Finding Good Trouble

Chapter 17

"Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America."    -The Honorable John Lewis speaking atop the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 1, 2020

 

We were about finished eating when Darius’ cellphone rang. “Hello?” he asked. Suddenly, a concerned look appeared on his face. “What’s happened, Dad?” He listened a few seconds, closed his phones and gave me a worried look.

I asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I’m not sure,” he replied. “Dad wants me to come home right away. He says something is going on, but he wouldn’t tell me what.” He motioned Sheila to the table and asked for our checks. He rose, handed me a ten and asked me to pay for his meal.

“I’m going with you,” I insisted as I took a twenty from my wallet and handed it to Natalie. “Can you pay for our meals. I’m going to Darius’ house.”

She asked worriedly, “And how do I get home?” When one of the Rosemont girls volunteered to drive her home, Natalie quickly accepted. As we were leaving, she kissed me on my cheek. “Be careful, Parker. I don’t know what is going on, but Darius seems upset.”

“I’ll be careful,” I assured her as I followed Darius from the diner. I asked him to wait until I was sure Natalie had left the parking lot with Darius’ friend.

“What do you think has happened?” I asked as we headed toward his home.

He sighed and replied, “I don’t know. Dad seemed really concerned. I hope something serious isn’t going on.”

When we approached his house, there were two news trucks parked in front. Two cameramen rushed to video us as he pulled into his driveway. A reporter tried to block the car, but Darius slowly pulled forward, forcing him to step into the grass.

“Damn!” I said excitedly. “What is going on?”

“It doesn’t look good,” he responded worriedly.

When we entered the house, Darius cried out, “Dad? Mom? Where are you?”

“We’re in the family room!” his father hollered out downstairs. When we descended the stairs, we saw his parents, Mr. Abrams and a few other men I didn’t recognize.

Darius hurried over to his father and asked excitedly. “What’s happened?”

His father pointed to two chairs that had been placed for us to sit. Pastor Moore began to pace around. He stopped and looked down at Darius. “There was a press conference about an hour ago. Chief Morgan has resigned.”

“Good!” I hissed quietly.

“What? Why?” Darius looked confused. “Why is the press outside?”

Mr. Abrams stood and explained. “This has been going on a few days. We didn’t say anything because we weren’t sure it would happen.” He looked at the other men in the room. “We’ve been petitioning Governor Stanford to become involved in what is happening in Somerset. He paid a visit earlier, and he and Morgan had a very heated conversation.” He waved his hand around. “We were all in the room to present our case. There was a very angry exchange between the Governor and Morgan. Governor Stanford ended up demanding that Morgan resign, and he did.”

Darius stated, “I still don’t understand why reporters are outside our house. We have nothing to do with this.”

Abrams stared defiantly at Darius and said, “Yes, you do. You’re the reason he resigned.”

“You’re blaming me!” shouted Darius. “I had nothing to do with it.”

Pastor Moore interrupted. “No one is blaming you, Darius. Calm down.” He walked over and patted Darius on the shoulder. “Morgan talked to reporters after he stormed out of his office, and he said some pretty harsh things about you and the citizens of Rosemont. Some of it was pretty racist.”

“But I still don’t understand why the press is outside,” he said again.

Abrams replied, “They want a statement from you. They want your reaction to Morgan’s resignation.”

“I’m not talking to them!” insisted Darius. He turned to his father and asked, “Dad, do I have to?”

“No, Son, you don’t,” he replied. “However, I don’t think they are going to leave without seeing you.”

Abrams pulled out his phone and handed it to Darius. “This is a recording of what Morgan said this afternoon. “Watch it.” Darius sat in the chair, and I sat on the arm rest to watch the video with him. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Morgan was extremely upset as he told why he had submitted his resignation to the Governor. He ranted how America was changing and being corrupted by outside forces. He specifically blamed Darius and the Black Lives Matter movement. For some reason, he even managed to place blame on a small number of immigrants coming to Somerset. He said it was impossible to maintain peace in a lawless society filled with people who didn’t embrace America’s patriotic values.

“Racist bastard,” hissed Darius when it was over. “I’m glad he’s no longer the police chief of Somerset.”

