So I’ve had a break from storytelling since I ended Start Over. I’m pretty busy with so much law stuff among others. But chale, when some small inspiration comes, I should take advantage, right? So I got a little inspiration from an old tweet I saw. Here’s a short story…
James sat on the floor, even more upset than he had earlier that morning. As his wife sobbed uncontrollably on his lap, only one thing reverberated through his mind.
Things have got to change.
That previous night had been a pretty terrible one for them.
After a long day’s work, he had returned home rather late, ready to have one of those all-night fun chats with Anita. But after knocking on the door, all the jokes, interesting occurrences of the day and the silly quips he had gathered up in his mind suddenly vanished when she opened the door, tear-streaked and stricken-looking.
“Baby! What’s wrong?”
She pointed at the television without saying a word.
As he entered and walked toward the plasma screen, the CNN news anchor announced the piece of information that was the reason for Anita’s current state.
Another young black man had been shot dead. By police officers.
James’ heart sank as he heard the details. Shaking his head as he took it all in, he said to himself, “Why, God, why?”
But that was only the tip of the iceberg. As was now the case these days, there was video evidence. Knots in his stomach twisted with sorrow and anger as he watched the short video of the young man in the driver’s seat, indicating that he was taking something out of his pocket to the policeman, only to receive 3 straight bullets to the chest 3 seconds later.
Within a matter of minutes, the plan of a jovial night of laughter and fun was crushed. Now the young couple sat on the couch, messed up.
Police brutality on blacks was nothing new. But that didn’t make it any less traumatizing. Especially considering how often the two had been racially profiled by officers. Only a month ago, James had been roughed up by a couple of them when they were searching for a suspect that they claimed ‘resembled’ him. Anita had also had a few unpleasant run-ins with the police, with one or two racial slurs thrown her way. So every time they heard of a black person losing his/her life when encountering cops, a new wave of fear and anger crashed upon them.
The worst part of it all was the injustice of the perpetrators always getting off the hook. With each acquittal over the years, it became difficult to imagine that any of these crooked cops would actually go on to kill a black person and be brought to book for it.
Anita muttered intelligible words to herself, still trying to comprehend what was going on. James got close to her and wrapped her in his arms, doing his best to comfort her. Eventually, they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
James stirred at 5:45 am the next morning. Seeing the time, he carried his still-sleeping wife to the bedroom and placed her gently on the bed. She was on leave, so she didn’t need to worry about work. He silently went to have his bath and get ready for work.
As he put on his clothes, he woke his wife up. “Honey, I’m about to leave for work,” he said as he tucked his singlet into his trousers, getting ready to put his shirt on.
After what seemed like a minute, he heard a calm but firm “No.”
He turned, surprised. “What??”
“You’re not going to work today, James,” Anita repeated firmly. “I don’t know what’s going to happen out there today. What if some cop shoots you dead? No, James, you’re staying home.”
James shook his head. “Annie. Baby, I know what’s been happening is really distressing. I feel it as much as you do. But I can’t be using that as an excuse to be absent. I have to.”
Anita jumped out of the bed and held on to him. “No, James!! I won’t let you go! I can’t lose you. Don’t go! Don’t go to work!”
James struggled to get her off. “Anita, please! Don’t do this! I have to go!”
For half a minute, the couple briefly wrestled as she tried to prevent him from leaving. Finally getting her off him, James pleaded in a rather agitated voice, “Please, Anita! Stop this! I have to go!”
She clung back to him. “James, I’m scared,” she whimpered. “Look at what is happening to us. They’re killing our folks and getting away with it.” She buried her face in his chest. “Baby, I’m terrified. What if one of them meets you? What will I do if I lose you? I can’t, baby, I can’t. I can’t stand the thought of losing you, James. I love you. I can’t continue this way…”
Words failed her as she began to cry loudly.
Any seedling of annoyance that had started budding in his heart was quickly nipped as he heard her wails. He knew the fear that had gripped her heart. He knew the pain of seeing that young man shot with no good reason had hit hard. He knew that the number of such cases which had seen the guilty parties go without so much as a slap on the wrist was leaving her worn out.
And quite possibly, he was more terrified than she was. Terrified of the blue and red lights. Terrified of the prospect of being stopped by a cop. Terrified by the million and one scenes that would flash through his mind once it happened. Terrified at the prospect of never seeing his beautiful wife again, or getting to see their child that was now a few weeks old in her womb.
As they both sank to the floor, Anita still whimpering, he looked up to the ceiling and shook his head. He knew that all across the country, many others were having the same issue. Gripped by a paralyzing trepidation.
He stroked Anita’s hair and said gently, “We’ll get through this, baby girl. I know we will. I don’t know how, but we will. Things must change.”