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when & where I enter

This is when and where I enter. At the beginning he came to me, first as a dream, whispering quietly, almost rhythmically in my ear as though he had a lot to say but not a lot of time to say it. Delirious with sleep and confused about my whereabouts, I felt the warmth of his breath and I just listened. Listened and tried to understand what he so desperately wanted me to know. In this dream I was sitting in my old velvet chair in my favorite part of the house staring intently at the weeping willow tree I affectionately named Sunny when I was just six years old. [Bring Sunny back later]. I could tell he had been watching me for awhile because I felt his presence long before he told me what he thought I needed to know. From across the kitchen, he watched me as I looked out of the window, deep in thought as Sunny’s drooping branches whipped violently to the east as though they would snap from the increasing wind and rain. This weather always scared me because I hate storms. But Sunny made me feel safe.

I could feel him walk toward me. He walked quietly but with a sense of urgency with his bare feet softly striking the granite floor. I knew it was him by the way he walked. And I could smell him. That familiar smell of Marlboro cigarettes, clean clothes and some of the best smelling cheap cologne I ever smelled. I had mixed emotions just knowing he was in the room. He made me restless but comfortable at the same time as strange as that is to imagine. He rested his hand lightly on the side of my chair. I knew he had something to tell me. I turned slowly to look at him and the wind began to howl. Scooting to one side and patting the soft fabric on my well-worn chair, I invited him to sit beside me. I wasn’t sure exactly want he wanted but I might as well get this over with, I thought. He slid in beside me and smiled as he began to whisper in my ear.

“You are at the beginning as though you are being born right here, right now,” he whispered hurriedly. “You can choose to spiral downward as I did, or you can choose to rise, fly, soar. The beauty is that the choice is yours and yours alone. You don’t need permission to make the choice. You just need to desire and the will. Now what are you going to do?” Suddenly the back of head started to sting. Did he slap me upside the head in my dream? No, now I know I made that part up, adding a little extra drama to this already bizarre dream. I heard what he said, the question he posed, and felt his presence all around me. It was so comfortable to be sitting next to him. I missed him. Everything about him, well, almost everything except the bad parts of course. I missed his laughter and his wit. I missed his charm and his even his impulsiveness. I missed the way he called me his little lotus blossom and the way he would balance my little body on his feet and swing me high into the air and I yelled with joy. I missed having him in my life until the day he left. And I can still remember the eerie scene as though it were yesterday.

“Old man, get out of the way,” the shooter yelled at my grandfather as he aimed his 22-caliber pistol, ready to take my father out. My grandfather had a look of sheer bewilderment and panic on his handsome face as the man in the green 1980 Oldsmobile instructed him again to get out of the way so he could have a clear shot at the person he was obviously most angry with in this world. They were standing in my grandparents’ backyard talking and gathering tools from the garage to fix my father’s car when the moment that would change our lives happened.

My grandmother, brother, cousin and I ran to the window when we heard the heard the screech of tires followed by the yelling. Now my father was known to be loud at times, when he was messing with a neighbor’s kid just for the hell of it or bossing his sister, Carole, around. But when we heard the commotion from inside the house, we knew it wasn’t my father’s usual antics. We knew something was wrong. Very wrong. From different parts of the house we each raced to the window to see what was going on. That’s when we witnessed my grandfather duck as the man in the Oldsmobile fired shot after shot, attempting to hit my father.

Granddad didn’t even have time to move when the man started flailing the gun and shooting wildly first hitting the side of the house, the garage, the large oak tree just outside the gate and finally hitting my dad right in the abdomen. My dad, with a look of sheer panic, ducked and tried to run as my grandfather hit the ground but as fate would have it, he couldn’t escape the wrath―or the bullet―of the man who wanted him dead. My father lay dying on the sidewalk near the gate in the backyard of the house in which he grew up as the man in the green Oldsmobile threw the gun in the backseat, shoved the gear in reverse and sped backwards down Carpenter Street. After watching my grandfather scream for help as my grandmother’s hand shook as she frantically called the police, I sat there in disbelief, not knowing whether to try to take my 13-year-old legs down the back steps of the house as fast as they would carry me so I could try to help my dad, or if I should wait by my grandmother’s side so she could tell me, all of us, really, what to do next. Something told me to walk to the front of the house. I didn’t walk, however. I ran…to the window to see the man in the green Oldsmobile sitting on the steps of the house down the street. He was sitting on the steps of our neighbor’s house, looking straight ahead, just waiting. That’s when I realized the man in the green Oldsmobile wasn’t some stranger and this wasn’t some random criminal act. The man who sat on the steps while my father lay dying was my grandparent’s neighbor, Ron Silas. I watched him with disbelief. My young mind couldn’t reason this one away.

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