Blackhumouristpress's Blog

September 19, 2011

The Young Americans… In Canada

            Dion had decided at the age of twenty six that it was time to throw in the towel, lower the flag and wave the white drapeau that signifies giving in or giving up.  For women the announcement of marriage to other women sends voices up octaves, accompanied by hand holding, discussions about dresses and registries.  For men, especially young men, the news is received, processed and then there is a two second delay where the stone faces of other male comrades, brothers and friends appear to ask why with their eyes.  Once Dion’s friends and cousins accepted the news the first important question among men was asked.

            “When and where are we having the bachelor party?”

            Dion was born inRomania with his other Romanian friends and cousins and wound up of all places in Detroit.  Dion grew up to love all things Detroit; American cars, Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons.  Dion loved University of Michigan even though he never attended the school.  Trumpet playing of all things lead him towards his destiny of finding and falling in love with the minister’s daughter at a Romanian Pentecostal Church in Detroit.  It actually was a Missionary Baptist Churchfor the most part with a black congregation but atnoonwhen the black Baptists were having coffee in the gym, the Romanians would come in and have their service in Romanian and then when the Romanians took the gym, the Koreans took the sanctuary.  By the time the Koreans took the gym for their post church fellowship, the church janitor had well earned his day of rest which would have to come on a Monday.

            Dion was a band geek in junior high and high school and offered to play trumpet after his mother had prodded him to go back to church and play his trumpet with the organ player during the hymnal periods of the service.  It all worked out for Dion.  Dion met Dianna, the daughter of the minister of their church who was beautiful and detached at the time Dion met her.  Dion gave up drinking, swear, chewing tobacco, visits to casinos, and strip clubs.  Dion went to rough parts of Detroit with his girlfriend as inner city missionaries to try and work with teens.  Dion liked that idea a lot better than packing up and moving to Angola and so he willingly got together with his girlfriend to spend Friday and Saturday nights playing basketball and talking about the word of god with poor children that cared more about getting a nice car, a nice piece of ass and money in their pockets by any means necessary.  Speaking English in a Portuguese speaking country like Angola might have been easier than trying to convince poor inner city black teens in Detroit that leading a clean life, will lead to positive things.  Some bought into it and other showed up to the church gym to play basketball and eat coffee cake.  After a year or more of this sort of stuff, Dion decided that being with Dianna on a full time basis was his destiny in life and so be posed the question, Dianna cried and accepted.  A life of marital bliss was immanent if not terminal for the young couple.

            Theo, Dion’s cousin and life long friend, got their inner circle of friends together to do Dion’s last night as a single man the right way.  Theo knew that his cousin had played along with the no sex, no drinking, no dancing and no swearing rules of devout Romanian born again types but also knew that his cousin Dion was once quite the partier and cocksman.

            “Troy, Tommy, you and me are going to Windsor tonight.  I got the Fong Sisters coming to a private suite that I rented on the top floor of Caesar’sWindsor.  The Fong Sisters are lesbian and sisters.  Totally out of control, dude…  Where you can find sisters who are lesbian and would do each other in front of people?  That is extra special.  I met them at the casino last month inWindsor.  I’m telling you, they are smoking hot and will do anything.  They originally came from China but live in Ontario now.  Beautiful fucking faces, tight asses and huge fake tits on skinny frames.  They got a website where you can see them 69ing each other covered in chocolate syrup.”  Said Theo.

            “I would have been fine going to a strip club around here, getting a few beers and calling it a night,” said Dion.

            “Whaddya you like fifty now?  Fuck that shit…  You are going down but you’re going down in a grand style, bro.  Don’t sweat it, it will be mayhem.  Fully stocked bar in the limo, fully stocked bar in the suite, room service and the lesbian show… Oh and I paid for the happy ending shower with them both for you.” Said Theo as he high fived Dion.

