She was a large woman with a large purse that had everything in it but hammer and nails. It had a long strap, and she carried it slung across her shoulder. It was about eleven o’clock at night, and she was walking alone, when a boy ran up behind her and tried to snatch her purse. The strap broke with the single tug the boy gave it from behind.
But the boy’s weight and the weight of the purse combined caused him to lose his balance so, intsead of taking off full blast as he had hoped, the boy fell on his back on the sidewalk, and his legs flew up. the large woman simply turned around and kicked him right square in his blue-jeaned sitter
Afterthat the woman said, “Pick up my pocketbook, boy, and give it here.” She stillheld him. But she bent down enough to permit him to stop and pick up her purse. Then she said, “Now ain’t you ashamed of yourself?”
“I’m very sorry, lady, I’m sorry,”
Shesaid, “You a lie!”By that time two or three people passed, stopped, turned to look, and somestood watching. “If I turn you loose, will you run?” asked the woman.
“Um-hum!And your face is dirty. I got a great mind to wash your face for you. Ain’t yougot nobody home to tell you to wash your face?”
“Then I won’t turn you loose,”
“Then it will get washedthis evening,” said the large woman starting up the street, dragging thefrightened boy behind her. He looked as if he were fourteen or fifteen, frailand willow-wild, in tennis shoes and blue jeans. The woman said, “You ought tobe my son. I would teach you right from wrong. Least I can do right now is towash your face. Are you hungry?” “No’m,” said the being dragged boy. “I justwant you to turn me loose.” “Was I bothering you when I turned that corner?”asked the woman. “No’m.” “But you putyourself in contact with me,” said the woman. “If you think that that contactis not going to last awhile, you got another thought coming. When I get throughwith you, sir, you are going to remember Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones.”
Sweat popped out on the boy’s face and he began to struggle. Mrs. Jonesstopped, jerked him around in front of her, put a half-nelson about his neck,and continued to drag him up the street. When she got to her door, she draggedthe boy inside, down a hall, and into a large kitchenette- furnished room atthe rear of the house. She switched on the light and left the door open. Theboy could hear other roomers laughing and talking in the large house. Some oftheir doors were open, too, so he knew he and the woman were not alone. Thewoman still had him by the neck in the middle of her room. She said, “What isyour name?”