19 May The Graduation
“I sure hate being late all the time. Danny you’d be late to your own funeral. It’d be nice to get to the graduation on time and see our grandson walk across the stage. Why do you always have to be so slow.” Beth said with a bit of frustration in her voice.
“First off, the graduation doesn’t start until 6 pm, and it’s 5:20 pm, we have plenty of time. Second, I’m not always late. You just have to always find something to bitch about.”
Danny began to speed up as if he was late.
The trip from Olive Branch, MS to Memphis was a straight shot north on hwy 55. The graduation for their grandson Victor was at the forum downtown Memphis.
“This will be our first grandson to graduate. I always knew our Victor would make something of himself.”
“Gosh Beth, you act as if the boy is doing something special. He’s an only child. He’s got two supportive parents, two loving grandparents, and good health. I mean, all the boy gotta do is go to school. He don’t have no job. The way I look at it, he should be an honor student graduating with honors.”
“Now Danny, you know good and well times are different, it ain’t like when we were growing up. It’s just so much for these young folks to get in to.”
“That’s absolute nonsense. Life is all about choices, and today’s kids make too many bad choices. They listen to that garbage on the radio and there addicted to those smartphones. You know back in the day we couldn’t do a whole lot because of the color of our skin. We couldn’t even drink out the same water fountains as the white folks, yet alone attend the same school. These kids have access to more information and an easier life than we ever had.”
The time was closer to the start of the graduation and Beth appeared more and more frustrated as the time got closer to 6 pm.
At 5:50 pm Beth and Danny pulled into the parking garage looking for a place to park.
“The garage is full! This is why we should’ve left earlier. Just let me out at the car since you seem so not concerned about our grandson’s graduation.”
“Beth would you chill out and help me find a place to park. Please, I don’t want to go in this place with you being pissed off at me for being a couple of minutes late. Help me find a spot so we can get on in.”
Dan and Beth continued driving up and down each floor looking for a place to park. There was nothing. The Elhaven High class of 2019 had 421 students graduating, and their grandson was one of the top students on the list.
“Over there Danny, it looks like someone is leaving. Hurry up before someone pulls up and gets that spot.”
Danny put the pedal to the floor and sped up to try to get the parking spot located on the fourth floor near the elevator. As Danny pulled up, he noticed a black SUV with dark tint. The tint was so thick it appeared as if no one was driving the SUV. As the SUV slowly begin to back out of the parking spot, it stopped, and a man, dressed in all black, bald headed, no facial hair, jumped out of the SUV and begin approaching Danny’s 2008 Ford Escort.
“You should leave now.” The white bald headed man said in a firm voice.
“What in the hell do you mean, I should leave now? We have a graduation to attend.” Danny said, with his window slightly rolled down.
“I will not ask you again. If you choose to stay the choice is yours.”
Afterwards, the man marched back to his SUV and sped off.
“Just what in God’s name was that about it.”
“Who cares Danny. Park this car and let’s get inside. We have a grandson who’s about to graduate.”
The time was now 6:16 pm. Danny and Beth, both in their late 60’s were moving as if they were in their 20’s.
Inside the forum they begin looking for a seat.
“There’s one. Come on.” Beth said, grabbing her husband by the hand.
As they sat and listened to students speak, they both sat there in amazement at the number of people in attendance and the well versed lines of the students talking to the audience. Victor their grandson sat in the second row dressed in an all white robe. Students in the top 10% of their class wore white robes.
Speaker after speaker, spoke words of encouragement to the students.
“Students today marks a chapter closed in your life. But a new chapter awaits. When you leave the forum, let the next chapter of your life be better than the last. Continue to educate yourself. Education is a powerful tool. As the late Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Change the world young men and women. Help make the world a better place.”
The speaker, Bob Thacker who sits on the board, walked back to seat.
The Principle of Elhaven, Dr. Hill approached the podium.
“I now give you the graduates of Elhaven High, class of 2019.”
One by one the students walked up to receive their diplomas. And as Victor was getting closer and closer to receive his, Beth slightly continued to move closer to the edge of her seat.
“Victor Langston” The principle called out. Victor, a tall thin handsome young man. His dark beautiful glowing skin was a perfect match with the white robe. Both grandparents stood proud, one clapping and one snapping pictures.
Suddenly the a security officer stepped in whispered something in the ear of Principle Hill. The forum went silent.
“We hate to interrupt this wonderful occasion but we have been notified that we are about to experience severe weather. The management at the forum is suggesting we all make our way to the basement.” Principal Hill’s voice trembled as he spoke to the crowd.
Beth immediately pulled out her phone to check the weather. But there was no signal. Hundreds of people could be seen attempting to use their phones, nothing.
“What the heck is going on!” One man yelled.
“I’m getting out here!” A woman could be heard screaming.
“People, people, please, let us remain calm. We are safer inside than out. The basement will provide us with the shelter we need. Please, I need everyone to look to your left and follow security.” Principle Hill walked down from the podium and got in line.
In order to get to the basement, all 900 plus graduates and attendees had to walk past a hall of windows leading to the basement. The windows showed a direct view outside of how bad things really were. The hall was long and after most of the people exited the forum and into the hall, they all caught a glimpse of something in the sky that looked far scarier than a storm.
“What in the world is that object in the sky?” Lashun said as she put her face against the window.
The people in the hallway leading towards the basement were in complete awe and silence.
Victor placed his hands on the window, the heat from his breath fogging a small part of the glass.
“They have arrived.”