Eddie…Jamoldroy…Justice. Say his name. It’s important to say his name. He was a 30-year-old accountant. He was a gay man of color. He was there at the Pulse nightclub in Florida. He hid in the bathroom crowded together with so many others in their last moments on earth. Before he died, Eddie was lucky because he was able to exchange text messages with his mother, Mina Justice, as bullets filled the air.
Mommy I love you
In club they shooting
Trapp in bathroom
On CNN, they showed a three-dimensional layout of the nightclub. With two hands, the anchorman lifted off the roof like a giant so we could look inside. It was like a dollhouse, but there were no dolls inside. Where were the dolls? There was the dance floor. The entrance way. The long bar with stools. There was the maze of bathroom stalls where so many people tried to hide. Tried to live.
Call police mommy
Im gonna die
The shooter was born in the United States. In many ways he lived a life not unlike Eddie’s. The shooter had Stars Wars shower curtains. His apartment was filled with many American things for someone who didn’t like America. Somewhere along the way the two men took different paths. Eddie fell in love with numbers, with the magic of accounting. The shooter fell in love with hate, if that’s even possible. And somehow on one awful night, the two men collided at the same place at the same time.
Call them mommy
The shooter was on the FBI watch list. His ex-wife said there were signs he was mentally unstable. Either of these two things should have prevented him from purchasing an assault-style rifle...had there been laws to that effect. But the well-paid gun lobbyists made sure that no such laws were in effect, that the combination of fear and hatred would only drive gun sales through the roof. About these things, they were never wrong.
Im still in the bathroom
He’s in the bathroom with us
Im gonna die
That was one of the last texts that Eddie Jamoldroy Justice ever sent to anyone. His phone went silent. He was among the forty-nine who were killed.
So ended a conversation between a mother and her child, between Mina and Eddie Justice. Maybe someday another conversation will begin...one between people of all faiths and countries, between conservatives and liberals, between those who are pro-gun and anti-gun and all the shades of gray in between.
Or maybe nothing will change, and the massacres and madness will go on.
Mommy, it doesn’t hurt anymore.
Everything is so quiet now and peaceful. Just the sound of the summer breeze.
I don’t think I’m in my body anymore. I feel like I’m sailing in a boat
without an ocean.
I don’t know where I am mommy. Can you find me?
I remember when I was little and I hid in a cupboard ― you found me.
But you look so tired tonight. Your eyelids
are like window shades pulled all the way down.
You need to rest now mommy. You can look for me tomorrow.
Dwight Okita’s website is www.DwightOkita.com. His poetry book is CROSSING WITH THE LIGHT. His novel, THE PROSPECT OF MY ARRIVAL, was a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.