Saturday, February 27, 2016



(about 1970)

      We didn’t have a race problem in *****, Oklahoma. We had a crime problem.
      Bill and Jerry were friends.
      Bill had opened a restaurant on Seran Drive. He put it in the old used-to-be Dairy Queen across from the Fire Station. Someone kept breaking in. Several times they took his money. Other times, they took food from the freezer. They tore things up a little, such as turning over tables and breaking a few things.
      He was going broke. With each break-in, he was getting more frustrated. The police told Bill there was nothing they could do. There were no fingerprints and no clues. The perpetrator would have to be caught red-handed.
      He considered the police to be inept. Twice in the last ten years, the entire Wewoka Police Department was raked out due to corruption and drugs so he started his own investigation and began interrogating each customer.
      Jerry came in every day. Like most of his customers, he was tired of hearing Bill complain about his losses. He had teased him about many things over the years and he thought he’d have a little fun with Bill. After all, they’d been friends for fifteen years.
      “Man, you know I did all that,” Jerry told Bill one day. “I’m sorry man, I’ll put it back.”
      He was only kidding.
      He would have too, to make sure his friend succeeded in business. Bill, however, was in no mood to be teased. Jerry didn’t know that Bill had already been pushed to the point of no return. He would not have listened to any explanation.
      Bill watched Jerry finish his breakfast and then waited for him to leave.
      When he did, Bill reached under the counter for his double-barreled shotgun. As Jerry crossed the street toward the Fire Station, Bill quietly stepped out the door and took aim. Before Jerry got to the middle of the street, Bill had shot his friend in the back with both barrels. Jerry screamed once and fell dead.
      Jerry was only trying to help Bill. I knew the feeling all too well. I was only trying to help Debbie. We both got shot with both barrels.
      We didn’t have racial problems in Wewoka at that time. We had a crime problem. Bill, being white, was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for the cold blooded murder of a black man. This was before there was a classification of “hate crime.” Apparently Jerry didn’t believe Bill when he threatened to kill the person responsible for the thefts.
      Trouble was, Bill didn’t hate Jerry; quite the opposite. Sometimes, a person is pushed so far he can’t think straight. Too many times, the color of the skin overshadows all reasoning.
      This was the beginning of our racial problems in Wewoka.


.................I could not bring my passions from a common spring........

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