"I heard what Joe* did, Mom," says my nine year old daughter. I knew this was coming, had been avoiding it for a few days, even though I knew I couldn't keep it from her forever.
Joe is Neighbor Girl's big brother. I think he was around eleven years old when we moved in next door to them. Neighbor Girl has pretty much been a staple at our home since, more about her here.
Joe murdered a man last week.
It was one of those now familiar moments in parenting where I simply didn't know what to say. I asked her what she heard.
"Well, he's going to jail, because I guess he shot someone?" She says the neighbor lady told her about it. I'm not sure which of the neighbor ladies would discuss murder with a third grader.
The thing is... Joe was the kid that came over to collect Neighbor Girl when it was time for dinner. Joe was the kid that took his baby sister and my daughter fishing. He took them on walks and bike rides around the block when they were too little to go by themselves.
Other than that, I don't really know all that much about Joe, really. I know he got into trouble a few times, I know he was in jail or juvie or something for a while. I don't know why, because I'm mostly anti-social and don't speak to my neighbors.
The whole situation just bothers me immensely for several reasons:
First of all? We all know my position on using lethal force to protect yourself, your family and your home, right? Shoot that fucker. I, personally, do not extend that position to stuff. If you really, really want to steal my car, or something out of my car? Have at it. Homeowner's will cover it.
If you carry a gun, God bless ya, everyone should. However, if you carry a gun and don't have a certain mindset, things can get really bad, really fast.
The article is here if you'd like the details, but here's my take on the whole thing:
I've met several eighteen year old males, nearly all of whom could kick my ass. Like quick, without actually having to try very hard.
Had the victim not been carrying a gun, would he have been so confident physically confronting three men by himself?
I know it seems as if I'm blaming the victim and I don't mean to. I just think a "Hey kids, get the fuck out of my car" would have worked. One could argue that he was trying to do the right thing and hold the guys at gunpoint until the cops showed up. If you're going to do shit like that? TRAIN WITH YOUR WEAPON. Which doesn't mean firing 50 rounds at the range once a month.
And then, there's Joe. I can't stop thinking about all of the really, really, fucking dumb shit I did at eighteen. Please don't think I'm excusing his behavior, he deserves everything he gets. The thing is though, at eighteen everything is pretty much black and white. I can imagine he was thinking something along the lines of: Fuck. I'm going to go back to jail. Shit, my parents are going to be so pissed...
Obviously, this line of thinking and his youth do not justify killing a man, but I'm willing to bet he didn't think that far ahead. I'm guessing all he was thinking about was getting out of there before the cops showed up. Teenagers and a whole bunch of grown ass adults don't always understand the ultimate consequences of their actions beyond the now.
I guess my main point here is something along the lines of: What an absolute waste of so many lives. Four kids don't have a dad anymore. And the rest of his family lost a husband, a brother and an uncle.
Deservedly, Joe's life is over. But it isn't just his life. Neighbor Girl has lost a big brother, and big brothers are pretty damn important to little girls. I know, I have one. And of course, his parents have lost a son. And for what? An IPod? A car stereo? A fucking cup holder full of change?
And then, selfishly, I'm trying to figure out whether I should tell my daughter that sometimes the people we know and care about turn out to be really evil people, or simply that sometimes good people do really bad shit.
*Name changed because I do what I want. And also because my kid was trying to read over my shoulder.