Blackhumouristpress's Blog

July 4, 2016

240 and Counting

Independence- 240 years and the descendants celebrate with wings, malt liquor and parades.  Bill of Rights and the rights of the dead, a bullet piercing the side of the head somewhere on the west side, south side, Chicago’s apartheid red line zone where the tourists never go.  But I digress- this is a process of processed food, entertainment and education.  Back when we were all English and white, on paper the ideas seemed right- Liberty and justice for all… or maybe some or none.  Manifest destiny, all for you and me from sea to shining sea.  You’re free above this line and slave below this one.  A war between brothers and in the end freedom with an asterisk- there was a fix.  You give us the presidency and we’ll look the other way for nearly a 100 years til someone refuses to give up a seat, sit where they want when they choose to eat, vote, protest and integrate, separate but equal became the Civil War sequel.  Well I’ve jumped ahead again.  The Kaiser, Sarajevo, trench warfare, mustard gas the rise of the working class.  Comrades in a sea of red, the Czar was dead.  The treaty left them angry and needy after reparations of Versailles a charismatic character, a director, a rector sold the scape goat- many die and why?  A bomb to stop a war and within a few years a little more and a truce that lasts til this day.

Unbridled growth and prosperity, suburbs and the interstate, sock hops and roller skates.  We liked Ike and then came JFK, Bay of Pigs, assassins and then LBJ and the KKK.  Just advisors to advise those who love and cherish democracy, imperial imposition of freedom for Vietnam.  Baby killers, draft dodgers, free love, and women’s lib.  Drugs and Nixon, the fix was in.  Watergate, oil crisis, a cancer on the presidency, end the war with dignity.  Ford, Carter Reagan- morning again in America.  This aggression will not stand- draw a line in the sand, new world order, Perot, Clinton, stained dress, Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill congressional hearings on the hill.  W, 9-11, weapons of mass destruction, mission accomplished, quagmire, Afghanistan/Taliban=Vietnam, Obama, Osama, Arab spring, ISIS, crisis of confidence, we’ll build a wall for our defense, terrorists, xenophobia, first woman presidential candidate, with shadows of doubt…  Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot… Wait!  This just in…  Citizen Trump

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September 7, 2011

The Road From Iraq to Detroit

Bill had finished two years in Iraq before being shipped out for four more in Afghanistan.  After six years of driving around in a light armored vehicle, he was fortunate to be alive and whole.  Bill had served one more year than his grandfather had in World War II and nearly five more than his father had inVietnam.  At the age of twenty five, Bill was hoping to become a police officer somewhere in the state of Michigan.  On Labor Day, Bertram volunteered to drive the school bus route that had been his since 1973, one more time to ensure Bill would be ready to go come Tuesday.

            Bertram had a late model Cadillac STS that he had saved up to buy for a number of years when his 1990 Pontiac had too many problems to throw money at.  Bertram sadly knew that the new Cadillac was probably going to be the last car he would ever purchase in his life.  At the age of sixty six, it just didn’t make too much sense to make a lot of long term plans like a thirty year mortgage on a house.  To buy a car out right in cash made more sense than to make payments into his seventies.

 On a bright, sunny and cool Labor Day Monday, Bertram met Bill at aConey Island off of Grand River in Detroit.  Bertram was finishing some eggs while reading about the Detroit Tigers huge win over the Chicago White Sox the night before.  Bertram, a tall and thin black man, clean shaven, wore a thin black tie on top of a long sleeved with shirt and dark tan slacks with shiny black shoes.  On the table next to the coffee and paper was a black pork pie hat. 

            Bill, a muscular young white man with four day old stubble on his head and face, walked in with a faded black sleeveless Detroit Red Wings T shirt from his high school days that proudly displayed a tattoo of a gothic D on his right shoulder.  He had a stud earring in his left ear, a furrowed brow and torn blue jeans as we walked into theConey Islandto meet Bertram.  Bill plopped himself down across from Bill as the waitress poured a cup of coffee for Bill.  Bill was tired and a bit hung over from being at the Tiger’s game the night before.  After the game, Bill and his friends hung out in the patio area of The Elwood, a bar down the street from Comerica Park.

 Bill thought it was a bit overkill to go through the bus route one more time but didn’t want to insult an old guy that gave a low level job, more respect than it deserved.  As they walked out to the parking lot, there was a huge boat of a car with the top down.  It was a 1973 Cadillac Eldorado painted light blue.

