Short Story #364: The Death of Tommy Grimes by R. J. Meaddough III

Title:  The Death of Tommy Grimes

Author:  R. J. Meaddough III

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
Tommy has been instructed by his father to lie still and wait.  He flashes back to earlier in his life when Tommy had trouble shooting at things and his father chastised him for this and then spent endless hours training Tommy to shoot.  One evening, his Pa mentions that he and his friends are going hunting for some bucks and Tommy asks if he can go too.  His father warns that it could be dangerous but Tommy insists on going.  The father explains that they need to put down an animal that is doing damage and just needs to be killed.  Tommy accepts that and asks about something his father had said before about dying.  Pa explains that a bit of person dies when he kills something and that it will keep happening until the person is dead inside.  Tommy awaits the buck as the day continues.  Finally, there is movement and he shoots.  He is excited and calls for his Pa but when his Pa doesn't initially answer, he thinks he killed his Pa.  They go over to the body and then go to camp where Tommy is celebrated for killing his first African American.  He feels happy now that he belongs.

This is definitely a story that packed a hard punch.  I didn't anticipate the buck to be an African American and found the training that took place even more damning once that came to light.  

Short Story #364 out of 365
Rating:  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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