BOOK REVIEW-Constantly Racing

BLOODGOODcover

 

Constantly Racing by Zandile Funde

BOOK REVIEW

By: G. Franklin Prue

November 25, 2015

 

Author Zandile Funde gives us the story of senior High School student  Jo venturing into a new phase in her life after the death of her father. She is an adopted black girl taken into another family as a baby. Funde shows us how Jo tries to cope with melt-downs, accidents and love for the first time and even trying to be a big sister to her little sister Skylar.

Funde’s writing surprises us with Jo growing up trying to find out who and what she is becoming as a young woman. Her writing is like air, squeezed with angst with exceptional drama do to her family situation. The characters are like water and a fresh breath of air in these pages.

Jo falls in love with the mixed up bad boy Jason and her sister falls in love with Tyler. It is a good read to show young couples starting to think on their own. Every parent prays they can protect their children when they leave the house to go to school. Funde does a good job in portraying the relationship between this newly bereaved widow and her daughters. I can relate with her music in these pages of lost and young love. This Writer will walk on water one day. Author Zundile Funde story holds up nicely as I catch my breath for Constantly Racing.

 

 

 

 

A Man of Salt

salt-man

 

A MAN OF SALT

7:10 a.m. Monday morning…

Black crows flew in Henry Applewhite’s dreams. Maybe it was a Poe thing?  Redemption? Atonement? He crossed his chest, raised the knife above his head. He couldn’t make up his mind whether to cut on a forty five degree angle or slice it horizontally? Butter toast. Ummm!Um! Henry decided to slit it down the middle. He was alone but he wasn’t a winner like Fleetwood Mac—most of his drug dealers were dead.

He liked to smoke crack and reefer together. Many people died for his thirst. He shook salt over his right shoulder every morning to keep the darkness away. He was like a lame duck his seas was always red, black or green and filled with the crows of death. They were always around him; like the raven as the black bird that remained in his dreams, as the fair scavenger crow of death mystified and held out the door of sleep to his casket He used up most of his money to buy dope; he was on crack now, the secret that slipped in his brain by some big tit girlfriend: Tyra, thanks for the memories because weekend after weekend he was dropping off the moon. Sweet coffee awoke him as Honduran nectars awoke him to smells of jealous women. He bites the toast and chews down time as he steps on a filthy cockroach; just like him. Henry checked his watch. On time, cool.  Marijuana smoke floated with musk cologne. He worked on his tie knot. He liked reading that Poe shit because death of loved ones was always in his life.  The dude was crazy-obsessed with death like him and being a part of this F’d  racist country. He died in the streets a broke-crazy Writer.  O’ so the  Raven. He was weighed down with  rejection. Stone cold rejection. Henry flew with the black crow. He checked his silk tie. It was seven-forty-five time to make money and  Henry was going down like that.

 

Henry looked for his keys and briefcase. He had to fly the black crow underground. He hung like a vampire on subway straps,  reading his Washington Post and not looking at you. He was lynched again going to some goddamn job. What you want a rock song? Maybe that girl you had last night in the Jungle Bar?   Edie smelled like a hot and sweet Mexican taco. In his eyes  she was a game of chance.  He could still taste her  in his throat like a bottle of tequila as he remembered she was honey on a stick.

Henry was clean and fresh.  He scanned busted dog ass faces of people going to some goddamn job. All colors in his eyes. He trembled between the Asian girl and old fart of a guy with bald head and sunglasses. All stood on the bookshelves of misery. You welcome mama. Grin and photograph a sleepy black man hanging on a modern day lynch rope to his cotton fields taken over by city buildings with little blue, white patches of sky.

Something was happening, life is hard and the newspaper tells you half-truths about crime, politics and  the destruction of the soul. All rise, and got off  in front of KFC.  No sense being worried with the rest of the Clueless in America. He shrugged and went to his office with women taking control. He was still glad being a man today. New rules of romantic combat in the work place. Henry stared up for a  thunderstorm. Women held hands with their lovers sent him over the edge. He was lonely and he needed twenty bucks to get another hit of that coke-straight He wanted to stay home and nurse a comic book but he had to get to his research gig. Military dog that he was, love letters he wanted in this real life as he went in the Cody Building and died till five.

Henry was trying to work things out as he wrote a line of poetry under Colonel Bethesda.  He was getting in trouble in front of the pigeons. He wanted to forgive everybody for having to go to some fucked up J.O.B. God help the world of  Pocahontas fine women from various Gargoyle warped office buildings. He was through for the day as the dying yellow sun became a dropped ball behind helium green oak trees up and over Pennsylvania Avenue. Vacuum people strolled* reeled, churned towards buses and cabs marched towards comers like new release cuts: Open your nose smell three feet away perfume of loaded women descended with briefcases down stairs of justice, bureaus of evidence, trace evidence of no man, or a husband on pain killers and a search for law suit husbands from redheads, blondes, brunettes, afros go to mulish drinking holes with no charge like search warrants beating your ass in a cage. One more chance as he closed his notebook, not yet finished his poem, his great, great unpublished poem dangled out his ass.

What’s the big deal? He waited at the corner of seventeenth and K, warm kiss blue skies and happy with his work. He couldn’t wait to get home to smoke an el primo.

In a little circle crowded circle on the corner. He huddled with other shoulders across from a frigid red light like he was at a work meeting. He saw some co-workers: Joan Avery, Steve Byrd, Kitty Brown, Big Dave and Shirley McDonald.

Henry noticed to his right an old woman with shopping cart; holding the world up like Atlas. No one greeted her; they just held their noses. Beat. She was a lost angel. He heard a strong engine. He saw a truck pile into her shopping cart. “HONNNNK! HONNNNK!  truck screamed.

The bag woman feet  flew back as she looked up into hazel-brown eyes of a guy with a nervous grin gently held her. She dropped in his arms. Beat. She felt weak as if she wasn’t able to breathe. Sirens. Henry just wanted to go home and smoke another el primo. He didn’t want to be part of this American pie. He shoved out through the crowd as they saw him run.

Voices chased him.

“Hey! Mister!”

“Hey! Mannnn!”

“Heyyyy! Heyyyyy!”

Henry melted into a street crowd.  He didn’t want to be seen. He felt good, disturbed but good.  She would be okay now. He missed the applause of people searching for him. He didn’t care. He was hungry in front of  Indian restaurants. He passed a pizza place on 14th and K Street; Ponzi’s.  Jazz music popped from swinging doors. He walked red brick cobbled sidewalks as he got closer to home. Henry just wanted a job, a woman and peace between him and his father.  Maybe one day?

 

Metallic screeching Pennsylvanian trains shot like silver arrows over cereal box roof tops, the same kind that killed his mother one drunken night inside this fist raised world-uptown D.C. People, buses, landed by like a Charlie Parker theme song with strings. It was cool, as he went by Howard University, passed the rhapsody of students on bikes or walking or talking about classes with books under their arms. Henry was finished with all that. Henry was finished. He just wanted to smoke his el primo and chill out in his fish bowl of an apartment Man! This was great to be alive, not in jail. He stopped in the bar-b-que joint on the corner of sixth and Lessing Street Sharp butt knocking women walked, talked by the window as his corner buddies sold good dope from South America and all he had to do was wave goodbye. Bobby’s joint smelled saucy, aromatic salt, peppers, hot, spicy southern tones of men and women eating there dinner of corn cob, collards, ribs* sandwiches, chicken, grits^ black eye peas, chitterlings on the side. And don-‘t forget the pork chops. He walked in, people knew him and nodded, he walked up to the counter and smelled it all in.    ” Henry,” Martha said, “barbeque sandwich…two?*

” Thanks.” He watched the basketball game over the counter. It was May with cherry blossoms.  He watched the uproar by a beautiful brave heart reporter about a life being saved today. He didn’t pay any attention, watched a peach-pie woman come in. She was shaped like an open bottle of coca cola, long legged and radiant. She was a Washington, D.C. cherry blossom.

She came up beside him by the counter.

“I’ll have a rib dinner, to go.”

“Make that two.”

“Hi!” Henry said,  he let her get closer to the counter.

She looked at him; he was a few inches taller. His demeanor was studious, teacher or professor? He was cute, with gold-button blue sport coat, white shirt, unloosened neck-tie, grey slacks and tasseled loafers,” Hi, just getting off work?”

“Yeah, that’s all of us,” he said,” my names Henry.”

“Winnie, ” she smiled, “I’m hungry.”

“Hi! Winnie! me too.”

“Henry, I’m going to sit down,” she  motioned to a table.

“Okay,” he followed her. She sat at the large front window behind the  logo ‘BOBBY’S RIB HOUSE’. It faced the corner where blue and green street busses let people off.

The joint smelled like sweet peppers from her mother’s garden in Louisiana. Brown sparrows sounded like Ray Charles songs. Henry liked her style. She was nice in a blue suit, white blouse, black pumps, leather briefcase,  short bang hair. Lawyer? All business in the middle of  rush hour. He watched her people shopped at stores, kids ran, police sirens whisked by.

She pointed up at the television.” I wonder who is this hero they talking about?.”

“What hero?”

Winnie smiled at him, smiling at her. A man she just discovered checked her out over plates of good smells,” The guy who saved an old lady?”

” I need you to save me.”

” Silly,” she rolled her eyes.

” You have pretty eyes,” he touched her hand.

” Henry, is that line going to get me in your bed?**

” No, but it might get you to come and have dinner with me at my place,” he pulled his ear,” I live round the comer.”

Winnie stared into his soft brown eyes. He didn’t threaten her with that nice mustache. Past problems with men she was under control. She smiled; it could only lead to something good with this guy who needed her to live, to fly with those Ray Charles birds singing some kind of Georgia on my mine song. He was nice; he didn’t pay attention to the t v., only her. He lived around the corner, and around the coiner she left with him and their food.

She liked his one bedroom: It had green plants in the window, large fichus in the right corner under ceiling rack lights. Zebra covered seven foot sofa. A small dining room bamboo table towards the left by the kitchen, African statues on the coffee table with a giant picture of a farmhouse, fields of people He was broader than an average bachelor. Winnie licked her fingers around bookcases, stereo as she sat and ate her food with him. He turned on some music from his stereo as it was getting late and the golden sun from the blinds helped its way in the rooms of blue painted walls. She settled in, kicked her heels off and listened to him talk about his family or his job as a government cookie cutter technocrat

She talked about her career and he talked about his job. Really. His general polices as he licked his fingers about black poverty, black hunger and improving the prosperity of a complex slave world that he couldn’t fix. She recognized his comments were funny. He was funny, and he poured her more wine. She wasn’t going to give him none as she sucked her. thumb and talked about her high class secretary’s job at the Department of Navy.

” You are someone I would like to take out sometimes,” he said.

” We’ll see, but take me home.”

“ Let me get my car keys,” he asked her, ” kiss?”

“Okay, be gentle,” she unfolded her arms.  He kissed her slow, waxed his lips slightly touched.  She revealed tenderness, as he slightly touched her arms.

She liked him, she bought him closer.

“Thank you,” he smiled.

“Thank you.”

Henry got his car keys out a coffee can in the kitchen, “Ready.” She took his hand and walked her out his apartment Henry wanted to show her a strong brother. He wasn’t physically big, but a man who wasn’t a drug dealer, a cat who has never been to jail. He drove fast, but tailed off when he got too close to other drivers. If he did get close, he would back off carefully. He looked in the rearview of crawling darkness as night seeped ovenhim and his black Volkswagen.