I added, “I’m glad he’s gone, too.”

“Now you see why the media is outside,” stated Abrams. “Since he mentioned you specifically, they want a reaction from you as to what he said.”

Darius rose from his chair. “Then I’ll give them one,” he said angrily.

I rose and gripped his arm. “Do you think this is a wise decision?”

“Yeah, Son,” said Pastor Moore. “It is best that we don’t get involved.”

“But I am involved,” insisted Darius. “Did you hear what he said about me? He was implying that I’m some kind of a street thug who came to Somerset to cause trouble.”

“I think you should listen to your father,” I said adamantly. “If you say anything, it will only cause more trouble.”

Darius turned and faced me. “Parker, I’m the captain of my debate team. I’ve been making rebuttals to comments since the ninth grade. Trust me, I know what to say, and what not to say.”

His father asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Yes, Dad, I have to do this.” When he headed toward the door, everyone in the room followed behind him.

We were instantly blinded by several camera lights. I could still see a few reporters, and some of Darius’ neighbors had gathered together toward the side. Darius walked over and briefly spoke to them. They patted him on the back as he stepped away and headed over to me.

“Are you ready?” I asked. I wanted to hold his hand while he talked to the press, but I knew I couldn’t. Instead, I stood to his right while his father and Mr. Abrams stood to his left.

I watched as Darius closed his eyes as if he was praying. He then took a deep breath and looked at the reporters. They pushed microphones and cellphones into his face. “Do you have anything you want to say, Darius?” shouted the reporters. “Do you want to comment on Chief Morgan’s resignation? Do you have anything to say about the things he said earlier? Is the Black Lives Matter movement promoting violence?”

Darius cleared his throat and began to speak. “I did listen to Chief Morgan’s comments just a few minutes ago. I regret that the events for the past week have led to his resignation. However, no one is responsible for that except Chief Morgan himself.”

“How?” a reporter shouted. “Is Morgan a racist?”

“I have no way of looking into the heart of Chief Morgan,” replied Darius. “All I know is what I have witnessed through his actions. And his actions have been racially motivated.”

“How?”

“He did nothing when he saw the video of what his officers did to me,” replied Darius.”

“Officers?” asked the reporter. “I thought there was only one, Officer Anderson.”

Mr. Abrams stepped forward and began to speak. “I am Louis Abrams. I am an attorney representing Mr. Darius Moore and Mr. Parker Frazier.” Suddenly, all the cameras were aimed toward me. They turned back to Mr. Abrams as he continued to speak. “One of the indictments against Police Chief Morgan by the Somerset prosecutor is withholding evidence to a court official.” Mr. Abrams looked at me. “Parker Frazier had in his possession two video tapes of Somerset police officers arresting Darius Moore. Mr. Frazier’s telephone was seized with a subpoena by Chief Morgan. He intentionally destroyed the second video of the arrest by other officers.”

A reporter asked, “Did it show the officers beating Moore also?”

“We’ll never know,” replied Abrams, “since the phone is now missing from the evidence room. Everything I am telling you is now sworn testimony in the court records which are available upon request from the court.” I watched as the reporters frantically took notes. He turned back to Darius. “Now, Mr. Moore would like to continue.”

“I hold no malice for the citizens of Somerset,” he said. “This incident began as a result of racist comments and actions taken at a basketball game between Rosemont and Somerset. It is unfortunate that it happened, but we can take this as a learning experience. We must set aside our differences and move on.” He looked at me and then continued, “I have met a lot of wonderful people from Somerset over the past two weeks. People I would never have met if the incident hadn’t occurred. Just this afternoon, students from Somerset and Rosemont united to peacefully protest another incident at the Somerset High School. I am encouraged by what I saw.

“No, I don’t think that Somerset is a racist community. However, like most communities throughout our great nation, there are those who do hold on to the racist beliefs of the past. We witnessed that in the gymnasium two weeks ago, and I personally was the victim of systemic racism within the Somerset Police Department. I did nothing wrong. However, I, like thousands of young black men, am judged merely by the color of my skin.”

“Are you suing the police department?” Darius ignored the question and continued speaking.

