It's hard to say what makes you cry. His face, perhaps, with his father's light skin, his mother's dark lashes and deep brown eyes, lit up with joy when he sees his grandmother's face. Or his body, slim and muscular, athletic if not for the hands that curl inward and the right leg that won't stand straight. Or the way her hand rests on his back as she guides him across the asphalt. Or the way he walks, lurching, as if his skeleton were a rusty machine.
They come inside the restaurant and sit down. She orders him water and a bowl of lemon wedges and makes him free lemonade with the juice of six wedges and a packet of Sweet'N Low. The waiter also brings free chips and salsa, courtesy of her Friday's loyalty card. Free is good for a 54-year-old single mother with a 12-year-old who still must crawl to get up and down stairs. "Want some chips?" she asks the boy.
"Yee-ahh," he says.
She dips a chip in the salsa and guides it to his open mouth.
"You like to talk about Mommy Angel, don't you," she says. "That's why we're here today. We're gonna talk about Mommy Angel. O.K.?"
"You know she loves you so much, right?"
To Chancellor, Saundra is G-Mom. Cherica is Mommy Angel. G-Mom talks all the time about Mommy Angel. She keeps pictures of Mommy Angel everywhere. She has even told Chancellor—or Lee, as she now calls him, so he can say and spell his name—a streamlined version of Mommy Angel's story, which is, of course, his own story.
"Well," G-Mom says at the table, "he knows that Mommy was killed, and that Daddy did, you know, Daddy did a baaad thing. And he's in jail right now paying for the bad thing that he did. And we just say that he, you know, he made a mistake. Right?"