Murder is one those words that I hear every day and have for years and years and years, to the point, I fully admit, that I have become totally desensitized to its real meaning. Yep, to me, the more I hear the word murder, and especially the more I read it in yet another newspaper report, the more and more detached I seem to become from it. It has lost its initial intended meaning to me. In fact, right now as I type this and just think of the word MURDER in my head, I cannot help but hear the refrain from that classic 1993 dancehall reggae hit by Chaka Demus & Pliers, "Murder She Wrote," echoing happily in my skull: "murder she wrote, nah nahnah, murrrrder she wrote." So, to me, murder or that six letter word spelled backwards -- redrum (popularized by The Shining) -- is just another empty, meaningless word, or, even worse, alternately, it is a sexy catch-phrase, repeated in songs I hum, the theme of entertaining movies I watch, video games I play, books I read, and juicy headlines in morning newspapers I read as I sip my comforting coffee. So ultimately murder to me (and maybe to you too?) is just another hollow disposable word -- nothing more, nothing less. Unless, unless, that is, of course, that the word murder is directly connected to me personally or to someone close to me.
So as I sat on the BART the other morning reading a small article in the Bay Area section of the San Francisco Chronicle under the heading "Two Murders In Oakland Over The Weekend," about a couple of unrelated fatal street shootings (one of them "gang related"), to be totally honest, it barely registered in my consciousness, just the same ol, same ol to this jaded soul. Until, that is, the location of one of the murders jumped off the page at me ("Fairview Ave. in the 100 block, north of Lake Merrit"). Damn! I realized that this was directly outside the apartment building where I stay. Later that day from talking to folks in the immediate East Bay neighborhood I found out all the killing's tragic details: that the murder happened on Friday night at 9:25PM. That it took place directly opposite the church (ironically) when a car screeched to a halt in the middle of the street with two guys audibly arguing inside. Both got out, still arguing loudly, and one shot the other nine times before hopping back into the driver's seat to speed away leaving the body of a 29 year old man bleeding to death on that chilly Oakland night.