By Ben Hall
May 15, 2015
She must have been 8 or 9 in the picture sitting on carpeted steps the color of purple next to her mother with her little sister Britney and her grandma Her smile held the minutest traces of joy and pillars of a fragile hope for a future uncertain. Reunited with her mother recently from foster care she looked so happy and hopeful. She could never have known the horrors and cruelty that would hammer her in life. She searched for lovers who continued to tear down those poorly reconstructed and frail pillars of hope that lacked foundations. She and I felt a kinship because the world told us we had no voice and that we mattered less. I wrote about meeting her for the first time, eerily prophetic of her fate and my fear of the new lovers she had chosen who armored her skin with skulls, smoking guns, and “Property of” and “Joker birch” further encasing her heart with chain mail. Lovers of the “wrong sort” and those who live outside the borders of society, many would say. She warred with demons perhaps none of us could imagine. Those who have a prominent voice never spoke for her, they had names for her, names like whore, drug addict, criminal, outcast and rebellious. Those of us who knew her best called her lost, daughter, sister, and cousin. We called her loved. Those of us who have no voice speak the loudest for her. We called her child, and I called her friend and family from the moment I met her, up until May 9, 2014, when the Salem police murdered her by putting a bullet in her head and chest, silencing the already voiceless voice after just 25 years of life.
Those lovers of the “wrong sort” paid for Jackie’s memorial and showed up with some many motorcyclists it looked like funeral procession for a four-star general. They loved her. Jackie was loyal and kind. She once entered an oil wrestling contest and won so she could pay for a brother’s prosthetic leg after he lost it in a wreck, and her picture hands on the wall of the Gypsy Joker club house: one of the only two women there with the fallen since 1969.
Her search for lovers has ended as the Lover of her soul, who made her, welcomed her into heaven laying an eternal bedrock beneath the pillars of that childhood smile, never again to be demolished. Her name was Jackie, she was my family an I loved her. I love her still and she mattered. Will you speak for her?