The Stoplight at the Corner Where Somebody Had to Die

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They won’t put a stoplight on that corner till somebody dies, my father
would say. Somebody has to die. And my mother would always repeat:
Somebody has to die. One morning, I saw a boy from school facedown
in the street, there on the corner where somebody had to die. I saw
the blood streaming from his head, turning the black asphalt blacker.
He heard the bells from the ice cream truck and ran across the street,
somebody in the crowd said. The guy in the car never saw him.
And somebody in the crowd said: Yeah. The guy never saw him.

Later, I saw the boy in my gym class, standing in the corner of the gym.
Maybe he was a ghost, haunting the gym as I would sometimes haunt
the gym, standing in the corner, or maybe he wasn’t dead at all. They
never put the stoplight there, at the corner where somebody had to die,
where the guy in the car never saw him, where the boy heard the bells.

 

 

Image: “Brooklyn Street Scene — Street Corner at Night,” by Steven Pisano, licensed under CC 2.0.

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