June 10, 2011
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“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”-Paul Boese


As I lay on the arctic cement of the dimly lit alley, I felt a thick puddle forming underneath my body. My head throbbed from the blows of the crowd that was now walking away. My legs, arms, and stomach were numb from their bats thrashing at me and at that point; I was able to convince myself I would die in that very spot, without my pride or dignity. I managed to turn my head and caught a glimpse of my best friend laughing along with the crowd, getting smaller and smaller. Then a pair of deep olive eyes caught my attention from a couple feet away.


It was my freshman year at Donnelly College and I was walking in downtown Kansas City with some of my dorm mates. I had just cut off my hair that had been growing since my junior high years. I always had a stubborn streak when it came to my parents. They had wanted me to be the average boy who always ate breakfast in the morning, was naturally good at sports, didn’t try but got good grades in school anyways, and got a routine haircut. Of course, I was the complete opposite. I went through a period in my life where I wouldn’t eat anything that was bigger than my fist, I enjoyed watching sports but always tripped over my big feet whenever I got onto a court or field, I passed high school but only got into the community colleges, and I would not let anyone that held something sharp go within fifty feet of my hair.

A week before I started my first classes of college, I stepped into a barbershop and stepped out with only an inch of hair left on my head because I wanted a fresh look for a brand-new start. I had always thought of high school as a trial run for who I wanted to be and what I wanted to be known for. I was childish and made many mistakes throughout my four years and now was the time for me to start all over and become the person I always wanted to be. I had always looked around and people seemed so satisfied with their lives and who they were becoming. They didn’t seem regretful in any way nor did it seem as though they second-guessed themselves for every decision they made. Also, I know deep down another reason why I cut my hair was because I knew that in Morris, Kansas it wasn’t a big deal because everyone knew who was a Black or a Yellow, but in Kansas City people would have assumed I was a Yellow because of the shaggy appearance my long hair would have given me.

Some people wanted to split up to get food and I ended up walking down Elliot Street at midnight with Jack McFallin, my best friend. Jack and I grew up together in Morris. Our moms were good friends back in the day and stayed in the small town when they both graduated from high school. They ended up pregnant at the same time. They wanted one of their kids to be a boy and the other a girl so that they could grow up and get married but our moms settled for two boys who grew up and became best friends.

“So Garrison, how is Mr. Hudson’s class? Or should I ask about the student teacher, Miss. Engleton instead?” Jack asked me sarcastically.
“It’s fine.” I replied. I started to say more but caught myself just in time. I knew how Jack felt about the Yellows. Even though our moms grew up together, they had different views on the new world of Blacks and Yellows. Jack’s childhood was filled with hate for them because his father had ran away to Just, the area that was once the west coast of the United States but is now where Blacks and Yellows can live together in peace, and married one he had met at a random gas station one morning. He told me about his mother crying for days and locking herself in her room, refusing to eat or drink anything. I don’t blame him either; I’m sure if my father had left my mother in such a horrible mess, I would vow to hate all living creatures that were labeled Yellow as well but my father didn’t. In fact, my parents have a great marriage. They taught me that no one should get treated poorly for something they can’t control. That’s why I am with Miss. Engleton. She might be a Yellow but I don’t look into her eyes and see that tint compressed in her almond iris; I see a woman who likes to play board games on Saturday nights, taps her foot to every Frank Sinatra song, hides Hershey Kisses in her left hand drawer of her desk so she can munch on them whenever she want, and calls me out whenever I’m being weird or just a plain goof. I just don’t see the difference between Blacks and Yellows; call me colorblind.

“You shouldn’t be messing with those Yellows, Garrison,” said Jack. He slowly slid his hands in his pockets and when his eyes met mine, I saw there were no crinkles on his face for confusion or smirked lips for smugness. Everything was in its natural state besides his eyes, which were filled with disappointment and I knew it was because of me. “They want nothing from us Blacks than to corrupt our minds with their disgusting thoughts and ways. They don’t see the world like we do. They are always looking for our weaknesses, our flaws. The Yellows do all they can to keep us from becoming what we can be. All they want is to see us fail and crumble to the ground in a pathetic lump. Soon enough, they’ll be taking our women and jobs from our very fingertips.”

