Prince of Motown

By Flook, Maria | TriQuarterly, Spring 1996 | Go to article overview

Prince of Motown


Flook, Maria, TriQuarterly


That April, Marvin Gaye was murdered. Maurice Greene, the father of Iris's six-month-old baby, went to his old shooting den at the Linville Projects. In mourning, he bought a spike and three hits of dope for the weekend. He came home fully schmecked. His shoulder brushed the doorjamb and pitched his torso the opposite way.

"You're gooned," Iris said. She watched him lift his feet to fanciful elevations before dropping them down, picking his way over to her as if he were negotiating cross ties in a switching yard. His spinal column was unhinged, and Iris knew he had put something in his arm, but Maurice exhibited a new and mystical flex, a curious exoneration: Gaye was dead and Maurice was released from all his routine duties. His part-time job at Benny's Home and Auto, his fatherhood responsibilities, all his tasks were shirked, while he paid whacked-out homage to the murdered singer.

For two weeks Iris had watched Maurice crucify himself on piggyback needles, trying for a copycat ascension to mimic Gaye's transformation. High on tar, he spoke to her only in snippets from Gaye's discography, quoting lyrics completely out of context. "I ain't got time to think about money or what it could buy, and I ain't got time to sit around and wonder what makes a birdy fly," he told Iris that morning as he walked out the door.

While Maurice was supposed to be working at the Home and Auto Supply, Iris left the older women in the apartment and instead of taking a cab, wheeled the umbrella stroller to the clinic. The clinic was nine blocks into town. Iris remembered to stretch a plastic dry-cleaning bag across the handles of the stroller for a windbreak, but even so, the baby's eyes were tearing from the cold when she arrived.

Her baby wasn't gaining. The clinic wanted to get a blood sample before Terrell could get his DPT shot on schedule like the normal babies waiting outside with their mothers in the Well Baby Room. Iris was never asked to wait in the cozy, divided area, which was well-stocked with bright toys and ladies' magazines. Iris heard the happy jingles and buzzers of a Busy Box, the cascading notes of xylophones and taut plunking beats of skin drums. Above this din was the high warble of infants and toddlers amusing themselves and the occasional singsong of their mothers. Iris was pulled into an examining stall as soon she arrived. Her baby was scrawny. A nurse pricked his heel with a disposable stylet, which she then discarded in a bright red cylinder for needles and hazardous medical refuse. Next, the nurse wanted to test Iris and get her numbers. Terrell was fussy during the procedures, discomfited by the noisy sheet of crinkled paper on the examining table, and Iris lifted him off.

Afterwards she wheeled the stroller to Classical High School where she tried to catch her old girlfriends when they came outside to switch classes. In the first months, the girls had huddled around Iris and the conspicuous lemon-lime baby stroller. They chatted on the walkway between buildings for ten minutes. When the bell sounded, the girls ran off in different directions. Sometimes, one of her friends brought Iris a drink from the cafeteria, where Iris wasn't permitted to sit down. Iris fancied a local Rhode Island dairy item called Coffee Milk, and her friends brought Iris an eight-ounce carton. They peeled the straw for Iris before trotting off to typing or advanced algebra class. Iris sipped the drink slowly, trying to make it last forty-five minutes, until the bell clanged and the girls reappeared from the classroom building. Several Classical students had had babies in a wave the year after Lady Di had hers. When Iris's baby was born, her teenaged friends stood at the foot of the hospital bed and remarked upon his skin color. Iris held the infant in her arms and blushed at the contrast between them. The baby's skin was a deeper shade than her own. Someone said he looked just like the familiar sweetened coffee drink.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Prince of Motown
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.