This week us Debs are taking on the point-of-view of characters in our books. At first, I was going to do an interview with Mary. But, after a recent book club chat, I decided to do a little deep dive into Ted, who is my favorite character next to Mary!
A little background: I considered writing a sequel to Allegedly from Ted’s perspective and always thought about his life before he went to juvie. Below is a little free writing from where I wanted to start his story:
Back in the day, my Grandma used to live next to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens on Washington and Crown, right by the park. People been living in her building all their lives, lots of old folks. It’s like a nursing home, guess that’s why it was so easy to work at one.
Anyways, there’s this one guy we called Old Man Rivers, who lived on the top floor before he died last year (I could call him Mr. Rivers but Old Man Rivers sounds fly). Old Man Rivers used to walk his birds twice a week during the summers. He had mad birds from all the around the world. Little baby birds, them birds that talk, red birds, yellow birds…I think I counted twelve at least.
Early in the morning, one by one, he’d carry their cages outside, hook them to street signs and light poles, sit on a folding chair with his newspaper and read. Kinda of funny, seeing all these cages with these exotic birds hanging around the hood, right where the dope boys and corner kids would chill later in the day, singing and chirping, soaking up the sunlight they can’t get in his dark ass apartment.
Maybe after about ten minutes, all these other birds that we’re chilling in the park would fly over, sit in trees next to them and start singing too. Dead ass, it was like they were talking! Cage birds would sing, free birds would respond, and then they’d all sing together like a church choir. Mad noisy with their chatter. Must of been crazy for the caged birds, seeing all these free birds sing and fly wherever they wanted. Once Old Man Rivers was done with his paper, he’d collects his birdcages and walks back inside. The hood birds would go silent. Visiting hours were over.
My girl Mary used to read me this poem called Caged Bird by Maya Angelou and it always reminded me of summers at Grandma’s before she died, watching Old Man Rivers from my window. ‘Cause it finally started to make sense.
Them caged birds were trying to warn us: Ain’t no life inside a cage. Be free ya’ll. Make good choices. And don’t get caught…like us.
We should have listened to them birds.
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