Winnie touched his hand as he handled the clutch. She was tired. She smiled and stared at him at the  red light She didn’t him to know yet,  he was just right Not dangerous like she thought, but still a mystery, still a man who had secrets. A quiet man.   It would take a while before he opened up to her, but until than she would keep her legs closed and only tell him the good parts about her.  She smiled; he bit his fingernail. He wasn’t slick. He was classy. A square who wanted to be John Wayne like a lot of men. “ You nervous?”

“Always on a first date.”

“This is not a first date , this is a get to know you meeting over a chicken platter.”

“I ‘m falling in love with you,” he smiled.

She quietly watched  through the car windows  of night stars falling from earth. She met a nice guy, less nervous now. He carried himself like a man. Maybe he was an ex-soldier?  He dressed nice. She made the right decision to go with him.

Car radio news…

Ms. FAIRCHILD OF FAIRCHILD INDUSTRIES WAS SAVED TODAY BY A STRANGER…WHOEVER THIS STRANGER IS? THERE IS A HEFTY REWARD FOR HIM…

“I wonder who he is?” Winnie asked.

” Sure not Henry Applewhite,” he laughed.

She directed him to the third apartment building on Lloyd Street.

“You going to call me?”

” I’ll call you, ” he kissed her cheek on her cheek,  he got her door.

“Thank you!”

“Goodnight.”

Henry watched her go inside apartment lobby. He scratched his head as he drove around street corners; excited, but worried as he passed well lighted ma and pop stores showed trails of moon dust towards urban nativity street scenes with little junkie shepherd boys. He went down Upshur Avenue and took a right on 13th. His mother dead, father still alive with a young girl and new family, some aunts and some cousins left around. One uncle still around .like a fruit loop. He shrugged at the white quarter moon over top the Beacon Hill Apartments. He had bills, should he collect his award… will his quiet world be shattered if he showed his face? He liked living under the covers as a patriotic act of human feces.

He steered right on Meredith Street with tortured thoughts, parked his car in back of his building and sleep tonight as a government blue blood. He said his prayers…

Now, I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep…

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take…

 

Thursday afternoon after work. Henry stood in his kitchen drinking a beer, thinking about his heroism and coming out from his closet typewriter.  He listened to some Coltrane. He played like it was going to be a blood bath and no boxing gloves, his phone rang. His cousin, Mike was in the same building. Two floors down. He came up with a sweet potato gal. She had on a long brown jacket, black mini skirt, raised big tits that burned through a white cashmere v neck sweater. With5 brown cat eyes like she was sleepy, but she was hot like an Arizona wind. They hugged. Mike his favorite cousin, he was taller; and Henry really liked him. He was wise and like a tattoo on his life. They grew up together around D.C, They went out drinking and dancing around the Jeffersonian town. But it was Tuesday night and Henry couldn’t go out to forget about winning an award and moving around and chilling and having people with a lot of guts asking him for attention, money or his blood.

“Henry let me introduce you.to Kelly.”                  .

“Hey, Kelly,” Henry nodded, “having a beer, getting ready to smoke an el primo.”

Mike pulled out a joint from his shirt pocket.

“Okay…” Henry got the matches, Kelly was on the couch, watched his tiny color t.v. and faced north like a Kansas jay hawk.

” Hey! man, who was that girl I saw you with?” Mike crossed his arms, leaned on the refrigerator. He glared at him like he had caught something nice to prepare himself for. ‘

“Winnie,” smoke was getting him to slow down his thinking-mellowed jazz in the apartment as trumpet came in peace. He passed him the joint” Nice.”

“Minnie?” he handed him marijuana cigarette.

Henry shook his head, “Winnie.”

“How you like it?’”

“Good.” he handed it to him. He watched him puff as if he was going to suck up the whole goddamn planet in his lungs.

“It’s  smooth.”

“Yeah! like us!”

He slapped him five.

Henry held the power of the weed down his throat.  The room spun, and he wanted to cry and sing about all the shit in his life.

“You okay Henry?” Mike took the joint.

“Just tired,” he moved to the living room where the girl was, “I see you tomorrow.”

“Okay, see you tomorrow, ” Mike handed him the joint.

“Mike, thanks^” he opened the door.

“Come on baby, my cousin got to get up in the morning.”

“We all do,” Henry scratched his head.

“Okay! bye! Henry!” Mike asked his girl. “hungry baby?”

“Yeah!”

“What you want?”

“I got a taste for some chicken,” she snuggled against him, “I think Mister Wings is still open.”

“Night cuz! Okay! baby!” Mike winked, closed the door.

Wednesday morning a diamond sun opened his eyes. Henry stretched from his six o’ clock dreams, his yawn mixed with thoughts of cream and sugar in his coffee. He liked his peace, his silence with his thoughts. His thoughts. Not being bothered, uncomplicated and less than his medical deductible. He made his bed, went to the bathroom and took a teaspoon of olive oil.  Sneezed, wrapped his red and gold tie through his button-downed collar Mirror. He reminded himself of his father of course he didn’t want to be like him. Not on speaking terms, never a day he didn’t think about him thought . Henry and him were close when he was a little boy. Memories. Big Bill used to take  them to McDonald’s every Saturday evening,  his sister  and his mother.

His mama Sweet Betty Applewhite died of bad  judgment and a taste for bad men. She died of pneumonia and Henry died in that grave with  her,  probably his father did too. But Big Bill had to go  to  jail for seven years. It killed his mother. Big Bill killed her old boyfriend.  It was a Bob Dale. Nigger already had two wives. What he want with his mama? After that he kind of lost him, especially after Henry and his sister went off to college. He turned the television on and watched WDDC.

Time for tanned,  muscle face, Nordic newscaster in a grey two-button suit gives his news update…

“There was a shooting at Mister Wings Restaurant last night. Police apprehended the suspect, but sadly three people died in the shoot-out before it was all over…”

“Damn!” Henry got his cup, “welcome to the real world.”  He shook his head, reached and flipped through his Time magazine. He read an article on the mysteries of the Supreme Court He smiled at the fart face old men scratching themselves under their robes. “These old guys are mil of shit,” than his phone rang. He snatched  it off the kitchen wall.

“Hello!”

“Henry this is your Aunt Beth,” she asked, “did you see the news?” She was sitting in her cushy rocking chair, her round upright body shook as she scrunched tissue in her fist.

“Uh! Noooo!.”

“Mike was killed at that restaurant.”

“Killed!” his chest became heavy as the phone got hot in his hands. He fell against the wall, to his knees. He dropped the phone in his hand. ” Nooo! Noooo! Nooooo!” he screamed.

“Yes, baby, yes! Henry, he was killed in that chicken restaurant robbery.” Her right leg shook, “Henry come over to grandma’s house for the wake.” She  clutched the phone.”

” Okay aunt Beth, okay,”  he swiped his eyes,” bye!”  He hung up. The sorrow in him was terrible. He wanted to die too. He wanted to die with all the sorrows of the world; He didn’t want to be on this earth anymore as he slapped his tears. He called his job,” Good morning, Mrs. Bent.. .this is Mister Applewhite,” tell Mrs. Carlton I won’t be in work  today.  I got death in my… in my family.” Henry ached like an enemy tore him apart.  He felt like he was robbed, he was lost-screwed as his cousin was gone.

He tried to concentrate on her voice,” I am sorry Henry, I’ll  tell her.” He hung up, wiped his eyes, looked around and fell on his bed before he could see his family. He was weak, tired and didn’t understand why?  He recalled; rushed to the cookie jar on the table as he slapped his eyes. He examined the moon smiling porcelain face of the jar. It was a nice piece of craftsmanship he used to hide money, or memories of his life. He opened the jar top, sat down at the table and pulled papers, money, drug paraphernalia and photos of him, Mike, Eddie, Roy, Jerry, Duck, and Boo Peters. One photo had them sitting under a giant honeysuckle tree. Year end, they would go to a summer picnic in Rock Creek Park or one picture of them hugging up on midnight. women at a New Year’s Eve party. He wasn’t satisfied “Why Mike?” He smiled, filtered his fingers over the photos of Mike and him tussling in the snow, leaning on a hilly lawn at a barbeque, sold the lives, footloose. It was about time they owned the sun, the whole fuckm* world. Two cousins grew up together like a Kenny Logan’s song.

They were black crows pecking the flesh of the earth with respect and a low legacy of old pictures and smart afros; them sitting with their grandma

Two bookends in the business of growing up together, eating up the world. Not knowing, not knowing before they moved on to their own worlds like music not fitting in. Just working, going into the world and playing with it like a ball of yawn. Play right, play hard. They were heavy into everything from 1966 to 1968. Jazz man, jazz. He thought about * it and remembered Mike falling drunk asleep in a hot club, how he had to get him out before some pretty woman picked his pocket Mike saved him one time when he was stuck in the snow in Detroit with some voodoo woman, got him the money to get him out of the icy fingers of her love. “Why Mike?” Damn, he wished jie was there to save him one more time. ..one more time. Henry started to write a poem on a piece of paper to Mike, he wanted him to know

that he understood him, he walked with him as they were like tight roots from the God’s

earth.

I

watched

him

be

come

a

flower

and

shovel

women

up

like

wet

soil

to

grow

Henry folded the poem, stuck it in the cookie jar. He was hurt and mad, ripped off his

tie like it was all the possessions he had and he didn’t give a shit anymore.

Ivy vines branched around his grandmother’s house as he parked his car on a street of dwarf chestnut oak trees. It was a quiet street of proud black folks, a street he grew up on, now he had to come back for a funeral.

Henry kissed his little cousins playing. Catch me and tag the kid in the chest when you run out of time. Down you go. He smiled, and went inside the house that tackled his heart Go deep as he looked to his left in the living room

white French doors. He  reached down and squeezed his aunt Beth like a ball of love.

” Hi, baby,” she said,” you okay?”

” I’m fine aunt Beth,” he hugged her,” he’s still with us, he’s with us,” tears fell. He didn’t want them too. He went and hugged his sister tight, his cousin Sheila, his cousin Debbie, his cousin Mark, Tim, Russ and cousin Kirk, his friends Sharon, Jackie, Teddy, Riley the green sisters, Jackie Harris, Ronnie and Uncle Drew and more. They were all their with his Uncle who was gray like the clouds in the house a tragedy like this made everybody older, physically hurt Mike was a handsome, nice guy with always a twinkle in his eye as if he had a smile for you or anyone. He was a couple of years older like a ship floating. This was too much; his cousin His sister gave him a glass of wine.

“Henry how you holding up?”

“I’m okay sis,” he sat down on the silk red and gold sofa under a giant fleur de leis gold. frame mirror. The room of apples and nice perfume from well-dressed folks bringing in food amongst the house plants and big picture window looking out on the cobbled streets where they all grew up and lost and found each other. Henry sighed, hugged his sister. He rocked her like they were kids all over again. Tears nodded around as other friends of the family, neighbors bought flowers and condolences over. No music. Cake, chicken, salads spread across the table in the dining room of pictures, friends talked quietly with steadied approaches to Aunt Betty as she kept her feet up on a stool. Old friends came over to the house. Sun drowned them in the living room on such a terrible day. Henry saw his old girlfriend. Wait. He watched his true love come in the house. Barbara Rainey graced the room she came over to him with a hug. Friends we could never love enough. And sadly they could never be together. She was afraid of him, afraid of his power over her.

