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Anthony

By Taylor Brorby

 

—after Brian Doyle

Late one evening several people gathered on an amber-lit street in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

One of the men on the street was a skateboarder. His name was Anthony. Anthony had one daughter. He was working to renovate a home to support his girlfriend and child. Anthony skated around town and liked to make people smile.

Anthony heard gunshots on the amber-lit street and chased after the boy with the rifle. (He pushed me out of the way, like he was telling me to run off, and I tried to grab him his girlfriend said later.)

Most people ran off of the street, darted into parking lots, hid behind trees. That is the sensible thing to do, that is how they reacted to the gunshots, and that is what they did.

But Anthony chased, or ran, or rushed after the boy with the rifle. Which word you use depends on which news story you read about that night in Kenosha. But the words all move in the same direction—toward.

You and I have been on that street. It’s quiet and calm. Elm trees sway in the breeze. At the end of the street is a gas station where people smile and say Hello.

But Anthony must have wanted to run away, must have wanted to get off of the street to safety—that’s how you live to see another day. That’s how you renovate your house, wrap your daughter in pads and a helmet, and teach her how to skateboard. That’s how you live to make other people smile.

But Anthony leapt at the boy with the rifle, lifted his skateboard to stop the shooting, and reached for the gun. There was a pop, and Anthony fell down onto the cold Kenosha cement.

The next time someone says the word courage to you, you say this: There once was a man named Anthony. He had a daughter. He loved to skate with small children and tell jokes to make people smile. He ran after the boy with the rifle, and if we ever forget his name, if we ever forget the sound of leaves swaying on that street, if we ever forget that alongside great horror lives great courage, what hope do we have then? What hope do we have then?

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