Miriam Dean had her cellphones earbuds in, listening to music.
Luther Vandross was keeping her company Friday afternoon while she sorted clothes at the Kohls warehouse where she works part time for $10.50 an hour.
But the songs kept cutting off. Someone was trying to call.
Dean isnt supposed to answer while shes on the clock, but her phone wouldnt quit ringing.
Finally she picked up.
It was bad news.
Her 13-year-old son Marquez Blount had been shot in the head. He died Saturday at a Macon hospital.
On Sunday, Dean sat on her porch overlooking the west end of Cleveland Street. She faced the fenced yard across the way and the sidewalk in front of it, where Marquez was fatally wounded.
He and another boy, a 16-year-old, were said to have been handling a gun when it fired. Police arrested the boy on weapons charges. It wasnt known if the 16-year-old will face more serious charges, or where the gun came from, or what exactly happened. It is possible Marquezs death may be ruled an accident.
Cleveland Street intersects Houston Avenue below Eisenhower Parkway, 11 doors down from a Macon police precinct, not far from Kings Food Mart and USA Grocery.
Marquez, who had two brothers and three sisters, had lived there in a baby-blue house since 2011. It took everything his mother could do to pay the $450-a-month rent and keep the lights on.
Dean, 41, teared up when she spoke of the neighborhood boys, many like her own, who are being raised by single mothers, if that, she said. A lot of times she feeds them.
We need more dads, more men interacting with these boys, Dean said, sobbing.
She fidgeted with a purple visitor bracelet from the hospital. I havent thought to take it off, she said.
Of the 16-year-old who has been arrested, Dean said, If they say this was an accident, I forgive him. ... I got a caring heart.
Then she broke down.
I believe it was already written in the book, she said, crying. I just hate it had to go that way. Its an eye-opener for everybody.
Some boys, she said, are living an image and think they need guns to be tough.
Dean said her son looked like her. My twin, she called him.
When he was born in March 2000, Dean said, I nearly delivered him myself. He shot out. Like a football, she said. The doctor caught him.
The nurse was like, You better read to him, because hes gonna be outspoken, a leader, Dean recalled.
Marquez, though, turned out to be quiet and reserved.
He wanted to work construction. Someone suggested architecture instead, but Marquez had made up his mind.
He tried middle school football, but it didnt suit him.
Quez was more of a pretty guy, his mother said. He didnt want to get roughed up. He wanted to be clean.
Some who knew him said he carried himself like the eldest child, even though he had older siblings.
He loved his mothers pasta salad with its chicken, turkey and ham, creamy Italian dressing, cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions. The house wings at CC Wings & Fish a few blocks down Houston at St. James Avenue were another favorite.
Dean remembered a time when shed fussed at her children, then gone to her room to cry. Marquez had been the first to come hug her.
It made me feel good that he had emotions, Dean said. He kept that hid. That let me know he cared.
Marquez would have been in eighth grade, but he wasnt in school lately. He liked the Grand Theft Auto video games.
Friday morning, Dean took Marquez to a counselor. Dean said he needed help expressing his feelings.
He would shut down sometimes, she said. My son wasnt a bad child. He wasnt a person who started trouble.
When they got home from seeing the counselor, Dean took a nap.
When she woke up, she got ready for work.
Make sure you dont go nowhere, she told Marquez. Stay here.
He said he would.
He was like, OK, Dean said.
Sunday afternoon, friends and kinfolk walked up every few minutes. Some brought food.
In the dust on the rear window of a relatives Ford Explorer, someone wrote, R.I.P. Quez ... miss you bru.
When Deans front door opened, you could see a pair of decorative stencils on a wall in the foyer.
The stencils appeared to be a mothers reminders to her children.
In large script, the top one read, Laugh as much as you breathe.
Love, read the other, as long as you live.