Somewhere deep down on the corner of 37th and Philadelphia, Nell scaled an iron gate with tall, sharp, pointy spears on the poles that separated the sidewalk and a large brownstone complex with four housing units. She saw a small space at the bottom of a small staircase that lead to a closed off door. No one lives here, she thought, so I can sleep there and then get up and keep looking. She had been looking for her parents for three days throughout the entire city and around 9 o'clock every night she had to stay completely out of sight, as it was a misdemeanor for eight year olds to be out past curfew. But she was hungry and hadn't been to school in days. Her mother was not there to lay out her school uniform in the mornings and fix breakfast and her father was not there to read her favorite excerpts from her old Air and Space magazines that sat at the bottom of a giant shoebox that once contained a size 14 pair of Cat work boots. She fell on the other side of the gate and had cut her hand open on the jagged iron. She reached into her Daggy Dog backpack and wiped the wound with a moist towelette. She looked up at the buildings. A small plaque read Wolford and Wethington Law Associates. Another read Galhaus rental units. She sat in the small cubby space at the bottom of the stairs and brought her knees to her face, where she buried it into her pajamas. "Blood oxidizes once exposed to the air." I think, she thought. She wiped her wound down once more.

"Child! You come directly over here right now!"

She turned around. Standing at the gate was the tallest black woman she had ever seen. She was wearing a sleek and shiny black dress. Her hair was an intense platinum and the largest gold earrings she had ever seen dragged her shoulders. Nell walked to the gate. The woman was very muscular for a woman, she thought, and her voice was deep.
"What are you doing sitting over there all by yourself? Do you live here? You should be inside where it's warm!"
"I don't live here, I was just trying to sleep."
The woman put her hands on her hips and tilted her head, a universal African woman symbol of saying "oh hush, now, child." She put her face to the gate.
"Oh, hush it, hun. Where do you live?"
"On 3rd and Lammer. I'm looking for my parents. They haven't been home in a few days."
The woman stopped and ran her hand over Nell's hand through the gate.
"Oh goodness, now. No, that ain't no good. Come back over the gate the same way you got in there. I'll help you."
The woman got to her knees and extender her hands. She cupped them and Nell put her foot into them. She belayed her over the gate in one effortless motion that seemed as if Nell was on a harness and flying upwards. She landed and the woman brushed her off with a rag from her purse.
"They ain't been home in days?"
Nell shook her head.
"Well, whatchu doing walking around a damn ass place like this at this hour? You come down here at night and the rats will bite, honey! They string girls your size over clothes lines by their own pants just about thiiiiisss high from the ground so all the strays can get at 'em. I've seen it before, sug! Now where was the last place they went?"
Nell shrugged her shoulders.
"They said they went to the bank."
"Which bank?"
"I think the one on 5th street by that deli that sells the cow tongues. My dad made me try it once but it tasted like paste."
The woman's eyes grew heavy and she put her hands on her shoulders.
"Oh my goodness...Caulweld Bank down on 5th?"
Nell nodded.
"Oh my God.....shit..."
The woman stood up.
"Babe, I don't want to alarm you, but I don't think they're in the city no more. We need to find them. You know where I was goin' before I saw you?"
Nell shook her head.
"I was actually on my way to find a friend of mine who I ain't seen in weeks. You ever get a feelin' and don't know why?"
"It's been washin' over me like rain on shingles all week. I think if me and you stick together we can find who we're lookin' for. I was about to go see another friend of ours who can probably help us. I need to call her ass first."
The woman pulled out her cell phone and began dialing.
"Jenell? Hey baby. What's up, you little Halfrican? Look, babe, I'm comin' over there right now and I got me some company. No you ain't gotta hide nothin' lest you worried about what a five year old's gonna comprehend out of your little peanut-headed shenanigans. We're both in trouble. This whole damn city's in trouble. Yeah. All I know is I think two innocent people's done got them self caught up in the crossfire and me and your fine little ass are about to get Faster, Pussycat on some niggas. Yeah. I'll see you in 10, sug. Alright, babe, black actors! Love ya."
She hung up.
"Alright, honey, we're gonna go get to the bottom of this."
She extended her hand for Nell's but she backed away.
"Honey, I ain't the big, bad wolfman. We're gonna go find your mommy and daddy."
Nell grabbed her hand and the two started to walk.
Nell looked up at her.
"You don't think they're hurt, do you?"
"Child, they've probably been taken out of town with all them people they been roundin' up all week. They'll realize they ain't who they're lookin' for and send 'em free."
Nell looked down at her feet as they walked. The woman had incredibly large feet.
"My name's Nell."
The woman stopped and looked down at her.
"My name's David. But tonight, call me Daphne Dupree until the sun rises."
The two continued to walk down the avenue amidst the permeating sound of gunshots and fires blazing. An orange mist rose above the buildings. The heat increased as they walked. Nell clenched David's hand intensely and she clenched right back.
Poor advice.
sentence with the air and space magazines in the first paragraph got a bit convoluted.

only thing i noticed really. incredible ending. love it & hope you're well man
This was wonderful, potentially one of my favorite things I've read from you. Great, flawless characterization, I love Daphne Dupree already. Please, please, please continue this.
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If I'm not raw, I'm just a bit underdone.