He was raised by a bunch of men who defined every valuable thing by the color of the man or woman who possessed it.
If a fancy car was driven by a white man, it was a sign of success and class. By a black man, it musta been stolen.
For the first fifteen years of his life, he didn’t know better. He thought the same, talked the same, and figured everybody else been raised like him.
Then he almost died. A man he didn’t know, a man owed him nothing, saved his life. A man with skin many shades darker than his own.
Racing the back roads, he flipped his car. A black man walking the road with a big pack on his back stopped to help. His girlfriend told him in the hospital the man trained as a medic in the Army.
Without him, without his skills and his mercy, he would have died.
His life in the hands of a man different than he was changed everything. Because his life was just as valuable, and he was just as grateful, no matter the skin of his savior.
For the three years after that, he tried to change his people. Tried to get em to see sense, talk sense, understand he’d have died if that man thought like they did.
It was no good. He lit out on his own when he turned 18 and never looked back.
In California, he got arrested for public drunkenness and ended up in county for thirty days.
In the cell next to his was a man he didn’t know but recognized. A man who kept his blood from bleeding out onto a dirt road in backwoods Louisiana.
“You saved me.”
“What you in for?”
“Drinkin’. I drink too much most days.”
“Me too.” He swallowed hard. “Thanks for savin’ me, mister.”
“Names Cole and you’re welcome, son.”
“You play chess, Dennis?”
“Yes, sir, I reckon I would.”
© Shayne McClendon