"As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. There are also known unknowns, that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know."

 -Donald Rumsfeld


Whatever he’s taking, I want some of that; make my drink the same way as his. The first time I heard it, that’s what I thought. “Known knowns" and "unknowns”. Damn. We’re in trouble. That’s the next thing I thought.

But the longer I thought about "knowns" and "unknowns", the more sense it made. John Lennon, by way of example. I cried and I cried when John Lennon died; John Lennon’s death came out of the blue.

I cried and I cried when Kurt Cobain died too. But that was a “known” that I knew. The way that he lived was the way that he went. I was sad, but I wasn’t surprised.

We used to live next door to the Thompsons. William and Lydia. An elderly couple. She wore silver glasses and had silver hair. He was a big guy and had silver hair too, and they were both quiet, and kind.

She would bake cookies and bring them next door. Sometimes I went over there. Their porch had an awning, it was cool in the summer. He and I used to sit and drink Pepsi.

They had a grandson and his name was Darren. Every so often, Darren would stay at his grandparents’ house. I hated Darren. We all hated Darren. Me and the rest of the kids on my street. I had these two fish in a clear glass bowl. Lucy and Schroder. Siamese fighting fish I won at the fair.

I brought them outside to show to my friends. Darren walked up, took the bowl from my hands. He dropped it. It smashed. Lucy and Schroder sputtered and flopped. There was glass everywhere, he laughed and said, sorry. Then Darren stomped on poor Lucy’s head.

I hated Darren. We all hated Darren. Me and the rest of the kids on my street. But we loved the Thompsons. She made us cookies. He gave us Pepsi. We tried to be nice for their sake.

One afternoon when I came home from school, the buses were gone, there were cop cars instead. Darren sat, stone-faced, in the backseat of one; in the house next to mine, the Thompsons were dead.

It’s unknown to me where Darren is now. I only know he was caught. "Known knowns” and “unknowns”. Damn. We’re in trouble. I know that’s the first thing I thought.  

I cried and I cried when John Lennon died. I cried when Kurt Cobain died too. I cried for the Thompsons and sometimes I wonder, did they really know what they knew.