True Story©... Outside the Library...

True Story©…

                Sometimes I like to sit and listen to OTHER people’s True Story©.
In my current position, I am downtown Burlington NC.  Before August, my building was right across the street from the public library.  One consistent in the whole of the United States of America is that a public library will draw the infirmed; homelesses, unemployed--…  the needy public in general.  I don’t judge people for their outward appearances any more than a reasonable person would – and trust, ALL people do if they admit or not – but sometimes I would sit outside on my lunch breaks when I was up there or will walk by when I walk around the block now on breaks/lunches and I talk to people about their stories.

                I have gotten a lot of good stories:
-          A woman who had a couple of kids by a drug dealer who did well by them until getting caught, but literally didn’t know how to hold down a household when he was gone and now was in this position during the days because her grandmother wouldn’t let her be in the house during the day.
-          A veteran who came home from Desert Storm in DEBILITATING back pain who lost it all due to doctors who would sooner give him an opiate addiction than to address the underlying problem at hand.  This would parlay into heroin, a feeling of betrayal from the government he volunteered for, the loss of his family and me sharing my lunch or a couple bucks with him a couple times a week.

And then came the one that changed my WORLD…
I’m on lunch back in March, sitting at the stone table enjoying a turkey wing, mashed potatoes and broccoli.  Earbuds in, I am listening to Skyzoo…
A cat named Gerard asks if he can join me for a couple minutes as it was getting chilly in the shade under the awning at the library across the street.  Plenty of table, I removed my headphones and let him have at it.  General conversation; he asked what I do and how long I been with the company, mostly smalltalk to not have awkward silence at the table.  I explained and answered, then came my time to ask the question “so what about you?  What brings you out this way?  Tell me your story…”
I would not be ready for this answer.

“Aight, so I am 32 right now…  I’m from VA beach, came down to North Carolina to go to school on a basketball scholarship, but played baseball too.
Back when I was 21, me and these three other dudes had gamed this chick into letting us run a train in an off-campus apartment.  She in the room getting ready for us and we in the living room deciding who gets to go first.  I am thinking that since I knew her the longest and introduced her to the whole situation, I should be the one who gets to go first, right?  Well my homeboy, this n**ga, he say that because it’s his apartment, HE should get to go first.  Next dude has no real claim to ANYTHING in this situation, he just brought the weed, so he stays quiet.  Then there is the problem child, this dude ups a .380 and is like “I got this, I am going first.”
All hands are in the air, he starts toward the bedroom door waiting for her to say she’s ready, stupid motherfucker turns his back on all of us to do so, so we jump on him to get him and that pistol out of the situation.  We scuffle in the living room, in the hallway, in the dining room.  Gun falls out of his jacket pocket.  I pick it up and pull back the slide to let EVERYONE in the room know I have it.  My intentions were to scare him out of the apartment, run that train and dispose of the gun on the way back to campus.  I ain’t no thug, I’d never handled a gun, never knew what it was like outside of movies and rap videos at the time, so NO ONE taught me not to put your finger on the trigger until you WANT to shoot the thing.  Soon as my arm was extended, I fired a single shot right into his chest.  Girl screams and everyone else scatters.
The neighbors had already called the police in the commotion of the fight and the cops were there with guns drawn as soon as the apartment door was opened.
I was arrested, charged and convicted of manslaughter and they gave me the whole 60 months because a gun was involved with time served. Almost 27, I came home and my preacher dad wasn’t HAVING me coming back home to VA, I tried out for a few minor league baseball teams but couldn’t get on with any.  I have spent the last 4 years day laboring and taking cleaning jobs, but I found standing out here in front of this library and asking for change sometimes does me better than that.”

“So you’re telling me that you were a scholarship athlete who did 5 years out in the mountains because you accidentally killed someone in an argument over who gets to go first running a train?”
He replied with “yeah, this is not something I am proud of, I don’t think I should be ridiculed for it either.”

I’d been told the most amusing story I had EVER heard sitting outside of that damn library.  If I never sat out there again (which I haven’t since), I would be okay with that.  I gave the dude $5 and went back upstairs to work.


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