A red, black, and gold illustration of a pair of rage-filled eyes

PREVIOUSLY: Black Fields is angry and bitter towards the world he is forced to live in. His bad day turned worse as first, a Metrobus driver screamed at him, his friends ignored him, and even his mother was too busy to talk to him. “Ain’t no such thing as family and friends in this world,” he said to himself…

“Today might be my last,” he pondered as he thought about many methods of suicide. Would he use a gun, a noose or a bottle of sleeping pills?

It only took him a moment to realize how painful any method would be. “That (bleep!) gonna hurt…”

“Life just ain’t worth living,” he grumbled as he began to think about the few people he’d known who just couldn’t bear their existence. At this juncture, he was in a dark place and totally sympathized with them.

There was his neighbor Milton, who put the barrel of a pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger after his girlfriend broke things off. He recalled that fateful Friday morning when it was discovered that a neighbor and childhood playmate had also given up the fight.

Throughout elementary school, Milton related well with the children in the neighborhood. He was always permanent tight-end when the pair played two-hand touch. They called him Clint Didier. As they aged, Milton gradually drifted apart from Black and his peers. Milton became an anomaly because of the punk-rock and country-western music he blasted from his pickup truck, and his affinity for the two pit bulls that he kept by his side.

Black and his friends listened to go-go and rap, and found the sounds of Bad Brains to be nauseating. And the dogs were a deal breaker. He was frequently in spats with various neighbors about the dogs.

Over time, Milton rarely dealt with anyone in the complex. It was if a sort of schism existed that kept him separate from the others.

The image of the maintenance men pulling Milton’s blood-soaked mattress from the apartment remained fresh in Black’s memory. He’d never forget the sound of Milton’s mother Alice’s voice, when he overheard her cry out to some neighbors, “I’ll never forgive Milton for shooting his self in my home-NEVER!!!”

There was also Black’s Uncle Harold, who died of a heroin overdose. The needle was still in his arm when his body was pulled from an abandoned house in the Sirsum Corda housing complex in Northwest D.C. He had battled with addiction from the age of 13, and had been diagnosed with mental illness later in life. He slept on the street and ate out of trash cans. Everyone tried, but no one could reach him — he was the consummate loner. Black’s mother and a few others always speculated that Harold’s death was intentional. His was the first funeral Black ever attended.

Then there was Nzinga, a girl he had been infatuated with from the moment he laid eyes on her in English class, on his first day of seventh grade. During their junior year, she got with an older guy who had a Chevy Suburban, an apartment and a job as a plumbing apprentice. None of the guys at school could compete with him, and Nzinga loved flaunting the fact that her man had progressed further than her high school peers.

He will always remember the fateful day he got that call from Evelyn, a mutual friend from high school, informing him of Nzinga’s untimely death. It was summer and he was on break from college and hadn’t seen her for almost two years since they had graduated high school. She had married the guy she’d dated in high school and was working as a teller at Nations Bank.

It had been suspected amongst their circle of friends that he’d become abusive. The story was that after a spat, which he claimed was strictly verbal, he left the apartment to cool off. Upon his return, he found her hanging from the showerhead in the bath basin.

At the funeral, Nzinga’s mother held a stoic expression. When Black offered his condolences, her response was, “Well Nzinga did what she wanted, so all I can do is give her my blessings and pray for her soul. I’m moving on with my life.” At that moment, he wanted to strangle the woman, but he had seen enough suffering and misery to know that people grieve differently.

He wondered how his mother would react if he took his own life. He already knew his so-called friends wouldn’t be affected; however, they would be entertained and have something to gossip about. Would the funeral be standing room only? Or would his body go unclaimed and end up in the Northern Virginia plot, which the District used as a mass gravesite for unclaimed bodies? Would anyone shed one wet tear?

He doubted it. If anything, they would all be relieved. They would say, “Thank goodness…”

His mother would be relieved because she’d no longer have to devote thought to his pathetic circumstance. Never again would she have to come to his rescue with $20 or pick up his property from jail. She’d say, “I’ve been prepared for this.”

His acquaintances would be relieved because they would no longer be linked to such a failure or have to feign like they were cool with him, when really, they had no respect for him at all. They would say, “He used’ta be lunchin’.”

Ibrahim and Pongsak, the managers of 7-Eleven and Popeyes, would be relieved because there would be no more verbal disputes; they would never again have to call the police about his loitering, and they’d no longer have to watch the eyesore, as he begged every patron that entered their establishments. They would say, “Good riddance.”

Even the police would be relieved because the beat cops would no longer have to wonder when, where, and how long it’s going to be, before they have to slap handcuffs on him. They’d say, “I knew something wasn’t right about him.”

He had begun to feel that society as a whole would benefit if he no longer existed. “They’d be better off without me.”

Suddenly, the melancholy transformed into rage. Visions of Dylann Roof, Charles Manson, Ted Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh, “the D.C. Snipers” (John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo), Gary Ridgeway, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez, David Berkowitz, Seung-Hui Cho, Charles Whitman, and others danced through his head. He beat on his chest and fumed, “(bleep!) that. I ain’t mad with myself — I’m mad with the world. They deserve the pain, not me! You know what…I ought’a…

[For fear of rebuke from the politically correct and the mind police, the author has omitted Black Fields’ statements about retribution through bizarre acts of violence and mass killing. However, due to recent events, the behavior, motivations, and thought processes, of those who’ve hit “bottom” and moved beyond their breaking point must be explored.]

“….KILL ‘DEM ALL!!!” Black fumed.

Black was dizzy with fury and his head began to spin. He felt as if both a stroke and spontaneous combustion were imminent. Visions of Dylann Roof, Charles Manson, Ted Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh, “the DC Snipers” (John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo), Gary Ridgway, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez, David Berkowitz, Seung-Hui Cho, Charles Whitman and others danced through his head.

Then he snapped out of it. “This ain’t healthy,” he concluded.

Black didn’t want to be hated and despised. He knew that acting irrationally wouldn’t gain him the fulfillment he sought. He’d have to seek another route to pacify the demons that possessed him. Becoming a harbinger of doom, gloom and destruction was never a goal.

His desire was peace, love, harmony; and to obtain that one thing, that could fill the bottomless pit of a void he held within. Like Jon Lovitz would say on his Saturday Night Live skit in the late ‘80s, “I JUS’ WANNA BE LUV’D!” But Black also remembered the words of Iyanla Vanzant when she said, “Loving you is an essential ingredient for experiencing and expressing love to others.”

He was determined to eliminate the debilitating chaos and mass confusion that pervaded his stinking thinking. He realized that one day soon, he was going to have to do some soul searching and self-examination. Despite the fact many people had done plenty of things that threw him off balance, he had begun to see that his number one enemy was himself and no one else.

To be continued. This is an excerpt of Duane Foster’s manuscript “The Black Fields Chronicles: THE HOBO.”