A Beating, A Prayer
After they took the body of my friend away, I lost my ability to move. They’d left the twisted sheet he hung himself with, still tied to the curtain rod. The noose taunted me, its wide mouth ready to claim another black body.
My father thought the Word would save us. It would save me from the uncertainty and panic that kept my knees buckled. “Real men stand up straight, son. Real men hold themselves with the confidence of the Lord.” It would save Satchel, my best friend, from his sweetness, his lilting voice, his soft, piano-player fingers that reached for your arm when he spoke. He believed if we left what we knew and traveled, if we focused on memorizing the Word, repeating it over and over to those sinner-bent strangers with outstretched hands, we would find salvation. We would find our manhood.
Satchel’s reclamation of his body weighed the air in the already stuffy room. I knew that what he did was supposed to be a sin, but in a way it was also an assertion. Even though I wasn’t all the way grown yet, I knew that Satchel had given in to his heart and couldn’t bear a world filled with men like my father: brutal, unwilling to change.