The other kids and I on the block loved Saul so much that we actually pooled pennies, nickels, and dimes and had candy and cookie parties. Sometimes we even held them in my mother’s living room, where we’d sit in the middle of the floor far away from the delicate doilies that my mother crocheted and starched to sell to the neighborhood ladies. She starched them so stiffly that they sat up like perky flowers. But, I digress.
On this day, I left home to go to Saul’s, which was about a quarter block away from my row house. When I arrived at Saul’s store, there was nothing more than a soot-covered building with broken glass, and Saul was nowhere to be found. What appeared to be his worldly possessions–containers and shelves that had once held everything from my precious two-for-a-penny candy and cookies to 50 cent half loaves of bread to 5 cent Nutty Buddy ice cream cones–were scattered all over the pavement. And to my bewilderment, people were combing through the fire-damaged remains. I reached down and picked something up, held it to my nose, and put it back because I knew it would smell like tragedy forevermore. I went back home, confused and sadder than I’d ever been in my life.
I was later told that Saul’s store had been destroyed because people were angry about the death of a man by the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. They said he had a wife and children who were not so different from me. I didn’t know who he was and why anyone would want to hurt him, but I felt bad for him, and I was sure going to miss Saul for more than his cookies and candy.