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Night fell on the Balm Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware. Three black men in their mid-30s, Dr. Matt Kingsbury, Dr. Derrick Tining, and Dr. Wendell Saxby, all confronted a gang once they walked outside of the hospital. The gang, called the Hot Lead, consisted of three black boys Kriss, Bundy, and Tops. They never brandished a weapon, but did indicate that they possessed firearms.
“Hey, we don’t want any money. We just want to know what it would take to be like you all. If you don’t give us the right answers, we may just have to rob you, though.”
The trio of doctors kept their composure. They looked at each other without even a hint of worry or anxiety.
“I’m going to flip it on you,” Dr. Tining said. “If you can heed our words, then you can go without having your lives upended by going to the penitentiary or the grave. Because even if you harm or abscond with our belongings, you will either be killed by another gang or be bussed off to prison.”
Kriss wrapped his right palm around the grip of his pistol tucked into his pants.
“Okay, bet. We can do this, but we need to know that you’re not going to go to the cops even if we don’t rob or hurt you.”
The three doctors looked at each other with confidence.
“It’s a deal,” Dr. Saxby said.
“So what is it that we have to do?” Bundy asked. His sincerity rang in his voice. It was like a young wolf laying down and closing its mouth to hide its teeth.
“Since there are no government-backed degrees anymore, the pathway for you all to become just like us will be difficult, but not impossible. Since the State no longer imposes stupid rules, you can be on the fast track to being physicians or whatever you want to be,” Kingsbury said.
Tining uncrossed his arms and spoke with his hands. “Do you all have high school diplomas?”
The three men shook their heads no.
“Okay,” Tining said. “You’re going to have to achieve that most basic of pieces of education from a private school.”
“What if we can’t afford it?” Bundy asked.
“There are plenty of schools that are blue chip stocks and are funded by donations. These institutions will provide you with the ability to overcome any educational boundaries that you may face,” Dr. Tining said.
Tops looked confused. “Do you mean that we have to study just to get by?”
Kingsbury grinned. “It’s going to take a lot of studying to get where we are. But it’s not impossible.”
Bundy lifted his shirt to expose a medium-sized firearm.
“How do we know that you’re not lying to us?”
“Why would we lie? We’re trying to get young men off of the streets and on the road to greatness through the power of their minds.”
Tops and Kriss also showed their weapons without brandishing them. “We could just kill you all right here and now.”
“Again, there’s only two place you’ll find as a home: An early urn or a cell. It’s your choice. You can take our words and turn your lives around or risk experiencing those two options.”
The Hot Lead looked at each other. They tucked their firearms away. They remembered how many of their gang had been gunned down and shipped off to spend a good chunk if not all of their lives behind bars.
Kriss stepped toward the doctors. “Alright, we’ll think about what you just said.”
“Yes,” said Bundy, “We can be physicians, too.”
“And you don’t have to stop there,” Dr. Tining said. “You can branch out be whatever you want to be. A software developer, an engineer, or a doctor with a PhD. Some of these professions don’t even require a degree. With the PhD you need to be certified if you earn it, of course. But it’s all privatized. No government intrusion in the school system.”
The Hot Lead members straightened.
“Never forget that just because you have the past eating away at you doesn’t mean that your future can’t be a bountiful feast for the soul,” Dr. Kingsbury said.