            “You evah driven one these old cars, young man?”

            “Can’t say I have…”

            Bertram tossed the keys across the car to Bill and got in on the passenger side of his own car.  The white seats were like new and the dashboard did not have a speck of dust.  Bill turned the car on.  Immediately the 8 track player began to play Summer Breeze by the Isley Brothers.  Bill still thought that the trip was pointless but looked forward to cruising around with the top down in a beautiful old car.  Bertram did most the talking.

            “So you gonna pick up the bus off Seven Mile…  My advice is to get there early so you ain’t lined up to get out there by the last minute.  You got you some fellas there with a chip on they shoulder, they gone try to cut and squeeze you outta place.  You gone want to bust them in the jaw.  My feeling is why go through that hassle the first day.  Get up early and take yo time and avoid all that mess…”

            Bertram spoke slow and in a deep rich voice.  Bill felt like he was driving in a time warp as he looked over at Bertram who was wearing a Pork Pie Hat and squared off Ray-Ban sunglasses.  Bill followed where Bertram directed him to go.

            “Make a right here onGrand River…  This is where you gone begin.  Now you gone find and make yer own way and I ain’t about to start telling you how you gone get things done.  That would be wrong of me.  I am gone to tell you how Bertram done things and you listen and decide whatchu want to do…  I started this here bus route afta losing my job at the Fisher Body 21 plant.  That’s that skeleton looking building you see off of 75 when you trying to git ovah to the 94.  I lost that job onna count I couldn’t keep mah self from drinking afta work.  You see…  I waddn’t married and I was young and had a few bones and so I would go out and have one and then one lead to anothah one and then a few moh and then before you knew what was going on, the sun be coming up.  So afta I missed work a few dozen times, they decided to drop me and they wasn’t nothing I could do even though I was in the union.  They only so much the union can do to help you when you off drunk every othah day…  Okay, here is where you gone make the first stop.  Lemme jus say this; the kids gone test you and the mo you try to act as bad as them, they gone try to git to you mo.  When I first started, there was a young guy with a large Afro and a pick stuck all up in his hair.  He came on the bus with a box blarin music loud.  I toll him to turn off the music and he toll me to do something to m’self.  My first thought was that not more than a year earlier, I was trying hard to stay alive in Nam and here some young punk who ain’t even got his feet wet yet in life gone step up to me?  I took his box and threw it out the bus and him with it.  The othah kids wasn’t scared.  They didn’t respect me no mo foh dat.  I didn’t git fired but I had to go and buy the punk a new box and aftah he looked like he did nothing wrong.  I ain’t gone throw religion in yo face cause we all got to find our way.  I started getting my life right and all the othah things in life fell in.  I began to think how I was gone to git the kids on my side and still git them to be respectful.  They gone swear and let they pants hang off they ass.  They gone git worked up ovah a pretty girl and act a fool.  How to let em know to act like young men and ladies and have respect foh each othah and they selves?  It wasn’t easy but I managed it, young man.”

            Bill had applied and accepted the job of being a school bus driver in inner city Detroit where most students were poor and all were black.  Bill looked to be a formidable looking young white guy with anger issues.  As they drove slowly downGrand River, the boarded up buildings and weeds growing in cracks in the side walk reminded him of driving in parts of Baghdad and Afghanistan.  Bill believed there were predators hiding behind windows of abandon buildings, ready to kill him and Bertram for the classic car not unlike what he had lived through in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Bill’s head was on a swivel.  He surveyed things from left to right and constantly used his peripheral vision as he drove an even thirty miles and hour.  Bertram wasn’t as cautious.

            “Yeah, I get what you’re saying.  The obvious difference between you and I is the color of our skin.  Them kids are gonna see me tomorrow and automatically are gonna hate me for what they think I am,” said Bill.

