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Actions Speak Loudly
When Brian got to Doug’s house there were already a lot of people there, and more kept arriving. Music was playing loudly from somewhere in the house, and people were gathered in groups in the front yard, talking, laughing, and dancing. Brian started walking towards the party, wondering briefly where Doug’s parents were. One of Brian’s friends called to him from a group of people and motioned for Brian to join them, but Brian just nodded at him and kept walking. He made his way through the crowds of teenagers, with cheerful noises from the party all around him. A few people looked at him as he passed, curious or puzzled by his serious, determined expression. Most people patted him on the back and congratulated him, oblivious to his solemn mood.
Brian just kept walking until he found what he was looking for.
It wasn’t hard to find Doug, even amidst so many people; he was surrounded by a large group of his football buddies, including the Quarterback, Jake, and was recapping his winning touchdown enthusiastically. Brian came up behind Doug, and firmly tapped him on the shoulder. Doug stopped mid-sentence and turned around, obviously bothered by the interruption. His expression changed to one of surprise as he caught sight of Brian.
“Uh, hey man, what’s up?”
“I need to talk to you.” Brian replied, totally serious. “Now.”
“Uh, yeah, sure thing, man.” Doug said, after a slight hesitation. He shrugged apologetically to his group, and followed Brian through the crowd, through a barrage of high fives, back slaps and cheers, and finally to the edge of the yard where it was relatively quiet. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence between them. A car passed noiselessly on the nearby street as Brian started.
“I heard you make a nasty remark back on the field; you called the other team ‘dirty black kids.’” He said. “Well, in case you haven’t noticed, you’ve got some black kids on your team. Including me.”
Doug was taken aback for a split second, the confusion clouding his handsome face, and then he smiled.
“Aw, c’mon man, is that what this is all about? You know I was joking, I was just caught up in the moment, you know how that is.” Doug’s expression as he said this was annoyingly smug. “Besides,” he continued, “I don’t care if you’re black ‘cause you’re my teammate.” Doug reached out to place a hand on Brian’s shoulder, but Brian pulled away, clenching his hands into fists.
“This isn’t about me,” he spat, “This is about the fact that you offended my race.” His words were sharp, like darts, his jaw was tense with anger.
Doug replied, almost whining,
“Ok, ok, what do you want from me? An apology? I’m sorry, ok. I’m sorry! There’s your apology. Happy?”
“No, I’m not happy!” By now Brian was yelling, “I don’t want your lame apology, I just want you to take me seriously!”
Now Doug was angry too. Brian had called him away from his party, his admirers for this? He took a menacing step towards Brian, and started to raise a fist. He opened his mouth to yell something back, but his buddy, Jake, came up from behind him.
“Hey Doug, cool it. What’s going on here?” He asked, grabbing Doug’s upraised arm. Instead of answering, Doug turned around and pushed Jake, hard. Jake stumbled backwards into the street, where the surprised expression on his face was illuminated by the blinding headlights of an oncoming car. Brakes screeched, but the car was going way too fast, and it slammed into Jake with a sickening thud. The car jerked to a stop, and the driver jumped out, and he, Doug and Brian ran over to Jake’s body, which was sticking out halfway from under the car. Focused on Jake, they were completely unaware of the chaos unfolding around them: girls screaming, people shouting, crowding around, crying. The lively party music was still playing loudly in the background, clashing horribly. Doug grabbed hold of his buddy’s hand, and tears started running down his face. He didn’t seem to notice, not making any effort to wipe them away.
“What have I done?” He whispered, his voice was choked with emotion. He looked up and saw his own guilt reflected in Brian’s and the driver’s haunted eyes, the three of them connected by this tragedy, and the guilt that they all shared.