," Melodie mutters under her breath.

Everyone laughs.

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Amy Roe

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