“Barbara, how you been?”

u Okay,” she hugged him,” you?” It was difficult for her to see him. Henry was so handsome. No regrets from the young man she left when they were sixteen. She didn’t want him. She didn’t want his baby. She would have to give him everything. Barbara missed him. She wanted Henry to hold her. She was too afraid, because his love would drown her and she couldn’t swim.

“Let’s go outside.”

“Okay!” she hugged a few more friends of the family.

They went out front by the fence, as his little cousins were still playing on the streets playing hopscotch. Sparrows plucked crumbs, the garden was filled with sunflowers that made her look even more beautiful with her dark eyes, her African-Indian hair, her yellow skin in her blue dress that was tight in the top, and flowery loose down the bottom. She was still a wonder to behold and he could never look at her in the. eyes, because he would simply become lost

” We always meet at a funerals.”

She swung on the fence.” Remember this fence?”

” I remember us swinging on it at night…we had fun.”

He moved the fence with his knee, ” Yeah fun…you married yet?”

“Do you see my husband idiot?”

“Dumb luck.”

”  When are we going to get serious?”

” You,” Henry got closer, held her.” You not ready yet”

” I’m not?” she laughed and swung herself off the fence.

“More like you, not ready yet.”

She gave him her phone number,” When you get serious.”

He bawled the number. He kissed her. She hugged him like good medicine for her as tears came up from heir stomach and eyes.

” I’m glad you came,” he said.

” Me too,” she stepped back, sniffed over this mess with Mike and meeting him over their, life that they could never decide like an old item that would take care of itself

” You okay?” he thumb tears from her big brown eyes.

” I’m okay,” she slapped her cheeks.

” Take a walk around the block with me,” he took her hand, lifted it over little girl cousins skipping rope and counting all the way to ten.” I want to see what new families have come in the neighborhood.”

“Curious, huh?”

“I missed the place.”

Barbara wiped her eyes, “I do too.” She hugged him, laughed as they took a little walk to clear the air, and their own imperfect lives as she knew that after this day they wouldn’t see each other again for a while. It was how it was, and how it was meant to be as they listened to cars, busses and birds sound off in a blue and pink morning.

Sunshine followed them from corner street lamp posts under electrical wires. Brick colored houses slapped tight with short step stoops and small gardens in a small-big city that exploded worlds; you could see the dome of the D.C capitol from backyards to help you live a better life. They went across the street, made a right on M Street towards grocery stores that . use to have the names of Abe’s, Nathan’s, Hymies, or Goldberg’s grocer. What’s the gag, it happened one evening when King died. Punch line, get the joke—Henry thought we were all black Jews now, as they laughed back to Ramparts Street

Sunshine bloomed into a red onion as angel shaped clouds drifted over children playing in front of their houses. A car blew his horn at her. Yes! she was all that. Henry held Barbara’s hand as if they were children but filled up with the sadness and a good place in their heart for a friend. Handcuffed to the past when they all chased each other around the big old oak tree. They played cowboys and Indians   on small comer streets that swallowed them and spit them out to become strong tree trunks except for some like his cousin and we keep dying too young. When Henry entered the house with Barbara  he saw his father by the chimney mantle beside his aunt Rose. With a short scotch in his hand; he had on denim overalls and the smell of dust, smudged red mud across his chest, and canvas work boots on—a dusty hard working man with arms the size of cedars. He was still at work with the gloss of 1-95 highway construction site in his concrete face. Henry hugged him up.

“Hey, Pop!”

Big Bill hugged him, “How you doing son?”

” Okay,” Henry nodded,” I see you on the job.” He could smell the drunk coming up in his father’s skin.

Aunt Beth fanned herself in Uncle Joe’s arms, he rocked her steady to Mahalia songs in the angels flapping wings.

” I came through after I heard the news, ” he winked at Miss Rolle who still lived across the street.

” Where’s Miss T?” Henry asked this out of respect.

” My wife had to go to work tonight at the hospital,  Henry she wanted me to tell you, hello.” Bill went around and  shook old friends” Son, you need some money?

” Pop I’m okay, give Pat some money.  I’m working for the Energy Department.”

Pat kissed her father and her brother. “Hi! Dad.”

“Hi! Honey, how is law school?”

“Fine dad,” she hugged him, “make sure you make it to my graduation.”

“I will baby.”

“I’ll tell Miss T,” she winked over at Henry, “and what my brother been doing?” She noticed him entranced with his old girlfriend, “same thing.”

Henry watched Barbara standing with her sister Diane  in the vestibule. They whispered. Time would never be right for them. Memories of swinging on the fence together would die as a memory. Life made him a fool and he would figure it out one day. With her or without her.  Time would never go back for him.  He watched his aunts and cousins crying, hugging each other as the church nurse got smelling sauce out.

Henry felt alone.  He  reflected on the death of his mother when he was a little boy. Nobody could help him, he had to pull himself through it alone. Alone.

Henry watched his father Big Bill kissed and hugged  all the sad beautiful women. Henry mother was a woman who was too sweet and loved too much. Love can kill. A woman who had a touch for the drink, his son barely touched the stuff. He looked like him with a wide spread buffalo nose and deep dish brown eyes that said; give me the world, give me the world now. Henry was strong and would never give up, never quit through all the shit coming his way. ” Have a drink with me.”

” Okay Pop,” he got a beer and stood with him.

“How you been dad?”

“Great, got to have my prostate checked.”

“Get it checked.”

“Yes, Mr. Applewhite,” he laughed.

“Thanks dad.”

“You held up well, since…”

“Okay! dad! cut! I know what you mean.”

Henry watched over the mourners like angels on high. He smiled through tears, hugged friends, laughed at Mike’s yesterday’s jokes, kissed old friends to be here or send flowers for a sad song.

Reverend Peters was a worldly man with a voice like a boom box and wind. He came to give prayer, solace to the family and calmed things down as they each must go towards the light alone. He wiped his face with a handkerchief, waved his hand like a poster child for God.

uOle’ lord help this family to get through this trial of losing a good man, a good son because these times will always be rough, will always be rocky…we just have to stand together with you lord! And see it through! Ride it! Swim it! through better times with you ole’ Lord here on this earth, Amen!”

Aunt Ester waved a church fan over Aunt Betty’s face . The Reverend  dabbed   his brow  and’ sipped a cold glass of lemonade after his prayer. His father left after this. He slipped Henry some money. Big Bill left in his black Ford pick-up and drove off as if he won the battle of love between the both of them. In the midst of baked macaroni, potato salad, pork chops, salad, apple pie, fried chicken, smoked neck bones and collards filled up his belly. Tearful friends of the family continued to visit in the house of the black crow. Henry saw from the comer of his eye inside the living room a familiar face and long wild white hair of a woman approached his Aunt Betty. They hugged and cried.

It didn’t make any sense?  He stood alone and sipped his punch, caught a glimpse of this woman generate a hug of kindness from his aunt sitting with her feet propped up. She wore a long pleated blue dress of white lace collars, pearls, silver white hair, big beautiful watery blue eyes. She was in her eighties . She glanced up and stared at him through the crowd, “You!” Henry couldn’t believe it. He almost couldn’t believe it wasn’t some crazy dream; his aunt was a maid in many white folks home. Miss Fairchild was one of them.  Henry cringed. “I’m the one.”  He listened as the room of family and friends stared at the old woman’s gold tip cane at his chest.

‘Miss Fairchild this is my nephew Henry,” Aunt Beth said.

“Henry, come here.” Miss Fairchild smiled.

“Yes, mam.” She hugged him. Henry thought she smelled like summer flowers. He hugged her around her body frozen in time.

“Thank you Henry Applewhite,”  she felt so good  that she  had found him.

Henry  felt  many pats on his back in the middle of a black and white sea.

 

The End

BLOODGOOD…novel excerpt

Tags

BLOODGOODChapter One

Washington, D.C.

April 7th 2011

General Gary James Roosevelt was a three star man who believed God is a U.S Marine. He waited for his day to retire to Belize.  He was something special in Kabul, shot an al-Qaeda soldier in the head before he set his suicide vest off in the middle of Bagram Air Force Base. He drank Jack and coke to sleep at night.  General Roosevelt had to be a suspicious man but not afraid to die; he reminded you of photos of Socrates in two button blue suits.

He was thick as a side of beef, bald headed and red bearded. They plucked him from George Washington University. Ex-college wrestler and O.C.S trained out of Camp Lejeune, South Carolina. He is a West Virginia boy with a brain. No wife. No kids. He read Military Monthly and had others kill for him. He was now a C.I.A man and he would always be in the corp. Nice guy to sit and have a beer with Gary blended well into the ancient halls of CIA and Pentagon shit diggers as a son of a railroad man and fourth generation Scotch-Irish.  He relaxed by drinking good whiskey and he wrote poetry in private for enjoyment. He only had time for four women in his life…The Black Knights.

But it was with love and always a fuss about who would sleep with him tonight. Maybe all four? Gary was really a fuckin’ genius and great between a woman’s legs.  Endowed from West Point and the Navy Seals. He was a geek but a scary geek. He smiled lightly at the four beautiful women in his office. He rubbed his chin, checked the time. Nine after ten in the morning, he poured himself another cup of coffee. Wednesdays were usually his bad days. No matter.

Fuck computers. He had his four Consultants to help him save America’s ass from Chairman Peng of the House of Two Fingers…Sharde, Diana, Bailey and Chill four of the best agents Uncle Sam could truly have.

Gary sucked on a mint cough drop. His stomach rolled with two ball eggs, toast, coffee and a glass of orange juice.  He gazed over the gem stone women out of the Desert Storm arena– don’t ask any extra questions? They had been together about five years. They were Special Forces out of a Unit they formed in Iraq. They were the only four left from their platoon. No room number, only a red steel door. The meeting was in one of the rooms at Langley deep under the belly of Washington, D.C. The U.S. flag was on the wall with desk, beige sofa for the four women to sit together.

Chill listened to Bailey from Arkansas. She was a fiery red head with a sweet disposition toward knives, more than guns. She liked men, especially black men. Her daddy said: She couldn’t have a black man. She wanted a black man even more; when he said that. Bailey went straight to Naval Academy, just to be around more men.

“I talked to Senator Jenkins,” Sharde said, “he was too busy checking out my tits, but when I kneed him in the dick. He understood that this trip of the President would set the oil companies on their heads.”

Gary asked, “What companies?”

“Helicon, Taikoon, Panaco, QuestCOM and Alemagne”

“The President?”

“President Weadon is about to put his energy policy into effect with Iran, some Republicans are going to swing his way.”

“Our Israeli friends will resist this.” She liked kick boxing,” Diana said.  She comes out of Brownsville Texas; her papa got her into guns. She went in the Air Force Academy and  just in time for Desert Storm. Bailey popped two Prozac’s with her black coffee. Chill took a clonazepam; to chill out.

“Well, “he rubbed his hand down his neck-tie, “history in the making.”

“Understand?” Chill said, “baby steps.”

“Yes, orders were cut for you ladies to go to several countries and sweep out any bugs that might slow down the President.”

In this precious moment: Chill faded away into her past as she held her father in his arms. He was old in time and died of a heroin over dose. He gave up; Vietnam fucked him up. It was a war for heroin, bauxite, king of a shitty hill with a god damn plate of freedom.  Chill is a Big Apple -Caribbean gal straight from the Bronx, West Point and Yale and Air Force Academy.  She crossed her legs; she had green tea. She listened to this military man with a blue neck-tie; he talked with a voice of a calm breeze in changing times. He wore leather suspenders. He was comfortable in his suit and them after two years as their boss.

