Geralds was only three, but he had already learned many such lessons. He'd never seen Seasame Street, never heard of River fort stadium - he didn't even know he lived in Cincinnati.But he knew the important things - like never mess with Mama when she was in bed - Mama got really mad when you woke her up, especially if she had somebody in bed with her. AND never touch the hot thing that Mama used to light her cigarettes, even if the maysterious orange -and -blue fire that come out of it liked to tease you and dance for only a moment before running away.
When they got home from the grocery store, Gerald sat on the floor and wacthed mama stack the boxes and cans on the shelf. She was whistling - he had never heard her whistle before and he loved the way she laughed as he tried to imitated her. She chagnged his clothes (and didn't even yell at him for not being big boy) and gave him two cookies and an apple. Then she want into the other room. When she come out, she had changed her clothes and Gerald thought he never seen anything so lovely. She had on her sparkly fancy dress that Gerald likes to touch.
A pretty black lady wanted into the room then, and at frist Gerald thought it was Mama. But mama never, never wore white, and the lady was smiling and Gerald knew that when Mama came to get him, she'd be sreaming and yelling and cussing. Mr. Orangehair walked over to her and said in a voice that was supposed to be too low for Gerald to hears,"Did you get in touch with social services yet?" Yes, they're on their way. But that may take all night. You how it goes."
One afternoon, when Aunt Queen was taking a nap, Gerald quiety took the go - cart to that driveway got on, and rolled cautiouly down the big hill. He had used his feet to stop himself every few yards, so it didn't go very fast that first trip. The second time, he only used his once or twice, and then it was just to slow himself down when he reached the crub leading into the street. By the fourth or fifth trip, he had increased both his confidence and his speed. He even gave himself a little boost with his feet before he tucked them on the piece of wood that was his rubber, so he sped down the hill this time like one of those bobsledders that he'd seen on TV in the Olympics. Just as he got to the curb, he turned the rudder slightly, rolled to the left, and slowed to a halt by bumping into one of the garbages cans sitting there.
Gerald couldn't breathe for a moment. His heart felt tight and crunched inside his chest. All of the hot fears and fiery memories that he had let fade over the last few years were only hidden, not forgotten. He looked up, confuse and frightened, and let Aunt Queen soothe him with one of her warm, soft hugs until he was able to speak. "Mama's coming here?" he asked quielty. "How come?"
Gerald rode around the block fourtheen times, came in for a glass of Kool~aid, and persuaded Aunt Queen to let him explore a little further. She said he could ride two blocks away, but by the time it was dark, he had explored six blocks in each direction. She knew he needed the time to think and sort things out, so she didn't brother him. By the time he came in at dusk, tired and hungry, he was ready