…Is returning soon.
We are on Chapter 5 and things are heating up. Be sure to read the first four installments to catch up before the story continues. Will Tina find Byron before its too late?
Missed the first three Eps? Click on the links below:
Byron brushed the lint from his uniform as he approached the home of his last client of the day. Walking up the steps of the beautiful home in the well-groomed neighborhood, he knocked on the door and looked down at his paperwork.
“Yes?” The door swung open and a woman smiled back at him.
“Good afternoon ma’am my name…”
Byron paused, mesmerized. The woman had the most beautiful blue eyes he’d ever seen. They had to be contact lens. He could look right through them. They were lovely against her milk chocolate skin. He cleared his throat. A woman had never had him so caught off guard.
“My name is Byron Fisher with Guaranteed Insurance Co. We have you listed here as requesting a return visit.” Byron held up a hand, “I know. I’m not the guy from last time but you were on my route so I thought I’d stop on by and see which plan most interest you”, he smiled.
“Oh yes”, said the woman.
She could see in more than one direction as she read Byron’s energy. Her eyes were cameras quickly processing her environment. They zoomed in on the car coming up the street, the lady walking her dog on the corner and the mailman who was late again. Even the candy wrapper in the cracks of the concrete.
Byron’s biography flashed against the screens that were her eyes. It told her he was single with no children and plenty of money to spend. He was also an orphan as a child and moved around a lot before enlisting in the military. After the army, Byron got into the Insurance business. Life never looked better. Well, almost never. The woman smiled. She saw his weakness too, his hurt.
He was in love once. Some lawyer woman he couldn’t have because she dated his friend. The woman’s eyes flashed. She was digging. The chief warned of digging. It required the use of too much energy but she had to know. So, she dug, and her eyes were claws that pierced his skin for secrets. It was safe. At least now. He couldn’t feel anything. At least not yet.
Byron wiped at his brow, frowning at the sudden wave of heat on his face.
The woman smiled, the flashing red dots on the screen of her eyes signaling the passion emanating from the man in front of her. He wanted her. This would be easy. She stopped digging before he fainted in broad daylight. The chief wouldn’t have that again.
“So very nice to meet you”, the woman said, “I am sure we can find something that I like. Please, come in.”
Byron smiled as he walked into the home of the beautiful blue-eyed woman. He couldn’t believe his luck. Some women were easy. Maybe he’ll get her to sign off on more than just papers. He smiled and her blue eyes flashed as she closed the door behind him.
“Look, laugh all you want. I’m not crazy.”
Erica composed herself, “I’m sorry girl. You sound like you believe it and if you believe I do too but…”
“Then you don’t believe me.” Tina got up from the sofa and walked over to the window of Erica’s downtown office. Downtown Chicago was one of the most beautiful places in the country.
Erica put her notepad to the side, “OK. Let’s entertain this for a moment. You gotta think about how this is going to sound. Your nephew died in a drug deal…”
“…it wasn’t a drug deal”, interrupted Tina turning around. It pissed her off that people were still saying that.
“Hold on, let me finish. Far as they know it, your nephew dies in a drug deal and everyone else flees the scene. You take leave from work to raise Keisha’s kids, your remaining nieces and nephew who by the way aren’t really your nieces and nephew…”
“No, no, let me finish. You take them in after winning a custody battle with their Dad after he couldn’t prove stable residency and their drug addict mom gave you permission to have them. And now everyone involved in the case you tried, people Ronnie was involved with, have gone missing. Top this all off with your claim that Aliens killed Ronnie and abducted everyone at the Warehouse.”
Tina nodded. It did sound phony when you said it out loud. She sat back on the sofa, resting her head on the pillow behind her.
“I’m not saying I don’t believe you but you a lawyer girl. You of all people should know this ain’t gonna stick,” said Erica.
“So, what am I to do then? I can’t keep taking these pills. It’s driving me crazy.”
“Listen, you need these pills so you can do your job without seeing little blue men walking around.”
“That’s not funny E.”
“Seriously, here’s what I think. Here’s my professional opinion…”
Tina smirked, “Now you wanna be professional?”
“Don’t be in my office judging me”, laughed Erica, “I’m the one with the pen.”
“In my professional opinion, I think you should see if you can find a connection between those who were abducted and people who may be working with these Aliens or whatever. They gotta be working with somebody or they wouldn’t be able to do anything without being seen.”
