The news on the radio loudly proclaimed that John B. Thomas was dead. “How could this be?” was my reply. “How could this boy be dead?” A child of fifteen, so young, so new, so full of hopeful tomorrows. What in the world is wrong with us? How could this child be dead?
His classmates gathered round his casket to say their last good-bye. Their faces racked with memories. Their sorrow plain to all, for each one would feel the loss of him. Each one knew he had gone.
My eyes wandered and came to rest on one of this boy’s friends, and the ire started at the core of my being and as if it would explode with the knowledge of one who knew that each one there had played a vivid part in this young boy’s demise.
Not so long ago when this boy was here among us. I would see him acting kind of odd and I would inquire of his pals, what made him act so strange?
Their replies were one of protection, one of righteous cause. He’s asthmatic they would say, and the medicine he takes makes him act this way.
I believed them then and asked no more. Each time I would see him I would try to overlook his faults. In truth I passed him by for what I called no time.
Why didn’t I ask more questions? Why didn’t we find the time? The answers were before us all, in this town where this boy died. The anger is not for just the young who would not let us help. It’s all of ours to share. All of us who saw this boy, and faintly knew the reasons he was so strange.
The news provided us with the way and how of his passing. John B. Thomas was run over by a truck on a lonely road, at three o’ clock in the morning. He had fallen asleep in the middle of the road. Drugged at age fifteen, he died.