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A FTERWORD The Martyrdom of a Secular Saint BY TOM MCCLELLAN SPRING OF ’89 was a bad one for me. I lost a friend named Steve Grayer. I recall a phone conversa tion with my wife that went about as follows: “They found Steve’s skull in the paper today.” “Yes, I know, I heard about it at work.” That came after the memorial service that was supposed to have put a wrap on the business. One of Steve’s fellow workers at Parole and Probation had spoken of how his brother in Christ had taken a bum home with him right off the street let him sleep there, fed him, and helped him get his life back together. Steve was that kind of Christian, the young man told the saltand-pepper congregation, and the speaker declared his faith in Paul’s saying: “All things work together for those who love and serve the Lord, and are called according to his purpose.” Steve was a coffee-skinned, closecropped young man, delicate and highvoiced and parental, so when my wife told me he’d found a job with Adult Parole and Probation, I said “Oh Jesus, that guy is going to try to mother the wrong kind of client and get himself killed.” The minister who closed the service had faith in all things working together, too. He expressed the hope that Steve’s death would remind City Hall that there was a black community, that there was crime in it, that not all who loved and served the law were white, and that now was not the time for the City or the County to mistake miserliness for economy. Then we all made our slow exit into sunlight and television cameras. “Vultures,” I’d said on the way in, but on the way out I was just happy that they’d remained outside, far enough away for those of us who wanted to avoid them. We had seen plenty of Steve’s head-shot: At the front of the church, exhibited on a tripod, was an 18 by 24 photograph of him in all his youthful aliveness, the face of the man whose body was that day buried in Mississippi. The man named after the first among martyrs. Paul held the cloaks of those who stoned Steven to death about AD 35. Tom McClellan is a Dallas freelance writer. AND THE HEAD-SHOT was familiar from proximity to a pageone headline howling, HEADLESS CORPSE FOUND TO BE THAT OF OFFICER, which awakened me between coffee and formica Tuesday morning, May 3, AD 1988. The body had been found that Sunday in Kiest Park, the report said, at about 11 in the morning by a man who’d probably thought it was a great day for a stroll. I couldn’t read the rest of it right then, so I thought that “the head” being “severed from the body” meant police had found both; but they hadn’t. The morning my wife told me that Steve’s head was still unburied, I read an item about the confessions of a death-row inmate who explained how ritual murder was done among diabolists. In some rites, he said, only the victim’s head was of any use, so I made an immediate connection between the murder and diabolism. The police said that was not the case. Steve’s family had complained through the fourth estate over two-and-a-half weeks before the body was found. Steve had disappeared from his apartment in Irving about noon the Thursday after Easter, and by Monday of the next week it seemed to his sister and mother that the Irving Police cared more about the weekend than about their brother and son. So Steve became an occasional media event: On the Ides of April his car was found and the moon waned new; on Mayday his corpse was discovered as the moon waxed full; and at the next new moon another Sunday stroller saw the skull in a clearing 100 yards and 14 days from the body. Probably the work of animals, said the police. Shortly after that, a parole officer was raped and the bones of a 3-year-old girl were found most of them, and then murder went on in more ordinary ways. Many moons thereafter, Steve made the Crimestoppers program and the world just keeps on turning. The only vulture left circling Kiest Park is in my imagination, wondering whether Dallasites do not in fact take a perverse sort of pride in their “worldclass” crime rate. LAYNE JACKSON THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23