Writer’s Wednesday – Papa’s House

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!

Here’s our Writer’s Wednesday Badge.

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.

“Papa.”

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.


TheRoadToFreedom_Ysrayl

“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

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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.

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What Will You Leave Behind?

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.

I Knew it Was a Mistake the Moment It Was Over

Portia Banks smoothed out the wrinkles forming in her dress, and picked at imaginary lint. She took it all in, snapping imaginary pictures of memory with her eyes as she scanned the room. Bachelors in Computational Journalism from Stanford University, Exceptional Research and Development, the list goes on and on. She wondered if it was all worth it, her name on the door, this office, or the prestigious position she found herself in. She’d come a long way from the dirt roads of Mississippi to a position as one of New York’s top Journalists. And while the check would be huge, she knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.

“Come on now, I know that look. You do know this is the biggest client we’ll ever have; ever.”

Simon fixed his glasses and stared intently at Portia, trying to understand her logic. The woman had talent no doubt, but as Assistant News Editor he had worked side by side with this talent for over two years and a mule could not be more stubborn. Of course he couldn’t say that, Portia was always on a prowl for any glint of racism from her white counterparts, even finding it where it didn’t exist. She believed all Europeans were born racists and that no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t help themselves in their feelings toward blacks. Still, she had managed to become one of his best friends which awarded him the truth concerning her level of racism. Although she wanted him to believe she held this grudge against whites, their friendship told him otherwise. In any event, to take on this case would put The Journal Chronicles on the map and Portia knew it.

“We’re talking about the biggest dollar signs you’ve ever seen in your life. Huge,” he spoke with his hands.

“Trying to persuade me with money is never a good idea Simon you know that. Besides, you do know money is not everything?”

“No, as a matter of fact I don’t.”

Portia laughed, “You’re such a liar.”

“And your such an idiot,” said Simon standing.

“Whatever”, said Portia gathering paperwork from her desk. It was Friday, the most exciting yet busiest day of the week, everyone trying to take weekend vacations and submit final story ideas to the big dogs at the same time.

“I just don’t care much about the man,” she said continuing, “What is there to know about a man we already know everything about?”

Simon looked at his watch; he had exactly two minutes to convince her to take this case. Otherwise it would go to the competition and Anne, the wicked witch of the west who pretended to be their boss, would never let him hear the end of it.

“That’s just it. How do you know we really know him? Because the TV says so? I’m not going for it.”

Portia smiled at Simon as he went on. She was wondering where he’d put his soap box and knew it was only a matter of time before he stood on it. She stopped daydreaming and turned the mental volume back up on Simon’s voice.

“We’ve got an opportunity to present a fresh story, a new look. To gather information about the success of the world’s biggest fragrance chain since Victoria’s Secret, Scentology. By delving deeper into Xavier’s most intimate thoughts, we have the opportunity to present a fresh story. We don’t care about his written rebuttal, let CNN fight over that. Anderson can hold that down…”

“Don’t try to be black Sy…” laughed Portia.

“Portia! WHAT WE WANT is the exclusive hard core truth. WHO is Xavier Thomas?

That was a year ago and Portia cursed herself for having to live the answer to that question. With every nerve in her brain there was an explosion threatening to obliterate pieces of reason. Painfully, Portia sought desperately to understand how she’d allowed herself romantic involvement with this man. Her face contorted, as she floated in and out of consciousness. The womanly intuition she’d always counted on to save her, could not assist her now as she tried not to choke on her own blood. Laying on the bathroom floor, a tattered mess in this abandoned building, where Xavier had just tried to kill her for discovering that he was a clone.

For Rose – A Story in a Single Image

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The city never afforded her body the chance to be this intimately part of creation in the way to which her eyes were now experiencing. The sun danced splashes of yellows on her skin and the light immersed her body into the landscape. Forty-two acres of earth welcomed Chelsea until her eyes were not big enough to hold all of it at one time. The sun seemed to come down from the sky to personally greet her and she felt a closeness to the heavens like never before. It was as if she could reach up to the sky and capture the wings of angels in the palms of her hands. A treasure of luminaries in a bowl of black dirt. The only sounds audible were locust and grasshoppers that leaped through the air like children playing hide and seek with the clouds and the growling motors of cars racing by. The land did not reach any homes on the right or the left for at least a mile or two nor were there any houses in front of her. Chelsea remembered feeling lonely and yet the way the trees stretched its branches wide reminded her of a mother’s embrace. Only Forrest stood across from her, a gate closed her into her grandmother’s inheritance, and community spoke like laughter beyond Sara’s womb. She bent her knees and crouched closer to the ground, plucking handfuls of grass from the rich dirt. She had to touch it to make sure that it was real. How could something so beautiful be the result of something so painful? What Grandma Rose left to her would nourish generations of children and her heart ached that Nana would not be here to drink glasses of lemonade on the front porch of their country home or eat tomatoes fresh from the garden. “Rose”. She said it below a whisper and let the smile crease into her face and wrap itself around her cheeks. It had been weeks since she smiled. Nana always knew how to do just that. Amazing how she consoled her even beyond the grave. The woman let the emotion wash over her and the tears race down her face and drip from her lips. The sun bowed its final curtsy before lowering itself into sleep for the night and Chelsea cried for the last time. Her tears all courage shaped in her throat. Finally, the grief had come to an end.

Writing 101 Assignment #17: To Map a Purpose

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Life is never really this easy. It’s not like you can trace the outlines of a state with your finger and find out who you are. Not like you can exit I-20 and stand before a better you. “Maybe Baltimore will be good for me,” thought Jessica. In any event, she’d better hurry. She had exactly fifteen minutes to build a story around why she was walking out again. He had been surprised to see her show up to his office and a business call had been her saving grace. Jessica’s fingers scrolled anxiously through Google Maps for a logical destination as her heart sank and melted into her lap. She wasn’t a bad person and it wasn’t really Dr. Thomas fault anyway. Neither was it Jordan’s. Davids or Sam’s. Ever since the abuse she’d simply fallen in love with the road and hoped to find herself there. The men, well, they were an added bonus. Jessica felt slightly guilty. It was never about them. Just the road. The way the air smelled crossing another state line. The sensual way the wind combed through her hair. The smooth sound of half and quarter notes booming from the radio. The scenic route of a new city, and the security of a new identity. Suppressed voices vibrated through the door. “He can’t be back already! Come on Jess, think!” That was funny. Her name wasn’t really Jess. The thought made her smile and then depressed her, another change she’d have to make. She hadn’t really thought about a name. Never mind, she couldn’t think about that right now. In about five minutes Thomas was walking back through that door and she hadn’t the slightest idea why she was leaving him and where she was going. The divorce was final but Jessica could never really settle down. Instead she put her trust in new tires and gas tanks. Moving about from state to state like a professional business woman except she had no business. First she had been Angela in sunny California. She met Mike there. He was a Chiropractor (she has this thing for doctors). Then there was David from Texas. He introduced her to the country life. Or rather, he introduced Sidney to the country life. Jessica smiled slightly, and the blood raced anxiously to her fingertips at the mere thought of another change. Sweat began to roll down her face and her heart pumped outside of her chest. The combination of excitement and fear was exhilarating. Jessica’s knees bounced up and down as the door clicked and the knob turned. She put the phone down next to the magazines as the door sprung open and smiled. And hoped to find herself in New York.

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For today’s exercise we had to use maps as our inspiration. I had no idea what I would do! The geographic part of my brain is not as sharp lol. But I hope you enjoyed my short short.

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