Jack and I have argued about this topic numerous times and I mean numerous. We go on for hours; him bashing on the Yellows and me defending them. I’m lucky that Jack knew me before he started hating them or else I’m sure he would have left my side a long time ago. I wasn’t in the mood to talk about it though so our conversation died soon after, and we continued walking. I looked out to the street and saw the Line that was permanently engraved in the middle. Back in Morris, there was never really a set Line. Blacks and Yellows knew which property was whose and kept to their own kind. There would be some days where someone would slip up but the worst they would get would be exile with their family from the town for a month. But in a big city like Kansas City, the Death rule was carried out, no exceptions. My thought was cut off when I heard a noise from my left. At first I thought it was some raccoons rummaging around some trash cans for food and took another step forward, but then I heard voices.

I could hear distinctly a woman and a couple of men’s voices down the alley but couldn’t make out their words from where I was standing. I was too busy squinting into the shadows that I didn’t realize Jack had stopped walking and turned around to ask me what the hell I was doing. I didn’t have an answer for him but something inside urged me on and I headed down the alley. I didn’t understand who would be meeting up in a place like this; the way the wind whistled faintly in the air gave me goose bumps down my spine. As I crept nearer, I could hear the anger in the men’s voices and the fear in the woman’s. An alley light above them on the building had turned on and I slipped behind a trash can just in time to see a fist swing in the air and smash down on the womanly face.

I closed my eyes hoping they would stop but I kept on hearing thud, thud, thud. I wondered to myself if I should try to stop this but then remembered I saw at least four other figures excluding the woman’s in the alley. Within five minutes, the noise finally quieted down and I opened my eyes to a surreal scene.

“Jack, my man! What are you doing out this late by yourself?” asked one of the assaulters. I shuddered; I could recognize that voice from anywhere. It was Randy Thorn, a boy from Morris who went to the same high school as Jack and I. I didn’t know him well but saw him at a couple parties throughout the years. He had a low, nasally voice so it was very identifiable. I was flabbergasted; I had no idea Jack had any connection with him.

“Oh you know, just walking the streets,” replied Jack. I made a mental note to thank him later for not mentioning me hiding. “Hell, you guys just beat a Yellow and didn’t even give me a call. What happened to old times? I use to be the one who started the beatings and called you guys up. You can’t even return the favor? Plus, people could walk by and just turn to the side and see you guys pounding this woman!” said Jack. The men chuckled. My stomach started to get queasy as I slowly processed what Jack had just said. I sensed the uneasiness in Jack’s voice, figuring it was because he knew I was listening in, and could tell that he had been hiding this morbid aspect of him from me for years.

“Sorry Jack, this was an in-the-moment type of thing. We were meeting up with a cocaine dealer we had heard about in this alley, making the usual exchange when she looked up and I saw she was a Yellow. Can you believe it? She was doing business on our side of the Line. These Yellows just don’t know when to stop. I bet she has been secretly supplying Blacks for years and they didn’t even know it was a goddamn Yellow. Besides, it’s not like anyone cares about this lowlife piece of s***,” Randy said while spitting on the body on the ground. “Come on, we’ll buy you some of Joe’s burgers. We were about to get something to eat anyways.” And with that, Jack left with the men and left me there, crouching behind a trash can.

I could hear the woman faintly groan from a couple feet away from me and I decided to go over to check if she was near death. As I knelt down to examine the woman, I could see that her brown wavy hair was covered in blood, dripping from an opening in her scalp. I turned her over and saw that her lip was bruised and bleeding and her left eye was swollen shut, but her right eye was what caught my interest. Her lashes were perfectly curved and covered her top lid greedily. The iris of her eye had the most vibrant olive color but the pupil was not black. Instead, it was tinted yellow. I hesitated then, knowing I was in danger of helping a foe.