Bailey had cold coffee. She steadied her morning with a clonazepam. They helped her stay even in an uneven world. She’ll sleep on the plane, before she changed into another disguise to take out some insubordinate ass-hole that wanted to blow up our shit.

Sharde had Earl Grey tea. She had one man on her mind; their next kill. Black Ops paid well; since now they were government Contractors hired from the Black Knight Foundation; O’ beautiful head turning warriors.  Iraq cluttered her life as she returned to the states with nothing, but her Phoebe Snow CD’s and a gold plated .45 Smith &Wesson from Sadaam’s crib.

“Achooo!” Bailey sneezed, “excuse me…sniffles from South Korea.”

Gary flipped open the folder, “Bailey…Germany.”

“Shar…Seattle.”

“Diana U.S. Virgin Islands.”

“Chill…Panama.”

Diana asked, “Meeting still on?”

He answered, “Riyadh in March.”

“I like the Virgin Islands this time of year,” Diana stirred her coffee.

 

April 16th

“Hi! I am Reporter Keith Matrick of WTTG coming to you with this emergency report…there has been a bombing at the San Pedro Airport, in Honduras Central America,  one of it’s planes has just been bombed. I am hearing a few casualties, it was already grounded…but the terrorist group that has taken credit is called Dog Boys or Perro Chicos of Honduras.”

 

A crowd shopped at the market Saturday afternoon in the warehouse District on 3rd and M Street. They loved a little Italian place called Vincenzo’s. It had cobbled stoned floors, rustic tables, nice art, red and white tablecloths and a cherry wood bar for the men to watch sports. Photos floated on chipped yellow walls of small villages in northern Italy. Candles stuck in empty Chianti bottles on twenty tables, you didn’t need reservations.

Chill glanced around the restaurant, looked re-decorating. Maybe the owners came into some money. Mr. Vincenzo and his wife Pila greeted them at the door.

“Place looks nice,” Chill said.

“Thank! you,” he said, “ our family helps.”

They escorted the women at one of the booths. The waiter poured water and handed out menus. He left. Sharde noticed the guy wouldn’t look at her. She definitely had a new hair-do and she had on her short pleated skirt.

Sharde waved “Mr. Vincenzo,”

“Yes mam!”

“Tell me about the waiter?”

“Awwww! he’s my nephew Roberto?”

“Yes,” she seemed concerned.

“He arrived about a month ago.”

Chill asked, “From where?”

Vincenzo smiled, “From our family village Cristobello Italy.”

Chill sipped her water, “I must put that on my itinerary.”

“Thank you Mr. Vincenzo.”

“Yes, mam!” he bowed and went behind the bar.

Sharde watched him hand out menus, “Jorge Galvo or EL Gatto…Bogota Colombia 2009.”  She slipped her gun under the table, coughed as a heads up at the Waiter. Son of a bitch; his cologne was cheap; she remembered the stench from his breath of onions.

Bailey put her napkin over her gun.

Chill got up, and went to Vincenzo and his wife. “I like to talk to you two.” She took them in the back inside the men’s bathroom, “When the last time you seen your nephew?”

“Uh!Uh!” Vincenzo scratched his brow, “almost fifteen years.”

“Okay, just stay here.”

“Steak,” Chill winked over her menu, “looks good.”

Sharde got his attention, “Waiter!”

He came over,“Ready ladies?”

Diana stood with her gun on him, “Yes! put your hands behind your back.”

“EL Gatto,” Sharde had her gun on him, “do not fucking move.”

“Ouchhh!” Bailey twisted his wrists. Sharde shoved him. Patrons stopped eating. Silence. They got him out to a black Mercedes Benz with tinted windows in front of the door with two other agents in dark suits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the Kingdom

Latterdam6    She became a ghost in my arms…

I couldn’t pull it off under the tree in front of my grandmother’s house as rain banged on top my head. How many times I have stood under this big oak tree as a little boy? When I learned to tie my shoelaces, when I first saw my friend hit by a car, when I checked off and hit Donald in the face. It was all I ever remembered. But what do you get with a watery nose and now I stand as a man with my own family and study for a test to not cry under this tree and every day listened to my Duke or Ella. Screams. Three kids cried for their mother and daddy to stop fighting in the night. One day ft will all be fixed, one day I will sit at the oceans edge and look back at my beloved country and see nothing but laughter. The issues with the car, the job, the damage of living in the city, the suburbs or fixing my eighty-eight Ford parked in front of the brick house I grew up in thirty years ago. Was it all worth it, in the blue book with almost eighty thousand miles on it…I wanted a drink that would help me through the night.

Was I insane to listen to Bobby telling me my wife was gone? Was I insane to not believe him and who was responsible for that? Mr. Yao cleaned my snapper and shook his head, rejected me out of pure love. Stabbed me in the back and charged me more when I wouldn’t listen to him curse me about my wife and her bubbly ways of coming to the butcher shop. He had to stop doing that, I just wanted to look at the filet mignon and not talk about it. She said my priorities were with school and her cousin. How could it be? I wasn’t over my head with her cousin Ella. She was a big chunk from my past. She was a little story from my

past. Although over the last two weeks she was nicer. Her eyes were sweet looking cheek smiled as she swept her front porch. In the end she became a person to listen too. I promised you my friends. I spent most of my days on the road, delivered mail and cutting into bottom line gas prices. Power outages, was like a gas bill that blew out in the western plains. I can’t find the hundred dollars for her, a tip to all you boys who like your wile’s sister or cousin. Weak. Watch your air filter and buy more gas because I ran out.

Screams. I was an August weak brother; at this hour I wanted to talk. Still reluctant to deploy from my past, I walked away from this wide Buffalo nut oak from my boyhood. At least it is still there to remind me of the good days I played around it. Chased Bobby, Kenny, Jeff with slingshots and popped velvety Catholic girl Debbie Cook upside the head as she cursed me around this wide hip tree. I leave these memories with this tree and quiet rains. Where I go to walk the earth like a wild rock band. Every day frowned upon moments as I became older, recognized as a man to fix things around me and grateful to not be dead yet. Odd, do call me and tell me where to meet you, as I didn’t catch my wife with another man. In depth look for her as she knew we were the wrong couple under Athens Georgia rains.

I drove off and went back home to where I belonged, three flights to an apartment as my children waited for their daddy. Dark in small bedrooms, the living room television on, as my wife wasn’t there. Children laughed. Lucy left them alone again eating Kentucky Fried chicken.

The youngest with big pretty black eyes sucked her thumb and jumped in my arms. I kissed Ella on the cheek as curly Betty grabbed me around the leg and squeezed me tight.” Daddy! what you bring me…what you bring me?” But little Stan offers no welcome. The oldest was handsome ten and chocked up with his mother leaving them alone again. I went to him and hugged him around the neck, holding back my tears and I knew he was glad to see me. He was glad that it wasn’t over as the voice of his father was glad to meet him. My keys jangled, rolled on the living room table. They gathered around and answered my questions of course on how was school today. Finger licking, greasy faces like gifts from Jesus.

O’ Lord these are my children. I qualify or half ass qualify as a father for them. They are flesh of my flesh. But her mother and me aren’t going to make it. I am the only one praying in this mess.

Stow down my television attention, as I put them to sleep a little after ten. Sensitive night she comes through the door. Family sleep. She sensed me there in the room waiting for her, threw her hand at me, took her shoes-dress off in the cooling jell of the night. It was a warm Saturday. I didn’t have to go to work the next day. We tried everything like dry winds chipping the skin off your ass. She put a number on me as I got on my knees and begged her. Asked her…

u Baby, whafs wrong?’

” Harold,” she said,” let me tell you. I don’t want to play this way anymore.”

B What way is that Mrs. Wolff?”

” You had an affair with my cousin,” took her earrings off,” the two of you have always been a problem sense you came back from your war.”

” Kuwait?” I rubbed my head,” wait that was a joke.”

” Any war,” she shook her head,” you know we got married because I was pregnant. Maybe if we could have waited. Become trustworthy and see how it all could work out. But you wanted to get married. I was the woman in this relationship. You were the little boy. You always were the little boy as I sell my soul to put food on this table.”

” You don’t do this by yourself,” the next thing I knew cops were on my door red-hot they hollered like it was going to be a vacancy.

u Open up, police!”

I had to be cool like Denzel. I opened the door and they ruled me out with a black jack across my throat. Unfocused. My head with a legal headache and swept off my feet against the wall as my children cried.

” Officer! Officer!” she screamed,” what are you doing!”

” Mam!” he put his hand up.” We got a call of a domestic disturbance here.”

She sliced tears from her eyes.” I didn’t call!”

I wanted to hold them and than I knew in the cash back night. My soul was all hungry with a bad depression and the last time I would ever see them again was tonight; right now, calm and serene as the two cops stared at me and knew what I had to do. They knew even before they came to the door. tt Okay,” I shrugged them off,” I leave.”

Asking Fellini out…

Six months left me hardened. Trees cannot walk but blow wet wooiy dangleberry leaves across the triangular college campus. A giant clock sat out stretched green lawns through the day as students chuckled with nothing to eat but books and knowledge; sometimes I don’t have much food. But I eat tuna sandwiches between lunches; there is a fear-a pain in my stomach as < move on through life knowing I would never see them again. In the kingdom of my life I straightened out the chairs in my heart, and sometimes help out in the church. By eleven fifteen, 1 go to my philosophy class, bawled my fist and struggled not to scream. I try not to think of them. She has a good government job they tell me. She has a new husband and all and my children have food to eat. I make sure I send them about twenty-five a week. But it is the pain, the pain that tears me up. As I become free and think about me sliding away into a life of books and writing, my ma always wanted me to go to school. Pay attention to the educated fools. And I even have a fancy girlfriend now. I stand in line for a can coke. At nights I sweep the computer labs, sometime think applying for a job in the same building. The boss wants me to apply. I sat and read about great leaders and how to work. Maybe I will in the summer after I finish these three courses. My bed is cold; my new shiny girlfriend is cold. She is a heartburn beauty but she is my future. And I will suffer and be cursed for what keeps me up at night. And dark green regrets these travels and nibbles at my splendid bits of life as (eat toasts and drink coffee over brand new G.I. Bill books. I carry on without a family and will be cursed for losing the first family like every man. We regret and cry alone, away from the crowd. We don’t want the world to see us lose and gain five dollars inside the kingdom of dreams. My work is my life. Cut off from laughter, old, old laughter. Actually doing good things, sacrifice towards the rise and fall of nations scraped by our own bare hands.

The man who wore style…

It was necktie weird to be stuck to a desk. I just wanted to go out my way, to be turned loose. But the menagerie was that I couldn’t keep my hands off this other girlfriend’s sister.

I was a wild animal, and I didn’t have sense to stop this drama of do whatever I wanted. I committed the same mistake, and I hurt a woman who never hurt me. I was a stray, and my apartment became a den of snake women. Drugs, sex and give your heart a break feeling sorry for a spoiled man who wanted to die, die in the arms of lost and inconvenience of losing it all in the kingdom.

u I caught you,” she slapped me,” I caught you.” She cried with tears that dropped hard to the carpet. I wanted to get on my knees but it would be a cheesy act. I just found the guts and left, left for the west.