            “And you already decided that they gone look at you a certain way.  Imma tell you right now…  Some dem girls gone be workin you like a stick shift.  You a good lookin young man with a good smile and strong build.  Them girls look like women an probably they lookin as good as they evah gone look in they lives but you got to remember that they children trapped in an adult body.  Anyway…  All yo preconceived ideas and thoughts about young, poor black children gone ooze from yo eyes when they step on dat bus.  They already gone think that you some rich kid from Southfield or Royal Oak.  They ain’t gone think you jus some regular working class kid who jus live above 8 Mile all up in Warren.  They ain’t gone know you served.  They gone to think all the things they learned bout white people they whole lives.  How you gone to show dem they wrong?  I tell you what…  If enough white people and black people would put aside what they think and what they learned, we could bring this city back to what it was.  Black people blame whites and whites blame blacks.  How bout people who are black and white get together and say we Detroiters and we gone bring back this town.  I need you and you need me to do it.  I look at Nelson Mandela and the whole dang country of South Africa.  Them black people went from being nothing to running the country and they did not go aftah white people to punish them foh the past.  Why?  Cause a smart man like Mandela understood dat you need the whites to keep the country going. Detroitneed the whites to be in Detroit and if dat evah happens, things gone change.  Prejudice keep things where they at.  You ain’t gotta go to Mississippi, boy.  You got more racism in this state and city than you gone find in the south.  You and I both know cause we served in active combat that when you think might die, it don’t matter much the color of the skin of the dude next to you.  Somebody you know jus die and you not sure if you the next to git picked off and you lookin at the dude next to you and he from Hicksville, Alabama where they hated people from the north and they didn’t much like niggahs but he crying and just wants to be held like a baby and be told dat he gone make it, dat he ain’t gone die but if he does, he want you there wid him so that he don’t die alone…  Make a right up here.”

            Bill thought back to a day in Baghdad when a young boy had tripped a mine on the side of the road.  Bill had gotten out of his tank and tried to comfort a young boy that was missing a leg.  The boy, who was not more than ten years of age, died from a loss of blood.  Bill held the boy until fellow soldiers pried the boy away from him.  Despite all the gore and death Bill had witnessed, seeing a young boy die in a matter of minutes, hit Bill the hardest and had the greatest impact on him.  Tears began to stream down Bill’s cheeks.  Bertram asked no questions.  He just put his hand on Bill’s shoulder and rubbed it.

            “If I can give you one mo piece of advice, young man, I would like you to know dat you got you a finite number of days and yes when you young like you is, you can throw way years and still come out okay.  But them years gone roll like a Sherman Tank and take down evrah thang in it way.  Thirty, forty, fifty and then you git to sixty or mo like me and you wonder whatchu did with your life.  You ask yo-self if you lived or you jus existed?  What is the purpose of all this really?  I could have kept working foh a few more years but then it hit me in the spring when I had mah sixty sixth birthday; I ain’t gone be round much longer.  My wife dead, my son dead, two mah brothers dead and mah parents dead so long ago I sometimes think I jus made them up in mah mind.  If it weren’t foh pictures, Idda believe they was nevah here.  So I got to thinking bout what might make me happy and I decided that I will take this here car all the way toLos Angeles.  Imma go to California aftah living mah whole life in Dee-troit.  If you don’t count the two years I lived inVietnam, I ain’t nevah been nowhere else.  I got me an apartment picked out on computer where I can see the sun set ovah the Pacific Ocean.  Imma stay there all winter.  And so I tell you, young man, find now what gone make you happy.  Don’t keep saying someday cause that someday gone end up at the end of a road that you cain’t turn round on…  Speak of which, this here yo last stop.  Aftah here, you take dem right to school or you finished foh the day…  You gone be fine.”

            Bill drove back to the Coney Island and shook hands with an old man who had done more for him in an hour than most people had done for him in years.  After shaking hands with Bertram, Bill leaned forward and hugged Bertram.  Bill quietly spoke near Bertram’s ear before ending the embrace.

            “Not many people can begin to understand where I came from and where I’m going.  What I went through and where I could wind up…  I hope the west coast is exactly what you want and need.  Thank you for your time, sir.”

            At the second stop of the first day, a young black man with sleep still in his eyes stepped onto the bus with a straight brim Detroit Tigers hat and a white Tiger’s Jersey.  In the rear view mirror, Bill could see that the name on the back of the jersey was Verlander.  The young man sleepily stared out of the window while checking for messages on his cell phone that weren’t there.  His eyes met Bill’s several times in the mirror.  They both looked away.  Finally Bill engaged the young man in conversation.

           “Everyone thinks it’s going to be Boston, The Yankees or Phily.  We got Verlander, Valverde, Cabrera and Jackson.  Verlander might win the Cy Young but it takes a whole team and the Tigers are tough as hell this year,” said Bill.

            “If I could pitch like Verlander, I’d quit school today,” said the young man.

