When they take you away,
they take you away
When I have nothing left
I have nothing to give
You will not need to read
When I read you
When I tell these things
You will not need to be told
"James, James." Janine Elton checked to see if her seven-year-old man was still
awake. James was comfortable in the warmth of the June night and moved his right leg to
assume the recovery position correctly, his mother's poetry a fine replacement for the hot
chocolate that she could not afford. Janine looked straight ahead into the rafters of her
cottage with her hand-bound book across her left breast. James's movement in their
double bed simulated a hand on her bosom. Janine's fears were few, but they were not
new, nor were they far.
Janine had been adopted by a wealthy Wisconsin family, the Eltons, after the
baronial couple had found her as a three-year-old girl in a New York orphanage. She’d
grown up as their housemaid. She’d fallen in love with her stepbrother of the same age.
The Eltons put her on a bus for New York at the age of 14 when she became
pregnant. She gave birth to James Elton in a New York shelter for the homeless, and
when James was 24 hours old Janine left New York for the heartland, hoping to change
the course of occurrences and to give her son an earthy grounding away from the rot,
dampness, and sleaze of the city.
Her teats, sore and tender from the hungry baby, immediately relaxed as she
stepped down from the steel steps of the stuffy, crass, and crammed bus onto the dirt
sidewalk of Pleasant Prairie. As far as Janine was concerned her new bundle of life,
wrapped in white wool, had been delivered to her from God in the fresh country air, and
not in a freezing New York City squatter hall, carpeted with wet mattresses, the windows
without their glass panes.