Oakland California was a leftist hangout of black folks (ike me waiting for the next Marxist revolution to come. Blues travelers like me were soup to a country where I had to fearfully tread as they snatched Mexicans off the Greyhound. For five full years I was the black Messiah Provost Officer at the community college. I missed my children, wrote them letters as the country weather of Northern California churned me out. I didn’t need incentive in Oakland in front of the TV. or watching A’s baseball or listening to kitchen jazz bands on lake Merritt. At the park I met some delicious women from Louisiana. Devilwood shrubs surrounded wistful Earlene and Maureen. I stopped, bought a bottle of red wine and extended them to the best times of year as I eased over them like fresh com.

Perspective: I married both of them; in a heavy stormy part of the season. A minor tropical excursion, we didn’t do the church or anything like that, but we lived together in God’s eyes. And we loved together until rains and earthquakes woke us from blue silk sheets. We curved away and I took the both of them down to the Caribbean into the valley of storms and people minding their business. We loved. We had children and we watched and spotted planes flying away wagering flesh trading democracies.

In a tiny wooden shed…

We survived and lived under palm trees and witnessed fishing on San Pedro Cay. On Tuesday, I got in my truck and drove the ten miles up the road to meet my buddy Lee Findimen. He was a half ass Rasta with a PhD in Russian History, half black guy drunk most the time, He wanted to sue everybody but decided to Batman comic books instead.

” How long you been here?” I asked.

” Since ten o’clock.” He was on the bench hanging out with his gray parrot as the tides drifted away from his toes.

“No, here on St. Mathews?”

” About sixteen years,” scratched his locks.” I just don’t have enough money to get back to the States.”

I looked around at the span of blue water. The white sands and my two wives and three little babies spring in the oceans beach. My heart had slowed and the sky was blue and low. I poured him another drink of wine, and thought of the warming trend in my heart.

 

u Do you want to go back?”

 ” Hell! no!”

He slapped me five and sipped his wine. I rolled a joint and watched the women lay around, mostly shaded and naked in the comfortable blue steady morning. Sailboats cruised down the beach with their International flags and drug drop on the reefs.

Lee played his guitar behind a voice sounding like finches…

Got to get me the love

Cause you know what I mean O’ mama

Got to give me the dream

Cause you know what I mean O’ mama

Got to give me the blues…

Cause you know what I mean O’ mama

Got to give me the snooze…

Cause you know what I mean O’ mama

1 puffed, cut off and ran with my family down  Momingstar Beach before another tropical wave came and checked me out like old shoes.

Picked up my two kids in the winds, swung them around and became happy again as I went to help the island people, willing to sleep, clouds drove over dead car accidents and reggae music in the afternoon in my monkey tree thatched house. My act one and warnings of floods persisted in rains off the reefs and shoals, as forecast got stronger. On Sugar Bay I still wept sometimes under a giant coconut palm with the loss of a first wife and sliced banana children to later shift gears and find two beautiful moon black women with nice breeze voices that needed somebody to love, and talk to inside the kingdom. Winters passage: I came back to the U.S. in homesick moments. Recovered. Spurts and starts but always left again, i wasn’t interested in black American politics anymore. 1 became alive in the kingdom and had two more babies.

” Honey,” I remember Earlene asking,” where are you going?”

” I’m going to take some medical supplies to Haiti.”

” I love you,” Maureen kissed me,” we love you.” I kissed my children playing soccer in the yard, out the gate they ran along the rocky beach not looking at an uneasy father.

I was Volkswagen parked. Upset I shut the screen door as it swung leaving them with money, mosquito nets, guns, fresh marijuana plants, mangoes, Red Stripe beer, fishing poles and sewing machine as I drove away from Black Beards Bay. I had it. I had it as Panama lands asked me to sleep.

Two years later dry mouth flags flapped. I sailed with a group of Domini­can Republic pirates. However, later got malaria in the town of IL Doro. I lost every woman and danced in villas with Italian forecasts. I became an old black crow, white gulf layered beard, sometimes weakened or got stronger and continued to be welcomed in most spaghetti westerns.

THE END

Novel excerpt…Golden Arms

Source: Novel excerpt…Golden Arms

CHAPTER ONE

Fields and trees teach me nothing But the people in a city do. —Socrates (Plato, Phaedrus)

I

7:45 a.m. John Husker wanted to be God but his addiction to follow murder made him as dangerous as the devil.  He got dressed, listened to his shoulder pain and followed the scent of Colombian coffee. His wife Karen Husker stirred breakfast Chinese leftovers in the weak handled wok. Soy sauce dripped with scrambled eggs smelled up the kitchen like a German whorehouse. They lived next to an alley as the food floated pungent odors around their sleepy heads through cupboard valley of glass, china cups, and silver spoons in their town home. A cold white winter sun tried to get through the back door blinds. Eyes barely blinked, she was pissed and not half good this morning when she heard the familiar.

“Morning hon…”

“Morning,” Karen poured his coffee,” Superman.”

Karen watched him sit down; combed, dried and over six feet tall fancy man. He had to be bold, arrogant with a bad message in his eyes to stay alive. He needed a haircut All things scrubbed, her husband’s face hungered for heaven stars in a cup of coffee and in his thirties an old veteran street theme from murder and mayhem of a man with wide shoulders in good shape. She served him breakfast and as he walked strong street game of city sidewalks. She kissed him as he grinned, dropped his spoon. She purred over him. He rubbed her damp back. She leaned over his coffee and let him squeeze. He reached

Prue/Goldeh Arms/page 3

and kissed her on the neck under long frizzy red hair that just came out the shower. She surrendered like him. He stirred his coffee, sipped like a good Christian. Karen sat across. She was a great actress to inspire the cold buzz morning, inspired the octaves in him as he looked ready to take a bite in his British blue blazer, red silk tie, white cotton shirt and gray trousers. Her husband was going straight to hell with his sharp self.

His eyes looked like the drowsy morning clock in the Haverford railroad station. Tired savage, worth the wait She didn’t think he or the miracle of local trains coming put of Haverford Junction was going to make it to work. She was a warm distracted blanket across from him. He yawned; not ready to find another murderer this day.

“You look fresh,” he said. “I been married to you for over ten years and you still look like you twenty-three at every breakfast.” He bit into a shrimp roll, thought this might get him a kiss.

“Honey,” she yawned over her cup, “take another sip of coffee, that look will change.”

That’s right, I forgot it will change.” He nodded sadly, stared at his daughter with yellow bows that came down her shoulder holding her cup of orange juice. His elbows poked like wings from his body; he tried not to look at her again. He forgot she was a bitch in the morning, a family bitch in the morning; goddamn, how he loved her.

“You want sesame chicken tonight?”

“I’m not sure, is that what your mother’s crystal ball asked?”

4

“No,” this riled her good, “that’s what my crystal ball asked.”

Prue/Golden Arms/page 4

“I guess,” he bought his elbow down, “I feel like a chicken.”

“John, it’s my mother.”

“I’m sorry,” he forked up some rice, “I forgot about your mother.”

“John, don’t,” she got mad, “don’t.”

The woman is getting ready to slip into heaven.”

“Honey, have some respect”

“I think it’s a cop-out” John glanced at his watch. Tou left a great career to take care of her full time.”

Thank you,” Karen ignored him, “now eat your rice.” She got back on track. “Iris, turn that Mickey rat off.”

“Mom,” Iris turned off the television, “he’s a mouse.”

“Stop lying,” she sipped, “you want Ruben with you anyway.”

Iris slurped her milk and peeked at her parents as they kissed at the white tablecloth of painted purple finches.

“Now,” he stopped, “can I go to work?” John held her. She took her hand off his back, feeling the leather strap of his .45.

“Come home early,” she studied her chipped nails, “I got something for you.”

“Yeah,” he rubbed her shoulders, “right…”

“Don’t have me come after you.”

“Okay, Miss Green Eyes,” he put his hands up, “the bad guys wouldn’t want that”

“John,” she pulled his finger, “go in late.”

Prue/Golden Anns/page 5

“Oh,” her big dance eyes got him, “now you nice to me.” He smiled, kissed her and left as the school bus horn broke them apart.

II

“Ma, eat your cereal,” Karen held the spoon to her cracked pink lips, “it has raisins in it” She lifted it to her mouth, but the mouth did not open. The sad stroked eyes barely touched life in the blue hospice. She waited with her for the dying Phoenix to lay its body across the pillows, but it’s not time yet…not time yet Karen sat in front of her gowned mother with hair that flowed like blue eagle feathers. Her eyes watered in the comers to show life without a smile. Forced herself to an old soul trapped in a ninety-pound body who once took care of her destiny. “Swallow, Mother, please try.” Not anymore as sea tides in the room opened to clean white fitted sheets on the bed, separated them from the rest of the big bad wolf world.

Karen decided after God graces from the force, to give time to her and mornings to mourn over both their graves.

“She’s sleep?” the nurse asked with her hand on her shoulder.

“No, she’s not sleep.” Karen looked up in the face of Nurse Campbell, suited nicely in white uniform and white shoes. The room was like her mother’s hollow face trying to die; singing no lullabies. A face that was there but not there, her eyes of uncaring blue were at peace, but a mockery of the ones in front of her in the wheelchair by the bed. Her mother’s roots of life spread over the room like branches from a white oak. Doctor Croteau came in. “She’s doing fine.” She hugged him and felt old herself.

Prue/Golden Anns/page 6

Wasting like her slight mother, validated the aroma of death and breath in a small coffin room. White sky window watched over as she put the cereal bowl on the tray. He took Agnes’ pressure and left. Concerned with the serious price of love, she washed her mother’s hardrveined fingers. Snow would find her in this world of sad physicians and so many miracle medicines to keep the dead alive. Karen took care of her mother like a child taking care of a porcelain cracked doll baby. Tuesdays with courage and gusts of garbage in the world; scattered in this pale room of needles and IV feedings kept her from the smells of the streets, away from bad reminders of the city. She felt safe through the sixty-year-old ivy-covered walls of Winterhaven Manor.

Two nurses pushed an empty bed in the room. Jenny Berry had just died.

“Ma, Iris is doing great in school.” Karen pushed the breakfast tray away. “Better than me, and Oh! John may be getting that promotion he’s been waiting for.” She moved her hair off her earrings. “John just wants more headaches, as if I wasn’t enough for him.” She took a lotion bottle out her purse. “Ma, if you keep up your physical therapy I can bring you home Thanksgiving…would you like that?” She rubbed her fingers. “Ma, I don’t miss the force anymore. Oh! Sure, at first I did.” She frowned, with her head to the side. “Ma, I’m here, I do want to be with you.” She kissed her forehead, sensed from James Hilton open pages her stroke-soaked eyes didn’t welcome her. They stared through her at the heavy door. The hall PA system called for Dr. Cox. “Ma, it’s nothing, you’re going to be fine.” She got out her hair brush. “We are going to be fine.”

Prue/Golden Arms/page 7

111

He smelled a coffee cloud as soon as he got his coat off. Baby-faced FBI agents talked out their minds on the Twelfth Precinct ship. Bright Assistant D.A. whores stormed toe to toe with puke-faced convicts. Not much room. Shoulder to shoulder with detectives as cooked face plainclothes men cursed from file cabinets. Busy phones were translating lies around his desk. Nauseated victims cried over mug books.

