Three Generations In

Ellen is looking for her daughter, who is also named Ellen.

What do you call her, I want to know. Junior? Ellen Two? Ellen the Second? El?

Ellen, she says. Have I seen her? I haven’t seen her. I don’t even know her, maybe I’ve seen her and didn’t know it. Ellen describes her daughter and it could be anybody. About so tall, dark hair, wears jeans. Good skin, she says, which I envy.

I go back to the name thing, doesn’t it get confusing, having two Ellens?

Ellen shrugs. Why would it get confusing? They’re seventeen years apart, they’ve got different friends, they don’t live together. There’s just her, Ellen, and then there’s her daughter, Ellen. They don’t look much alike. Ellen hopes her daughter’s okay. She hasn’t seen her for a week or two and Bootsy’s looking for her.

Bootsy? I say. Bootsy?

Bootsy’s a coke dealer, a big scary black dude. Ellen draws him in the air with her hands, stretching up on tiptoes to reach the top of his head, spreading her arms all the way out for his shoulders. Bootsy. Ellen laughs. Serves him right, she says, he shouldn’t have given her the money before he saw the drugs, that’s kid stuff, Drugs 101. She laughs again, and there’s worry there, but pride, too, for the Ellen that took eight hundred dollars off of Bootsy and got away with it, even if only for a little while.