“Naw, I didn’t have a gun, T.”
I was visiting Dion at a juvenile detention center.
He was arrested for allegedly pulling a gun on a group of white boys.
The police recovered a gun in his mother’s apartment.
The gun matched the victims’ description.
I first time met Dion when he came in for an interview.
He was dressed in black slacks, a white collared shirt, and a tie.
We sat down.
I asked, “Have you ever been arrested?”
“Yes,” he said. “Is that going to mess up my chances to get this job?”
We hired him in the summer of 2008.
Two weeks into the program I received a call from a lawyer, “Talia, I have one of your boys.”
It was Dion.
After he was released, we hired him again.
This time he completed the program.
Yesterday, I noticed a young man with a bushy ponytail lugging card board boxes to a dumpster. The ponytail looked familiar. He lowered the boxes from in front of his face.
It was Dion.
“T,” he said.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Working,” he said with confidence.
He was working for the Boys and Girls Club.
I asked him how school was going.
(My husband helped Dion with his admission and financial aid application for a community college.)
“It’s good. I started yesterday.”
“Can I come and work for you again, T,” he asked.
“You don’t need us anymore.”
He paused to think; then said, “I am your success story.”
“You are,” I said. “You are.”