28 years ago this evening, Mark David Chapman, waiting outside The Dakota, fired 5 hollow-point, .38 caliber bullets at John Lennon as he walked by. Four of them struck their intended target, ending Lennon’s life. Another tragic ending to the life of someone who preached peace and love. Will it ever end?
Ironically, there is some NFL significance to the reporting of Lennon’s death. December 8, 1980 was a Monday night. Miami was hosting New England, and before the Dolphins kicked the game winning field goal, announcer Howard Cossell interrupted his commentary with the following message:
“This, we have to say it, remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to the Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival.”
Lennon was 40. The Dolphins beat the Patriots 16-13.
Here is a short story I wrote a few years back for a class:
He used to prance quietly across the hall late at night,
his strides long and his feet barely brushing the soft, white,
Frieze carpet. His open robe would dance behind him – and
sometimes, he would catch the ends of it behind his head and the
wind would open it up like a parachute above him, nearly
swooping him off of his feet and up into the midnight air. He
wanted so badly to ride that wind up and over the railing, where
he could glide down, ever so slowly, for a perfect landing in
the perfect spot – his father’s lap.
He would sit for hours at the edge of the stairs, legs
dangling a few meters above the living room, swaying in time, to
the music of an acoustic guitar. His father never played radio
songs, nothing to sing along to; nonetheless, the sound was
soothing and he loved the way his father’s British accent melted
away the instant melody leapt from his tongue.
If he pressed his head up against the vertical wooden bars
of the railing hard enough, he could sometimes catch a glimpse
of his mother. She would often lie on the floor near his
father’s foot, her long black hair fanned out; eyes closed, lost
inside her head, inhaling every single note and holding them
deep inside her soul until her skin turned a soft purple.
Sometimes smoke would drift up toward the ceiling, catch a
sliver of light just right, and send millions of smoke spirals
across the room, mixing and pushing and dancing infinitely for
an audience of one.
Many nights he would lay back and nestle into the long,
soft, woven yarn. He would picture himself downstairs near his
father’s other foot, inhaling the music just like his mother.
He would slip off to sleep eagerly awaiting the moment when his
father would scoop him up and sing softly to him as he tucked
him back into bed.
It was a cold, lonely night. Christmas was only a few
weeks away, so it was possible, he believed, that his mother and
father could still be out shopping. He waited on the couch, but
it was getting late and even his Nanny was sleeping. He began
to doze off…
Soon, people began to flood the streets outside the Dakota.
He could hear screaming and crying and his heart began to race
as he ran around the penthouse calling for his mother and
father. He checked every room and every closet, under every bed
and behind every curtain. He was alone.
Warm tears left trails down his cheeks that sparkled under
the light of the crystal chandelier. It was the kind of image
his father would surely weave into golden vinyl. Instead, with
nobody around to notice, he walked over to the vintage
cathedral-style Philco™ radio that his father treasured, and
switched it on. There was a momentary hum as the tubes warmed
before a very familiar voice sang to him:
“Though I know I’ll never lose affection, for people and
things that went before, I know I’ll often stop and think about
them, in my life, I love you more.”