The People in Your Neighborhood, Part IIIb: When This Man was Well…

Continued from Tuesday, December 11

Cold Frame, Five Points

Cold Frame, Five Points

In my neighborhood I see a lot of men like my grandfather. They are not war veterans, but they are survivors.

There’s Joseph’s cousin, a teenager who’d dropped out of school and started a garden in his backyard with leftover seeds and drip tape. He said the farm made him feel peaceful. Sometimes the guys would get together, make a feast, eat, play guitar, and chill, and it would take him the first hour to relax into the space. He once said that he’d never felt so relaxed around a group of guys, that he was used to being “on point,” ready to fight or flee.

One night he ventured out of the South Valley to another part of town. Some guys at the party were looking for trouble, and our friend wasn’t exactly avoiding it. He left the party in his truck. The guys chased him, pulled a gun, and shot out the back window of his pickup, just missing his head. Looking at the fist-sized hole just behind the headrest, you’d wonder how he made it home unscathed. You’d call him lucky. And he is.

But luck is a funny thing. Maybe there are only so many chances: the backyard garden still there the morning after he almost died, the uncle who offers a job harvesting vegetables.

He brought the truck to work the next morning, showed us the gunshot.

“When you hang out with us, no one tries to kill you,” I think I said this. Maybe I just thought it.

Next: The People in Your Neighborhood: Bobby

Published in: on December 18, 2012 at 11:04 am  Leave a Comment  

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