            “Most of us will never be a Verlander.  If we all just try to be as good as we can be everything will be alright.”  Said Bill.

            The young man nodded as he thought about what Bill said.

            “True dat…”

August 16, 2011

God Hates Haters More Than Faggots…

            Thorson Jensen received the news that his younger brother Erik had died on a Monday. Erik died in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device on the road side in an area of the country that looked like Mars. Thor had been working on a 1947 Indian Motorcycle back in Nowhere, Minnesota when he received the call from his father.

            The news hit Thor rather hard.  Erik had been Thor’s younger brother who had been uncommonly handsome, wholesome and talented.  Erik had been on the student council, a wrestler and a singer in the school choir as well as musicals.  The only odd thing about Erik was that he always seemed indifferent to women.

            During boot camp, Erik had met a young man from Northern California by the name of Timothy who had been a high school football player and an outstanding student.  The two hit it off and became a couple.  Erik and Timothy together came to grips with their sexuality and found that they were each other’s best friend and lover.  Both of them believed that being discrete was important and to act like men was expected and so it was not known to anyone in either of their lives for quite a while. 

            It was during Christmas while Erik was on leave that he broke the news to his family.  It was like a bomb had been dropped on their ice hut on one of 10,000 lakes in Minnesota.  There was Thor, Erik and their father Lars, ice fishing in a hut when Erik told his brother and father the news.  Thor and Lars were in disbelief but after giving it some thought, they later realized that there were signs that they just never picked up on such as Erik’s love for musicals, gardening and color coordination  of clothes.  Erik was just too handsome and too perfect of a man for an area of Minnesota that was just not that refined.

            Thor had been the black sheep and renegade of the family.  He looked like Hulk Hogan and had been a modern day pirate that pillaged.  After doing half his adult life in prison, Thor went clean and started his own motorcycle repair shop that also fixed snowmobiles and lawnmowers.  It was by no means lucrative but it was steady and that is what Thor wanted.  Thor found a woman to settle down with that was covered in tattoos and had three children by three different fathers and was a recovering heroin addict. They were a typical biker family.

            It was quiet for a good minute or so after Erik broke the news to his brother and father that he was not only gay but had found his life partner.  Thor broke the ice with a little joke.

            “We wouldn’t mind meeting him I suppose…  Hope he won’t take offense to the fact that I think all Oakland Raider fans are queers.”

            Timothy showed up at Easter with Erik.  Timothy was equally good looking, masculine and well mannered.  Thor and Lars didn’t know what to discuss with Erik and Timothy at first but after awhile, it was like talking to any other men.  The fact that they were not demonstrative in front of them or effeminate in anyway, made the whole thing harder to believe.   Mom, dad and brother shrugged it off and decided that maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

            Nobody ever thinks that they would out live their children and to stand at a grave site service and subliminally listen to a priest preach the merits of a young man he did not know, was like back ground music to the parent’s deeper thoughts and memories of their son’s life from the cradle to the grave.

            A stone’s throw away was a group from Kansas that carried placards that read things like, “thank god for dead soldiers” and “god hates fags”.  They yelled over the priest who was saying pleasant things about a young man who was good and had selflessly served his country.  The extremist, anti-homosexual, anti-flag, anti-American group claimed to be primitive Baptists.  Primitive as in preliterate with physical similarities to humans.  Uncivilized, savage, simple and wholly unsophisticated splintered synod of Baptists.  Their hateful message was so profound that even other Baptists couldn’t recognize them as being like them.

            Thor and his band of biker buddies stood by silently upon Thor’s orders.  Thor’s emotions changed from sadness to anger.

The obnoxiously hateful group spewed such vitriol at a moment when as big and strong as he was, Thor was about to break down and cry.  Instead, Thor and his band of friends dressed in leather and boots just glared at the idiocy of the moment.  Women with high pitched voices yelling over men reciting bible verses who claimed to understand what god hated.

             “Most god loving people would agree that the men of Sodom were wicked and sought to break the order of things and destroy the differences between right and wrong.  This faggot was punished by god for being a sodomite.  He was a faggot and god hates faggots.  Genesis 13:13…  In the beginning god discussed his disgust with faggots, sodomites, homosexuals.”

            Lars balled up his fist and was about to attack the group when Thor stopped his father.  Lars was mystified by his older son’s restraint.  Thor had always been prone to fisticuffs.  If ever a time called for violence, the desecration of a soldier’s funeral called for action.  Thor simply whispered calmly in his father’s ear.

