True story of a guy I once knew
|I grew up in Southern California. But it wasn’t quite the sunny, carefree California most people envision.
My siblings and I grew up having to answer the door a certain way, having to answer the phone a certain way and we never walked to and from school. ESPECIALLY alone. We learned quickly from our surroundings that we had to be careful. You couldn’t “just walk to go get the mail” without looking over your shoulder or making sure you were always ready to fall to the ground to avoid something fatal from happening.
We grew up in apartments so we would befriend random kids that were our age which would default to our parents being friends with their parents. We all knew who we could confide in and who or what we had to avoid; the kids that got in trouble a lot, the apartments where all you heard was yelling, the slow moving cars that watched you but you knew to just face forward and avoid eye contact.
There was one family that for whatever reason always had a police vehicle parked in front of their building. It was a single mother with an older teenage son and a younger son that seemed to be our age. We didn’t play with the younger one. We knew he was one to avoid. He always wanted to impress his older brother and did ANYTHING his older brother told him to do. We knew he loved his brother and was only trying to make him happy, but his older brother was a bad influence. The older brother was always one guy in a crowd of many. This crowd dressed the same and they always hung out at the same place every day watching and talking to the slow moving vehicles that sometimes stopped.
One day there was a pickup truck that sped off faster than I have ever seen a vehicle speed off. I hid behind a wall, but only for a minute, because I noticed that something fell out of the back of the truck. It looked like a pile of…I began to squint to try to adjust my eyes and realized it was not someTHING but someONE. The familiar crowd I saw every day rushed to this pile of a person that they tried to reassemble while they picked up. As he struggled to his feet I realized, it was the older brother.
From that day on something changed. Whenever we ran into him or saw him he would actually smile, wave and even say "hi." He was pleasant, nice and even polite. His voice was a little different. He didn’t walk too straight anymore and had to wear a helmet everywhere he went but we knew, he was one we no longer had to avoid.