Years have passed since I’ve last written about Mike. I see him every once in awhile in Berkeley, still. I think about him from time to time — wonder how he’s doing. I catch him out the corner of my eye the week before I leave for vacation, hanging around at Gypsy’s. “Mike!” I call back to him, and he turns around with a big grin on his face. The sidewalks are soaked.
“It’s my birthday tomorrow” he tells me, and I remember how close to Christmas it is.
We swap phone numbers. He’s in possession of an Android phone now. “How does this thing work?” he asks and laughs to himself. He’s showing me photos of himself, now taking classes at a culinary school in SF. Something about that seems incongruous to me and I chuckle inside… but Mike, well I believe he has the gumption and work ethic to pull it off. I tell him I owe him a birthday lunch, and we part ways.
Flash forward a couple of weeks, and it’s the first Tuesday of the new year. I’ve left on a run and Mike’s left me a voice mail while on my run. I listen to it on the way back, and his voice is hollow, blue, grief-stricken. “Drew,” chokes the voice on the other end, “they shot my baby girl.”
I look up the news article. Jubrille was 15 years old, wanted to be a teacher, and was on her way to the mall with her sister and another friend. The shooter was another teen.
OAKLAND — A pile of flowers, candles, teddy bears and farewell notes grew by the hour Monday afternoon on a quiet street in East Oakland, but they were little comfort to Mike Harris.
Harris, whose longtime family friend Jubrille Jordan, 15, was fatally shot at the site Sunday afternoon, was awash in tears as he surveyed the makeshift memorial.
“She was my sweetheart. They killed my sweetheart,” said Harris, a neatly dressed man in his 50s, as he wiped his eyes. “What happened? I don’t know, I don’t know.”
Jubrille was Oakland’s 12th child killed in 2012, and its 131st homicide victim in one of the city’s deadliest years in recent memory.
She was also Oakland’s final homicide of 2012. Mike picks up, and I barely make out his words through the sobs.