A Decade of Sorrow

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the story of Marcus. A young man growning up in the 60's. It goes thru his life from 1960-1970.

Submitted: November 29, 2007

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Submitted: November 29, 2007



Marcus had not been this excited about anything for the past decade or so. He tried not to show his excitement, but he couldn’t help it. The last few years had been hard for him, as it had for many Americans. It felt like the past decade had been a blur or sorrow and confusion. He could still remember the day President Kennedy was shot. They didn’t show cartoons on TV for like two weeks. He had never seen his mom cry like that. He never really understood why anyone would want to shoot anyone, much less the president.

Marcus always wondered what his dad would have said if he had been alive when Kennedy was alive. He knew his dad loved America almost more than life. All he ever talked about was how proud he was that he got to serve his country in WW II. He could still hear his dad now.

“Now, son, there’s no greater honor than getting to protect and serve your country.”

Whenever he and his war buddies got together, they always traded stories of tragedy and humor. Marcus missed those days when his dad would sit him on his lap and show him the pictures of his buddies in his regiment. It had been three years since a white storeowner, who thought his father was stealing, shot and killed his father. The police looked into the incident for a whole three hours. That was life in Mississippi, though. He didn’t think it would ever change.

After that, his mom his told him to make sure he was always respectful to white people and never brought any undue attention to himself. He did what his momma said even when the Civil Rights Movement really got going. He wanted so badly to protest for the rights that his dad had fought for but had never been given. However, he knew his momma couldn’t support his little brother and sisters if something happened to him. So he kept his head down and instead of going off to march, he went off to work. 

Five years later, as he was playing basketball with his brother, his longtime friend Carl, came running up to him.

“What’s up, cuz? Why you runnin’ up on me like that?”

“Dr. King,” he gasped as he tried to catch his breath, “Dr. King’s been shot.”

“Man, what you talking ‘bout? Ain’t nobody shot Martin Luther King,” his brother stated matter -of-factly.

“Cuz, I swear, it’s all over the television,” Carl said.

They took off running for the nearest TV set. On the way, they were stopped and questioned by two patrolmen.

“Where you boys headed off to in such a hurry, huh?”

“My momma told us we needed to be home early,” Marcus said as he stared down at the ground.

“Someone might think you’re stealin’, then I’d have to shoot ya.” He smirked.

“Yes, sir,” they all replied in unison.

As they walked away, they heard one officer exclaim to the other, “It’s about time somebody shot that uppity nigger.”

Marcus knew then what Carl said was true and headed home with his head down. All night his family sat around the TV and watched in disbelief. Marcus just couldn’t believe it, not Dr. King. One of the few men who was standing up for what was right and fair, murdered. He was so angry. Never had Dr. King ever been violent with anyone, or say, it was necessary to get to where black people wanted to be. It was a sad week.

A couple of months later, it was the day of Marcus’s 19th birthday. He woke up to the sound of his mother crying.

“Mom, what’s wrong?”

“Bobby Kennedy was shot late last night.”

“Well how is he? Is he gonna be ok?”

“He died, Marcus, he died”

Marcus stood in the kitchen in disbelief. It had only been two months since Martin Luther King’s assassination and now here was another one. Had the world gone mad? He sat down and began to ponder the path the world was on. It seemed as if it was headed for mass chaos.

“Say, Mark, you got some mail,” his brother called as he walked in the house.

“Dang, I can’t even get a happy birthday or nothing. That’s cold, man.”

“My bad. Happy birthday, bro,” his brother said as he hugged him and handed him his mail.

Marcus stared down at the official letter blankly. He just kept reading it over and over again, United States Selective Service. He had completely forgotten there was a war going on with all that had been happening. He had known this day would come when he decided to forego college to help his mom take care of his siblings. However, as the days passed on he thought that maybe he wouldn’t have to go. He was wrong. He was classified 1-A. He was going to Vietnam. His legs started to get weak. He had never been a fan of guns or violence in general. Yet here it was in black in white. He sat down, not saying a word.

