Not at ALL What You Thought

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Propos of Nothing

I just left my third class today, inflicted a test on my students, and at the end of class, the same two students who hang around were hanging around. These are black women about my age. One was trying to make her way to the door when the other, still at her desk, looking at the floor between her feet, said, "You know what, Ms. B?"

"What, Ms. [Student]?"

"They killed my neighbor this week." And she told us about this friendly guy who had recently moved in near her apartment (a neighborhood across the street from the first* house Ex-Husband and I lived in, it so happens), a guy about our age. He had begun to hang out with some of the young men in the area, drinking, staying up late, and showing the boys his guns, when my student took him to the side --Tuesday night-- and told him he'd better cut it out.

"Those young guys don't care nothin about you," she warned him. "Hit your knees and make friends with the Lord. You better pray." Of course, he paid her no mind.

By Wednesday morning, the police were banging on Ms. Student's door: her neighbor was dead, murdered, she believes, with one of his own guns. (It had disappeared earlier this week.) One of the worst things about this story was Ms. Student's apparent attempts to "get over this" as soon as possible. She said she didn't think she'd be able to.

"They murdered him," she said. "Murdered him. Murdered him. And he never meant no harm to nobody."

Dear Jesus, help us to know the advantage in being wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

*And last.