            “God has a plan for those motherfuckers.”

            One of the biker brotherhood was instructed to follow the troop away from the funeral to a motel where they were all registered.  It was at about midnight when most people are in their deep REM sleep that Thor and his gang of friends kicked open the doors to their motel rooms and rounded them up.  Thor lit a large cigar and took swigs from a bottle of Jack Daniels as he kicked back in a chair with his feet up on the bed.  The group of protesters sat cowered together on a double bed while an infomercial on the television loudly made a pitch for a fat hiding girdle like device.  Fat people could look thin by wearing what was akin to a girdle without having to exercise.  It was nothing new except to those who knew nothing about the Victorian Era. One of the bikers turned off the television so that Thor could be heard clearly.

            Thor opened up a dictionary and began to read calmly to all of them the definition of empathy.

            “Empathy…  If you’re psychotic this means nothing to you and I suspect that to be without of empathy leaves you probably in the psycho camp.  You bunch of fucking misfits picked the wrong fucking funeral to show up at…  Well then, let’s see…  Empathy- is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings such as sadness or happiness by another being…  Those unable to recognize this cornerstone in human emotion are devoid of empathy.  Meaning that they do not give a fuck about other’s emotions.  You motherfuckers are going to learn something about empathy tonight.  After tonight, I suspect you will be able to put suffering into the proper perspective.”

            Thor and his friends drove through the night from southern Minnesota through Iowa into Kansas so that all those attending the Westboro Baptist Church could see the fruit of god’s labor.  Hanging off of every peak around the church was a protestor who was bound by the hands and ankles together with a tennis ball stuffed into their mouths with a duct tape to secure the balls in their mouths.  Sticking out of their exposed anuses were rubber chickens.  The heads of the rubber chickens were hidden with in the anal cavities.  All that was visible of the rubber chickens was a neck and body. A dozen members hung from every peak of the church with their asses exposed with dangling rubber chickens. The, “godhatesamerica.com” banner was removed.  In its place was spray paint on the building that read, “God hates haters more than faggots.”   It was a sight to behold on the Lord’s day.

May 11, 2010

Welcome Home, Soldier or It’s a Thag’s Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 9:22 pm
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Kilbourn came back from two tours of duty in Afghanistan without much psychological damage and his whole body intact.  Being an Army Ranger, Kilbourn had been really gung-ho about finding and defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan.  After seeing the situation and living it, Kilbourn understood that it was not going to be easy to flush out the enemy as it was all to easy to cross the border into Pakistan and disappear for a while.  Kilbourn suspected that if the Soviets, who were ruthless and not too concerned with human rights and polls at home, could not defeat the Taliban or the former Mujahedeen, it was going to be damn near impossible for the United States to win both the hearts and minds and whatever else needed to be won in order to feel good about having gone there in the first place.

                Kilbourn landed at O’Hare in Chicago and had his sister take him to Superdawg so that he could have a really good Chicago hot dog, fries and a shake.  A group of friends gathered at Kilbourn’s apartment on the north side of Chicago to celebrate the fact that he was home and had not been killed or blown apart into nonfunctioning pieces.

                 The next day, Kilbourn stood out on the patio that faced the street and had a cigarette in the warm spring sun.  It was nearly noon and it felt good to sleep the whole night without interruption, in a bed, with sheets and a pillow and not have to worry about dying… So much.

                A man, who looked to be a solid mélange of several different races and ethnicities, drove up on a bicycle made to resemble a low rider vehicle.  It had long forks and little wheels and a banana seat.  For a boy of twelve, it would have fantastic ride.  For an unemployed, felon on drugs, the bicycle was a bit ridiculous. 

                Avery had been out of Cook County Jail for almost two weeks and had just been piss tested the day before and so he thought it was safe to indulge in some recreational drugs.  The black Jeep Wrangler that was jacked up and full of military type stickers on the back caught Avery’s attention.  He noticed that the driver side window was down enough to put a hand through.  Avery got off his bike and reached in through the window to grab a smart looking ball cap with pins and patches on it from the Army.  It belonged to Kilbourn and had the staff sergeant patch on it and pins.  Avery grabbed a handful of toll money from the cup holder and stuffed it into his pocket and drove off with Kilbourn’s smelly military hat cocked to the left.  Kilbourn ran down the stairs, barefoot with no shirt on and a pair of jeans.  Kilbourn never yelled.  He decided he would tackle the thief off of the bicycle and then beat him to show him his displeasure with the fact that he had to go fight for people like him.  Kilbourn thought that a better punishment for a man who would steal a hat and pocket change out of a vehicle, should be to have the hands removed by the Taliban.  The Taliban would be able to dissuade the drug addicted thief from stealing again at least with his hands.

