NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE

JJ’s Night Out, by Rich Paschall


Jason was pacing the floor of the living room.  He was excited about his date night.  They were going to a new night club.  It had received nice reviews and he thought they could do a lot of dancing and singing.  Jason’s mom watched the pacing with a feeling of indifference, while his dad watched in what could best be described as “disgust.”

Soon Jason’s date would arrive. Jeff was a handsome young man who Jason had met at college.  Jeff fell immediately for the boy with the constant smile, and it did not take long for Jason to agree to a date.  After a short period of dating, they became constant companions.  Their friends began referring to them collectively as “JJ” since they always seemed to be together.

When Jeff arrived in his best preppy, all American look, he stopped in briefly to say hello to Jason’s parents and wish them a good evening.  Then Jason exclaimed, “Good night, mom,” and gave his mother a hug.  It was returned in half-hearted fashion.

“See you later, dad,” Jason shouted at his father who was standing quite a distance  away.  “Yeah,” his father returned with his most annoyed tone.  The father’s look was his best effort at contempt.  Jason just smiled and the boys set out for a night of fun.  They both hoped that some day Jason’s father would accept them as a couple.  Whether that happened or not, soon the boys would find an apartment, marry and be on their own.  They had their whole lives ahead and could not be too worried at whether they would find complete acceptance.  They had each other.  That was the main thing.

The two men enjoyed the new nightclub.  The music was loud, the drinks were cold and the atmosphere was electric.  Around midnight, Jeff leaned over and gave Jason a big kiss.  Since he was not prone to such public displays, Jason asked, “What was that for?”  Jeff replied, “Because I love you so much, my prince.”  At that Jason’s usual smile became even bigger.

At 4 am the phone rang at Jason’s home.  By the time his mother was awaken and realized it was the phone, the ringing stopped.  She started to drift off to sleep but 10 minutes later the phone was ringing again.  When she got up and got to the phone, it had stopped again.  The mother thought Jason forgot his key or was staying with Jeff.  “He really did not have to call about that,” she thought.  She waited by the phone another 10 minutes but it did not ring, so she went back to bed.

72-BW-Boston-Night_004Just as she was getting up around 7 am the front doorbell rang.  She thought, “This must be Jason.”  She put on her robe and walked to the door.  She opened it to find a uniformed police officer standing there.  Behind her was a man in plain clothes, but he was wearing a police badge on his belt.

“Are you Mrs. DeAngelo?”  the officer asked.

“Yes.”

“And is Jason DeAngelo your son?”

“Why?  What’s wrong? What happened?  Tell me, what is it?” she blurted out, trying not to sound hysterical.

“There has been a shooting at a night club.  I am afraid your son was one of the victim’s.  We are sorry for your  loss, Mrs. DeAngelo.”
Jason’s mother stood there absolutely frozen to the spot.  She had been kicked in the stomach and her breath had been taken away.

“Is it alright if we come in and ask a few questions?” the plain clothes police officer asked.

For a moment Mrs. DeAngelo could not speak.  Her eyes began to water and her brain was numb.  She was transported through time to a place of unspeakable sadness.  It was a place where senses momentarily failed her.

“Would you like us to come back?” the man asked.

“No,” she replied.  “Come in.”

Mr. DeAngelo joined them in the living room.  He immediately knew what had happened.  He stood there silently.  His wife answered all the questions.

For the next half hour the two police officers queried Jason’s mom.  Did Jason go to the Club often?  Why did he go that night?  Was he with anyone?  Was he gay?  Did they know it was a gay nightclub and so on?  Mrs. DeAngelo answered as best she could.

Then they mentioned the name of the shooter which lead to a new round of questions.  Did she ever hear the name before?  Did her son know him?  There were other questions too but they all became a blur to Mrs. DeAngelo.  After a while, she was not even sure what she was saying.

The uniformed officer concluded by saying the coroner’s office would be processing the dozens of bodies over the next few days and they would be in contact with them.  Both told the parents “We are sorry for your loss,” as they were leaving the house.

Mrs. DeAngelo softly closed the door behind them.  She grabbed a framed picture of Jason off a table and sat down on the sofa.  She stared at the picture as a tear formed in the corner of one eye.  She tried to envision Jason’s happy face as a child and his boundless energy.  She remembered the time she called him “my little terrier” because it seemed he could run for hours and then come and lay down right by her.  She did not move from that spot for a long time.

Mr. DeAngelo recalled the look he gave the boys the night before as they left for the club.  It was the only thing he could remember.

Somebody out there hates you.

Nobody is hate-proof.

Regardless of your color, politics or sexual orientation. No matter what religion you do or don’t practice. Whatever your ethnicity or native language, level of education. City dweller, suburbanite or farmer. Somebody hates your guts because you exist. They don’t need to know anything about you personally. For whoever hates you, that you live is more than enough reason to want you dead.

Garry and I were watching an old episode of Law and Order tonight. The victim was a child murderer and pedophile, recently released from prison. In violation of his parole, he was living with a woman and two young children.

Blind-justice

The murderer was this sleaze’s former social worker and therapist. She murdered him because she believed him to be a serious threat to society and specifically to the two children with whose mother he was living.

The jury refused to convict her even though she did it and never denied it. They liked her and felt she had done society a favor. I can certainly understand why they would feel that way. The victim was the dregs, the kind of criminal who gives criminals a bad name. Meanwhile the perpetrator was a highly intelligent, educated woman, on the side of the angels. Or maybe not.

The problem is obvious and of course that’s what the show was about. That’s what this post is about too. Where do we, as a society, draw the line? If it’s okay to be a vigilante in this case, what if the victim is homosexual and the killer believes homosexuality is an affront to God … and the jury is composed of fundamentalists who agree him? You can see where this is going, or for that matter, where it has been. Ugly, uglier, ugliest.

Does law become optional if there’s a general social agreement that a particular victim deserved what he or she got? What about if the police are sure they know who done it, but can’t prove it? Should they plant evidence to get a conviction?

There has to be a line in the sand. Because no matter who you are, somebody hates you enough to kill you for being you. Somewhere, there’s probably a whole village full of people who hate you enough to kill you. If we erase or smudge that line, no one will ever be safe. Not me, not you. No matter who you are. No matter where you live. No matter how righteous or harmless you are.

Somebody hates you and wants you dead.

They got one alive!

News !!

Watching the manhunt for the last couple of hours. Surreal. How often do you get a message like this from your electric company?

ScreenSh00ter_20130419210109

And finally, it’s over.

The second of the two alleged Boston Marathon bombers has been captured. Alive. How alive? I don’t know but he left by ambulance. Maybe we’ll find out what on God’s green earth motivated these two young men.