The Day That Baltimore Cried

Pure evil has many faces. - Al Bello

Tavon Austin is a man, by law and by blood. He has a responsibility to Baltimore, the city that raised him. To that responsibility, he has failed.

The wind was angry. Tavon sat on a bench at the end of the pier and felt it whip across his face from every direction as he looked out across the sea.

He came to this place often when he was younger. It was the one place he could find solace when things in his life weren't going the way people hope things in life to go. He came here after his grandmother died. He came here when his cousin was sentenced to prison. He came here after West Virginia lost to LSU in September of 2011.

This was his Baltimore. His home. And, like the wind, it stung that day, because he had laid flame to his moral compass, his entire raison d'être.

Tavon Austin had shamed his home city of Baltimore by suggesting everyone in the city was his cousin.

He wondered about the single mothers who would struggle to explain to their young sons what he had done. He worried that the crime rate around North Ave/Belair, already one of the worst in the country, would explode.

Would he be able to be seen in public again? Probably not. The City of Baltimore might not be able to forgive him. The hundreds of thousands of people in and around Charm City that hadn't asked him for money once he was drafted by the Rams, didn't they deserve more? Why would he be so sickeningly craven as to lump in the hard-working people of Baltimore in with the few people who were trying to take advantage of him? Surely he knew that his turn of phrase was a shiv thrust deep into the heart of B'more, no?

Tavon hung his head on that bench. People make mistakes, he told himself. But the better among us own those mistakes. They learn from them. And they make good to those who had been wronged.

He pulled a pen out of his pocket and a notebook he always kept on his person for a moment just like this, a moment of redemption. He stood up, rehabilitated by his own conviction. He walked, nay, marched to the phone booth on the boardwalk, and grabbed the phone book.

He owed Baltimore a debt, and he intended on repaying that debt. He knew the only path of righteousness: write a letter to every citizen in Baltimore who had not asked him for money and apologize. Apologize directly from his soul into ever word of each letter.

If Baltimore would have him back, he'd never dishonor their love again.

He opened the phone book and began to write the names of his new family. A family that wouldn't ask for money, but only to be an advocate for the city. To show the world everything that was good and true about Baltimore.

He began to write.

Abal Aabnatiyak...Baboush Aabnatiyak...Fediyah William Aabnatiyak...

This was going to take some time. But if that's all it took, then he was glad.

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