                Avery tried to make a call on his cell phone while riding the bicycle  towards a mechanic’s garage.  Avery was within the fence when Kilbourn caught up with him.  Several men walked out wondering what it was that Kilbourn wanted, half naked and out of breath.  Two of the four men had wrenches in they’re hands.  It had been a few weeks since they were robbed by a white guy with no shirt on and they were all curious as to what it was that Kilbourn wanted.  Kilbourn sensed the situation was going to deteriorate and so he defused the situation the best he could.

                “Did you guys see a dog come by here?’

                The men shook their heads as Avery got off of the bike and staggered inside the shop.  Kilbourn went back to his house and called the police and within thirty minutes, a squad car showed up.  The officers were more annoyed than anything else to be dealing with the theft of a ball cap.

                “So it was a baseball hat?”

                “No not a Cubs or a Sox, hat…  It was my staff sergeant’s hat that made it all through two tours of fucking duty in Afghanistan.  Dudes with fucking bathrobes and towels on their heads were trying their level best to fucking annihilate me and I make it all the way home and some fucking crack head reaches into my car and steals my shit.  It’s the principle of the whole thing, man.  How would you feel if you just got home after fighting for fuckheads like that and then you get robbed?”

                Officer Timms thought about it.  He had served in the Desert Storm and had been in Kuwait and remembered what it was like to trudge through the desert while the sky rained oil.  Officer Timms remembered thinking that not one damn person except his mother seemed to know or care about what he had to go through in the Middle East.  Officer Timms offered to drive over with Kilbourn to try and retrieve the hat.  The two officers were about to get into the squad car when Avery drove towards them on the bicycle, wearing the Army hat cocked to the side while talking on his cell phone.  Avery soon figured out that the officers were chasing him and picked up his speed on the bike.  Avery couldn’t have peddled fast enough to elude Kilbourn.  Kilbourn sprinted like a lion on the Serengeti towards a wildebeest.  Kilbourn tackled Avery and removed the hat from his head.  The two officers caught up and slapped the cuffs on Avery.  Avery’s eyes were glazed on his forehead were the words, “Thag Life” in gothic blue letters.

                “Thag Life?”

                “Shh-damn… I wad fucked up when I got the tattoo.  It’s sposta say T-H-U-G…” said Avery.

                “Doesn’t say much for our education system when a thug can’t even spell out what he represents,” said Timms.

                “True dat…” said Avery, while shaking his up and down in agreement.

July 30, 2009

Waiting for Oprah

Filed under: Oprah,Short Story — blackhumouristpress @ 2:28 am
Tags: , ,

Waiting for Oprah
Bobby and Agnes were treated for their injuries and sent home. They really needed the beds at Cook County Hospital for people with more serious injuries such as knife wounds or gun shots. More people died of knife and gun shot wounds at Cook County Hospital in one year than the number of American soldiers in Afghanistan. That could change next year.