Tina sat up, “They look like men though. That’s how they can move about without notice. It’s not like in the movies. The only way to tell is their eyes and sometimes not even then.”
“Still, they gotta be working with normal, everyday people too. Find those people.”
Tina looked at Erica and bit her lip. It was a start.
“Meanwhile,” Erica stood and walked over to her desk and tore off a piece of paper. She walked back to the sofa and handed it to Tina, “get it together.”
Tina rolled her eyes and took the prescription, “I don’t need it.”
“Yes, you do. Even if it’s just in case.”
Tina thought deeply about Erica’s words on the drive home. She did have her wheels turning. Who could be involved in something like this? Az did say it was a cover-up. Reaching for the folders, Tina scanned the names again: Antonio, Brandon, Chareese, Sidney, the two officers, Emmanuel.
Hmm. Someone is missing.
Tina tapped her fingers against the steering wheel, thinking back to the days they used to hang out. Her close ties to everyone abducted did make her look to be involved so she had to be careful or she would lose the case for sure. Antonio, also known as Popeye and Brandon, also known as Tree, were best friends. Chareese, one of her best friends, dated Brandon and was pregnant with his baby and Sidney, the journalist, was also a close friend of hers. Not to mention she went to school with Ja’mella, the woman who accused the men of the rape. All of this had been kept on the low.
Tina searched her thoughts, remembering their card games and get-together. Though she knew them all personally, she wasn’t real tight with the men and the women had gone their separate ways until the case united them.
Tina gripped the steering wheel. Black was Antonio’s insurance agent friend known for his complexion. She had forgotten all about him. His real name is Byron something, but that name’s not in the files. That must mean he wasn’t taken. Finally, something good.
Tina turned the car around and silently prayed Black was at home.
Tina balanced her Caramel Macchiato flavored coffee, car keys, and purse as she entered the office. Lawyers sat at desks answering phones and shuffling papers. They formed their own groups as they spoke in multiple conversations. The office was chaotic already and Tina’s team were already huddled around her partner’s desk. Frederick, “Freddy” Johnson saw her come in and nodded.
“Hey,” he said as she sat her things down at her own desk next to his. Tina swiveled in her large office chair and turned the computer on.
“What we got?” she said sipping her cup, her eyes catching a figure in the distance.
Oh no. Tina’s hairs stood up on her neck and arms. That was him again. The same man from the club. She was sure of it.
Freddy waved his hand in her face.
“Earth to Tina. Everything alright?”
“Yea, I’m good.”
“You sure? I can get someone else on the case. If it’s too early…”
“No”, interrupted Tina. “I’ll be fine. What do we have?”
Freddy turned to the pile on his desk. “We got seven people, all reported missing within the last 24hours.”
“And they’re all connected to the Ja’mella case?”
Freddy handed Tina a vanilla envelope, “Yep.”
Tina crossed her legs. Sidney’s face stared back at her, the Journalist from the case. She pulled out another file and Chareese face smiled back at her, Brandon’s girlfriend, one of the men accused of the rape. Nicknamed Tree for his large size, she remembered his public arrest at the Soccer Field. They got off. Was someone out for revenge? She paused, remembering that Chareese was pregnant. She pulled out another file.
“Who is this man? I don’t remember him being involved.”
Freddy walked over to Tina’s side and peered down at the documents. The face of an elderly man stared back at him. His eyes scanned down to his name. Freddy pointed, “Emmanuel Jackson. Sidney Jackson’s father.”
“So, they’re taking relatives too now? This doesn’t make any sense. What’s he got to do with it?”
“Apparently, enough”, said Freddy walking back to his own desk.
Tina took another sip of her coffee and shivered. She was the attorney in that case and had successfully got the two black men acquitted. Could she be next?
“Did anyone see anything?”
“We can check the testimonies of the families, see where everyone was last seen.”
Tina’s body stiffened at the figure in the distance.
“Tina?” Freddy looked behind him. “What’s up?”
Tina snapped out of it. She had to remember no one else could see them.
“Nothing”, she said sitting the folders on the table, “the testimonies sound good. I want a full report on every single person, where they spent their last hours, where they work, everything.”
“You got it” said Freddy picking up the phone. Tina used the opportunity to walk away, loosening the collar around her neck.
“Is the air on?”
Freddy was already on the phone and ignored her question. It was burning up or maybe it was just her. She entered the women’s bathroom, closed and then locked the door behind her.
I’m losing it.
