Too close to home

I’m sick. I’m sick of vacant houses. I’m sick of grass that covers my chin. I’m sick of broken glass and shattered windows. I’m sick of rusted cars and loud speakers. I’m sick of my neighborhood, but I love it. I’m like a drug addict, willing to take a sniff of stuff that sickens me. I’m drifting on the currents of cheap lifts and sour lips. It’s my neighborhood, man. It’s where I grew up. I’m addicted to it and I can’t hop off. I need help. Three people’s deaths come to mind immediately and they make me sick. Three. Not four. Just three. They all died because of bad drug deals, and they all personally meant something to me. I’m sick, and so were they. Raymond Jennings was my classmate during my freshman year. He was quiet, shy like a newborn kangaroo. But he was sick. He sold drugs. And on November 1 st , 2012, Raymond came out onto his pouch. He was shot and killed. When I heard about his passing, I was stunned. How could this kid, this living and breathing kid who I knew only a few, short years ago, be sitting underneath the ground now? What caused his life to spiral so far out of control? Aaron Roseberry seemed like a cool dude. I met him quite a few times. He would hang out with his friends, and they all lived on the same street as me. His shirt was always hanging from his neck, along with some chains. On the side, he drew cheap tattoos. Yeah, on the side. He was sick. He sold drugs. On November 8 th , exactly one week after Raymond, Aaron was shot and killed in his house. I was with someone who knew Aaron pretty well when he told me the news. Once again, I was shocked. He didn’t deserve to die. Heck, he didn’t deserve to be sick. But he was. And he received his prescription. This past month, LaSalle senior Justin Brown was killed in a bad drug deal. He seemed like a nice kid; good grades, athlete, popular. Still, his decisions led him straight to the grave with the weight of the world strapped to his back. Justin was not much different than me. If I would’ve really known him, we might’ve been friends. Why did he make a bad decision? Why? What were his motives? The mind of a teenager can run haywire. It’s just a matter of connecting it back together. Specifically, these three deaths have shocked me beyond belief. People should not be giving their lives for something so insolent. Whether it’s marijuana, meth, or heroin, no drug is worth the risk or harming yourself or another human being. That’s a simple truth of life. Then again, people who abuse drugs obviously don’t care about their lives. Getting a buzz from a substance is one way of discrediting life by itself. Without pain, a user can only selectively feel joy. However, life does not naturally give that choice. Life involves pain. Drugs create it, although only in the long run. And most people can’t see that far. I’m a journalist, and I’m supposed to report about what I see. And this is what I see—people who can’t deal with pain, but wind up causing more to themselves and others anyways. It’s a fact that people will continue to abuse drugs. A few deal-related murders aren’t going to change that. I’m not going to change that, either. But those three deaths sure did shock me. Excuse me while I mow the lawn. The grass is getting a little high in my yard. Still not as high as some people are flying, though. You know, those guys with the broken windows? Yeah. They’re sick. I’m not.