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The sound of rain…and its allusive lure. A little black boy watched the droplets on the window and waited to see which one would win as they glided down the pane. It is sometimes hard to distinguish the different sounds, of footsteps pushing down on the weak floor boards and the wet sky pushing down on the earth. Their deceptive voices camouflage the coming chaos. The faceless man removes his belt, eyes bloodshot from his frequent affair with a bottle or can, and proceeds to kick the shit out of the little black boy, already crippled by the burden of being forgotten by the rest of the world. The beatings had begun long before these faceless men pulled their belts off and projected their fears and self hatred on cheap drinks and children. They beat him because he was there, because he existed, because he was a tiny splotch on the earth that could be wiped up and forgotten. It was worst for him because of his dark skin, a skin that echoed the night. No one wants a dark child. No one loves a dark child. Every parent wonders how much easier life would be if their dark child had flowing blonde hair, blue eyes, and had no color. The little black boy was dropped in a dumpster when he was only twelve hours old under the veil of night. Sitting in there amid the smell of trash, his small brown eyes filled with uncertainty, helplessly alive, but helplessly not wanted or needed in the world. The cries for help hit the mother in the face, like a cold, stinging wind. So she turned and gathered the unwanted and unneeded black baby and carried the burden down the darkened streets and into her life.  

******

He always got hit while his mother was gone. She worked, sometimes to support the little black boy and sometimes to support the vein near her elbow. The cashier salary could barely sustain the urges that grew inside her, let alone the black boy. When the needle was pressed against her and slid in, the shit hit her bloodstream and made her feel alive and dead. Those warm tears of ecstasy mimicked her son’s cold tears of solitude. It was her mother’s fault for prying her from a life in the city and bringing her out to Idaho. She belonged to the night, the glaring city lights that guided her into the arms of mayhem and pleasure and into the arms of the black boy’s father. Those delicate years that formed her oblivion. That’s what she thought as her eyes rolled back and the world around her dissolved into a crude satisfying blur.

******

The little black boy’s mind didn’t have to work when he got beat, just the hot tears running down his cheek and the rain drowning his courage. The courage to feel anything. The little black boy had become numb over the years. Constant neglect has that effect. Devoid of feeling the pain associated with living, the little black boy focused on beauty.

******

The only little black boy in Lewiston, Idaho. The word nigger still stung despite the country being labeled post-racial. These crackers hated niggers. It was in their eyes and on their tongue and in their knuckles and on the bottom of their shoes. Nothing needed to be said; tension flowed through the tap water and bubbled over on the playground. The little black boy hid in one of the bathroom stalls during recess and read comic books to avoid going through what he already experienced at home when his mother’s faceless men would stagger through the front door with the smell of contempt on their breath. He found solace in the stories of mutants, superheroes, and villains, who could be so extraordinary yet so different (looking).

******

In his world, extraordinary meant having a wicked jump shot, running fast, or stringing together clever rap lyrics. The little black boy couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, had paralyzing asthma, and didn’t have a clever bone in his body that hadn’t been beaten out of him. Everything he saw and heard was in direct conflict with how life was shown on TV. He saw poor whites cram into a trailer home not much larger than the bathroom stall. He saw Natives blow their entire tribal money on liquor, while the baby at home cried hungrily. He saw the school’s roof leak into rusted metal buckets when it rained too hard during lunch. He heard the rain gather in the storm drains and he saw the color drain from his fingers as he gripped the bedpost while being hit. He heard 8th grade girls lose their virginity to sweaty prepubescent boys who had acne on their backs in the next stall. He heard his mother’s destruction with needles stuck to her flesh and rubber bands squeezing her thin velvet arms. The little black boy wondered if life was existence or if existence was life.

******

The train rumbled by and shook the one story house that was considered home. Alone, the little black boy sketched and thought. He loved to sketch those tall skyscrapers he saw in his social studies textbooks. He knew what love looked like. It had stone edifices and brick arches and glass panels. The teacher once asked the class what they wanted to be when they got older. The little black boy looked up and said an architect. The crackers laughed and pointed and laughed. The teacher knew though, he saw it in the boy’s eyes. Rarely do people mean what they say, but he knew.

******

The sound of rain…nature’s lullaby. The wind’s confidant. A little black boys escape. If the rain could speak, it would say that the little black boy became a superhero, but it would be lying because the little black boy never had a chance to.

         

Ajan Brown is an emerging writer based in the Washington, D.C. area. He has been writing off and on since he was 17.



 






 





  


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