Reader to Reader | Essay | Chicago Reader

Reader to Reader 

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A group of young children were playing on the low steps of the church on the corner of Elm and LaSalle. There seemed to be some dissension in the group. A girl of five or six was holding a dirty syringe to the crook of her arm--her skin marked by its impression, but not yet punctured.

I approached cautiously, trying to sound convincing. "Little girl, don't you know those things carry bad diseases, like AIDS?"

She looked up blankly, as if she didn't understand the language.

"She's crazy," said one boy. "We done told her already."

"Why don't you let me have it," I said cheerfully, holding out my hand.

Without looking at me, she removed the needle from the bend of her arm and stood up. It had not penetrated her skin. Feeling relieved, I smiled, just as she brought the needle down in a stabbing motion and I yanked my hand away.

"I told you she was crazy," the little boy called back, as the children jumped off the steps and disappeared into a nearby parking garage.

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