"Mickey had gone out the back door," Terrell says. "The police didn't know that. They thought he was hiding in the house. They made us all go outside, where there were all of these squad cars, the lights flashing and everything. And they took our father away."
Joe and Mickey weren't charged in connection with the incident. Afterward Joe and his family were reunited on Latimer. Kateree saw "a softer, gentler Joe." He still drank too much, got angry too much, ran around too much, but he stayed out of big trouble. He was a firm hand that the boys needed—that was Kateree's thought. If Joe said the moon was purple, well, the boys would agree that the moon was purple. "It was funny," she says. "He was such a tough guy. Old school. He'd say, 'Get me...' and the boys would be moving before he even said what he wanted. If he said 'do,' they did."
For the next 5½ years life was more stable than it had ever been. Kateree still worried about the perils of the neighborhood—the gangs, the drugs, the temptations, the guns—but nothing particularly bad happened. The two oldest boys joined the service: Joe Jr. went into the Marines, James the Navy. The four youngest went out every day and came home every night.
"The only one I didn't worry about was Terrell," Kateree says. "The other boys...when they went out the door, I always wondered if they would come back. I never felt that way about Terrell. He always had a maturity about him. He was the youngest, but he was always the most mature."
In April 1987 everything changed. Joe Davis died.
He had been sick for a while with lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack itself. He had refused to take the medication. The painkillers, sure—he would mix them with alcohol. He would stagger and fall down. He lost weight. For the longest time his boys thought that was nothing unusual. He was just drunk.
He became weaker and weaker. Kateree finally persuaded him to go to the hospital after she had to take him to the motor vehicles office to get his driver's license because he was too weak to stand in line. Four days later he was dead.
"They called me to the waiting room," Kateree says of the day Joe died. "I'd worked at the hospital, so I knew that was the place where they delivered bad news, but I was still hoping. I thought maybe he'd be better and come home, and it was all just a big scare. Everything would work out for the best."
Terrell and his three youngest brothers were collected from a dirt baseball field and taken to the hospital. They knew what had happened when they entered the waiting room and saw their mother crying.
"It's strange, the twists and turns of life," Kateree says. "I often wonder what would have happened if Joe had lived. I wonder if things would have been different. I think so."