She splashed cold water on her face and pulled the bottle of pills from her purse.
“I wouldn’t say so”, said a voice as she popped open the bottle. The white tablets fell into the sink.
“Shoot”, she said, scrambling to catch them before they all went into the drain. Now she had to convince Erica to give her another prescription. She only caught two.
Her blood raced, hands grew sweaty and the hairs stood up on her neck and arms, her knees wobbling. She couldn’t turn around or look up so she kept her eyes on the drain.
“What do you want from me?”
“I am not one of them. Well, I am but I am here to help.”
They sounded just like men. Not robotic like people thought or in the movies. It still didn’t change anything.
“You don’t help people, you murder them. What do you want from me? Have you not destroyed my life enough?”
“Listen, I know where they are. The people who are missing. I know where they took them. Most of all, I know why. Give me a chance and we can work this together.”
Tina lifted her head to face the man in the mirror standing behind her. He looked human except for his blue crystal eyes reminding her that he was not her friend. He was one of them. And they killed humans. She thought of her nephew Ronnie and tears filled her throat, courage reaching her eyes.
“First off, we are not friends so stop acting like you can just pop in and out of my life. Secondly, I will never work with you.”
“You are acting like I killed Ronnie.”
“It’s your kind ain’t it? Same difference.”
“Listen, the government is trying to cover up the truth. Give me a chance and I’ll explain. We can be partners.”
“What? Why would I work with you? I don’t even know your name.”
“My name is Azbuga, meaning Strength, but you can call me Az.”
Tina shook her head, “Whatever.”
“Everyone has a job. Just like here. Ours is to watch over mankind. So, that’s what we are. Watchers.”
Tina turned around to face him. She thought Az was attractive for an alien, though she didn’t know what he really looked like. The 7ft being was clothed in Hispanic skin with black hair and thick, black eyelashes. He wore blue jeans and sneakers which made him look normal. His blue jean jacket covered the white t-shirt. Except for his crystal blue eyes, he could be mistaken for a normal, Hispanic looking man. A very tall man. Tina wondered what his true image was. Maybe he’s a fire breathing dragon.
“Why should I believe you?”
Az dug into his right hand and his skin gave way to his fingers like clay to the hands of a child.
“Eww”, said Tina, watching until he pulled out a coin.
“You can see for yourself”, said Az, extending the coin.
“I’m not touching that.”
“It’s the only way to get in touch with me. Whenever you need me, hold it in your hands and think of my name.”
“I still don’t know how this proves anything”, Tina folded her arms.
Az pointed to the symbol on the coin, “Just like we have jobs, we also have symbols. We’re the watchers so the eye is ours. CBS, the back of the dollar bill, camera’s everywhere. All us.”
“So where were you? Huh? Where were ‘The Watchers’ when…” Tina’s voice trailed off as tears filled her throat.
“Not all Watchers are good. Some fell. We were supposed to watch you not…not harm you. Some of my brothers came down and did things with humans that were not right for them to do and now they’re just trying to cover their tracks. But not all of us are bad, Tina.”
“You didn’t answer my question. Where were you when Ron…”
The coin fell to the floor and Tina froze. She had not checked the bathroom stalls coming in. She picked up the coin and put it into her pocket.
“Amy. Hi. Yes, everything’s fine,” Tina stumbled over her words, her arch enemy staring her in the face. Amy walked over to the sink and turned the water on. Her dark chocolate skin and dred loc’d hair pulled up in a pin. The woman washed her hands, cutting her eyes at Tina.
“Alright”, she said smirking.
Dammit T. Now you know she talk too much. Of all the people to screw up in front of, it had to be Amy. This would be all over the office by tomorrow. Tina looked around the bathroom. There was no sign of him.
“Why is the door locked?” asked Amy unlatching the door.
Shoot. I’m definitely not thinking straight.
Tina shrugged and swallowed the pills in her hand dry as Amy rolled her eyes on the way out the bathroom. Tina washed her hands and straightened her clothing on the way out the door. She stopped when she heard murmurs.
“I’m serious. The girl was in there talking to herself. I told you she wasn’t ready to come back”, said Amy.
“She’s grieving. Give it some time”, said Freddy.
“Well, she can grieve on her own time.”
Tina rolled her eyes and shook her head. It hadn’t even been two minutes and Amy was already talking.
I bet that coffee cold as hell now too. Damn. Today is not my day.
Did you miss Chapter One? Start Here!