Bobby and Agnes had badly bruised faces, missing teeth and serious whiplash. Anytime one who is hit from behind in an automobile at seventy miles an hour, would find their head would flip back and forth like a rag doll.
Bobby and Agnes lived in Agnes’ sister’s apartment off of Archer Avenue on the south side of Chicago. Beatrice was Agnes’ older sister. She had two children that she raised herself from the age of eighteen. Her children had children young too and are struggling not far from where they once struggled with their mother, their entire youth.
Beatrice was a beauty when she was a younger woman but at 43 years of age, she appeared to be clos er to 53 years of age. Years of smoking left her walls yellow and her voice husky. Whenever she laughed hard enough, Beatrice coughed up phlegm. Beatrice has worked at the same diner on 95th Street across from Little Family of Mary Hospital since she was a teenager. What she doesn’t know yet is that she will eventually die at the hospital across the street from the diner. That won’t come for a while yet, but it’s coming.
Beatrice was not a fan of Bobby. Bobby was in his mid thirties and had been in and out of jail. Bobby did eight years for attempted murder of his ex-wife’s lover. It was Bobby’s cousin Bill who had mistakenly fired the gun that grazed the arm of the man who had been seeing Bobby’s wife for years. Bobby took the rap for his younger cousin who had no previous record. Bobby reasoned that he probably would wind up in jail again at some point and Bill may never have to. Bill had at least a high school degree.
Bobby and Agnes laid on the pull out bed in the living room the next morning. It was a one bedroom apartment that Beatrice rented. Bobby and Agnes both laid propped up in bed, smoking cigarettes and watched the Oprah Show. Oprah had just changed the lives of some poor people with three children. They no longer had to live in public housing not far from where Bobby and Agnes lived. Agnes loved watching the Oprah Show. 0Bobby hated Oprah. He felt Oprah had too much power over American women. He felt that if Oprah ordered all men killed, that those just in the book club alone might take up the task.
“Why doesn’t that bitch come here and move us out of this palace? Why don’t you write her and tell her you ready for a make over and a new house? Shit she could fix our teeth and hair and my god damn car that’s now killed… Call her now. She right there in the studio,” said Bobby.
“The show is previously taped… Hush up now so I kin see this,” said Agnes.
Bobby watched and shook his head as his cigarette ashes fell to their yellowing sheets that had not been washed in months. Bobby rubbed his temples and tried to massage his own neck. It hurt too much to touch. Bobby’s head hurt to move it up or down and from left to right. They were both issued braces to keep their heads still but neither intended on wearing them.
Bobby was urinating with the bathroom door open when he heard knocking on the door. He yelled for Agnes to get it. Agnes yelled back that she couldn’t get up. Beatrice heard the commotion and went to the door. A man in a suit with a brief case in hand, stood smiling at the door. The man stood there and observed the squalor and wondered how people so genetically close to himself could live like animals. It smelled of cigarettes, stale liquor and unwashed clothes. All the drapes were drawn. One would not be able to tell that is was day or night between the shades and drapes. The man in the suit never stopped smiling. He asked to talk to both Bobby and Agnes. Bobby walked towards the man with his shirt off and zipper unzipped on his dirty jeans that he had slept in. Bobby suspected the man was from the IRS or an undercover cop. Bobby pre-empted the man by speaking first.
“I paid my debt to society. My girl bailed me out and I go to court next Wednesday. Til then I ain’t got nothing to say,” said Bobby.
“Sir… Hear me out. Your life is about to change for the better…”
Agnes struggled to sit up. She smiled despite the fact that she was missing her two front teeth and had two black eyes. Agnes was certain her prayers were going to be answered.
“Your from the Oprah Show, aren’t you?”
The man in the suit just smiled and began to explain to Bobby what his purpose was. Bobby had a few questions to ask of the finely dress man.
“So lemme git this straight… You git 33% of whatever we can git in court?”
“That’s entirely it…”
“That sounds like a lot of fucking money, man. I git in a gawd damn accident and you git to walk way with a third? That’s some bullshit, man,” said Bobby.
“Sounds bad to you? How would you like 100% of dick? Sounds a lot worse than 66% doesn’t it? Let me speak plainly, my friend… You’re living with your common law wife in her sister’s one bedroom apartment. You no longer have a car and you work for a Polish gentleman who calls you to work when his regular crew is too drunk or busy to work for him. You have nothing. You stand to make enough money to catapult you out of these dregs that you presently wallow in. You could buy a home, a car, start a business. You more or less have won the lottery. My job is to bring this to fruition. Athletes have agents when they make their millions because they have agents who know how to shake the tree for money. You want to risk going to court and telling the judge in your folksie way that you have been wronged? The judge will dismiss the case and you won’t get diddly squat. Now if you have me going before the judge, I can tell him what a har d working man you are that is trying to make a buck out of a quarter. I can tell him how your health for the rest of your days, will prevent you from working any longer as an apprentice tuck pointer and that you no longer can work the only job you’ve ever known. I can tell him how the correctional system rehabilitated you and how you’ve been an upstanding citizen who works and pays his taxes.”
“Um… I git paid under the table in cash. I ain’t filed since 1993, ” said Bobby.
“Don’t worry my friend, we’ll just skip that part of it,” said the smiling attorney with bleached white teeth. “We’ll work around all that… All I need is a signature below from both of you… Getting whacked from behind from an executive of a major automobile company… By years end, you’ll be hob nobbing with Oprah… Trust me.”

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