Excerpt from ‘Baby Lollipops’ by Jaquira Diaz
It was the year they found a dead toddler in the bushes, head bashed in, bite marks and cigarette burns all over his body. He was wearing a T-shirt with multicolored lollipops across the front. It was November 1990. Miami Beach police detectives were all over the news searching for the baby’s parents, for some clue about his identity, but no one had come forward. My mother was homeless that year. Sometimes she crashed on a relative’s couch, but she spent most nights in the streets with Pedro, one of her cokehead boyfriends. I’d get a phone call in the middle of the night: Mami calling collect from Dade County Jail, begging me to convince Papi to bail her out. She’d promise to pay him back, promise to change.
Until one day Pedro vanished, and Mami was left with nothing but her habit to keep her company. That’s when she decided she needed her kids back. I was ten.