Monday, August 4, 2008

"A Great Friend"

The summer of 1994 was the best time of my life. It was a classic American summer; I was twelve and every morning my friends and I would meet up in our neighborhood’s empty lot. We never had any sort of plan, but once we showed up there was always some sort of adventure to have.

My friends and I were as close as could be. There was John, Bill, Steve, Mike, and Jamarcus “T-Bone” Willis. We had known each other practically our whole lives. Well, except for T-Bone. He was a twenty-eight year old African American recently escaped from prison we had met behind the movie theater. He was a great guy, that T-Bone.

Our adventures were incredible, or at least they seemed so at the time. We would explore the woods or swim in Lake Mohawk or let T-Bone hide in our treehouse. T-Bone always was sprinting into that treehouse with sackfulls of what he called loot. "Those are my other friends," he'd say of the blaring sirens. "We're playing some cops and robbers." Whenever we let him stay in there he'd reward us with a car stereo.

You know, T-Bone always would suggest some crazy things for us to do. Every day it was, “Let’s break-in here,” or “How about we torch the sheriff’s office?” What a character that T-Bone was. He always wanted to light government buildings on fire.

Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not so sure we should have been hanging around T-Bone. He may have been a bad influence on us kids. But I know we all remember the last time we saw T-Bone. He had been shot by the police eleven times after stealing one of their cruisers and leading them on a three-hour chase. His clothing tattered and his mouth gushing blood, he looked us right in the eyes and said, “You guys were the best friends I ever had.”

I’ll always remember that summer of 1994. No matter how many purses he snatched or grams of cocaine he sold, T-Bone was a great friend.

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