As I laid her head back down on the alleyway, getting ready to walk out and deciding I would just forget about this night, she surprised me by grabbing my wrist. It wasn’t harsh enough to pull me back but I decided to kneel back down and hear what she had to say.

“ Help me…please,” she whispered.

“I can’t, let me go. I’ll go call the Yellow police and they’ll be here soon. They’ll actually be able to help you.” I answered, trying to get back on my feet. S***, I immediately wished I was somewhere else.

“No, I don’t have time! Take the piece of paper out of my pocket, call my son, and tell him to get his ass over here,” I could hear the strain in her voice as she tried to finish her sentence, “That is all I am asking.” I was uncertain about whether there was anyone else in the alley, watching me converse with a Yellow but knew that no one would be willing to come here at this time of night just to spot a potential defector. I reached into her pocket and pulled out a small, crinkled notepad paper. It had ‘Jerrin 937-284-2778’ scribbled on it in black pen. Was this Jerrin Daughtry’s number, the notorious Yellow? He tried to bomb New York City last year, successfully bombed Atlanta seven months ago, and successfully ambushed Denver last May, pushing out all the anti-Yellow Blacks in Colorado and claiming it as a Just area. He is the Number One Wanted Yellow and most despised leader in the United States. He knew this and hasn’t been heard of since his attack on Denver.

Here I was with a dying Yellow, who had no idea who I was, trusting me with a piece of paper that could ruin all of their future plans. For all she knew, I could give this phone number to the Black police and have them track it down to his hideout. Yet with all the advantages this could bring to the Blacks, I decided to pull out my phone and started to dial 9-3-7-2-8-

“Well well well, I guess what the kids on campus were saying about you were true Garrison.” I looked up to see Randy and the other men blocking the alleyway with Jack in the back of the cluster. They had bats in their hands this time. I guess they were coming back to finish the job. “You’re seeing that Yellow student teacher aren’t you? What a joke. We give those Yellows a chance to learn from our people and they have sex with us in return. Their women are made up of straight whores. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have an STD,” said Randy as he led the group closer. The dragging of his bat on the pavement gave me shivers. “We’ll give you one minute to explain to us why you’re kneeling down beside a Yellow.”

Immediately I knew this was the moment that could change my life, for the better or for the worst. The next words I spoke would determine which one I would choose. I could go on in life and pretend I hate the Yellows. I could act disgusted whenever one touched me, lie about how stupid and lazy they are, fake outrage about their existence, make up horrible stories of how one did me wrong. I could promote the idea that Blacks are superior to them, claim we always would be, create hatred where there wasn’t any and more hatred where there was, agree with all discriminational statements made towards them. I could go on with my life, achieving what I could and living carefree and all I would have to do in return was to pretend and lie. My other option was to stand up for this woman’s life and suffer the consequences of the assaulters, right here, right now. It was an easy decision.

“I was helping her out. She’s dying and needs me to call-” I didn’t get to finish because a bat came swinging down on my shoulder and I collapsed onto the ground. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!” My shoulder throbbed with pain and it seemed as though the rest of my body vibrated from the swing as well. I held my breath and gritted my teeth as my body tensed up from the shock. As it took full effect, I started moaning from the blow.

“Wrong answer,” said Randy, his shoes inches away from my face. “Jack, come here! This will make up for us not calling you earlier. Instead of a Yellow, you’ll get to kill a traitor. Those are always the best. You’re taking out the trash of our kind, doing some good for the rest of us.” I look up to see Jack accepting the bat from Randy and turning towards me. I look up to the eyes of my best friend and still see the disappointment in them. Yet there is more this time. I notice that there are tears on the verge of breaking past his waterline, a crease of concern between his eyebrows which are pulled together, his cheeks are raised, and lips are tight. I see his pleading calls but we both know that it is too late to do anything else. I chose this path and he must do what he has to do to survive. I forgive him for hating Yellows because he can’t change his past. He was raised to hate them. I just wish he would have been able to open his mind to the possibility that the past doesn’t always have to determine the future. Jack raised the bat and smashed it back down.

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