The First Punch

At this point, does it matter who threw the first punch?

Hey, girl!  Whatchu doin’?  Me?  Nothin’.  Just walkin’.

A carefree night.  Not a worry in the world.  March Madness is brewing in the heavy Florida air.  All of a sudden I’ve got a craving for something sweet.  Pull on my hoodie, stuff my cellphone into my pocket.  The store’s just down the road.  Not too far.  And a walk might be nice.  Mom and Dad haven’t been pleased.  Suspended from school and the reason might be stupid, but haven’t we all done stupid things from time to time?  It won’t happen again, Mom.  I promise, it won’t happen again, Dad.  I’m not throwing away my future.  I know how hard you work.  I know.

Yeah,  a walk would be nice.

The stars are twinkling somewhere up there, but my mind is down here, because I’ve got a sweet girl on the phone and I’m just walking along, enjoying the night air.  A can of iced-tea, the sweet kind, the only kind you’re allowed to drink in the South and a bag of skittles in my pocket.  The world is okay.  The street is quiet.  The houses here are nice.  Dad lives in a nice place.  Quiet.  And I got my girl on the phone.  And all the world is okay.

At this point, does it matter who threw the first punch?

Maybe I’m walking a little slower than I need to.  But who cares?  Where do I have to be?  And Dad’s place is just down the street.  I’ll be there soon enough.  But the longer the walk, the longer the talk with a sweet girl I’m missing right now.  I’ll be back to school real soon, I swear.

A car creeps by.  These old guys in their gated communities, driving so slow I could out-run them.  Haha.  I know.  I know, right?  Old guys.

At this point, does it matter who threw the first punch?

Man, I think that car just turned around.  Seriously, they’re following me now.  Does Dad have a tail on me?  Does he not trust me out on the street?  Of course not.  That’s crazy.  Dad wouldn’t do that.  So I take a closer look.  I can’t tell who’s in that car.  But they are definitely following me.

Hey girl.  This guy is following me.

Run, Trayvon.

I ain’t running.

At this point, does it matter who threw the first punch?

I pull my hoodie up over my head.  I know it’s a silly thing.  But it makes me feel safe.  Like a baby wrapped in a blanket.  I would never admit it to her, but right now I’m feeling about as helpless as a baby.

What is this guy doing?  Why is he following me?  What does he want?

I stop.  I take a couple steps toward him.  Maybe if he knows I know he’s following me, he’ll leave.  Maybe if he sees I’m not who he thinks I am, he’ll turn around again.  Dude is still staring at me.  He’s on the phone.  What’s he on the phone for? Who could he be calling?  His friends?  To come and help him beat me up?  Why?

Run, Trayvon.

I ain’t running.

At this point, does it matter who threw the first punch?

What’s he want?  Does he think I’m someone else?  Does he want to hurt me?  Kill me?  Rob me?  Kidnap me?  Is he spaced-out on drugs?  Is he crazy?  What is he doing?

Run, Trayvon.

I ain’t running.

Except, now I am.  Didn’t think I would, but I guess my feet didn’t listen to my head.  My heart is pounding.  I can feel my pulse throbbing in my neck.  My eyes seem to see more than usual.  All I hear in my ears are my own pounding feet.  I look over my shoulder.  You gotta be kiddin’ me!  This guy’s outta his car, baby!  He’s outta his car and he’s looking around.

Run, Trayvon.

I ain’t running.

At this point, does it matter who threw the first punch?

What does he want?  Is he going to kill me?  Is he following me?  What does he want?  Does he have a gun?  Is he going to rob me?  Who does he think I am?  Who is this guy?

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

At this point, does it matter who threw the first punch?

A flash of fear, maybe a touch of rage.  What does he want?  Now all I can see is what’s right in front of me and I don’t know what he is, who he is, what he wants, what he’ll do.  But it can’t be good.  Why else would this crazy guy follow me?

Run, Trayvon, Run!

I ain’t running, baby!

Run, Trayvon, Run!

Does it matter?  He has a gun.  He’s following me.  I run home, he knows where I live.  I run home, I”m a sitting duck.  I run home, he’ll break in the door.  He’ll rob my Dad blind.  He’ll beat me up.  He’ll kill me.

Run, Trayvon, Run!

I can’t run, baby.  He’ll kill me.

At this point, does it matter who threw the first punch.

Scared people huddled in their houses, peaking out their windows, frantically telling the police to get here quick.  There’s shouting.  There’s a fight.  I’m scared.  Hurry.  Please, hurry!  Run!

A peal of thunder rolls off the houses and echoes down the street, reverberating through my heart, through my soul.

The night falls silent.

At this point, does it matter who threw the first punch?

Creative Commons License
Appalachian Preacher by Rev. Amanda Gayle Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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