Stream Never Failing
By: Sefu Chikelu
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
-Amos 5:24 (NIV)
A mother and her son rest in Patterson Park on a beach towel beside a murky stream of water. The subtle sloosh of running water is no match for the handful of birds circling overhead. The chirp of the birds is penetrated by a few busses that screech to a concerning halt at the bus stop across the street.
“Mama, what does that mean?”
“What does what mean, son?”
“A guilty verdict. My friends on the bus kept saying it but they never told me–”
“The jurors say that the police officer who killed George Floyd is going to jail.”
“Ohhh…. Really mama!? Forreal!? That’s what justice mean forreal?”
“Yeah, son. That’s what that means. That’s what they said.”
“Yay mama! We got justice! So… so that means that it won’t ever, ever, ever, happen again, right?”
The mother fixes her eyes on the rush of mini waves that sop up the cobblestones and says nothing…
“Why has my pain been perpetual
And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream
With water that is unreliable?”
-Jeremiah 15:18 (NAS)
“We’ve found the defendant… guilty.” A gasp that even the judge couldn’t object to came from somewhere in the room that no one could pinpoint. Then, silence.
A few more words are spoken, there is an urgent bang of the gavel and the trial ends. Derrick, the defendant, heard none of the final words. He was too distraught to take notice. After three mistrials, the jury has just decided to convict him of a murder that he had not committed. What more needs to be said? He feels his last breath flee, then remembers to take deeper inhales and exhales to maintain his consciousness and keep his sanity.
He doesn’t know where to set his eyes first–the jury to which he was utterly shocked with, the prosecutors who had just gotten away with a cheap “win”, or his family sitting directly behind him. He looks at all three, first glancing at the jury, who by this point appeared antsy and ready to get back to their own lives. He stares at all 12 of them and wonders which ones decided that this should be his fate. Their faces were just as blank as they had been throughout the duration of the almost two week persecution. He couldn’t tell who. He was willing to bet that the juror who arrived late each and every day for trial, the one juror who dozed off numerous times during crucial witness testimony, or the one juror who never picked up their legal pad to jot down a single word were one of the culprits.
He glances over at the prosecutor who is in the process of packing his messenger bag. He is a burly man–of his three buttons on his blazer, he could only manage to button one of them. His red cheeks droop to his thin, pale lips and they look like upside down balloons. He is packing rather swiftly, as if to avoid any confrontation. Derrick watches all of this–the way he just tosses everything in the bag as if it were to be used for some bonfire later in the evening. These documents were important enough to be neatly placed in his bag and neatly placed on the table at the beginning of the trial. None of that matters now. The verdict was announced in his favor, he did what he was assigned to do and the papers were now rendered obsolete.
Derrick finally manages to muster enough strength to pivot and stare at his wife, Kiara. Kiara is staring off into the distance in the general direction of Derrick, but not exactly at him. Her left leg is bouncing rhythmically and her toes are firmly planted on the floor with her heels moving up and down in the way that someone would do if they were heated or vexed.
He says, “It’s going to be alright Kiara. Don’t worry about it. I’m fine, I promise. We’re going to be okay. I’m going to be alright.”
His painful attempt at a smile isn’t enough to persuade Kiara, and she continues staring off into the distance with the rhythmic tapping of her foot.
“Seriously, baby. I’m forreal. I’ll be okay. Keep your head up and I’ll call you tonight.”
Nothing from Kiara.
“Baby… c’mon, you’ve been with me this entire time. I know you ain’t gonna leave me now. Keep your head up. You want me to call you? We gonna be alright, just you watch. I’mma get another trial.”
An officer stands besides Derrick and beckons him to stand up. He does and the officer clinks the handcuffs on his wrists and grabs him by the crease of the elbow.
Kiara maintains her far-flung gaze and her foot pattern, with warm salt water tears streaming down her face.
This story is fiction, but is inspired by the real life story of Keith Davis Jr., an innocent man facing a 5th trial in Baltimore City Maryland after being accused of a murder that he has not committed in 2015. He has maintained his innocence ever since, despite a malicious prosecution from our “progressive” prosecutor Marilyn Mosby. Google Keith Davis Jr, and check out the hashtags #FreeKeithDavisJr and #FreeKeithFridays on Twitter.
Sefu Chikelu is a writer & bookseller residing in Baltimore, Maryland. He is originally from Charleston, South Carolina. He is also a prose editor for Afro Literary Magazine. His work can be found in Blackwoodz Magazine, Stellium Lit Mag, The Junction, Hood Communist, Sledgehammer Lit and elsewhere.
You can find Sefu @SefuChikelu on Twitter and @se_fu_ on Instagram.