I Lived Where the Sound of Sirens Pound the Night Air…
This is the first short story that I’ve written to completion. Warren Johnson is Standing Here is the first of a series of short stories set in St. Louis, Missouri. This story began as an assignment for one of my creative writing classes at Washington University, and soon, took on a life of its own. I’ve had many critiques of this story. I’ll share those with you in just a moment.
Like many major cities in the United States, there is a lot of violence in St. Louis. As the mother of two Black boys, I live in fear of traffic stops, or any type of run-in they may have with the police, another white person feeling empowered by his gun, or just a guy on the street looking to rob somebody. I live with that fear every day.
I lived where the sound of sirens pounded the night air, and I never had a good experience with a policeman – Black or white. I sometimes find it difficult to sympathize with them. For instance, I use to ride the bus every night to work (I worked overnight at a major hospital). At least once or twice a week, one of the cops patrolling the area would accuse me of soliciting men because I was standing on the bus stop at 9:30pm. I worked overnight at an area hospital. I was on that bus stop every night for over a year, and every two or three nights, one of the police cars would roll by yelling obscenities at me.
I became very angry, and believe me, I have no love for the police. They treated me like I was a whore because I was Black, lived in North St. Louis, and was invisible to them. If they feel empowered enough to treat a great-grandmother that way, I can only imagine how they would treat my sons. That scares me every day.
Life is Complicated…
There are a lot of good people living in St. Louis, many have lived in North St. Louis all their lives. Still, there is a lot of violence in my city. I’m not sure why because as far as I can tell, the only people benefiting from the violence are funeral homes and cemeteries. I am also sure the answer is much more complicated than the obvious: poor education, economic and social suppression, systemic racism, and incarceration. Those problems run deep in our collective communities, but there are also problems much closer to home.
Two young men grew up in the same neighborhood. One got out, but chose to come back. The other never left. A murder on a warm, summer night changes both their lives forever. Are they good men with a conscious, or are both of them monsters? Sometimes there are no clear answers. Read Warren Johnson is Standing Here, and comment on social media.Click HERE for the excerpt. Click HERE to read the entire text. #rosalindreed