"I- ___- ___ -you."
The words came charging out of his little mouth. Where had they come from? Where had those words been stationed all this time? Or had they been held prisoner this whole time? If that was the case, who held the key to the prison? Maybe the words were rogue mercenaries…They for sure were neither innocent nor innocuous. Like inoculations, the words, bulleted, came as straight shots, through her heart, from the dark, giving light to black thoughts. He had never shot a gun before, yet he was armed with unwarranted resentment, misguided envy, and a temporary fit of amnesia. Guess he forgot where he came from...
We're at war, he thought. The darkness had once again enlisted the boy. The preteen stood, his frail chest pumping, his nostrils flaring, his dull brown eyes wide-open, drilling into the woman’s eyes after the attempted kill shot. She no longer saw a boy but rather a toy soldier, all wound-up. She stood in disbelief, surprised by how the boy held his follow-through, like a true marksman. While he obviously chose violence that day, she chose otherwise, mercy. Watching his eyes light up, she knew he did not go gentle into the dark.
I'm off to war, he thought. However, he could not figure out who the real enemy was. She could see in his eyes that he was lost. He had really went there, to a place that was not unfamiliar but uncharted. Along the way, he got lost in those middle-class houses with the spiraling Cinderella stairs. Along the way, he got lost in the sight of fathers playing catch with their sons. Along the way, he got lost in the pastel polos and faded boat shoes that he never got, never really needed but wanted, in order to step into an illusive (elusive) fair skin. Looks can be deceiving.
I'm in a war, he thought. However, he could not figure out who the real enemy was. The boy was intrigued, ensnared, and induced by a meretricious lifestyle of private schooling and private wrongdoing that he was literally in the dark about. He knew nothing about the parent-supervised underage drinking, the Blackface parties, the confidential meetings between school administrators and notable donors. And here he was, a Southside Black boy on the outskirts of the wealthy, white Northside. Though he would catch wind of those black ops later in his adult years, he, as a kid back then, could feel the draft as he was drafted, trained, and used by institutional "opps" (as they say in Chicago) under the guise of inclusion.
I come from war, he thought. However, he could not figure out who the real enemy was. He had not been there, in that particular valley of darkness since he was a toddler, when his mother could no longer shade his eyes from the sight of an embattled man in a bright orange jumpsuit. The woman's heart could no longer beat for a man at war with himself, his family, and his mistress, Snow White. From the crossfire, emerged a full-grown deadbeat and a young cold heart. This man would haunt the boy for years to come. He would dwell in the boy’s dreams, his genes, his darkness... forever. Despite the man’s permanent residency, the boy was willing to face this man more than he was his own reflection.
I am war, he realized. Four formidable words, aimed at his light-giver, would further accentuate the birth-mark of his own darkness. Before he became war, he was once a piece of her. Before he became war, he was peace, in the darkness of her womb. Never again would he discharge those words at his creator. Never again would he enter the darkness, unaware of the true enemy. Never again would he forget where he came from.
Dedicated to my T-Jones.
Caption: click "play" to enjoy a listening session with yourself and your class.
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