Tina shot up, swung her legs off the bed and snatched her robe from the hook on the door. Pulling it tighter around her body she was in Janiyah’s room in an instant and rocking the seventeen-year-old in her arms. There was no explanation needed and no sound escaped either of the women’s mouths except the whispered shooing coming from Tina. She rocked and rubbed the young woman’s head with her eyes closed. This had become her routine. Running into Janiyah’s room in the early mornings, holding her through the nightmares she didn’t think would have lasted this long. She also worried she could not sympathize with her sister’s daughter as intimately as she wanted. After all, she wasn’t there but Niyah was. To lose your baby brother in such a violent way was one thing. To witness his murder was another thing. And then, there was the other thing.
Tina’s cell vibrated in the other room, the loud hum calling out to her. Peering down at her exhausted teenager, she removed her arms and let the girl’s drowsy body fall back into the sheets and covering her, Tina tippy toed out the room.
“Hmm.” She looked down at the tiny screen and plopped down on the bed. That was odd. What was the office doing calling her so early? She looked toward the window. The sky was still dark, the sun not yet peeking through. She still couldn’t believe the city settled and despite four people living here, the house was still too big, though no amount of money could bring her nephew back. She threw herself back into the bed and called the number back.
“You better have a good reason for calling me so early in the morning,” she laughed, pausing as the person on the other end spoke.
“What?” Tina’s smile faded and she shot back up in the bed.
“Everyone? How is that even possible?”
Balancing the cell between her ear and shoulder, she slipped on a pair of jogging pants. Trying to do the same with a blouse was not going to work.
“Hold on a minute…” Placing the phone on the bed she slipped on her shirt and decided it was best to put the phone on speaker.
“The phones are blowing up over here. Officer Parks said she started getting them as early as last night,” said the caller.
“Calls? What calls? I thought I told you to hold…”, she said before almost slipping on a sock. She picked it up and put it on. Now if she could just find the other one. Tina wasn’t the organized type at home. What she could do in the courtroom somehow did not manifest in her private life. It was one of the worries she had about being a mom. Lawyers didn’t exactly have a lot of time on their hands. She found herself hiring a Nanny against her better judgment to help maintain that balance. She had little time for laundry and housework and now that Janiyah had her license she could pick up her brother and sister from school. She did make it a point to be back in time to make dinner and spend time with the kids. It made her feel motherly, like she was upholding her end of the bargain. Ms. Alice was not allowed to cook for her family except on occasion and during emergencies. This was one of them.
“All I know is you better get your butt down here asap.”
“I’m on my way,” said Tina looking under the bed, “Where in the world is that other sock?”
“Yea, I know what that means. I’ll give you an hour,” said the caller.
“Freddy, chill. I said I’m on my way.”
“Your on-the-way has a different meaning from everyone elses. Yours means two hours from now”, chuckled Freddy.
Tina rolled her eyes and hung up on her partner.
“Kayla! Michael!” she yelled, grabbing the toiletries bag on her way out the door. She’d only have time to jump in and out the shower.
She bypassed Janiyah’s room and climbed the stairs where a giant blue M hung against a door. She banged.
She turned around and ran down the short hall where a giant pink K hung, she banged, “Kayla!”
Running back downstairs Tina revisited the slightly open door from earlier and peered in, “Niyah, ya’ll come on. I need ya’ll to get up.”
The young woman stirred and slowly sat up, a black night scarf covering her head. Her elegantly arched eyebrows shot up, “What time is it?”
Tina smirked. She didn’t know how she did it, but Janiyah managed to be cute at every occasion, even after waking up. The nose ring she begged Tina for didn’t look bad against her golden-brown skin. Janiyah scratched at her nose as if reading Tina’s thoughts and as she could have guessed, her nails were freshly done.
“I need you to call Ms. Alice, tell her I need her to come in early. Like, right now.”
“OK.” Janiyah patted her head and then laughed, “Where’s your other sock?”
Tina cut her eyes and smirked as she turned away from the room to head back across the hall.
“Mike, KK. Up. Now!”
As she prepared the shower her mind flooded with Freddy’s urgent message.
Everyone involved in the Ja’mella case were missing. The men accused of the rape, their girlfriends, the police officers, the journalist who wrote about it, even the detectives who investigated the case. Gone. “How was that possible?” Tina pondered as the shower poured its steaming hot blessings over her body. It didn’t make sense. The black men accused of raping Ja’mella Jones, a famous hair stylist on Chicago’s West Side, had been found innocent after the woman admitted she made it all up. Ja’mella even opened her store back up last year. From every angle it just didn’t add up. At least physically it didn’t.
