The car moves
through the darkness on the Schuylkill Expressway toward the Belmont Avenue
ramp, and there's a quiet moment. Then Michael Spinks speaks: "That's where
the car came on the highway and hit Sandy. Every time I pass there I try to
think what Sandy was thinking and picture what she was doing. I try to think
why she didn't see the car....
until the next day that I went to see her car. They took it to a lot on City
Line Avenue. I looked at it and I couldn't take it. I fell down and cried. That
was too much."
It's late January,
only three weeks after the death of Spinks's common-law wife, Sandra Massey.
The ramp, which Spinks passes every day on the way to his workout at Joe
Frazier's gym on North Broad Street in Philadelphia, recedes from view. Spinks
leaves the expressway, drives along Belmont Avenue and soon comes abreast of
West Laurel Hill Cemetery.
Sandy's grave is," he says. "Right there near the opening in the
fence." He pauses. "After the crash, I just wanted to be by myself, to
get away. I didn't want to deal with the hurt, but I couldn't make it go away.
I wanted to sleep. I'd drink some beer. I'd get stuffed, and I'd keep drinking
just to be tired. I wanted to be exhausted to the point where I couldn't keep
my eyes open."
restaurant that night, Spinks is recognized by fellow diners, and some come to
his table to shake his hand and talk about boxing or about his brother Leon.
The waitress continually stops by to inquire how Michael likes the clam
chowder. Two women at an adjacent table ask for an autograph. More people come
over to say hello, and they all turn away smiling, which is ironic because
Spinks is on the point of crying.
"I try to
explain it to my baby all the time," he says, referring to his and Sandra's
daughter, Michelle. "I don't think she understands it yet. She's only two.
The first time I brought her to the apartment after the crash she looked for
Sandy. In the bedroom, there's a picture of Sandy and me in which we're looking
at each other out of the corner of our eyes. Michelle saw it and said, 'Who's
that? Who's that?'
mommy, baby. That's daddy.'
gone, babe. Mommy's not with us no more. But mommy left...left...left you with
daddy, and daddy's gonna always be with you, babe. Daddy's gonna always
The words turn
into a cry that sounds like an air-raid siren, just loud enough to be heard
over the disco music blaring in the background. The women at the adjacent table
look up, quizzically, and then one stares down at her plate. The waitress stops
abruptly, pivots and walks in another direction. Spinks sits at the table, his
face contorted. He has led a solitary existence for most of his life, but he
has never been more alone.