I walked to the back of the 13: Canton/Fells Point bus, and plopped down on the chair. I sat beside a city worker, in front of a nodding fiend, and across from a tall-slinky-night-skinned guy with large headphones. My eyes started leaning out of the window, and I saw a couple arguing. I don’t know about what, but I could tell it was over what seemed to be their daughter, because the woman kept shouting at the man, pointing at the baby.
I heard a voice behind me say, “Does this bus go over East?,” A young lady, in a smutty white tee-shirt asked, to the half-sleep-nodding-fiend behind me. The fiend said, “Yea it go over East.”
“By Monument St.?”
“Naw, this the wrong bus,” he replied.
This guy was high as hell, giving the girl wrong information, so I had to jump in. “Yea it goes pass Monument St,” I said.
“Ok, I’m just a little shaken up. I gotta get to John Hopkins emergency room.”
“Yea this will take you th— “
“My boyfriend got stabbed up in school,” the young lady said, while cutting me off.
Everybody sitting on the back of the bus became still like dead meat, magnetizing their eyes to the young lady.
“In school? How old are you?,” a dude with a sharp fade and sunshades said.
“Damn, foreal? You don’t look 17,” the dude said while licking his three gold teeth clean.
The way he was salivating, lookin at the young lady’s breast, I knew that he really wanted to say, “You got some big ass titties and some thick thighs to be 17 years old.”
The young lady was much larger than the average 17 year old, her face hosted several scars, that each probably have their own story. And her breast poked out past her nose. I don’t believe that anyone would’ve guessed 17 either.
I asked her where did her boyfriend go to school, and was he “ok?” She told me that he attends Digital Harbor, a school in downtown Baltimore.
“How old is your BF?” the nodding fiend whispered, as drool dripped down his dry chin.
“So he 15? and you 17?,” he asked.
“Yea, but he doesn’t act his age. He’s mature foreal.”
“How do you let someone bring a knife to school and stab somebody up? That’s fuckin crazy,” the young lady kept asking herself, the entire bus ride, as she chained every enslaved tear that cradled in her ducts.
I looked back and told the young lady, “I’ll get off on your stop, and show you how to get to the hospital.”
After I made that statement, she insisted on asking me, “Is this the stop?” every time the bus pulled over to let someone on or off. I understood her anxiety, and would kindly say “Nah, I got you.” I get it though, people in Baltimore can barely trust their own family, so I see why she had difficulty trusting me, a complete stranger.
The bus stop that the young lady was yearning for, finally came. I told her to follow me, as we walked up Orleans St., towards the children’s emergency room.
“So what’s your name?”
“It’s _____, but everyone calls me Dee.”
“That’s a nice name. Is your Boyfriend ok? Did you talk to him?”
“I pray that he is.”
When she said that I imagined the amount of people who prayed for someone to be “ok,” and having those prayers fall short like airballs on free-throw-lines. “I pray that (insert name) is ok,” a term I’ve been hearing since a child. That same term, for several occasions, has been followed by candle light vigils, R.I.P. tee-shirts and dog tags, massive alcohol spilling, blunt rolling, and phrases like, “Damn, I can’t believe they took my nigga,” a phrase that’s usually swallowed with an extra big gulp of hard liquor.
“I pray he is too. “He’ll be ok.”
(Read the end of the bluest eye and look at the preachers part on the end)
Prior to saying that, I didn’t realize that I produced and consumed this myth, “He’ll be ok…She’ll be ok,” too many times in life. As if I know God’s work. As if I know, God’s “plan.” As if, I’m some sort of prophet. As if, I haven’t seen more deaths, than revivals, after producing and consuming this lie.
In Baltimore, the annual death toll is 300, therefore, every week it’s a high chance that you know someone who got killed, or you could’ve known them through a mutual friend.
The words “I just hope they’re ok” starts to become synonymous with the word “living.” And living, simply means, not in a grave or turned into ashes.
Being “ok” is getting surgery, and leaving the hospital with at least half of your face and skull, or in a wheelchair with no legs, or wit both of your legs, and no hands. The only thing that’s not “ok,” is dying. I was told, and believed that Fidel, Davon, Deek, Jerrod, Trav, Sydney, Tom, Lil g Baby, Gunna, Darren, Larry, Granny, Chris, and the others, were gonna be, ok. However, I have vivid images of them, cornered in my memory bank, lying in caskets, or copies of their obituaries that I sometimes weep over.
Maybe we say someone will be “ok,” because in every mystery, lies hope.
“This is so crazy, I left my phone home. I came back in from school and had 20 missed calls. I called his mother back, and she told me that he got stabbed up. That shit really crazy yo. How do you let someone stab somebody up in schools,” she said, as one of those enslaved tears ran down her face like a runaway, crashing onto the concrete. I could tell that more tears wanted to escape, but even Harriet Tubman, couldn’t free all slaves. We made it to the hospital, and she thanked me for guiding her.
We departed, I looked back, and called her name,
“He’ll be ok.”
By Kondwani Fidel