Tina stopped moving, letting the water drench her skin. How could she have forgotten the most important piece of the puzzle? Her nephew Ronnie.
She tried to tell him about these streets and his loyalty to Big Sam ultimately cost him his life. THEY had killed him. Is that why the city had settled? Who would want to admit that Ronnie’s death was not by the hands of men but…
Tina shook her head. It’s these kinds of thoughts that got her in trouble in the first place. Still, she couldn’t shake the truth and her skin shivered from something more than the cooling water. Her skin had also started to wrinkle. Her “quick” shower had lasted longer than she wanted it too.
Tina pulled the dry towel from off the top of the shower rod. She knew. Had known all this time that Big Sam wasn’t human and that Ronnie’s death was no accident. And something told her the Ja’mella case was connected and that she was not the only person who knew. Someone was trying to keep it hush hush. Or something.
BODIES FILLED THE MASSIVE VENUE, and the music growled from the belly of the loudspeakers. Excalibur once again managed to stuff every available body into the three-level club. Blue, green, red, and yellow lights beamed from above the DJ table and hung from the second and third floors, illuminating the mass of intoxicated bodies on the ground floor.
“Erica, girl where you been? It’s about to start.”
Tina turned away from the bar to face the short woman of milk chocolate complexion and short hair. Her body filled out the black dress as the woman waved her hot face.
Tina laughed, the women couldn’t hear themselves over the music. “Its bout to start! The countdown!” she yelled in Erica’s ear.
“Wait lemme get my drink.”
“Girl please, time don’t wait for nobody you better c’mon,” said Tina jumping down from the barstool.
“Grey Goose Martini and a plain cranberry juice”, shouted Erica to the bartender who smiled and winked. Baby girl was full of it tonight.
A crowd of people began to surround the main stage as it prepared to lower the huge crystal ball to the middle of the floor.
“I need yall to make some noise!” boomed the voice of the Emcee from the microphone, sending the crowd into hysteria.
“C’mon E,” said Tina, watching as the bartender handed Erica her drink.
Erica wobbled over to Tina and the women stumble toward the stage, laughing.
“Here we go!” yelled the DJ.
“Whew!” yelled Tina, laughing. It had been a long time since she had this much fun.
“I love you Chicago!” yelled Erica. Tina laughed. She was feeling it.
“We love you!”
“I love you too baby”, said the DJ.
“Whewww!” the women laughed.
“Ten…nine…” began the DJ.
“Eight…” said Erica.
“Seven…” said Tina.
As the crowd chanted along something caught Tina’s eye. A man standing in the midst of the people and staring at her from a distance. Wearing a black suit and tie he is oddly out of place and looked to Tina to belong in a courtroom, not a club. The sound around her went mute and her mind raced to decipher the identity of the strange man. After spending the past year in therapy, she had tried to forget about her now fading past. Purposefully considering her sanity, she had not expected to walk into Erica’s office to receive such a down to earth reality check from a doctor who was now dancing out her dress in a club with her patient. As such, Tina took this as a sign that things were finally back to normal, taking hallucinogenic suppressants as prescribed and even cutting off any ties to the former life.
But now, as the club lights bounced off the hint of blue that gleamed even in the darkness, she knew that the nightmare she’d tried so desperately to separate herself from would be back and she would have to face the reality that the events of almost two years ago did, in fact, happen. Her nephew was murdered in a warehouse trying to save his sisters and brother from a possessed woman, she was now raising her nieces and nephews as her own, and as much as she wanted to be, she wasn’t crazy. Why couldn’t they leave her alone? What did they want now?
“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
The return of sound and Erica’s sudden hug made Tina fall back as Erica spilled her drink.
“Damn, messing with you”, she said wiping at her dress. “Hey girl, you alright?”
Tina’s eyes darted frantically around the club for the man, but he was gone.
“Yea girl, I’m good,” she said waving her hand.
“You sure? You been taking the pills, right? Don’t let me have to write yo butt up.”
Stealing one more glance in the direction where the blue-eyed man stood, there was no one there.
“Yea girl, I’m alright. Where the bathroom though?” she said with laughter to feign the fear that already started to seep its way through her pores and release its gas into the air.
