the large woman simply turned aroundand kicked him right square in his blue-jeaned sitter. Then she reached down, picked the boy up byhis shirt front, and shook him until his teeth rattled. After that the woman said, “Pick up my pocketbook, boy, and give it here.” She still held him. Butshe bent down enough to permit him to stoop and pick up her purse. Then she said, “Now ain’tyou ashamed of yourself?” Firmly gripped by his shirt front, the boy said, “Yes’m.” The woman said, “What did you want to do it for?” The boy said, “I didn’t aim to.”She said, “You a lie!” By that time two or three people passed, stopped, turned to look, and some stood watching. “If I turn you loose, will you run?” asked the woman.“Yes’m,” said the boy. “Then I won’t turn you loose,” said the woman. She did not release him.
“I’m very sorry, lady, I’m sorry,” whispered the boy. “Um-hum! And your face is dirty. I got a great mind to wash your face for you. Ain’t you gotnobody home to tell you to wash your face?” “No’m,” said the boy. “Then it will get washed this evening,” said the large woman starting up the street, dragging thefrightened boy behind her. He looked as if he were fourteen or fifteen, frail and willow-wild, in tennis shoes and blue jeans. The woman said, “You ought to be my son. I would teach you right from wrong. Least I can doright now is to wash your face. Are you hungry?” “No’m,” said the being dragged boy. “I just want you to turn me loose.” “Was I bothering you when I turned that corner?” asked the woman. “No’m.”2 “But you put yourself in contact with me,” said the woman. “If you think that that contact is notgoing to last awhile, you got another thought coming. When I get through with you, sir, you aregoing to remember Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones.” Sweat popped out on the boy’s face and he began to struggle. Mrs. Jones stopped, jerked himaround 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 dragged the boy inside, down a hall, and into a large kitchenettefurnished room at the rear of the house. She switched on the light and left the door open. The boycould hear other roomers laughing and talking in the large house. Some of their doors were open,too, so he knew he and the woman were not alone. The woman still had him by the neck in themiddle of her room. She said, “What is your name?” “Roger,” answered the boy.