The Unauthorized Biography of Rosco P. Coltrane

When it's my moment in the sun, I won't forget that I am blessed, but every hero walks alone, thinking of more things to confess

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Location: Owensboro, Kentucky, United States


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Wake Me Up When November Ends (Why I Hate November and Thanksgiving)

The days become shorter this time of year. The days get colder, or at least they are supposed to. And somewhere between Election Day and Thanksgiving, I get the doldrums. I get depressed and sad. I don't really want to do anything and seem to feel sick. It happens every year around November.

I hate November. As long as I can remember, it has been a bad month.

This is probably why I haven't written much this month.

These are the reasons why...

Sometimes I see the two of them in nightmares. Both so young and boyish. Both so opposite of each other. One is the nerdiest kid at school. He is wearing a Reds jacket and carrying a half dozen books in both arms. The other is nothing but a baby-faced Puerto Rican trying to fix his hair without a mirror. He is cursing in Spanish through his busted lip and braces.

They try to talk to me, but I run away from them. When they finally catch up to me, the only stare at me with hollow eyes. And I can do nothing to out run them, nothing to break their stares...

Ryan and I were both nerds. We both loved the Cincinnati Reds and were so excited in 1990 when they started off so hot, eventually winning the Series that fall. That spring, we high-fived each other everyday in the hallways of middle school. We had become friends because we both had a scheduling snafu in which we didn't have a class in the early part of the afternoon. We both worked in the school office, we ran errands and notes all across the school. But mostly we just sat in a little room filled with the school's permanent records, looking at other people's grades and talking baseball.

Ryan was a year older than me. He was by far the smartest kid in my town. He took high school classes when he was in middle school. And if he would have lived long enough, I am sure that he would have taken college courses in high school.

He moved onto high school before me. I had only seen him a few times in the hallways of high school. We talked a few times about baseball and the disappointing season that the Reds had. We were already talking about what could happen in the off season. But he never got a chance to "wait 'til next year."

There was no next year.

The weekend before Thanksgiving he went into the hospital with stomach pains. His intestines ruptured. They pumped him with blood and more blood. There was a blood drive at my high school. I tried to give some of my blood, but they said I was too young.

He died the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. He bled to death.

They made an announcement on the P.A. about it. My English teacher cried in front of the class, and I don't think we learned anything for the rest of the day. We had already learned enough, we had learned the cold truth that for the rest of our lives, whether we liked it or not, our friends and loved ones would die. And there wasn't anything any of us could do about it.

It was a tough lesson to learn. Still is...

Jay was always a funny kid. There were students in my group that I taught that had a great sense of humor, and there were others that didn't. Jay had a good sense of humor. He was quick witted. He could talk and talk and bullshit anyone and everyone. We all knew what he was doing, but we liked him so much that I don't think any of us minded.

His mother didn't speak a lick of English. So Jay pretty much translated everything for her, which was part of the reason he had been sent to us. He had gotten into a little bit of trouble with the law. Nothing too serious, but he was a good and smart kid. If we helped him out, gotten him straightened out, maybe he could go far in this world.

Whenever I would read poetry to the group, he would always tell everyone to shutup so he could listen. He would close his eyes so that he could imagine every single word.

He read a lot. He liked books. I would always pick up a couple of extra books whenever I was out for all my guys. Jay didn't really care what the book was about, he just liked long books. Long books to occupy his time, his mind. He didn't want to think about his mother back home in Pawtucket, without her son, without her translator.

I always thought Jay would end up doing all right. I figured that camp was a one time thing for him. I put hope into him that one day, he would make me proud.

So I was shocked to read the online version of the Providence Journal two years ago and read a story about him dying in his kitchen. He had a party. Someone brought a gun. He was shot in the stomach and bled to death there on the linoleum floor.

I still can't decide what I believe, or more accurately what I want to believe. Somedays I want to believe that it was an accident, something that just happened. That he was doing great, but a bad apple brought a gun to his party. That makes me feel slightly better. That maybe, somehow, I had made a difference and this was just something freakish that happened, and nothing more.

But deep down inside, I know that it probably wasn't an accident. He probably hadn't cleaned his life up. He somehow had bullshit everyone that cared about him. And in the end, things caught up to him.

Sometimes, when I am out driving and my eyes go numb, I can see his mother the day after his death on her hands and knees, scrubbing and scrubbing the blood stains off her kitchen floor. I can see her walking around that spot with the slight discoloration, not wanting to walk on that spot. I can see her tears, I can feel them too. I can feel her tears running down my face as I suddenly snap back to reality, trying to focus on the rest of the road...


Blogger john pelphrey said...

That's some of the best writting I've ever read of yours. Sad, but vivid and full of truth.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Shelli said...

Thank you for sharing those stories with us.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Sandy Mc said...

{{{HUGS}}}on your losses. All I can say is our response to life is a choice. You may want to spend some time in Phil 4:4-8 and decide if God would have you think on these memories in a different way. And remember, God has a plan for everyone even though often it’s purpose not understood. Just think on Job’s kids…and know God is great!

9:23 PM  

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