Children For Sale: #7

Norm Gibbons

“I’m the boy on the bottom stair. The one on the right.”

“Do you know for sure?”

“The boy beside me is older. And I’m the youngest.”

“Who said you were the youngest?”

“The lady that gave me the photograph said I sold for two dollars because I was the youngest. That’s what I remember I sold for.”

“Is there something else you remember that might confirm that the little boy is you?”

“She said we got sold in Chicago and I know that’s where I came from.”

“How did the lady know where you came from?”

“It wasn’t her that knew, it was the people that bought us. The woman said they got us in Chicago and she was upset because the man paid so much.”

“Two dollars doesn’t seem like a lot of money.”

“No it doesn’t.”

“I notice in the photo that you are holding something. Do you know what that is?”

“It must be a toy. Little boys always have toys.”

“You don’t remember. Is that correct?”

“I must have had a toy.”

“How did the lady get this photograph?”

“She said she got it from inside a computer.”

“How long have you had this photograph?”

“For some time now.”

“It’s important to you isn’t it.”

“It gives me something to think about.”

“Do you recognize either of your sisters or your brother?”

“We got split up right after we got sold. My brother must have really liked me.”

“I see that he has his arm around you.”

“That’s the proof.”

“He looks like he wants to say something to you.”

“Sometimes I guess about his words.”

“But you don’t remember the conversation.”

“We must have talked about the toy. He must have given me his toy.”

“Did you ever see any of your family again?”

“It’s a long time ago.”

“So you don’t remember.”

“I returned to Chicago once, and tried to find those stairs in the photo, but I couldn’t.”

“Your mother looks upset.”

“She’s ashamed.”

“Perhaps she’s crying in the photograph?”

“She had to sell us because we were poor and that’s what gave her the shame.”

“Did you think your mother was still living when you visited Chicago?”

“No. She must have passed on before I got there.”

“Why did you go on that search then?”

“It was an idea.”

“An idea?”

“That’s right. I must have followed a thought.”

“What was the thought?”

“I wanted to check out Chicago and see if I got a home feel from it.”

“Did Chicago feel like home for you?”

“It felt like everywhere else.”

“Can you describe that feeling?”

“A lonely one.”

“Have you ever been anywhere that you didn’t feel lonely?”

“I don’t believe so.”

“Not ever?”

“Once a guy picked me up and took me to a café and bought me a hamburger.”

“You didn’t feel lonely in the café?”

“I think he was more lonelier than me. It was a good hamburger.”

“For our files, it would be nice if you could expand on that statement.”

“What do you mean?”

“Tell me why his loneliness made you feel better.”

“If someone is lonelier than you’re lonely, then you know you’re not at the bottom of the barrel.”

“Did the two of you continue on your journey together?”

“He went to Wyoming.”

“Before we finish this interview, I was wondering if you have anything else you would like to say?”

“I had a pretty good life if that’s what you’re getting at.”

“So, even though things started out poorly, you still had a pretty good life.”

“That’s right.”

“If I have more questions for my report, I’ll come see you again.”

“That would be nice. I don’t get many visitors down here.”

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Author’s note: Many times an anonymous, unidentified black and white photograph suggests a story. I’m working on a B & W series.