The Day Before He Died


I don’t really know how it happened yet.
Is he still alive, or is he dead?
We knew that in the end he would find himself
in a box at the hands of someone else.
I barely knew him. Didn’t know him at all really.

Now that I think about it, I only ever crossed
his path a few rare times. None were pleasant occasions.

He always carried an umbrella, or a stick. Or a knife.
He broke laws. I once broke his glasses when
he tried to crack my jaw.
He didn’t like that.
He didn’t forget it either. Luckily, it seems now that
he will never get the chance to exact a price on me.

There was the time he followed me at a disco.
And the time he chased me around a parked car.

He broke his curfew to chase me around that car.The last time I saw him was on a bus.
The only empty seat, out of all the seats on the bus,
was next to him. I sat there for a while (I had to)
but moved at the very first chance.

He didn’t like that.
He walked off the bus ten minutes later, muttering to
himself. My friends’ faces were white with terror.
He had stood beside me for five minute while I looked calmly out the window.
He didn’t like that.
I had known he was there. But then my friends told me about
his knife. His Stanley blade, to be exact.
I had not known that was there. But I was not afraid, or even surprised.


Six months earlier he had nearly
killed my friend, with a hurley.
Days before Halloween, now a year ago,
but it feels like only days ago.
It scared everyone. It changed everyone.
Everyone, that is, except him. We knew that in the end
he would find himself

in a box at the hands of someone else.
He lived by the sword, and carried a stick. Or a knife.
Today, everybody I ask says he is gone.
Today, everybody I ask has his own version of the story.
As I write, only this is definite:
Friday night, 10:10pm, attack.
Young man, aged 18, in hospital.
Him.

One year ago, a city prayed for my friend. He lives.
Today, the life of a young man who so nearly
stole my friend’s may come to (or may already be at) an end.
Nobody here prays. Some actually hope.
It is wrong, but so is (was?) he. Anyway,
I don’t know how it happened yet.
Is he still alive, or is he dead?

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