I roll over in my bed and crack my eyelids open. “What in the world is going on out there?” Hurried footsteps cross my porch and I hear a key get inserted into my door. Quietly, I exit my bed and reach for the handgun lying on my nightstand.
“Hey, unc! Are you in here?”
I resume breathing. It’s only my nephew. Turning around, I put the weapon on the nightstand. I put on my jeans and smooth down my t-shirt.
“Yeah, I’ll be right out.”
My nephew is sitting on the couch when I come out of my bedroom. He rubs his hands together, and every once in a while runs his hand through his thick hair. His hair is unkempt, heck, his whole appearance could be filed under unkempt.
“What’s going on?”
Thom looks at me and shrugs. “I need to borrow five grand.”
“Dang, son. You don’t even start off with a good morning, you just go straight for the wallet. Have you ever considered a career as a politician?”
“You heard about that man that the police killed?”
“It’s all over…”
“Stop,” I put my hand up to shush him. “I heard about the killing, it’s all people are talking about. The no was me telling you, I won’t loan you the money to go out there.”
Thom stops and looks at me. Fury shines in his eyes. He shakes his head and stands up, he towers over me.
“Why not? It was racially motivated. You of all people should know that injustices must be corrected.”
Thom throws himself back onto my couch. Angrily, he stares at the wall, and I take a moment to let the tension die down between us.
“Do you know all the facts concerning this case, Thom?”
“No, but I know a man is dead at the hands of the police.”
I chuckle and shake my head.
“That’s all it takes, huh. You’re ready to go up there and burn down the town because the police killed someone. What? Y’all going to go up there and tear down all the small businesses and harass the police? One for all, and all for one? Let me ask you something. Where was this guy’s parents? Why didn’t they teach their son not to screw with the police? If you put yourself in a position to be man-handled, you are taking all the risk.”
“You don’t understand…”
I put my hand up to stop him.
“Listen to me, son. If you go up there and pick a fight with law enforcement, they are going to hurt you. They will use non-lethal means to subdue a riot, right up until the first idiot throws a Molotov cocktail, or a police officer is injured. When that happens, you are looking at lethal means. You will be put down. Then I will have to go comfort your mother, because her son was an idiot.”
“So, we just let them get away with murder?”
“They didn’t get away with it. Their names are ruined. They will never be able to out-run the shame of what they’ve done. For the rest of their lives they will be known as racists.”
“A man is dead…”
“Fifty people were killed this weekend in a city with the strictest gun laws in this country. You know what the police were doing? Kicking down doors of churches and filming people, who were just trying to find some peace in the chaos. Why aren’t you upset about that issue?”
“The man’s death is tragic. All needless deaths are a tragedy, however, if you’re going to fight, fight for the right cause. Going to a neighborhood and burning down their businesses is no help to anyone. It causes more problems. Use your zeal for justice to help the right cause. Torching a town doesn’t bring the dead back. Stand for equality by being a friend to all races. Stand together in the trenches. Be there for each other, protect one another. Don’t be an idiot.”
Thom leans back and crosses his arms. After some time, he leans forward and pushes himself to his feet.
“I’ll get the money somewhere else. I can’t let this go, the police need to pay for what they’ve done.”
I nod my head and shrug.
“Well, I tried. Good luck. Be safe.”
Thom walks out to his truck and pulls out of my driveway. I stand in the doorway and watch him leave.
Two days later, I see him again. He is on television lying dead in the street. A victim of a riot gone wrong.
“Another needless death taken by the chaos of a world gone mad.”