Window dust lingered over his green glow and two murder suspects; handcuffed, sat around for life. Noisy. Not much room as rain forest patrolmen shoved drunks in a bad-attitude hole. His Commander O’Connell was an asshole with nothing but Academy book sense. He rubbed his stomach as it grew like cheese souffle. He feather-dusted his desk and swiped unsolved murder mysteries away. Other morning cops talked about the New Jersey Jesters and Connecticut Yankees, fighting it out before the half of Friday’s game. Used to smoke. He was into pro wrestling on juicy Saturday nights, sometimes had a beer and made love to his ice-sculptured wife.

John finished yesterday’s coffee; this is how he made a fresh start. By the way, he had to take a computer course to learn the ways of the stalker. He knocked over a box of yesterda/s sweet and sour pork in the trash and put the feather duster on the file cabinet when his phone rang.

“Detective Husker.”

“Detective Husker, get your ass in here.”

Prue/Golden Arms/page 8

“Be right there, sir.” John put the receiver down, looked for his partner around Wanted posters of rapists, murderers, stickup artists, fake-hair hookers, cool pimps, and switchblade gay boys.

All flexed bullshit of the world with very cool men and women whacked out on heroin, PCP, speed and coke. With things to do, sleepy cops woke up in their nests; Misbehavin’ staff and crime-fighting reporters unfurled their capes and ate donuts with attorneys with tattooed street lieutenants for a page-four story.

John searched the noisy sardine second floor can he jerked off on for almost ten years. “Mr. Strawberry!” He caught him behind the just-got-married secretary.

“Mrs. Bacon,” Ruben sniffed her dirty blonde hair, “you should have married me.”

“Go play,” she licked an envelope, “before I murder you.”

“Yo!” He back-slapped him. To the hole.”

“John,” he looked back at her, “I got to get this memo.”

“Come on,” John went over and grabbed him by the arm. He didn’t listen to Ruben’s protests. “Almeda will be there when you get back.”

“Where…” Ruben shrugged, “we going?”

“We going to see the wizard.”

“White bread O’Connell.” He needed a drink. “Damn!”

“Hey! What’s the deal?” John became amazed. “I’m white bread too.”

“Husker,” he punched his arm, “you cool white bread.”

Thanks,” he pinched his tie, Til tell my wife tonight”

Prue/Golden Arms/page 9

IV

O’Connell’s office had the American flag on both side of his desk; his bald head shined like a baby’s butt. He was a bureaucratic Criminologist out to hurt anybody who might take his office from him. His face was like white pine nuts. Unroasted. How many times can you say pussy; because he was, his face was the end of a horror movie with gray eyes that never left a memo or a lunch meeting. It was hard to have respect for a boss who was afraid and paranoid to confront strength and dignity.

“Killer, if I had fifty cents for every time you said you working on it…I would be a rich son of a bitch.”

“I’m just washing some things, Commander, you know, keeping the D.A. off my ass.”

“You keep that pussy-eating Showcroft off all our asses and maybe we can catch some crooks around here.”

“Commander, isn’t that your responsibility?”

“Fuck you, Husker.” He looked at him like a bastard who had a few more years up his ass. “I want you two at the Arms.”

“Commander,” Ruben’s eyes didn’t like the atmosphere, “that place is full of cockroaches.”

“We found a dead woman in that shit hole this morning.” He showed off a bloodthirsty grin like Elvis over a dead rock star.

“Commander,” he pinched his tie, “we busy.”

“I grew up there,” Ruben frowned, “ain’t no hurry to go home.”

Prue/Golden Arms/page 10

“Send Hopper…he ain’t worth a shit”

“You ain’t either, now get your ass over there.” He gazed at the Homicide Detective who was a winged Pegasus with his partner Puck.

November 10, 1993 juggled murder and the holiday vibe. South Main Street was a one-way hole with people dug in. You welcome. Drunks slouched and drank in alleys. Sistah Sadie churches snaked into the pit of people who danced like puppets and grooved to some Luther Vandross on Saturday night. Yo! Yo! Baby, give me a cigarette. Bounce that ass; dig it. Yo, baby, yo! Hurting, smiling cocoa faces seemed lost. Always going to be as if clouds fell on past atrocities. Beaten-surviving. Tired people hung their heads. Humped, pimped and rushed. Old dogs looked for a garbage can. Good-morning old drunks looked for a meal, as old women shopped like lost mothers. A young man stood on the comer. Just arrived, mobile, slick with a gold chain around his neck. His face was a dark mean house; eyes never were going to change. He stopped, watched. Cribbing on the comer of Tenth and Water Street. No school anyway. Cool. Chilled out, slapped somebody a tight handshake. He sold him a nice-size bag of dope; in the other comer a kid smoked and sold the Haverford Republic. Ruben recognized scented Caribbean salt fish shared the busy comers. Curry spicy infected women walked like stallions by Danny’s Barber Shop. Chipped abandoned buildings’ shadows clapped tight, as traffic sounded like violins.

It was Cane who cursed them black souls. Dogs growled, tore at garbage bags. A car accident was going on Monteray Place. Patrol cars, ambulance kept the crowd back like a bad storm.

The End

Latterdam 1963

Mines drill underground at Anglo Gold Ashanti's Mponeng gold mine near Carltonville, South Africa, Thursday, May 25, 2006. Photographer: Naashon Zalk / Bloomberg News

Mines drill underground at Anglo Gold Ashanti’s Mponeng gold mine near Carltonville, South Africa… 

Prologue

April 1963

South African miners toil in the eye of the sun. Men die like the ants of the earth in Latterdam. In a fifty-foot hole of a fifty-foot tomb, they are separated from their families, dependable nightmares, unforgiving dreams. Oh, please, Mr. Von Mantor! Maylard Kambani just wants to see his wife Busisiwe. He just wants to see the light of day. He just saw a black cave of death. It was his face. It was his body.

A rock breaks in his hands. He lights up his helmet. A big flash comes down on the rock. It is a diamond, a big diamond. He gives it to Jacoi. They pass it around in the noise of this cave.

The thirsty men lick their dry lips. They cough up the earth from their lungs. The ground awakes from a sleep. Wide eyes pray to all sorts of gods as they start to run. Maylard runs with the diamond. He watched his friends tumble and fall as the cave explodes under their feet. He hears death call him back. He reaches out to a gloved hand. The mine explodes around him. “Awwww!” His own two eyes are not worried anymore.

A voice of a friend cries like pepper in the eyes.

“Hold on, my friend . . . hold on!” Jocoi punches through the stones. “Hold on.” A knot of cold forms in his stomach. Getting out, digging.

“Give this to my wife . . .” He throws him the diamond and drifts into the nasty world of death. “Bye, my friend.”

∞∞∞

Maylard Kambani’s widow, Buisiswe, finds comfort in stitching up a blue brocade dress for the missus in her tin can shack house. She smiles down at her butter-head son, Titua. He is just four, with a wide mouth and coconut, big-eye face that tells love to dance around. He is playing with a friend, a grape-shaped beetle on the dirt floor in their tin can shack house. She can’t stop the tears as she thinks of her Maylard. She has just buried him in the paper trash earth only two days ago. He was a wise man and will be good for heaven.

Minutes sweep by under the white diamond moon. Men come to bring her to justice in this night in this province of the KwaZulu. Fear comes up in her chest . . . it is the police.

“Open up!” The voice grabs her. “Open up!”

Busiswe drops the dress, her hands shake. She unlatches the door. As she starts to peek, a rifle butt smacks her in the face.

Her son cries, “Mommie!” One of them snatches him and flings him to the wall. “Mommie!”

Three men stand over her. The one with a long scar unzips his pants. The second with bad teeth growls, “Where is the diamond? Where is the diamond?” He spits on her.

“Diamond? Diamond? No! No!” She grabs her son and takes him closer to her bosom. “It’s okay . . . it’s okay.” She rubs his head. “Dese men are not going to hurt us.”

The third police officer is fat. “Boy, get away.” He pulls him off his mother. They all laugh and chomp on their tongues. Moss-covered hands fall down on her round curves. Viking flames come up in the men’s bellies as they laugh and stretch to take her body to the heavens of torture. He rips his fingers down the front of her dress, unzips. He becomes a thief. “She is a lovely Black.” He fondles her breasts.

Say, say, say…

Crazy Love...

Crazy Love…

Say, Say, say…

He spit out cockroaches, roses and butterflies as ladybugs crawled over his stomach.

“Say!” the guard asked, “ready to come out that cell yet?”

Brock sucked on his teeth. He shied away from him and dropped back against the wall of no sun. The man’s voice was something familiar it sounded like a trumpet He crunched up as sweat dripped from his eyes, his vision blurred in the whiteness like the first word. His typing fingers looked like crusty long rocks. Stiff arthritic psychotic drugs their mission accomplished by them; by all of them. He laughed like a captured drum with a nasty bass voice. He hit his head against the wall over and over as blood sprayed in madness, “Awwwww! Awwwww! Awwww! Awww!”

Mr. Peters!” the guard peeped through the thick screen window, “say stop that!” He watched him continue, “Say! say! Mister!”

He kept banging his head against the wall. “Awwwww! Awwww! Awwwww! Awwwwww! Awwww! Awwwww!”

The guard got a lump in his throat. He pulled a syringe of blue medicine to tie the blue ribbon into a nice bow, from his pants pocket he got his keys and unlocked the door. He went inside the apple green colored cell to this man with handcuffs. “Say, Mr. Peters,” he gripped him by his shoulders, spun the exiled man as if he was the only one at Saint Ellsworth. He bashed, slapped him and hollered. “Say, you piece of shit…stop laughing! Stop laughing like you want to write again!” He hollered between his confused eyes. “Sonofabitch! you will never write again!” he fumbled in his coat, “you piece of shit!”

Brock spotted the syringe in his right hand.  He growled and head butted him, this knocked him against the wall. He hit him with a knee to his groin, but the guard knew he was threatened and reached out and up for his eyes. Brock uppercut him, he saw an excellent opening, charged him again with his head right to his stomach. He kicked him in the throat; this took wind out of the guard, his fat blue shirted stomach whizzed, his eyes became dead blue pools, this knocked him out.

He peered around, focused with sweat on who might be coming for a high level raid. Brock didn’t kill him; he searched for the keys to the cuffs in his pockets. He stopped* waited for foot steps. Nobody came—he fished through the pockets and got the keys. He fumbled, twisted his wrist and got the key in the lock.

He was free; he stretched, shook off the steel shackles and put on the guards white coat and I.D.

Brock took the clip board, took a deep breath and walked out the room.

White walls laughed, like words of protection. Brock walked calmly, he used the keys and unlocked the other doors. Until he turned down a yellow floor stripe hall as Howard Feld, he greeted some people as he followed the yellow line out the front door. He nodded to some nurses coming up the steps; as he flocked into a night that tasted like sweet butter and smelled of battery acid.

And this monster man ran, and ran, and ran and ran. This monster man ran so fast that the night squeezed his chest as he held his breath on the steps of Falstaff Virginia train station. Brock coughed, whizzed from his chest like it was a hundred pound. How long it’s been one-two years at the base of his life of preserved coldness in his bones? It must be the other dope they shot him up with. He tried the door; locked. “Damn!” He counted to ten slowly In the cold breath of his thoughts. Stars cried as he banged his shoulder against the door. The door gave; he shoved himself in and slammed it behind from the smell of bad winds. He was hungry, he wanted fried chicken but he smiled anyway. Brock nodded, searched around in the darkness of the place. Clammy, sweaty he was free as he heard the winds blowing from the steeple ceiling. He was so lost like a ball of yawn. Cancel that, he started playfully marching and dancing around in the cold station of surprised owls.

