Mandeville Street, next right.
Well, Internet, I know it's hard to believe, but JJ was young once. Just a pup. In elementary school, JJ had a friend, Jimmy. Was a long time ago now. But there was a period when he and I were really good friends. I think around 10 years old-12 years old?
He was a good friend. But why write a post about him? Well, I guess becuse I am relatively certain that Jimmy was the only person that I have ever known well that was murdered. My intention here is not to make light of or exploit that fact. I don't think. I guess you will judge.
To describe Jimmy? He was on the short and slight side. But wiry. Blonde, straight hair. Attitude: I would say "sassy". He had a fearless quality about him. He and another friend of mine, Paul, would get into fights. Paul was bigger than Jimmy. And had certain sensitivities; if you pushed his buttons, he would want to fight you. Most kids would be cautious of pushing those buttons. Jimmy? Didn't give a shit. He would press away. So they would fight. And Jimmy would lose. But he didn't seem to care.
Jimmy lived one street over from me. Mandeville. In a big house. With a big garage. He had a brother, Brad, who was 2 years younger. His mom? Timid. Mousy. Beaten down. At least that's how I recall her. Perhaps the ultimate events have coloured my view, but I don't know that that is so. Even at that age, one could tell that the head of the household was not her. And the head of the household? Jimmy's dad. Raymond Reid. As I recall, his dad was a carpet-layer by profession, but had been injured on the job. His back, I think? So he stayed at home. One strange guy. If those are the right words. I don't think Jimmy's dad ever said a direct word to me. Whenever I was over at their house he would just kind of appear and say something like "Jimmy, can I talk to you?" Jimmy would go and talk to him, then come back and tell me and any other friends that were over there that we had to leave. Now.
I could sense that there was a difference in economic status. They were less well off than my family. I can't give any concrete examples, really. Like "oh, we had an Atari 2600 and they didn't." But it was there. And although both their house and garage were big, both were on the run-down side. Not trying to be some sort of classist here, and I never cared about it, but was definitely impression I remember. Just was.
In particular, the two things I remember?
Jimmy would go around collecting empty beer bottles and taking them in for money. I think he may have given proceeds to parents. Was long time ago, so can't be sure. But that seems right to me. Well, not "right" in moral sense, but "right" in memory sense.
One time, Jimmy was out collecting beer bottles and, lo and behold, he came across some full ones. Ohhh, what to do? Well, their big garage had a loft-type attic. So he scooted up the ladder to the attic and hid them there. He told me about his stash, and took me up to show me. That, Internet, is where I had my first beer. We managed to wrench the cap off of two of them and each drink one. Unfortunately, it was in one of the winter months, so the beer was mostly frozen. But it was still incredibly cool (like neato, I mean, not cool, because it was frozen, although it was that too). The next time I drank, I think, was the time I got arrested for drinking underage. In public. Man, that's a bit of a story in itself, but I'll save it for another post.
The second thing I think of? Well, I am trying to remember exactly what precipitated it. Either Jimmy and Brad scrapping. Or Jimmy talking back to his dad. But what I do remember is what Jimmy telling me what happened next. "The old man hit me right in the chops" I didn't even know what "chops" meant. I think I thought maybe his dad hit him in the ribs. Like lamb chops=human ribs. But no. He meant the mouth. His dad hit him so hard Jimmy described seeing stars. Jimmy laughed about it. No big deal, happens all the time. So I laughed about it. In retrospect, of course, I think about "ohhh, I shoulda told my parents!" But I didn't even really think about it at the time, as far as I can remember. We just laughed. "So funny!" "Gotta watch out for your dad! Ha ha!" Besides, would it have changed anything? Really? "Stop smacking your kid around!" "Ok!" Maybe it would have. I dunno.
They moved. To Norwood. I never saw Jimmy again.
1989. The year I graduated from high school. One day in June. Top story in the news. Man in standoff with police. In Norwood. Jimmy, 17, had had a fight with his dad. Had decided to leave home for good. But came back for a reason I can't remember. Get some leftover belongings, maybe? Jimmy's dad, with a high powered rifle, shot Jimmy. He then shot to death each of Jimmy's mom and brother Bradley, following them on to the lawn and shooting, as each tried to run. Then, after a 30 hour standoff with police, Raymond Reid shot himself in the head. When the police went in to the house, Jimmy's body was discovered shot dead inside.
I didn't go to the funeral. It was across town. I wish I had. Seems so dumb now. "It's so far!"
What else is there to say? I wish it had not happened. That I had been able to meet Jimmy later in life and we could have talked about the old St. James days.