Published: March 21, 2012
Bryant looked around the apartment, and saw that her aunt had taken only her short winter coat, which meant she'd wandered off with just a nightgown underneath. She had no phone and no money. And it was freezing outside.
The police were called. A car was sent out to get a report. And everyone headed in different directions, looking for her.
Hours earlier, it turns out, frail Aunt Betty had unlocked the door, shuffled her way up the stairs from the basement apartment, made her slow way out to the sidewalk, over to the bus stop, onto a bus using a few bucks she'd found in the apartment, and traveled miles away down McNichols, all the way to Oakland on the east side. Her neighborhood.
She got off the bus and felt her knee buckle, and she collapsed to the pavement. Someone nearby saw her flat on the ground, lifted her up and helped her find her way to the place she said was home — her old house on Arizona Street.
When police drove by hours later, they found a lost old woman sitting on the porch of her ransacked home, in the cold, but otherwise fine. "Them jokers did a job on that house," she said. "I was too mad to be cold." So the police brought her to the station, and her niece brought her back to the apartment.
That scare made clear to everyone that she can't stay with her niece much longer. Bryant works two jobs and can't possibly devote enough time to her needs. Mercifully, one of Brock's sisters in Arkansas has offered to take her in. The woman has seven kids, and they have their own children, so Brock will never be left alone. But she'll spend her last days far from her home, something inconceivable just weeks ago.
Nobody's been arrested for the scrapping, even though Burns says he saw the home's ornamental iron door in a yard a block away, and the street's drug dealers told him which neighbors scrapped the house. He says he called police once, but went home when nobody responded after an hour. Police say they came out and found no activity, and never got another call, and police spokesman Phillip Cook says they can't do anything if nobody calls.
It doesn't matter anymore, though. The house is unsalvageable, and Brock will soon be moving away from a city so crazy in parts that people will tear up an old lady's house when she steps out a few days. She's resigned to moving away, and wouldn't go back to her old home even if somehow things could be made normal again. The neighborhood is too far gone, and if your neighbors will destroy your home when you leave for a few days, what else might they do?
"I'd probably want to go back, but I don't know," she says, looking down at the floor as she sits next to the sheet-covered sofa that is her bed for now. "This world we're living in right along in here is a mean world to be in."
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