Volume 26, Number 3

Letting the Monster Live

In this horror movie the black guy doesn't die. He isn't gone
within the first few minutes. He isn't the cool best friend
to the main character. He isn't comic relief,

since now the movie is in an urban setting. The setting
actually doesn't matter: street, school, hospital, police
station. This time the black guy is the killer, America's self-imposed

fear and false cliché. Stick me anywhere and he can appear. This form
of black-on-black crime, both new and the recycling of old
tales easy to recognize if they weren't swept underneath the rug

like a mystic curse nobody cares to break the cycle of. The possibilities
for sequels are endless. At the end of the day,
all horror films are about survival, and there will always be struggles

for survival between the monster my depression has become
and me. Wherever I go, he follows—and we both
know our conflict only heads in two directions: if he lives, I win

to be tormented another day, but if I die, he wins. My depression
wears the face of the one who looks back at me in the mirror,
and it wouldn't be so bad if he didn't carry a cleaver of my worst sins

when he jumps into my scared reflection. Every surprise appearance
reminding me of how easily I can be found when there is no way
to hide from myself. Being the killer in a horror flick isn't easy

when you're also the victim, constantly chased
by a magical apparition you can never get away from. I have become
part escape attempt, part trap. He knows

all of my best hiding places, turns concealed chameleon, murders
my trust in family, scalps relationships with a knife of insecurity,
chokes out friendships with a chain of neglect. My only option

is to do what almost all of the horror movies do:
have a happy ending and win despite the catch
that comes with it—the monster never really dies.

So long as there's a protagonist to pursue
the sequels are endless. I'm not the only black guy running
from this beast, so the remakes are endless.

So long as nobody talks about the haunting
the horrors will continue
to chase us to our graves.

—Deonte Osayande