It was the kind of soft-shadow sunlight that was almost too painful to look at, but that you didn’t want to end, because if it ended you would have to make do with what you had had up to that point, and we didn’t understand that part yet. The air was thick and warm and for those moments the world slowed down, and there was The Heathen in his white, always white t-shirt and in his chair lounging, always. He was watching with a smile I would have taken as content (under different circumstances) his two boys, one small, one big, both bossy, running and jumping, panting under the weight of a round orange ball. Somehow there was peace in the game, which wasn’t a competition but a lesson, the big boy chiding and correcting, the younger boy fighting, at first, then resigning to the rules.

There’s a sound like heavy objects falling, and for a moment there is quiet, the sun still thickly hanging but somehow its shadows stop. There’s a pause, ears straining in the inner city test that discerns firework from firearm, justice from feigned ignorance.


And I couldn’t decide what was more painful: watching the boys pick up the pieces of their game and move on, or watching The Heathen, with a sigh, resign.

{This is my memory of the evening Howard Williams was shot and killed, approx. 8 blocks away from our stoop. Full story, here}