“It is time now for good people to step forward. I’ve heard my father,” he turned toward his father and held his hand, “tell many audiences the words of the late Congressman, John Lewis. When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something. He also said, now is the time to get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.

“So, I don’t know where we go from here tonight. But we must come together to help eliminate the wrongs of the past. Chief Morgan was a relic of the past. We must move on and spread love, hope and understanding. We must create good and necessary trouble. I will do my part. And I ask that anyone listening to my voice tonight to join me.”

With that, Darius turned and gripped my hand as we walked up the sidewalk toward his home. We could hear reporters shouting out questions and his neighbors applauding, but he ignored them. Once inside his home, he collapsed in my arms.

We went into the family room, and we were soon joined by his father, Mr. Abrams and the others. They praised Darius for the way he handled himself. His father proudly said, “You made a wonderful speech, Darius. I couldn’t have done better myself.” He walked over and embraced Darius.

Darius replied, “Sadly, it won’t do any good. Most people in Somerset will just be concerned about losing their police chief. I’ll be blamed for that.”

“At least they were presented with the other side of the story,” said Abrams. “Morgan won’t be controlling the narrative.”

Darius looked worriedly at Abrams and asked, “What is going to happen now?”

“I honestly can’t tell you,” he replied. “These things can go in several different directions.” He looked over at Pastor Morgan and the other men. “They can tell you that.”

Darius’ father said, “It is really up to the residents of Somerset and Rosemont. We can continue fighting this battle, or we can make peace.”

“How do we do that, Father?”

His father smiled and replied, “You built a bridge tonight by your statements. People can cross that bridge, or they can tear it down.” He looked at the other men who were leaders of other churches and civil rights groups. “We’ll be out in the morning trying to bring people together. Several members of leadership within the Somerset community have approached us and asked to meet with us. We also hope to meet with whomever is appointed the new police chief of Somerset.”

I asked, “What about Somerset High School? Principal Nettleman is as racist as Morgan is. Something needs to be done about him too.”

Pastor Morgan replied, “We’re working on it. We’re meeting with Superintendent Ivy tomorrow afternoon. He’s already called a special board meeting for Tuesday evening.” He turned to Mr. Abrams. “Louis will be there speaking on behalf of the Peter Schelling boy. I’m sure there will be others who will have a lot to say about the incident at the basketball game.”

“I hope he gets fired,” I commented angrily.

“That decision will be left up to the board,” replied Pastor Moore. “It is up to all of us to make sure they have enough to justify removing him.”

“Oh, they’ll have enough,” I replied. “If my father speaks, he’ll wish he had never been principal.”

Pastor Moore patted me on my back, laughed and said, “Yes, Parker. I’ve met your father and he can be quite persuasive.”

Darius rose from his chair and stretched. “I’m getting tired,” he yawned. “Come on, Parker.” He grabbed my hand and began pulling me away. “We’ll go to my room and talk before I take you home.”

Pastor Moore laughed and said, “Make sure talking is all you do.”

“Dad!” shrieked Darius as we entered his bedroom.

As soon as he closed the door, he turned and embraced me. “Hold me, Parker,” he begged as he clung to me tightly.

“It’s okay,” I whispered in his ear as I tried to calm him. He was still emotional after speaking to reporters. I led him over to his bed, removed several articles of clothing, and we sat. I continued to cradle him in my arms.

“I don’t understand why people have to be so mean,” he said sadly. “It’s so easy to just be nice. I don’t understand where the hate comes from.”

I wanted to give him a good answer, but I couldn’t. “Sometimes, I guess, nice people have hate in their heart.” I thought of all my friends and neighbors in Somerset. Until two weeks ago, I considered them nice people.

He pulled back, looked at me and replied, “Then they aren’t nice people.”

“True,” I replied sadly as I held him tightly.

Nothing seemed the same anymore. My safe and comfortable world had been shattered. I had opened a door and peered out into a cold and bitter world. If the incident in the gymnasium and Darius’ beating hadn’t occurred, I would still be living in my safe spot. I was still debating whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.

