“Someone got shot! We can see it through the window. Come on!”
We were all outside in what I considered our playground (later, I learned that it was just a patio–apparently playgrounds had actual things to play on like swings, slides, and sand). Most of us kids spent the majority of our days in this patio area of the apartment building, on the first floor. During that time, all we had was a concrete floor, an empty pool filled with trash that was closed off, and our imagination to entertain ourselves with. We usually chose to run around playing tag. We were particularly excited on this day. Our routine had been pleasantly disturbed with the news of this young man’s death. We weren’t excited that he died, we were excited that after hearing so much of our city on the evening news, we were actually going to witness it with our own eyes.
“Oh, really?! Wait. I’m not supposed to go in other people’s apartments. My mom won’t let me.” I said with disappointment.
“Well, just come look really quick.” All the other kids ran inside to see who the latest victim was.
I thought about going inside with them, but I just knew that if my mom found out that I was going into a stranger’s apartment, I would be in big trouble. I also thought about the possibility of one of us getting shot at while we were being nosy. How did everyone know that it was over and safe to stick their heads out the window? I reluctantly declined and went upstairs to look through my family’s apartment window instead. We lived on the third floor, so I couldn’t get a good look and by the time I finally made it upstairs, the body had been covered. If only I hadn’t taken so long to make a decision. The other kids had been able to look through a window on the first floor, which gave them a much better view of the body. They wouldn’t tell me what they saw, but I imagined that at least one of them had seen the actual shooting take place and I was a bit jealous. My parents were so strict that I never got to see anything cool. Oh well, I thought, there was always next time. Of course, what were the chances that another person would get killed right across the street from our apartment building, right in front of Popeyes?
Later that day, I watched the news with my parents. They were already covering the story and I recognized one of the ladies being interviewed because my mom talked to her. I quickly looked out the window to see if they were still there, but it must’ve been recorded a few hours back because I didn’t see them. While the lady spoke, she looked sad and worried, but she wasn’t crying. I wasn’t sure how well she knew this boy, but for some reason I expected her to be sobbing uncontrollably. Instead, she just seemed very worried. She said he was a good kid and I wondered where his parents were. Why weren’t they on TV?
Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of this boy or why he was murdered in front of so many people, in broad daylight. I don’t even know how old he was, but I knew he was definitely older than me and younger than my parents. To me, he will always be the boy who got shot in front of the Popeyes and I wonder how all the other kids remember him or if they even remember him at all.