Having graduated high school I was looking forward to getting out on my own. I found an apartment I could afford in a neighborhood that was going through a “transition” which meant it wasn’t the most desirable place to live. The complex was large and old with half the buildings closed for renovation. I was in a third floor efficiency. It was small but it met my needs. The pool hadn’t been filled in years and the driveway needed repairs. But at least there was still a laundry room that was open in one of the uninhabited buildings a couple away from mine.

One night I couldn’t help but notice that I had been neglecting my laundry. I had run out of clean socks, bras, panties and other necessities to get me through the work week so I gathered all the clothes that were lying around and stuffed them into my laundry basket. Detergent, softener, I had everything needed to remedy the dilemma. Now I just needed the ambition to get it done as it was late and I was tired.

I opened a wooden box on my night stand and removed rolling papers and a baggie of marijuana. I rolled a couple of nice size joints and fired one up, inhaling deeply the mystical herb. I always found a nice buzz could keep me going. Puff, puff swallow and I was ready to go.

With basket, detergent and coins in hand I was ready to go. Wearing only an extra-large hoody, panties and flip flops I began my journey down the broken sidewalk winding my way between the dilapidated buildings that had yet to be renovated. The lighting was poor to nonexistent but the beacon from the laundry room guided me toward my destination.

Other than a young Black teen passing me on the sidewalk there wasn’t a soul about. When I finally arrived I found half the machines to be broken, the coin boxes damaged and pilfered. I loaded up two washers, put them on the proper settings, deposited my quarters and I was in business. I would need more money for the dryers but I had plenty of time to smoke another doobie, after all I needed a reward for my initiative.

Feeling high, light headed and in no pain I began my laborious trek back to my apartment. I’m not exactly sure which abandoned building I was walking past when out of nowhere a fist crashed into the side of my head, causing me to stagger, stars in my eyes. Another punch was immediately delivered to my stomach, doubling me over. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t utter a sound.

“Get her arms, get her legs, drag her this way” Hands grabbed my arms and legs. A hand went over my mouth. Violently I was being dragged into one of the abandoned apartments. I was literally pulled out of my sandals. I was moved through the living room and into a back bedroom.