This is a story about my neighbor. Not Wise, but another neighbor.
This is a story about Billy. Billy is not like Wise.
Wise has a wife and a daughter. He is a devout Muslim. Wise lost a child at the age of 3 and says he also lost a piece of himself that day.
Billy grew up in rural East Texas. Billy's father was, and is, a racist. Billy was too, although he's now more aware of the perceptions he grew up with and the caustic and destructive effects they have on himself and on others.
But 12 years ago, Billy was not aware of them. He was aware of the alcoholism of his father and the way he would beat his mom on a semi-regular occurrence. Billy's father also regularly beat "niggers".
I cringe every time Billy uses the word. I cringe typing it. I almost didn't. But it helps to describe Billy and Billy's father who use the word in a very offensive nature. It's meant to offend and it's meant as an attack. It's a missile meant to hurt. That's who Billy was.
Billy's father was put in jail once for almost killing a black man but that was just the time he was caught and the local sheriff felt like he had to do something about it. Billy and his father used every racial slur on the planet that you can imagine, and I won't continue to be as offensive as they are and repeat them here. But you know the ones.
I suppose Wise has bit of racist tendencies as well, although they would be pretty close to the opposite of Billy's. Wise tended to think people like Billy were the devil and Billy tended to think people like Wise - along with many others - were the devil.
Regardless, Billy is not like Wise. Wise would have been considered by most to be a terrorist 12 years ago.
Billy, on the other hand, would have been considered, by most, to be a hero. Billy flew the Apache AH-64 helicopter for the U.S. Army and he flew numerous missions in Iraq, where he launched numerous missiles and bombs into the "towel-heads". Those were the literal missiles, more deadly perhaps than the verbal and definitely more accepted.
It was one such missile, not from Billy, that killed the son of Wise when he was 3 years old. Wise still carries a picture of that boy everywhere he goes so that he won't ever forget his son who would be almost 17 now.
But 12 years ago, Wise carried it for a slightly different reason. He carried it to remember his single mission in life: revenge.