It was cold last night, as it is tonight, winter is creeping in...


Saturday December 19th 2015...

 

1:30a


Early morning and I am restless, sleep and I are enemies due to heartache. I am lying awake, listening to my dogs breathing and the crackle of car tires moving through water in the distance. I am trying to silence the thinking. 

 

I start to drift, falling into that pocket of in between, like dropping into a steep carnival ride, when gunshots ring out...

Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop...

 

Six, loud, gunshots right outside my front door, or at least, it sounded like it.


I hear gunshots all the time in my neighborhood, every week as a matter of fact. Kids killing each other, letting off fire crackers, or just blowing off steam, firing bullets into the air. The sounds and feelings associated didn't seem scary or out of place in the slightest. I was drowsy, but that sounded really close, and I think about peeking out the window, but think better of it and don't...


Silence...

My head, spinning, questions, chatter, feeling the need to move, to go towards the sound, and try to help, but help what?


 That was definitely gun shots. And I know better than to just go on outside to see what all the fuss is about. I do in most all things. But not always for gun shots. 

 

The human nagging tail, wagging...

 

Should I go outside? Should I look? Should I dial 911?”

 

I concentrate, listening for sirens, a useless tool, as sirens are a part of nature in this world. I hear them in the distance and decide to tell myself that help's on the way. I tell myself it's nothing.

 

“What makes these gunshots any different than all the others. And what exactly am I taking with me? A curtain rod?” 

 

I don't go outside. Maybe because I know it's nothing, maybe because it's so cold out, or maybe because I know it is something. Something I know better than to play with.


I close my eyes, hearing the sirens draw closer, and finally fall asleep.


10:30a

The door opens to caution tape, detectives, crime scene unit vans and police cars. Strangely I had moved past the early morning, perhaps I had put the gunshots into a dream or something. Nonetheless, I was startled.

 

A man, a boy, was fatally shot several times in the abdomen after an argument with some men in a car, right outside my front door. At least, that's what it says when I look it up on the internet...

It's not a good look to go talk to the police and stick your nose in the who, how, and where a boy in your neighborhood was murdered. I have other avenues to represent myself. Being chatty with police officers is not really the way to fly here.


Life... 

 

Last night as I lay in bed, listening to my dogs breathing and being lulled into slumber by a sirens song in the distance; A boy lay in the street, no more than 20 feet from me, listening to those same sirens, bleeding to death...

 

Here, now...


The boys in blue guard plastic yellow markers. Little numbers standing at attention beside shell casings have become punctuation within the final sentence of another young dead black boy's life. Here I stand, among strangers and the dead, all of us, entwined...


I keep thinking about everything as it all happened, an overhead view. I keep thinking about the timeline and what I was doing, what I was thinking about, everything that was happening at exactly the same time. People sleeping, watching T.V, dreaming and getting ready for work. I lay tossing and turning in aggravation, focused only on myself, wanting to sleep but unable to.


A man argued with someone, was shot, and lay in the street outside....


Dying...


What were these men talking about? What was said that sealed his fate? What was the moment, the straw that broke the camels back, the word said that caused a finger to pull close and shoot.


Moments... That's all it is, one to the next. How do I dodge the bullets? How did this man meet them face-to-face?


Moments...


I asked myself if looking out the window was such a good idea, I thought about it fleetingly as I pulled the curtain back... " What if they see me see them?" What if in the moment of me sleepily looking out the window, I had seen who had done this and they had seen me see them, in my house, in my bed... What would that moment have created? Then, where does that leave me, where does it leave us? What do we do? Mind your own business? What is my business, your business, our business? Do we not look? Do we pretend we don't hear so we don't have to see? Or...


Risk a moment that can end our story?


I am awe struck by life, the feelings I feel, and the world around me. I feel out of breath sometimes with the weight of being a human being. It seems so hopeless, so corrupt, so broken beyond repair; and everyone seems so unhappy, shut down, so desperately distracted. I have seen the depravity of life, I have lived the things you only see in movies, and I know how hard staying above water is when people keep tying rocks to your feet. The flip side of the coin is listening to the breathing of unconditional love, knowing there is a beauty and magical world of possibility that is endless. The wonder of what is coming next, because at any moment, in only a moment, everything, absolutely everything can change.


I think about all the times I get angry, argue, feel like mouthing off, and what my real point or need is in that moment. I know my need is not to die. 

 

It's the breath we take in that moment. The moment right before we move or speak where a decision is made that can decide life or death.


People that come from violence, struggle, and neglect, learn very quickly that fighting is common to everyday life. Defending your space in the world and taking a stand is built into your bone marrow. You literally fight for your life, every day. It's exhausting. You can't let your guard down for a second should someone think you are weak. Aggression becomes habitual, a part of your being, it happens on speed dial, plays on loop, and it happens without conscious instruction, just the way a cat lands back on it's feet if you throw it out the window; Quickly, precisely, and without apology.


People die everyday because of a split second reaction to a moment, not knowing that the moment itself is meaningless compared to the consequences of the reaction...

 

 


Unfortunately in this place, trouble will come looking for you, best be nimble and hide come the darkness... if the darkness finds you, best breathe, think quick, and hope for the best.


Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop...


If I dialed 911 every time I heard gunshots I would never sleep. I feel confused though, what is the right thing to do? What is right? And had I known this man was outside lying in the street, what could I, would I, have done?


A person died, as they do every time I take a breath, somewhere. The man bled to death while I went back to sleep thinking about my life, my troubles, my needs. He died while people only feet away from him had beautiful dreams, prepared themselves for work, ate breakfast, drank coffee and updated their tinder profile.


I thought about doing something, for a second, but doing what? Me going outside, or me dialing 911 would not have saved this poor mans life, but the question still remains... What do we do?


My comfort with the sound of gunshots is as my comfort is with the sound of a car alarm.


I have been in many situations where death was a part of the story. I have lost many, many, people. I am a person that will fight for the ones I love, or almost anyone I see in distress. My willingness and need to rescue has caused me trouble many times, being screamed at that it's none of my business, threatened with physical harm if I didn't "stay out of it" I can say that I have both taught and learned lessons. I believe in speaking out, telling the truth, and standing up for what is righteous and just, even if you are standing alone. But what do we do? When do we do it, and how do we do it?


I am left hurting that this is such a normal part of our lives, gunshots, sirens, and death. We are all going to die, even the newborn, the reborn, and the saved. Shooting a gun is the new generations way to cry, to yell, to not actually feel anything while desperately trying to feel something.

 


I know life can be war. I know how desperate, how alone, how exhausted and how angry the world can make you feel. I also know that every human being, regardless of his or her life experience, feels that sometimes. It’s part of the human experience, pain is not a feeling given out selectively, It’s not owned solely by the poor, the unloved, or the oppressed; It’s given to the living as part of the functioning of being human, it has no boundaries, no eyes to see where it’s headed and can come with a vengeance. Each of us will feel truly fucked over, at least once in our lives. Of course some have had more experience with it than others, but nobody gets off without a kick in the face, at least once. That being said, nobody will ever understand your experience, no matter how loud you yell, no matter how many bullets you have, no matter how hard you hit. This life is yours and yours alone, and it is you who has to figure out how to dodge the bullets. It is you that stands where you are, you, and only you have decided to do so.


Put the guns down, please. Breathe before you jump.


I know that not to fight in some instances can feel like death. But the fight can be the thing that kills you.


You too, whether you are awake enough to notice or not, will at some point, be sleeping while someone is dying right outside your front door, and someday, someone else will sleep, while you take your last breath.

 


With each step, the story continues...

SNAP CRACKLE POP