Older Boys

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen I was twelve, I caught two older kids picking on a boy we called Slim, who was very different than the rest of us. They slammed Slim’s fingers in a barn door because he talked with a lisp. Ruined his hand.

I once knew a girl raped by her stepfather. The man skipped town before anyone ever found out. No one could prove it happened, and no one believed the girl. He’s still out there doing god-knows-what. The girl, in and out of drug rehab.

Ten years ago, I watched a man with Tennessee tags run over a golden retriever on Highway 98. He kept driving eighty miles per hour like it never happened. That little dog’s collar-tag read, “Buck.” I’ll never forget that animal.

A black seventeen-year-old was found on a playground, in North Carolina, hung from a swing set, dangling by a rope. He was the cousin of my friend. It was an old-fashioned lynching. His killers, likely college sophomores, chasing skirts, screaming at football games until they’re hoarse.

Every two minutes someone is raped in America. Each day, one hundred five are so depressed they commit suicide; thirty-three hundred die in car accidents; fifteen hundred die of cancer; three hundred are shot. Anyone who calls oneself a human-being has a right to declare this world bound for Hell in a knitting basket.

How a thirty-two-year-old man, who talks with a lisp and has a messed up hand, has the gall to believe in love, is beyond my understanding.

But somehow, he does.

And Slim believes love will win.

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