Brock coughed in the football size area of dusty rows of wooden seats, pictures of trains on walls, with yawning priceless brass lamps left behind as voices of sounds went through him. He listened, sneezed, shivered in the message and dropped on the seats. He stretched, tired, tired as if he could sleep in the blessings of voices and dreams…

He dreamed of women floating in a chalked garden, landscaped near the beach, they wore long white dresses, apple seed smiles under big straw hats, clipping and snipping blooming purple, yellow, green, redr yellow and white roses. And titan he saw his mother, his sister and a secret as they continued to clip, snip and plucked roses. She pricked her thumb and blood flowed…blood flowed She started crying and she told him not to tell anyone. No one, no one, no one…

In the early morning, Brock traveled about five miles of Falstqff Virginia back roads, he rubbed sleep from his eyes, spotted a giant mannequin of a teddy bear over top a brick and tar shingled Diner with a chimney on Black Crow Road. He thought he was still sleeping but the winds and rains pushed him towards the front door at a convenient hour. He noticed cars parked, searched for the Sheriff as he sniffed up the sufferings of hunger from the screen door at Teddy’s Place. HELP WANTED sign was out on the porch. Eggs, sausage, ham, bacon and toast breakfast, he went to a waitress with a red rose in her hair, short styled blonde with slam dunk eyes of blue diamonds and a sexy style that would leave a scar on any man’s heart, he saw her nameplate, “Morning! Miss Earlene.”

She nodded over to some tables by the window, “Have a seat.”

He sat down, touched the ash tray on the table and watched a couple dance to some Dolly Parton, it was a comfortable place to eat. He felt at home. Tile Diner was a multicolored canvas of cherry wood tables around rustic oily aromas of greasy country food as he watched the sleepy face people woke up from this waitress sweet voice.

Earlene went to him, pulled the pencil from behind her ear. She noticed the black guy sat like a worried comfortable chair.

“Can I help you?”

*1 see,” he rubbed his hands, “you have a help wanted sign in the window.”

“Uh,” she shrugged, “yeah.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he rubbed his chin, WI. ..I wants the job.”

“You a skinny puppy dog, you don’t look like much to work with.”

“I never realized it,” he winked, “you should try this ole’ puppy dog out”

She liked his voice it twirled her like she was on a first date with the whole marching band.” I’ll bring you an application.”

“No.

“What?”

“Try me out…no application.”

She liked his face, “Okay!”

“Thanks,” he looked around,” when you want me to start?’

“Name Mister?”

He lied, “Howard…Howard Feld.”

“Mr. Howard Feld follow my inspiration.” She winked and walked him straight to the kitchen away from customers.

Brock was scared as he stood in front of the dishwashing machine. He rubbed his chin and listened to Bob tell him the mechanics of the horse. Voila, the rack of dishes, glasses and forks sprayed through the magical fountain, it was about him succeeding in this world away from the screams, the dreams and the holidays. He never use to be a part of it was about this awesome horse of aluminum steel in front of him as he pushed a green button. He smiled as Bob slapped him on the back. He pushed the button that gave him help into a world he treated like Christmas day.

Brock finished the job about five.  He rolled down his shirt sleeves and went out the back door to walk to the train station. The white sun slowed over some branches with the highway about thirty feet from the Diner. Earlene saw him; she thought he was seriously lost in his late twenties with nothing in his pocket and guilty of everything.

“Hey! Brock come here.”

He walked over, clutched his shirt tight around him in the cold air.

“You need a ride?” she lit a cigarette, “where you live?’”

“Here! “ he took a piece of glass from his tire, “there.” He looked at her as if she was a blond cold pill he could suffer to swallow. “I got an extra room,” she puffed,” if you don’t act right…I’ll shoot you:” She opened her car door. He nodded, “Fine with me.”  He got in the car. He smelled a nice powder in the eighty three black Escort She drove, talked a lot about her son living in Milwaukee, her  childhood in Falstaff and burying a husband who was also black. She cried at each stoplight.  He became uncomfortable and he had to talk to calm her as she was driving off in

traffic.  He didn’t want them stopped by the Sheriff.

“Earlene, it’s going to be fine, just stop crying.”

She smiled.” Brock I see you a simple man, probably rich, lost and quiet,” she put her cigarette out,” the kind of man who could sell his heart with just a smile. I bet you the devil, huh!” She started laughing, he did too.

Brock felt nervously comfortable when he went up her three steps…

Earlene had plenty of room in her trailer. She cooked bacon and egg sandwiches in a trailer of lambskin chairs, pictures of Elvis on the wall and velvet red curtains strung up, as he stood around in the kitchen with the big blonde with a soft baby voice like a teddy bear that was on her feet all day.

She swiped a fly from her face as she spoke to him, and read his dark face of castles and men she took home from time to time.

” Where you from Howard?’*

” My mama told me I was born in Natchez.” He crossed his arms, sipped some scotch in a red cup,” but I grew up around Portsmouth Virginia.”

‘* Amazing,” she scratched to top of her breasts, and turned off the stove,” I have cousins in Portsmouth,” she put the fried egg and bacon strips on the bread, spread ‘ mayonnaise over the bacon,” you ever heard of the Clarkes?”

*’ No,” he sat down at the redwood table with his sandwich,” I haven’t” He looked at her like she was an older sister, although he knew she didn’t want that from him/’ I use to work at a restaurant called the Captain Fish.”

” My husband and I bought this Diner about six years ago,” she poured some scotch, u he died about a year ago, left me with the bills and some friendly customers,” she played with her bacon,” that’s why I’m still here.”

u Thanks,” Brock scratched his brow,” for trying me out” He bit into his sandwich,  “Ummm! this is good.”

“I like you,” she said.

“You do?” he scratched behind his head bit into his sandwich and concentrated on his scotch. He quietly remembered his father sitting at a table like this when he was about twelve with a drink of scotch in his hand, suddenly hauled off and slapped his mother across the mouth.

“Yeah,” Earlene smiled, “I do.” She put her cigarette out, Til be right back.” She left and went to her bedroom. She went in in the back to her closet and rummaged through a closet of old dresses, negligees’, old rabbit fur coats, shoes-many shoes were a rich option of a woman’s security in the world under her feet She was a fool, but she liked young men. The warm embrace of new scarves, panties, or the latest knock off French designer wear, th^ day after her Jeffrey died. She searched for a bustier, plucked and plucked for the sensual affairs of corsets, and shoes wrapped in newspaper, and reached for her robe of Chinese embroidered silk, but one of the.shoe boxes marked with a stenciled X, she got out the 22 gun. Earlene combed her hair, looked in the minor by her bed at an old blonde qualified for. any man to be happy with and she searches in her blue eyes and thought back to the day of carousels in Falstaff9 when she was eight.. .when she was eight

Oh! red, yellow, white lights spun around, spun around like the morning dew. She laughed and laughed and laughed like a harmonica as her father sat her on the wooden gold, peach horse on a pole of silver clouds and pearls around her neck. She had a seat with the other little girls around a golden circle, as music figured eight around her. She waved going around and around as her father, mother pointed and cried at their little girl as she went up and down in the dreamy red, yellow, white lights, flew her around, and around…

Brock was tired and  bewildered from her wonderful  blue eyes with secrets of her body incased in black bustier, garters and heels under the flow of perfume and gold silk robe. Maybe he had too much alcohol, but he had problems when she stuck the .32 in his face. Upset, this scared him but he was too groggy to run from this woman with a gun.

Brock got a grip on his fear, “What this?”

“Wake the fuck up!” she held the gun at his head.

“Earlene why the gun?”

“I want to play,” she got him by the hand, “a little game with you.” She pulled him off the couch. He limped towards her perfume  breast winked out the bustier. She wanted him in his chair with the bottle of bourbon on the table. Two glasses. She poured drinks. Aromatic candles burned, she smiled as if this was fun. She was like a little girl again; as if this world was innocent and the gun and him were her toys.

“Whoooaaa!” Brock eyes got fresher when she opened the gun chamber and put one bullet in a chamber, “are you kidding?”

She spun it all on the line like nobody was going to take it from her. I’m not kidding honey,” she lifted her glass, “Drink.”

“Earlene what’s this game called?”

“Q and A…” her voice was a bad news forecast for him,” when I get a man like you in my house I like to play games.”

“Games,” he nodded, “this isn’t the way you play games.” He rubbed his lips, “but maybe you like scaring the shit out of guys who have guts enough to be with you.”

“Mr. Feld, if that’s really your name,” she looked at him like a bad mark on her map of love, “I’m sure if I killed you, there would be nobody to cry over your ass.”

“Maybe not,” he shrugged, “but I don’t see your family around here.. .either.”

“Okay,” she acted annoyed, “here are the rules.”

Brock sat back, took another sip of scotch that was making him drunker-sleepier, but it also made him bolder, ready to die in this place she ruled. He sweated from his palms. He made sure he kept his eyes on her; but glanced around for answers and found the giant iron wall clock ticked close to ten in a kitchen that smelled like baked apples. He had to stay focused, maybe he could snatch it, but he wasn’t some damn hero. He noticed she liked; the sound of his voice.

“One bullet,” she looked in his worried eyes, “one man.” She spun the chamber, “You tell me why you here, if I don’t believe you,” she sweated from the alcohol, “than I’ll pull this trigger.”

“Earlene, I wish to thank you for helping me out I thought I would never make it if it wasn’t for you. I came here because I had broken up with my wife, left her and my son one Sunday morning because I couldn’t take it anymore, trust me. I’m just trying to find a new home, a new place to live, to get my life together.”

“Fucking liar,” she wiped sweat from her cheek,” at least you can tell me the truth before you die.”

“No!” Brock threw up his hands, but the gun didn’t fire. He trembled over the lacey table kitchen cloth, sweat and scotch all over him and ruined her table cloth. She probably shoot him for just that, the bitch was crazy and beautiful. Crazy and beautiful.”What do you want from me bitch?”

“I want you to care Mr. FeldV she wiped tears from her eyes, “I just want you too care about a woman who is starting to have nightmares about killing all men, a woman who doesn’t think she is pretty anymore, a woman who hasn’t been on a date in ages, and a woman who still needs a man like the night skies need a star to shine and I can still have babies.”

“Miss Earlene,’* he touched her hand, “we can work this out”

“Can we Howard,” she sniffed, relaxed her finger on the gun, “can we work this out”

“Any and everything can be worked out,” he opened his hands up, “you are beautiful, sexy in your negligee and full of love, you just what I want in a woman, you are sensual, haughty, funny and a saint of a woman,” he bit his bottom lip, “why are you angry at me?”

“You are a man who leave women and children behind like old rusty keys and go on to unlock new worlds like time will never run out for you.” She slapped spilled scotch off the top of her breasts, “and you don’t give a shit about anybody but yourself.”

“You don’t know me,” he pointed at himself, “you don’t know me.” He melted sadly and slapped tears from his cheeks, “I carry a lot of shit in my heart. I come from an insane asylum, I am a runaway, the cops are looking for me, and if you kill me you would be doing the world a big fucking favor.”

She smiled, “You a fucking crazy man like the rest of us,” she laughed, “only, you got loose.”

“Yeah, I got loose,” he wanted her to stop laughing, “now you know the truth.’*

“Are you really crazy?”

“No more than any man,” he became intensely cold, “I use to be a newspaper reporter in Washington D.C. One night I found my wife in bed with another guy,” he shook his memory loose more scotch, “I got my revolver and took them out.  I went quite mad.”

