Between Heaven and Here
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Now Glorette's body is found in that alley, folded up in a shopping cart. Before the dry creek swells and the orange groves blossom, Rio Seco, California, will bury the most beautiful woman who ever walked its streets. In Susan Straight's most gracefully told novel, the heart of the Inland Empire is broken wide open to reveal the loyalty, the dark history, and the love that runs in the veins of a hidden America. Between Heaven and Here is gripping in its compassion— a portrait that “ought to be recognized as a national artistic treasure" (The Boston Globe).
grinned up at him. Even with all the smoking and the streets, her teeth were still white as mints, her neck marked with only one creased line like faint jewelry. “Learned when a brotha say he got protection, that don’t mean he know how to use it.” Sidney had looked away, at the old man in the wheelchair by the door, his foot hugely swollen and bare. At a Mexican woman’s braid hanging over the back of her chair, almost to the floor. “You want to marry me?” Glorette had whispered then. Sidney
day. Pull down the shades and turn off the cell. Nobody talking. Twenty hours of sleep. IF HE HADN’T had to pee again after midnight, and hadn’t wanted to talk to one more damn person, he wouldn’t have been in that part of the alley when the one called herself Fly started messing with Glorette again. Jazen was calling girls in front of Launderland. Only a little product in the third dryer from the left. No bathrooms in Launderland or the 7-Eleven, and unless you bought something in the
creeps. Shelly had kept about twenty of them in Katie’s room, sitting with their legs bent on a shelf, spooky eyes and those boobs like road cones. “Hey,” the girl said, and something sounded torn in her throat. “Twenty bucks. Whatever you need today. Twenty bucks.” Her mouth was still half closed, her words mumbled and all wet like she was going to cry. Mike couldn’t look at her. He walked along the wood away from her voice, toward the pile of material stacked inside the chainlink area near
tight back for security. And Esther just did my braids last night. That’s why my temples ache now. “They went at it in the laundry room again Thursday,” Fred says, looking at the screens. I stare at the prison laundry, the huge washers and dryers like an old cemetery my grandmère took me to in Louisiana once, when I was a kid. All those dead people in white stone chambers with white stone doors. On the monitor, I see the wards sorting laundry and talking, see JC in there with them. “Can’t keep
on crack, and she said to me, “You got all that pretty hair, why you scrape it back so sharp?” “Where I work.” “You cookin somewhere?” “Nope. Sittin. Lookin at fools.” She pinched up her eyes. “At the jail?” “CYA. Chino.” Then she pulls in her chin. “They got my son. Two years. He wasn’t even doin nothing. Wrong place wrong time.” “Chino wrong place, sure.” She gets up and spits off Esther’s porch. “I come back later, Esther.” Esther says, “Don’t trip on Sisia. She always mad at