Donnell gets kicked out of another class. He’s on his way to the office, when he spies me in my room during my planning period. So he stops by my room to see what I can offer by way of avoidance. I say, “Let’s talk, but just for a few minutes. Consequences are consequences.” That said, this gives me a chance to chat, get to know the kid.

So I just listen.

In the course of five minutes, he tells me about his dad and his dad’s three brothers, Donnell’s uncles. Two are murderers. One is doing life. The other murdered his cellmate, but didn’t get caught. It seems that the cellmate had dis-ed the uncle’s sister-in-law when he was on the outside, and had the bad luck of getting this uncle for a cellmate. The third uncle, who wasn’t a murderer, boffed this other guy’s wife, and gets shot-up by the husband. But he isn’t killed. He eventually is released from the hospital, released in a wheelchair. Only to have the husband finish-up what he started. So now the third uncle is killed, dead.

The fourth brother is his dad.

“But I’m fine. My daddy works two jobs.” And, fortunately for him, the dad sounds like a good man.

But Donnell is paying a price. It’s in his eyes, his old eyes, the eyes no child should own. He has that same look in his eyes that I used to see in The Nam. A weariness that comes from carrying a terrible knowledge, the certain knowledge that there is nothing one human being won’t do to another. Or, at the very least, the knowledge that in his family even murder is possible.


Filed under: Prose, Publius