A piece that I wrote for Allentown Vision 2030’s open mic. Thank you Billy Mack for setting up this event, and thank you Hannah Clark and Allentown Vision 2030 for filming.
34 and Up
by Marc Alexander Valle
At 15, a classmate, Billy Murphy, was shot to death by his half-brother, Jason Roberts. It was the result of an armed, verbal argument. The altercation started over food, but ended with Billy being fire upon as he watched television. The following day, the high school loud speaker said that counseling was available to all students. Two female friends of Billy were crying in my English class. They were sent to the guidance office.
At 34, I found a former classmate, Sara Rodgers, on an online dating website. We met for a few drinks. She was in that same English class as those two grieving girls.
“Was it really true Billy was shot over a pierogi?” I said.
“Yeah it was,” she said.
“Wow. We were only sophomores, so I hadn’t had a class with him yet.”
“Marc, you did have a class with him! He sat in front of you in that English class for two whole marking periods!”
I still can’t remember Billy sitting in front of me at 15, but a thought started to brew in my mind over the next few months: From the time Billy died until that date with Sara, I’d gotten to experience The Matrix Trilogy, Xbox video games, the discovery of over one thousand new planets, two new presidents, the pleasure of reading Shakespeare, the joy of singing karaoke, performing open mic poetry, my older brother’s wedding, saying “I love you” to a woman, earning my degree in English, camera phones, wi-fi, Wikipedia, podcasts, Facebook, YouTube, google, e-mail, apps, skyping, texting, vining, tweeting, eating the best buffalo wings in the county and figuring out what my favorite brand of beer is.
I don’t know how I blocked out Billy Murphy.
Would he have blocked out me?