“You deserve to die like your wife,” she tasted the scotch it was a good snack as the room became bleary and the gun felt heavy.

“I reflected on this and agree with you, surrounded by nightmares-of her death, the man in her arms and the murder in my heart” Brock saw her eyes doze, the gun got looser in her hands. “Let me have the gun,” he softly spoke her name, “Earlene…” he reached out, “you don’t have to do this.”

“No! I want to,” she stared in his scared brown eyes, “finish this game.”

“It’s,” he sounded certain, “finished.”

“Take it,” she pointed a finger at him, “you want it?”

“Yes!”                                                                                                         –

“Take it”

Brock snatched it and sighed relief as if it was the first breath he ever took in his life. He felt free. He rubbed his chin at this good looking woman with ringlet blonde hair, her body was a doubled date served up for his death and one last look at something of angelic beauty in this simple ugly life. It was surreal, in a small town as he almost died in a crazy woman’s trailer on a dusty road.

“Okay!

She felt hot and out of time.

“Now what?”

He looked in her eyes of lust and pain of losing a husband. Dazed and confused at thirty three. The many years of men doing her wrong—leaving her for some crazy vision that would only come when they got grave dirt on their faces. She was beautiful, sad like that generous Van Gogh painting of women baked under a golden sun, she breathed hard as her . blue eyes cooked for new drunken frontiers.

He stood, put the gun in his pants pocket

“Now, we go to bed.”

Earlene closed her eyes, heard the buzz in her head and the surprise of the man for not ripping her heart but her throat Brock was special; She stood and poured in his open arms. And who is this man that made her lose all thoughts?

He exposed her to the taste of his lemony neck. He kissed her like an old lost song. She blossomed in his arms. He kept his teeth and tongue on her neck and took her to his kingdom.

Their bodies were without boundaries.  Brock understood the milky rivers of her stomach beckoned him to mount He waited and kissed her, they curled their toes like crabs on a beach, hips swayed as witness in the oceans of love, bailed them over roaring waves of bed songs, like lovers in a situation of tears and sweat running through the trailer; exactly as Earlene begged him, and Brock told her his version of walls burning between his thighs. Who are you? Who am I between the pillows of my sweat? What’s my name? She bit into his thick wide shoulders that could reach around her back and straddled as if to ride the fires in her mine. He rocked, rocked. She fingered, a scare, a little flit of a scar beside his split chin dimple. When he laughed—his whole face came up like an African sun, but his hazel brown eyes said something much more serious about himself—much more serious as they slept like Christmas packages.

It became clear as the days left them both stranded in the Diner’s kitchen. Brock shaved his head balled, grew a Fu Manchu mustache, and put on a pair of wired rimmed eyeglasses to hide.

Days patterns of a couple of weeks easing in to a couple of months out of the generosity of fates heart, they wrote this love with a blank check as girlfriends talked of the burden of her new man. Earlene looked at herself, and found she was happy, happy for now and that’s all she could ever want, all she could ever have as the sun tripped over Falstaff buildings the likely culprit of ending this all was Sheriff Hobart Brown.

“Miss Hunter new Wanted Posters hang the new ones up on the bulletin board.” He rocked, stuck his boots up, read some of his Washington Post in the morning like he was some canary making a miraculous recovery from last night blistered argument with his wife, “Um! I should have married you Miss Hunter. I love your coffee better than I love Dottie.”

Miss Hunter sifted through some of the pictures like new coupons. Wait?  She saw something weird, it was him; Earlene’s guy.  She stuck the poster in his in-basket.

“Morning Earlene!” customers scratched, yawned and drifted in the Dinerof apple pancake aroma at seven thirty in the morning. Doors closed the big chunk highway put inside green and white wallpaper flowers painted around, seduced you with today’s blue plate specials as folks came in and got seated. Mr. Snyder sneezed, than ordered juice and coffee, Mr. and Mrs. Patton ordered their usual—bacon and egg sandwiches on wheat

“You boys eat up those eggs, or I’m going to feed them to my cat Curly/’ Earlene spoke to some trucker on a sleepy dream delivery chain between Flagstaff and Washington, D.C.; she fed her four big regulars. She knew most of them as they loaded up on pancakes, hash browns, coffee, bacon and eggs like thankful dogs.

“Earlene you some bold woman,” said  Billy Redman, “but I will always love your eggs…all both of them.”

“Jack consider a cold night in hell when you get a hold of my eggs.”

They  joked and drank good coffee in the morning sun of the Diner and the country whistling songs of Willie Nelson asked them to get up and grab the sun in the palm of their hands.

“Earlene you want these new bottles of cats up on tables?*’

“Anty,” Earlene peeked over at her waitresses, “Debbie take care of that for me, that’s fine.”

Debbie cleared catsup bottles off empty tables. She shook her hips east to west a little Chubby Checker sentimental twist, she danced with Miss Enus around her table.

Amy and Debbie were two five-seven red heads who popped bubble gum, wore tight skirts tucked in tight asses. These were Vampire hot women, who kept the truckers coming in for black coffee. They use to spin through Leesburgh Pike I-95.  All the truckers spoke about them driving up in rest stops doing good things to help them through the bad winters. One Saturday night their princes popped up from rigs out of Delaware, and they never looked back after they settled down in Falstaff, but they were as bored as out of pockets peanuts, they nerved up and asked Earlene if they could work for her. She provided them with meeting-greeting waitress jobs as they called on truckers not for whoring but for serving good coffee and good food without stepping foot on losing their frog husbands. They were like sweet corn fed ex-hookers that looked out for their sweet boss.

“Earlene,” Amy went to her, “you going to the Fourth of July picnic with us at the park this Saturday?” She unscrewed the bottle top, with a wet rag from her shoulder.

“Can I bring Howard?”

“You better,” she smiled, we hoped you would.” Amy wanted her boss to know, “He reminds me of a hero who would die for his lover.”

She went behind the counter as Debbie rang up Mr. Tolle’s order.  Howard was in the dishwasher steam. He worked the dishwasher like a small plane trying to get through fog. He pulled out deep fried utensils from the door, more wet vapors jumped out in the kitchen as fat belly Gus cooked sunny side ups; he stuck orders under hot lamps.

“Earlene tell Debbie table three is ready!”

“I will Gus give me a minute.” She snuck up behind him and grabbed his butt. She snuggled and kissed him, “Sorry to disturb you.”

“I missed you,” he said, “that was so sweet.”

She kissed him, “Ummm!” steamed water glasses rolled from the conveyor belt “Okay, now tell me we can go to the Fourth of July picnic this Saturday with Amy and Deb?”

“Great! it should be a big enough crowd.”

“Don’t worry honey,” she hugged him, “we’ll be okay.” Earlene wanted him to feel at ease, it was hard; she rubbed his back and left out the kitchen, “Gus! I got the plates.”

“Man,” Gus went to him, “you one lucky ass hole.” He wiped his hands on his apron, swiped his face with a cold wet rag as the bacon fried and the dishes washed.in the area with them.

Brock slammed the shiny door and hit the green button. He saw this old guy with a coffee belly as fatherly, too old to swing his hips but with good sense to tell a good thing from a bad one. “Things are going along too good, you know what that means Gus?”

“Means  your ass about to get handed to you on my blue plate special,” he  stuck a plate in his face. “Howie! try my blueberry pancakes.”

Fourth of July people fanned through food, lemonade booths over green lawns about three am. Children flapped like chirping birds on the Ferris wheel rides. Bands sang up some old James Brown, Elvis, get back Jack Michael Jackson tunes, welcomed towns folks inside the ceremonies. Mayor Crouch was a short man with a shag haircut, nose all red, smelled like some things would never change in his blue suit and red rose. He was there to keep his job. He grinned like an old radio as he went around and kissed babies. Falstaff Virginia was an sleepy town created by slaves from the 1860s that grew with family and friends flocked to pig races and pie eating contests as a yellow sun sweated over wide chestnut trees.

Brock and Earlene got there when the sun was going down.   They hung with Amy Swan and Debbie Mayes their husbands were two old men about twenty years their seniors. They were old enough to trust on the road, because they sure wore them out when they were at home. They were nice guys.  Earnest chewed tobacco and drank Pabst that was Amy’s man, and Deb’s man was George lie Was loud and told dirty jokes about animals and their love life. But he was okay, and he knew everybody. He was a griller and he did in deer, pig, beef, and he even threw a lamb on the fires,.

Brock found a pick-up game of basketball, it was the Mayors staff versus anybody in the town and he had to put on a blue tee shirt, like anybody. His team was shorter, but when he got in he up the level and took it over the Mayor’s six-seven Administrative Assistant Mr. Mars. Than the game got rough and he was crushed in the nose as he tried to take it to the rim against the red planet “Ouch!” He flipped flopped to the ground.

Earlene ran over and they both laughed under a golden sun getting colder. She pulled him up and he limped off as he slapped hands from his funny Mike Jordan imitation, even the Big Planet rubbed him on the head. He ached and sat down. Brock had a juicy pork rib sandwich, sipped down his beer, screamed with laughter as they joked about the road.  Falstaff women sat around in colorful sundresses, enjoyed their strong stupid men. Brock enjoyed himself, but he saw a woman in a pink dress pulled his Earlene to the side. He felt uneasy as the sun got colder; lights came on in the U shape park before the fireworks.

Earlene cried, hugged Amy and Debbie. They knew it was time for him to leave—the husbands didn’t know what was going on. Brock got up and hugged them. He left with Earlene’s arm curled in his. They rushed about fifty feet from the picnic as the day started to circle into a magical night and he looked back and watched firefly red, blue, yellow lights explode in the sky.

Uptight. He saw the Sheriff and others point him out He walked faster witn his Earlene. He couldn’t take her, where was she taking him?

“Howard,” she stopped, “down the bank about twenty yards there is a boat and this boat and the river will lead you down the Potomac.” She kissed him and handed him the keys, “it use to belong to my husband.”

Brock sighed, as he drifted from her hand, cried from her sparkling blue eyes that fed him and made him warm in the cold night as he rowed away under fireworks.

The End

The Triangular Trade

chains  Slave ships and legal sanctions bought the races together, many, many years ago. On slave ships we bartered for the human soul. In courts we screamed, bickered and fought on the fields of Gettysburg and sang battle hymns to free my ole’ poor soul because my color is a prison.

My world is one of no freedom. I cannot have the things they have, because they will only take my blood; my soul in this legal systems that only wants to write laws against me. What is justice? What is my justice, as I die on the desert washed in the sands of time. I can hardly breathe as the dogs of war chase me out the USA.

I can’t be so stupid as to forget that their smiles are really a prison for me. I know they hate me. They will always hate me in a justice system that has bought me from the sands of Africa. And mixed me up, called me nigger at their dinner tables, in their dreams, in their jokes, in their barbershops. And strung me up and cut my penis off and fed it to the dogs of the Klan.

Most of my brothers are in AIDS jail. Fathers, sons, mothers, daughters all are dead and buried in this American hill of race hatred that’s based on our judicial system. Am I wrong? This country, this place is hell on earth to a black man, this place is not for me, but yet I fight on as my ancestors do. Struggle and fight the hands that try to lock me away or kill me in war where all poor black-Chicano boys go. I will die before you, living breathing for this freedom air. Why, it is only luck that I am so called able to prowl the streets like the black cat.

How long Lord, how long.