- Kevin Chadwin Davis: I Survived. Patrick Huey 55:01
His Mother’s Eyes
In the production notes for his play The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams describes the play as a “memory play… presented with unusual freedom from convention.” He goes into further detail, “Because of its considerably delicate or tenuous material, atmospheric touches and subtleties of direction play a particularly important part. Expressionism and all other unconventional techniques in drama have only one valid aim, and this is a closer approach to truth. When a play employs unconventional techniques, it is not, or certainly shouldn’t be, trying to escape its responsibility of dealing with reality, or interpreting experience, but is actually or should be attempting to find a closer approach, a more penetrating and vivid expression of things as they are.”
July 20, 1998 is the day that three-year-old Kevin’s life changed forever. It is the day that his father killed his mother, sister, and brother. Kevin was three at the time, but he remembers the day vividly. The memories are graphic and visceral. His sister’s freshly curled hair and the smell of the hairs slightly singed with the curling iron filling his nostrils. His father’s ominous words, “I am going to kill you all today.” His mother’s terror-filled eyes, as a young Kevin peered through the kitchen door to see his mom before her life was brutally ended. Her body covered in blood. He recalls his dad closing the door to the kitchen so Kevin would not see the final act. Perhaps an incongruous act of mercy? He still has nightmares about his mother’s eyes. He remembers they were so piercing.
The resulting truth of that day in 1998 for Kevin was that his father’s crime left him orphaned. His mother murdered by his own dad who was unresponsive in a prison cell in Texas for years, not replying to Kevin’s letters to him. Kevin was set on a course that led him from Texas to Louisiana and back again, and ultimately into the life of an escort. As Kevin describes it himself, “What I was looking for in these men was parts of my dad that I didn’t have.” He did what he had to do to survive. And even though he survived that day in 1998, Kevin describes a part of his life as taken away from him like his mom and siblings were, “You know, I don’t know if my dad really realizes this, but he shaped me because he taught me how to live without him. And you know, he killed a part of me as well, and there is a part of me missing, that I think I will never have.”
When he finally visited his dad in prison, it showed him what he was capable of. How strong he was. He was able to close the door on some of those dark things when he was able to see his dad face-to-face. “Being able to look across the table at somebody and seeing someone that is so like me, it was groundbreaking… When I was able to walk out of that establishment, I felt like the baddest bitch in the world. For overcoming my biggest fear. My biggest fear in life was to see him in person and not know what to do. To let it hurt me.”
I know we want there to be a happy ending here. And there is. Kevin is now studying Public Health in college in Texas, he is an advocate for PrEP and HIV education in the gay community and a voice for the rights and safety of sex workers. But Kevin’s reality is what it is. Each day he wakes up and draws breath is a triumph of the human soul, and the remembrance of his mother’s eyes.
At the Podium on IG
For more information contact Patrick at email@example.com