NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 9

Suddenly, I remembered how John had gracefully let me scream and punch until I let up for a second, out of sheer exhaustion. That’s when he got a piece of him. And that’s when it all came together. The soft arc of John’s arm going into Larry’s chest and his back, just two times. That’s all it took. I let the body drop. I heard nothing after that. I was in my own head. I remember thinking what a beautiful day it was and how, maybe, it was just a hint of what the summer of ’64 would be like. Balmy wind, pearl-like sky. Damn! What a way to spend a beautiful spring-like afternoon. BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 7 John was in the aftermath of bloodlust; a state of shock after one has killed or seriously hurt someone. It was as if he was possessed. Immediately after an orgy of anger, vengeance, jealousy, or self-defense, there’s a stillness, an unreplicable kind of quiet. The truth of the moment begins to seep in. The person lying in front of you is dead. He will never walk again. The reasons for putting your perceived enemy in that permanent state, once clear and compelling, are now fuzzy, but…there lies the body. I have seen too many people — cops, paramedics, neighbors, even family — approach the weapon-wielder too soon. There are times when the shock is so great, it immobilizes the perpetrator, and one can remove the weapon from the person’s grip. However, if not handled delicately, sensitively, leaving time and space for the person to walk into the culpability, the weight, the seriousness of the moment, the person trying to retrieve the weapon may very well be the next victim. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that the Good Samaritan has moved too soon while the weapon-user is still in a state of bloodlust. Larry’s eyes were almost shut, his mouth half closed. It was that semicircle of light that bounced off his iris that shattered any veneer of vengeance or victory I might have harbored; it was the grotesque way his mouth looked, lips locked frozen around a black hole as if he were in freeze-frame, caught in the middle of something he was about to say, or snarl. Throughout the entire beating he had not uttered a word, only grunts. It was as if his pride, his manhood, his ego would not let him give us the pleasure of hearing the scream of fear or the possibility, the very real possibility, of his losing this one. Minutes before, in the stank, empty wine bottle smelling, smoke-filled second floor poolroom, he ruled the floor. Wouldn’t even turn his fuckin’ head to validate my lightweight status on the block or the Canarsie warriors who had just invaded his turf. I anticipated he would try to chump me, ignore me. I knew I was not a tough guy. I loved being loved and, in those days, and sometimes now, I would do anything, be anything, to be loved, to be touched, to be hugged bear-like, in the arms of anyone who saw the possibility in me, an iota of goodness, maybe even a sliver of greatness, because, well, I couldn’t. But, to blithely ignore the black, battle-toughened young men I came in with was a big mistake. Their scowls permeated the casual banter and raucous laughter that filtered through to us as we walked quietly up the narrow stairway to the wide, semi-lit poolroom. Cigarette casually tucked behind his ear, he focused on his shot, oblivious to the lack of noise and the changed, suddenly quiet, atmosphere in the joint. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE I grabbed Larry’s shirt, near the open collar, to pull him up and punch him again when I saw John with a knife, standing, almost trancelike, staring strangely at the body. His shoulders were stooped, his back was bent, his legs were trembling. He looked like Dracula with a long, black leather coat draped over his boney shoulders, the belt and buckle coiled on the concrete sidewalk, like a serpent. He looked like an undertaker, like the spirit of death on Halsey and Broadway in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The bloody knife was in his hand. His mouth was open, but no sounds were coming out. I knew, he knew, that he had killed Larry. The cops 6