“Mark, man what’s wrong? What does it say?” his brother questioned.

He finally remembered his mom and brother were in the kitchen with him. He looked up at them, trying to hide the fear in his eyes. He couldn’t speak. His brother reached down and grabbed the letter out of his hands.

“Is this for real? It can’t be,” his brother said, apparently to himself. Marcus had zoned out a long time ago and his mother, holding back tears, just left the room.

Marcus was jarred from reminiscing by his commander barking out orders. They marched deep into the jungle. He couldn’t believe it had been two years since then. He looked over at his best friend Jimmy. Jimmy gave him his usual awkward, slightly crooked smile. Only Jimmy would be in a good mood walking in the jungle during a downpour. Marcus only thoughts were on the fact that in two days they would be on a plane home. He missed his family. Letters only made it worse.

“What are you smiling about, Jim?” he questioned.

“Just thinking about home and you coming over and meetin’ my family,” he said.

“Who said I wanted to meet your family?”

“You did. Remember right after you said I was the most amazing person you’d ever met?” He smirked.

“I don’t know, man. Things are different back in the states.”

“Man, how many times I gotta tell you my family don’t care about the color thing?”

“Everybody says that till they’re confronted with it.”

“Whatever. You’re going to meet my family and I’m going to meet yours,” he said ending the conversation.

Marcus just looked at Jimmy and smiled, letting Jimmy know he had won the argument. They trekked deeper and deeper into the forest. Sometimes Marcus swore they walked ten miles before they got a rest.

Suddenly they heard gunfire. Their sergeant yelled for them to take cover. That was easier said than done. Marcus wasn’t even sure where the shots were coming from. Soon the shots grew louder and louder. They were getting closer. Jimmy looked at Marcus. For the first time he saw Jimmy with fear in his eyes.

“Get outta here!” their sergeant yelled.

Marcus and Jimmy turned and ran as fast as they could. Jimmy kept running until he noticed Marcus wasn’t at his side anymore. He stopped and turned around.

“Marcus!” he yelled.

He ran back into the gunfire. He yelled and yelled for Marcus. There was no response. Then he heard him. He ran to Marcus who was now lying on the ground bleeding from his leg.

“Jimmy, what are you doing? Get outta here. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”

“I’m not leaving you,” Jimmy said as he reached down and picked up Marcus.

Placing his arm over his shoulder, Jimmy took off running, dragging Marcus along with him. Marcus noticed his fallen troop mates as they ran. It made him try to run faster. Even with his effort, Jimmy was still doing most of the work. Then Jimmy started to limp and slow down. They kept running, though. Eventually the adrenaline took over and before he knew it, they were out of the forest. Jimmy sat Marcus down and tried to catch his breath.

“That was a really stupid thing you just did. You could’ve got yourself killed,” Marcus yelled.

“You’re welcome,” Jimmy said still trying to catch his breath.

“Jimmy, you’re bleeding,” Marcus said.

“Naw, that’s your blood.”

“No. Look. You’re bleeding,” Marcus exclaimed.

He sat down. Marcus looked at him with fear in his eyes. Marcus could see that the blood was flowing quickly, as if someone was pumping it out. Jimmy wasn’t looking so good. He laid back and closed his eyes.

“Jimmy, Jimmy open your eyes,” Marcus cried.

Jimmy wasn’t responding. Marcus went over to his friend and tried to apply pressure to his leg. The blood didn’t stop. Marcus began to cry and pray.

“Not now,” Marcus thought. “We’re going home in a few days. Just hold on till help gets here.”

As the medics arrived, they found Marcus frantically holding on to Jimmy’s body crying out and cursing. Marcus had never cried like this before. It was uncontrollable and unrelenting. Just as the rain had been for the past few months.

Two days later Marcus was home. Jimmy was by his side. When they got back to the States, Marcus made his first stop at Jimmy’s house. He made sure to tell his mom what a hero her son was and how proud she should be of him. She looked at him through her tears and said thank you, then she hugged him.

© Copyright 2018 Candace Freeman. All rights reserved.

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