To begin with I recalled (and not in a bad way – it seems these day’s you need a disclaimer) that she was a pretty, young girl and I remember her making sure that I spelled her name the right way when it came out in the paper and being pretty adamant about it.
Little did I know that day I had just met the toughest – not girl, not young person – but person I’ve ever interviewed.
Chyna, for those of you who don’t recall, was shot four times by a punk named Patrick Guillory on June 14th of last year. To emphasize how much of a coward this guy is he shot her as she was running away – in the back. An 18-year-old girl, pregnant with a three-month-old child, shot down in the street. Paralyzed for life – or that’s at least what she was told by the doctors.
I recall writing a couple of stories about it in the paper and thinking about how sorry I felt for this girl but as the newspaper business works we just keep chugging along and stories keep coming in and within a couple weeks I have to admit that I had, for the most part, forgotten about the crime committed against Chyna, and my mind was back on writing other stories for the paper.
Well last week my boss Harold came into my office and dropped a copy of The Houston Chronicle on my desk. On the front page of the section he had given me was a story about Chyna and how she had just had her baby at a hospital in Houston. The story detailed her recovery, her rehabilitation and the determination she showed after what had to have been months of grueling rehab.
I called her mother, a feisty woman named Sherry Yokum, and left a message on Monday letting her know that I wanted to do a story about Chyna. It took three days before she returned my call and I thought that maybe she was thinking that ‘Chyna’s been through enough lately I don’t know if she could take another newspaper interview.’
Nothing was further from the truth.
On Thursday she called me back and not only agreed to the interview but was looking forward to letting the people of Crowley know that this wimpy, little punk Guillory (actually those are my words) had only slowed Chyna, who had dreams of being a registered nurse, down. He had by no means ruined her life.
Well after speaking with Chyna and Sherry yesterday I can assure Mr. Guillory that Chyna, who is now taking classes at McNeese St. University and is slowly making remarkable progress. She can move her shoulders and, to some extent, her arms now. And she changed her major to criminal justice so that she can put people like Patrick Guillory away.
I sent you a friend request on Facebook Chyna and am still awaiting your approval – you better give it to me! You inspired me on Friday and made me realize that the problems I’ve had with my car and my football teams recently are so miniscule that I’m embarrassed to admit them. There are people with much bigger obstacles to overcome in life and are doing it.
As for Guillory, I wish I could mail him a copy of my article so he could see that the only life he ruined that night was his own. However, I can’t do that because it wouldn’t be professional. However, we print a lot of newspapers and if any of our readers just got an idea I can’t prevent them from doing anything.
Enjoy the next 40 years of your life Patrick. Know that all you did was make a dedicated girl even more inspired to do great things with her life.
And after talking with her yesterday, I assure you that she will little man.
Every man has been dumped at some point during their lives you moron, however your sorry excuse for trying to recover some form of deranged pride, has landed you in the worst environment in Louisiana. And while you’re enjoying your Angola showers Chyna is not only progressing but inspiring other people who, like myself, needed a first- hand look at what is truly important in life.
Thank you Chyna!
Howell Dennis is a native of Lafayette, La. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington where he graduated in journalism and public relations.