It is a bad thing because my life has changed so much. I’ve seen my friends for who they truly are. Like in the Wizard of Oz, the curtain has been pulled back, and I see life as it truly is.

However, it is a good thing because I’ve found love. If the things hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be holding the man I love in my arms and cradling him. I’ve also found new friends, and I’m learning about true friendship. I’m not following someone like Dan around just so I can feel like I belong. I now have found friends where I know I belong. Natalie, Peter, Amanda, Myles, Dwayne, Sheila and even Mr. Charley are true friends I can trust. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not just so I can fit in. And Darius. There are no words to describe how deeply in love I am falling. Each day brings us closer together. I would take my life being shattered for the love I have now found. I know there will be many difficult roads ahead of us, but we are stronger together. We’ll face them, and we will survive.

“You’re awful quiet,” remarked Darius as he looked into my eyes.

I replied, “I’m thinking about you, us.” I then kissed him passionately.

We lay on the bed and just held each other. No words were needed. It was also not a time for sex. We just wanted to be close and to hear each other’s heartbeat. Everything that had happened earlier disappeared, and we were embraced with peace and calm.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. We were suddenly surprised by a pounding on Darius’ bedroom door. We sat up, and Darius hollered out, “Come in.”

Myles rushed in, followed by Peter. Myles rushed over and hugged Darius tightly. “Oh, Baby,” he cried. “Are you okay?” Peter was also looking down with a worried look.

“Yes, I’m okay,” assured Darius. “How did you know something is wrong?”

Myles stepped back and put his hands on his hips. “Honey,” he replied. “We just got through watching the news, and you were the lead story.”

“What!” shrieked Darius as he rose from the bed. “I was on the news?”

“Honey,” cooed Myles. “You were fab-u-lous! You really told everyone what is up.” He threw up his hand and dramatically stated, “We have to create good and necessary trouble.” My eyes widened when he went over and put his arm around Peter. “Child,” he laughed. “We just did that.” Peter’s face couldn’t have turned any redder. Myles looked at him and laughed. He kissed Peter on the lips and said, “Aw, Baby, did I embarrass you?” Before he could say anything, Myles kissed him again.

I looked surprisedly at Peter and asked, “Uh, Peter. What is going on?” I had known him all my life. We weren’t close friends, but we often ate lunch together. I had never considered him to be gay.

Myles giggled and put his arm around Peter. Peter’s face couldn’t have been any redder. “I’ll tell you what is going on,” responded Myles as he pulled him closer to him. “This pretty white boy just rocked my world. If I had known you white boys were such great lovers, I would have hit on you a long time ago.” Peter pulled away from Myles and left the room.

“Oopsie,” said Myles as he covered his mouth. “I guess I went too far. Sorry.” He turned and rushed from the room to find Peter.

“That was weird,” remarked Darius when Myles closed the door. “Did you know your friend was gay?”

“I had no idea,” I replied.

“Well,” he said. “If anyone can bring someone out, it’s Myles.” Just then, Myles and Peter returned to the room. They were holding hands. Peter refused to look at me.

“Peter,” I said as I gripped Darius’ hand. “It’s okay. I’m happy you’re gay.”

Peter looked up with tears in his eyes. “I didn’t know how to tell anyone.”

Myles giggled and said, “Honey, if people see you with me, you won’t have to tell anyone.” He leaned in and gave Peter a kiss on the cheek.

“So, are you two an item?” asked Darius.

Myles looked at Peter and replied, “That’s up to you?”

Peter smiled and said, “Yeah, we’re an item.”

“Oh, goodie,” laughed Myles. “I got me a fine white man.”

Darius kissed me on my cheek and said, “Me, too.”

Myles said, “I’m bored.” He looked at his watch. “It’s almost nine on a Saturday night. Let’s do something.”

“What?” asked Darius.

“I don’t know,” replied Myles. “We could go get ice cream at that place over on Detroit Street.” He turned to Peter. “All white boys love ice cream.” Peter nodded his head.

A few minutes later, we were in Darius’ car heading downtown for ice cream.

 

Email: ronyx@themustardjar.com 

 

Take a minute and visit me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheMustardJarRonyx

I'll post an announcement when a new chapter is available.