From the Florida Times-Union, via Jacksonville.com:
Grown-ups get antsy when you ask them about heaven. You know, like whether they actually believe in it. Their eyes get narrow, and their voices get high, and they talk around the question. They say stuff like, “Why in the world would you ask such a thing?” Then, when the answer does come, it’s never much of a comfort. “Well of course I believe in heaven.” Except by then you know there’s nothing of course about it. They might believe in heaven, or they might not believe in heaven, but they’ve got their doubts for sure.
It’s that way with my mom and dad. They say they believe in heaven. But there’s a lot of hemming and hawing, and nervous glances back and forth, on the way to that of course. Even my sister Amelia, who’s starting college in the fall, and who levels with me about most things, wouldn’t come right come right out and say she didn’t believe in heaven—even though I’m about 99 percent sure she doesn’t.
Lonnie, on the other hand, got right to the point: “How the hell should I know if there’s a heaven? Use your brain, Julian! The only way I’d know would be if I was dead, which I’m not.” He balled up his fist and punched me in the arm. Not hard, just enough to get my attention. “You see? If I were dead, you wouldn’t have felt that. But you did. So I don’t know the answer.”
The creepy-ass cracker got me. I still can’t believe it. I was all over his bitch ass, grounding and pounding. I mean, I was throwing bricks. You know what I’m saying? I was bouncing his head off the sidewalk like it’s a basketball and I’m D-Wade. And meanwhile he’s squealing like that Arnold the pig on TV Land. I been in lots of fights before, MMA style, but also just, you know, fights, but yet I ain’t never give a beat down like this one. I was even going to take the dude’s wallet—not because I was planning to, but just, you know, for the hell of it. I was reaching for the thing when I heard this loud noise . . .
So, yeah, he got me. Then, of course, he got away with it—because that’s the United States of Amerikkka. You know what I’m saying? Ain’t no justice for a nigga. What I mean is, I wasn’t doing nothing wrong. I was just cutting through backyards on my way home. No law against that. I had my whole evening planned out. I got my Skittles, and I got my Fruit Punch, and I got a hook up for some codeine. That’s all you need for some fire ass Lean. But even if my codeine connect don’t come through, there’s always my stepmom’s Robitussin, which is lower DXM, but it’s almost as good. Then, afterwards, just chill. You know how it is.
Did you catch my girl Dee Dee at the trial? Ain’t she a trip? The way she called that fancy-suit lawyer a retard. She don’t take nothing from nobody. She’s not my girlfriend or nothing, even though she thinks she is. I don’t have one girlfriend. I get with who I get with. Fuck a bitch. Any bitch. You know what I'm saying? So much loose ass pussy, so little time! Want to know my secret? Jewelry. Females love that shit. Earrings. Bracelets. Necklaces. Real stuff too, not fake. Got over a dozen pieces in my backpack. The security guard at school found it, and I got suspended, but nobody couldn’t prove nothing. So instead they roped me for tagging. I ain’t lying! Roped me for writing “WTF.” It’s like with Capone, how they roped him for taxes. Roped me for tagging a damn school locker. I mean, WTF?
But yet that’s Amerikkka for you. I thought Barack was going to change things, bring a little flava to the so-called White House, but you know what? It don’t make no difference. It’s just more trip. You know what I’m saying? I mean, I got nothing against the nigga. But let’s be real. What he ever do for me? He ever connect me with some codeine? He could legalize that shit tomorrow, without a prescription, but it’s like the last thing on his mind. No, he’s all about damn Obamacare and who’s killing who in the Middle East. It’s like he forgot where he came from. He forgot what it was like to be just, you know, a nigga. I mean, how much trouble could it be to hook me up with some codeine?
So I’m on the horn with Dee Dee, and I’m telling her I got this creepy-ass cracker eyeballing me, and she’s like why don’t you just run because, you know, he might be a rapist, and that’s what did it for me. I mean, I would’ve let the situation be, would’ve got my ass out of there, but I ain’t gonna let no faggot chase me home. I mean, whether he was a faggot faggot, or just a creepy-ass cracker, why he didn’t mind his own business? That’s my question to you!
So, yeah, I turned back. I got up in his face, and I asked him what his problem was, and he’s got this scared punk look, and then he said he don’t got no problem, and then I said “You got a problem now,” and then I’m like BOOM. You know what I’m saying? I could hear the dude’s nose crack! He goes stumbling backwards, covering up his face, but I’m all over his bitch ass. He goes down a couple of steps later, and that’s when I go to work. He’s screaming for help and squirming underneath me, and I’m covering his mouth and telling him to shut the fuck up. Yeah, I told him he was going to die tonight. But here’s the thing. I didn’t mean it. That ain’t me. But yet I ain’t going to lie to you. I was going to mess him up so he think twice before he bother another nigga.
You want to know the strange thing? I didn’t even know what happened. I just heard the noise and felt a thud in my chest, and I felt myself going backwards and then falling sideways. I tried to crawl, but after a couple of seconds I couldn’t make my arms and legs work, so I kind of rolled onto my stomach. But yet I was still thinking I was okay because nothing hurt. I just wanted to rest. You know? I never realized, until right then, how soft the grass was. It felt like my bed—you know, back in my stepmom’s house. I could hear the rain beating into my ear, and I could feel it drumming against the side of my face, and I was kind of warm and cold at the same time. You know what I’m saying? I was lying on the grass, and then, even though I couldn’t move, I was lying in the grass. It’s hard to explain. It was like suddenly the grass was looking out for me, like how my mom and dad used to look out for me, making sure no one could hurt me no more. I know that don’t make no sense. But yet that’s how I felt.
I ain’t sure what happened after that, or how I got here. I’m still getting used to this place. It ain’t like how I pictured it. I guess I’m still pissed off about that night. But also, you know, not. What I mean is, I keep thinking about that how soft that grass felt against my face, and how soft that rain sounded in my ear, and what a good thing it was to be alive, even for just seventeen years.
I wish to God I had seventeen more.