Wednesday is your new favorite day! Lol. 🙂
I would like to share more of my writing with you. I mean, besides poetry. Soooo, I’ve come up with another Wednesday Segment. Welcome to Day One of Writer’s Wednesday. I was late to my workout this morning drafting this so excuse my delay on getting to the comments. I am currently sweating it out during my lunch as you’re reading. Gotta keep it together ladies!
Every other Wednesday, I’ll give you either an excerpt from one of my books or something new, a short story or something. I don’t really know but I’ll think of something creative every other week, time permitting.
This week, I am giving you a sneak peek into a scene from The Road to Freedom in a segment I like to call “Papa’s House.” Enjoy!
“This here make you grow hair on ya chest,” said Papa as we laughed, watching as Terry took in the liquor before coughing, and Papa patting his back for rescue as he laughed.
“Breathe, son, breathe.”
“What the hell is that!” said Terry, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Can’t handle it, huh T?” said Frank, laughing.
Papa’s shoulders bounced up and down when he laughed, slapping his leg as he did so. “That there’s what we call white lightening. Amazing what you can do with a little corn mash. You be alright son, breathe,” he said as Terry went back to his place on the sofa, holding his chest.
We were sitting at the home of Peter “Papa” Whitfield, the white man who offered us food and a bathroom once Ms. Mary’s vittles ran low. Peter ran a farm just outside of town and his faded blue jean overalls and heavy boots gave way to the hard work it took to run this place. Acres of land spread wide on both sides, cows grazed the area beyond the fences, and Rottweiler dogs alerted its master of strangers approaching Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian Mississippi.
The air was unusually cool tonight and the warm coffee blanketed our insides as we rested from the road. Though we would have liked to go on, Ms. Mary insisted we stop and refuel.
“You know, liquor does not actually warm you in the cold. It thins your blood and makes you colder in winter,” said Gary.
“Thank you, Gary, for that irrelevant piece of information,” said Terry.
“Well, I don’t think your friend’s gonna be worried about the cold anytime soon,” said Papa, chuckling.
“What is that heavenly smell?” said Laurie as Sara, Papa’s wife, appeared from the back of the house carrying a casserole dish.
“Why don’t you ladies come find out. Leave the men here to talk about men things,” she said, with laughter in her voice as Laurie and Fae marched on to the back to retrieve more food.
As the women disappeared, headlights invaded their places on the sofa. Papa’s dogs barked and raced toward the unknown vehicle as they growled in the night air.
“You expecting company Mr. P?” said Willie, peeking out the window.
Papa frowned and stood as Sara emerged from the back.
I don’t think I like the way that she called his name.
“Alright boys, y’all head on over to the back now,” said Papa.
“Why?” said Terry.
“This ain’t the time to be asking questions now boy, go!”
We all scattered to the back of the house, walking past the thick, black curtain that separated the kitchen from the dining room table; where Terry had taken his first, or perhaps second, drink.
“What’s going on?” said Fae.
“I don’t know.”
“Shh,” said Sara as Papa’s voice roared from the front door.
“Tommy Lee, ain’t specs to see you out so late, how’s the wife?”
“Hey there,” said the voice of a deep southern drawl. From the sound of it, Terry wasn’t the only one drinking tonight.
“Oh, she’s be fine. Mighty fine. Say uh, you ain’t got no company on in there do ya, Peter?” said the Tommy Lee voice.
Papa chuckled, “You mean besides my wife?”
Tommy Lee’s drunken voice laughed. “How is Sara doing by the way? She so pretty. Hey! Sara! It’s Tommy Lee!”
“You alright, man? Perhaps we should take this on out in the yard.”
“Perhaps,” said Tommy, laughing. “That’s a funny word, “Perhaps!” he said again, laughing.
“Look a here,” said Tommy. “Word is you’s got some niggers in there.”
“Whoa,” said Terry.
“Shhh!” said Sara as we continued to listen.
“I think you better get on home now Tommy, it’s getting late now.”
“Kicking me out, huh? I ain’t gonna tell you how to run thangs, but you best be careful. Nigra mens and Nigra womens is on the loose now. They’s tryna inflame our nigras and our whites t-t-t…” Tommy’s voice trailed off as if trying to find the words as we listened.
I regretted the once warm caffeine that now had my blood racing, my hands shaking, and my heart pounding out of my chest.
