I mentioned that I found a lot of things that brought back memories when I cleaned out my room. Many of those things are pictures. One I found was of my first best friend when I was in Kindergarten - her name was Dawn Brown. She lived on the same street as I did, and my house was right across from the school. We walked to school together and played often. When Dawn didn't come to school for several days, and being that I was only 6 years old, I assumed she was sick. I never really gave it much thought and when I did I would ask my Mama or Shay where she was. I remember they never had much to say about it.
I remembered someone at School saying she was missing, but I cannot recall if I knew what that word really meant as relative to a 6 year old child. I remember that soon after, there were police cars and flashing lights down the street one afternoon, and my mother told me that something was wrong but it was nothing to worry about and told me to come in the house, that I was not to play outside anymore that day. This was the day when the first bit of my childhood innocence was destroyed.
That same evening I was putting together a wooden puzzle of the USA together on the floor of our living room, my father was in his chair beside me reading the newspaper and my sister Lucy was sitting on the sofa either reading or doing a crossword puzzle or something like that - maybe even homework. My mother was in the adjoining dining room sitting at the table and doing something or other. I do not remember where my other siblings were. The evening news was on TV when I heard the newscaster mention Dawn's half-brother's name and turned my head to the television. I saw police officers walking him in handcuffs to a building. The newscaster mentioned Dawn's name and the picture on the TV changed. It was a picture of a riverbank with people and police. Some of them were carrying this thing that I thought was a bed, because it had sheets around it. The camera zoomed in on feet sticking out from under the end of the sheets. I remember saying "Hey, those look like the sandals I gave Dawn for her birthday!" when a hand came out from behind me and turned the TV off. I turned around and behind me were my parents and my sisters looking at me with ashen faces. No one said anything for a while.
Willie Brown was convicted in the rape and murder by strangulation of his half baby sister Dawn. He threw her body into the river. He was a paranoid schizophrenic and had been in trouble before for many different things I think. Nothing was ever said about her to me again. I don't remember if I ever cried for her then.