When Grown Men Cry

Tonight I went to the screening of Wade in the Water a documentary by Elizabeth Wood and Gabriel Nussbaum about the first school to open in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In the film several young teenagers talk about the violence and murders they have witnessed. On my cold walk home tonight, I couldn't stop thinking about my own adolescence and the first time I saw a body. I guess I was twelve or thirteen and it was the summer time. It was sometime in the afternoon and my brother and I were probably fighting or getting into some kind of trouble when we heard gun shots. One house over from us my friend Wesley's older brother was shot and killed. My brother and I sat on the stoop across from Wesley's house and watched the ambulance guys carry out a stretcher with a white cloth over it. They put this thing that was no longer living in the back of the ambulance and drove off quickly. But they didn't bother to put on the siren, John was already dead. Then the police carried out a gun. Then everyone drove off. Except my friend Wesley. He sat all alone on his stoop with his face buried in his hands as he cried. It was a deep cry, the kind when it hurts to breathe and your body shakes with each breath you take. My brother and I sat watching him in silence.