“Alright Tommy boy, I think you best get on the road now, the Missis be waiting,” said Papa as their voices faded away. I noticed Papa’s voice remained calm, and I imagined they had now stepped outside since we could no longer hear the now distant voices.
“OK, everybody just remain calm and stay where you are until I come back,” said Sara, before disappearing behind the curtain.
“What do you think is going on?” said Laurie.
“I don’t know,” said Frank.
“How does anyone know that we’re here?” said Gary.
That was a good question. We’d made sure to keep our travels discrete since the New Orleans incident. But it would also make sense that Frank’s dad would be looking for him. But I kept my thoughts concerning his dad to myself. We all knew he was racist and it embarrassed Frank. Though I’m sure Mr. Hansen had something to do with it, I did not want to disgrace the face of my friend. I went with my second thought instead.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we were being watched.”
“Or followed,” said Fae.
“I bet it was that punk ass Papa. What kind of name is that anyway? What man calls himself Papa?”
Terry’s eyes had a gloss to it as he spoke. I think by now he was really feeling the liquor.
“I’m tired of this,” said Willie.
“Oh, so you punking out too Willie?”
“Terry come on,” said Fae.
“Naw, I’m asking him a legitimate question. You punking out, Negro?”
“What you just call me?”
“Really?” said Laurie looking at both Terry and Willie.
“I know y’all ain’t gonna do this now,” said Frank.
“Please don’t do this now,” said Gary.
“Shhh!” I was sick of everyone’s talking. Though they spoke in whispers, it seemed our voices carried and would float on out the back room and into Tommy Lee’s ears. Who knows what he wanted or what he heard. We were in Mississippi after all. The stories of their crimes against the Negro were well known in the South. And after the murders of Emmett Till and others, Mississippi’s racism had gained increased attention. People all over the world could read in newspapers and watch on television the bizarre system that protected those who committed crime after crime. I didn’t understand why such hatreds existed for negroes, and my longing for the answer burned its own private hole into my chest. Unless I did my part to find out, I would never be quite whole again. If only I could have explained it this way to mother where she could understand. Being part of the fight for freedom on behalf of negroes wasn’t just some phase I was going through. More so than a desire, it was a need. Otherwise, as a young white man in white America, I could not help but feel guilty on behalf of my people. And as we stood here, fearful of the unknown, I knew that what I felt could not compare to Fae, Willie, and Terry. Considering I was shaking uncontrollably in my own skin, what kind of fear did they experience? And more, what was it like to have to experience it your entire life? The pangs of guilt sought to overwhelm me as we stood there behind the curtain and waited.
“I enjoyed the writing style of the author, who was able to capture different characters through their dialogue and how she wrote their accents. Though Ysrayl is not a white teenage boy, she is able to write his narration convincingly, while also being able to give other perspectives through the rest of the characters.”
– Swimming Through Literature, Amazon Review
Remember, The Road to Freedom as well as Beyond the Colored Line and Between Slavery and Freedom is on sale this month! The Black History Month Stella Sale ends next week. CLICK HERE to order all three books at one low price. All books are paperbacks, signed by me with my author seal. Shipping is also free but this limited time offer won’t last.
When the dust settles, and the maggots hug your flesh. A flesh that is no longer yours. No longer powered with your personality, characteristics, flaws, successes, laughter. A flesh that can no longer see through your eyes, hear with your ears, or feel with your heart. A lifeless corpse of talent now rusting away, intermingling itself with the dirt and gravel. What will you leave behind? When your talents are but mud in the earth, will your name linger on the edge of the people’s tongues? Even so, in what capacity? For names have a tendency to stick around for better or for worse. What will you be known for? Will your children grow to benefit from your works? Will you stretch your arms forth in the breath of yesterday and kiss them with creativity? I wonder if my children will live to cherish my books one day. If they will become heirlooms on the shelves of memory. Will my offspring reminisce on an existence that did not include them and yet somehow influenced their decisions still. I am myself obsessed with the mentality of my ancestors. Both the righteous and wicked works of their past and how they have shaped the world before me. From the healing instrument of the music, the perfection of the Afro, or the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four little girls in Birmingham, where I can still taste the stench of mourn. The nostalgic images of yesterday and the way they Underground Railroad themselves into the future. I am forced to ponder the thought, what kind of tracks will I leave behind for others to follow? Will the sweat of labor coddle my children’s tears, or will it just become moisture for the worms of the earth when the dust has settled, and the maggots hug my flesh. I wonder.
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