The last Wednesday in April

30 Apr

It began as any usual Wednesday. I left Bruin Walk
on borrowed CP time- just enough for Yarborough’s
lecture on the Harlem Renaissance. Think he taught Toomer.
I remember being bored and that was odd; there’s
something arresting about Toomer. I also remember a sense
of foreboding like great grandma’s return to warn me.

Soon the trek back down the Walk was halted by what
lay before me. It was warped and surreal, like Clocks that Melt
maybe. Pools of students huddled in catchalls near kiosks and
corners, strategizing a response while one kid buzzed from huddle
to huddle spreading ideas. Someone shouted “F Tha Police!”
A girl wailed, shrill and incomprehensibly and I asked the universe,
“Who died? And why are all the kids who care BlackBrownYellowRed?”

Exiled from the hood, we were detained and sequestered on
the fifth floor of The Co-op on Landfair. Like suburbanites we were
subjected to watch justice in her most perverse prom dress on television.
Our city ignited into a six alarm fire fueled by blood and vinegar on
a 20 inch screen. Only these were not glamorized gangsters on MTV
but the liquor stores and donut shops on Mama & Nem’s street.

10:15 PM and the 405 was an anomaly of sorts, vacant and leggy like
Overseas Highway; only the sea to our right smelled of salt while the
left of singeing flesh and gas. The landscape questioned the boundaries of
war, fantasy and reality. It was pretty at first glance, nearly serene, but
then our eyes readjusted, clarifying that the sun had not set its horizon
on the city of Angels. Instead rage scavenged viral among us, consuming
life, the fruit of its labor, all while incinerating mercies.

That was the ride home from school on the last Wednesday in April.
Suddenly I had no sense of home. All my childhood adventures were
temporarily unavailable, beaten down in a squat white interrogation room.
I don’t remember sleeping that night. Seems like the news monitored us until
we faded into something safer than the city blocks surrounding us. Two days later,
hoarse and wheezy from night fires, I mistook ashes on the lawn for snow.


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