Todd's People - Pam With The Knife
Photo by Monica Wizgird
We've featured the work of Chicago-based photographer Todd Diederich a couple of times recently. That's him up there in that picture. Unlike other snappers, the guy has a pretty impressive knack of looking through his lens and finding an interesting person on the other side of it, so we decided to challenge him to do that every week. The first friend he made, Pam, featured in his "Chicago Women" photo gallery last month, but her story's interesting enough to earn Todd a week's grace.
I met Pam in an abandoned lot next to where I work. I was eating lunch like I do every day; sitting on a car seat in the parking lot next to this old, rusted, barely-balancing ghetto barn-type construction, admiring its colour and what it has to offer.
Unlike most days, the door opened, and out came a hand, a huge blonde wig and a quick-moving skinny lady with a knife. She started screaming at a bunch of guys standing across the street, saying that she was going to kill them.
This is her:
VICE: You gonna get them with that knife? There's a lot of dudes over there.
Pam: Fuck 'em, they want me in rehab.
Because I drink, lace my blunts, collect metal and do whatever I feel like! Look, I don't have much time! Fuck these motherfuckers. I don't have much time to live.
Why is that?
Four years ago, the doctors gave me five years to live. I have colon cancer. Two years ago I locked myself in a car and set it on fire. See the burns on my face? If it wasn't for some people that broke into the car and dragged me out I'd be dead. See this thing on my chest?
Yes, and you're so skinny as well. What's on your chest?
It's from chemo. I don't eat, I don't see doctors, I can't keep food down. God damn!
Whats your name?
What's up man?
Nothing. Hey, you wanna put that knife down?
Why, you scared? And no.
If you had a Cubs hat on I wouldn't be, but since you've got a White Sox hat and a knife I am just a little concerned.
Ha, you're funny. Want to go see a movie or something downtown sometime?
Yeah, sure. Maybe we could get some dinner, too. Do you spend much time downtown?
No. I stay on the West Side. You won't see me over there.
We should hang out downtown. Did you grow up here?
Yes, I had a shitty family in this shitty neighbourhood. I am one of those Chicago stories that has layers of shit being fucked up. Like my fuckin' brother. I was going to murder him, put a knife in his throat. Me and my sister. He raped us all the time. When we were getting close to doing it we came home and he was dead on the floor with a needle hanging off his neck. It's the only time God answered my prayers. It was this knife we were gonna use; I have to keep it. Have you noticed how many white girls have been hanging around here recently?
The ones looking rough, walking up and down Kostner?
Yeah, I get them business if I can’t help a guy. Anyways, fuck rehab those shitty motherfuckers. I got to hustle and make my money. I’ve been out here for 40 years. I'm going to die on these streets. I’m not going to see a doctor anymore. I’m just not going to participate.
Earth's alright, though, isn't it?
I liked it at first.
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