"Wait, what was his name?"
I stop my fifty-year-old cousin
mid-sentence in search of clarification.
He repeats the victim's name for me.
I lay my beer down on his coffee table.
"I played soccer with his son in elementary school,"
I tell him, dumbfounded.
The boy I knew fell off the face of the earth
or maybe I did when my parents split
and I moved out of that one-horse town
with my mother many moons ago.
The revelation feels fraudulent.
Things like that don't happen
to people we know;
or maybe they do
and that contributes
to the world's current state.
"How'd it happen?"

My cousin continues
after a long drag of Coors.
"He was on a snowmobile
with his son--your friend--
on the back when the old man
plowed into him.
There were targets
and casings in the car
when the cops searched it afterward.
He was on the way home
from the range when it happened.
As soon as he opened the door
to rip that old man out of the car
and pummel him for almost
killing his kid on the back of that sled
he was shot with a pistol.
Then the driver got out
aimed at the ground
and unloaded in his face
while he bled out in the snow.
His son witnessed everything.
The old man got away with it.
He argued self-defense.
It was sickening."
He punctuates the account
with another swig of his swill.

My cousin continues
his rambling, but my ears
are under water.
What else had been censored
by that hamlet's parents decades ago?
Where does that old friend
call home these days
and did I kick the ball his way
enough times on our field?
Sometimes the world isn't big enough.

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