He heard three shots. It was late and given where he lived, not unusual. Jimmy lived in the city; some call it, or did the ghetto. He preferred central city, but it is the same. The shots were close; at least they felt that way. Jimmy ran to the window and carefully pushed the curtain back and saw a body lying on the sidewalk, just down the block from his two-up. He ran to call 911, but the sirens were already loud, maybe coming around the corner from the precinct.
He ran back and took one more look, Oh god he thought, that looks like Ali, his high school friend and classmate. The reality of that discovery brought a sense of fear to his mind. “What should I do?”
It did not take him long to move. He grabbed his coat and ran down the stairs and out in the street. By then most the hood was there. Screaming, fear, and anger filled the space where everyone was standing. Staring at the body, Ali was gone, dead at a very young age, what happened?
Jimmy knew that Ali and his family were often the brunt of cultural hatred. People, if they meet someone different, think their dangerous, or something. Since 9/11 it had gotten worse. “Why? Why my friend, a Muslim young person?” The Hood was so culturally mixed. “It doesn’t make sense” He thought.
It was a sad night, Jimmy hardly slept as I am sure his neighbors experienced the same sense of fear, loneliness and anger. Everyone knew that someone in the hood was not happy with an Arabic family living nearby. Could that be the reason, or was it theft or a promise broken. Ali was a friend but not a close kind of brother.
Everyone showed up for the funeral at a Mosque on the other side of the city. It was nice, but different as funerals go. What a way to learn and experience another spiritual practice. Three shots, a young life, what now? Jimmy took the bus home, a strange sense of quietness over took him. He had learned something about life today, death has a lesson for all of us. Three shots, silence broken, life take, & life continues…Ali, thanks… (Nov. 2006)
“698. Evidence-Based Poem” by Paul Nelson
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