Chapter 26

Byron was working late, looking forward to being picked up by Stive, another leader of the Crew . The plan was to buy several large cigars, fill them with weed, and smoke themselves stupid. Just another night in St. Clairsville.

Not wanting their apartment to smell like smoke, they took their 5 blunts outside. It was after midnight in the middle of nowhere. The sky was black but the stars shined through like holes poked in the night. Stive zoned out for a moment, staring at the dog line tied between two trees. The glimmer of the metal in the starlight glistened eerily, until the laughter of his friends brought him back.

They had just smoked 5 blunts between six people. That’s a lot of blunts, even for them. They were really high, as we always were. By now it was after 3 so everyone thought it best to disperse while they were still functional. They told each other goodbye, shook hands and made a few final jokes on their way out. Everything seemed fine.

After dropping everyone off, Stive finally made it home. He was so tired he fell asleep soon as he hit the pillow. It was 430.

At 7 his mom knocks on his door. Barely awake and grumpy, he asks what she wants. “Stive, wake up sweetheart. I’ve got to tell you something.” The tone in her voice was so disturbing that he immediately awoke. “Byron died last night.”

“Impossible” Stive snaps back, “I was just with him.”

(They say) Byron hung himself that night. But if you ask Stive, he doesn’t believe it. There’s no good theory I have for what actually happened so I won’t speculate too wildly. I personally couldn’t imagine hurting myself when I’m that high.

It’s hard to imagine being high and hanging yourself. Do you know how paranoid and scared you are of everything when you’re high? I literally won’t drive faster than 25 mph. He was just laughing with his friends. When Stive heard the news, he refused to believe it.

I also understand what people go through, they don’t always discuss. People can be laughing with their friends while dying inside. Check up on your friends. Make sure they’re okay. Forgive people. Forgive yourself.

We’re all hurting. America is home of the brave because you have to be, to survive this cold capitalist frontier we’re all up against, daily. I know it all too well.

Depending on what mind state a person is in, I’m sure drugs can exacerbate suicidal ideations. Thus lies the danger of self medicating.

Stive was having trouble accepting it for one reason. He thought back to that night, and the metal rope that momentarily mystified him. The same one they said Byron hung himself from. That rope was only 5 feet tall. There was no way he could’ve hung himself from it, he thought.

They say anyone who commits suicide regrets it in their final moments. This has been reported by every survivor of every failed attempt. Why wouldn’t Byron have just stood up? He would’ve had to stayed purposely hunched over, while he slowly and painfully lost consciousness.

And where were his roommates through all this? The mystery only grows when you consider why none of them showed up to his funeral.

His funeral was on my first day of school sophomore year. I walked there with Sal. I had only met Byron once or twice and felt weird going because of that. But Sal said, “you know niggas would be going, if it was you”. So I put on my tan and black dress sweater, with my American Eagle dungaree khaki shorts and went.

Standing in the viewing line I felt out-of-place. My heart bled when I saw his sister sobbing and hugging everyone as they walked towards her. I knew she didn’t think I knew her brother, because I barely did. I feared she thought I was only going there with Sal to try to look cool, which wasn’t the case. I liked her brother a lot. I’d always remember him for being with me the first time I got high.

I was nervous. I didn’t know how this would go. Would she yell at me and tell me to get out? Would she scream and say I had no business being there? Would my tagging along and clout chasing come back to haunt me at the worst time?

After hugging Sal who was standing in front me of, she hugged the person standing behind me. Her ignoring me confirmed my suspicion that she didn’t think I belonged there. I wanted to tell her how sorry I was and that I did know her brother and how I would always remember him.

Clearly it wasn’t the time nor place to tell her I did drugs with him.

I walked home thinking about everything I had seen since starting high school and how I had barely even started my second year.

Then I found out what happened to Seven Sonna.

Seven was my guy. He looked out for me when others would’ve rather seen me destroyed. He was exposed to too much too young though, and like it always does, it caught up to him. He started off slow with the weed and money, but the greed took hold. He starting selling coke, getting high on his own supply, never a good combo – especially when you’re 19.

One night after doing a bunch with a friend, they got into an argument over who knows what. The fight escalated and ended with Seven stabbing the kid nearly to death.

That’s all any of us heard. He went to jail and just like that I was on my own again.