            The foursome drank in the back of the stretch limo and blared music.  They opened up the moon roof, stood and yelled like little boys in the tunnel that went under theDetroitRiverfrom downtown Detroit to Windsor,Ontario in the country of Canada.  Once on the Canadian side of the river, cameras picked up the sight of four young men hanging out of the moon roof up to the waist, singing, yelling and hoisting drinks which spilled onto each other.  Constable Williams caught sight of this on his desk monitor while he ate a sandwich he had just purchased on Huron-Church Road at the Tim Horton’s which was on the south side of the street, not to be confused with the Tim Horton’s on Huron-Church on the north side of the street, less than a kilometer away from the Tim Horton’s on the south side of Huron-Church Road. 

            Yes.  Well then, Constable Williams was eating his sandwich and studying the monitor of unruly Americans in a limousine.  Pieces of the bread stuck to his bushy moustache.  Constable Williams lifted the cup to his tea and doused the tea bag several times before taking a sip.  He put the quartet on full screen and followed them all the way up to line three at customs.  Constable Williams got on the phone and called for the sniffer dogs to meet him at line three.

            The limousine queued up behind several cars.  The driver was an older black man that was listening to the Detroit Tigers game in his compartment, not paying attention at all to the frat boy activity going on the other side of his contained area.  The boys were mixing drinks and singing when the doors were thrown open.  Two German Sheppards accompanied four uniformed men who had just asked the four young men to step out of the vehicle.

            “Smart people you are in America, eh?”  Asked Constable Williams.

            Theo giggled and said, “yes, sir”.

            “You young Americans…  Just like in the David Bowie song.  You boys know that song, eh?  So smart in America that they spent millions to send men to the moon just so that they could say that they sent men to the moon and give em a ticker tape parade in New York City…  Yes, you Americans are so smart.  Only smart men would ride in the tunnel that have hanging signs that could decapitate them as they stick their heads out of an opening in the roof.  Smart, young Americans…  You smart men have anything you want to declare before we set the dogs to find contraband?”

            The four young men all sobered up enough to take Constable Williams seriously.  Three out of the four men had nothing worse than chewing tobacco on them.  Theo though thought that buying two joints from a guy at work would be the icing on the cake as the Chinese born sisters and lesbians did their thing in front of them.  Of course they were going to purchase Cohiba Cigars at the duty free store and take them up to their suite also.  Theo had forgotten about the two joints packed in a plastic bag that was in a small pocket on the sleeve of his Hollister sweat shirt.  The first German Sheppard found the joints in a matter of three seconds.  The dog put its front paws up on Theo’s shoulders as if they were going to slow dance together.  Constable Williams held up the discovered bag with two hand rolled joints and smiled.

            “We are about to get to know each other very intimately tonight, boys.”

           Dion stood up and day dreamed as his soon to be father-in-law conducted the wedding ceremony.  To Dianna’s eye, Dion looked to have been crying.  She had no idea that her betrothed had been drinking, smoking, detained by Canadian border guards and forced to do a full cavity check, naked in a bare room with a lot of lights.  Dion could only think about touching his toes and the Canadian guard flashing a light up his ass as the guard probed around with a gloved index finger in search of further illegal contraband.  They boys never made it to the hotel.  They were detained at the border until the early hours of the morning and then sent back to the United States without their joints or really good stories to share with their friends. During the ceremony, Dion turned and looked at his best man, Theo with squinty eyes and could only shake his head as he recalled the indignity of his night in Canada.  Call it bad luck of the draw or that God truly does work in mysterious ways.

David Bowie- Young American
I got a suite and you got defeat
Ain’t there a man you can say no more?

Ain’t there a pen that will write before they die?
Ain’t you proud that you’ve still got faces?
Ain’t there one damn song that can make me
break down and cry?
All night
I want the young American
Young American, young American, I want the young American

September 8, 2009

Death a la Carte

Filed under: Short Story — blackhumouristpress @ 4:31 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The people who live off the interstate 94 north of Chicago between Dempster Street and Church street could not mistake the Mercury Marquis that hit a tree on the east side of the highway at 4 am on a Saturday morning.  It shook the windows and sound as if a bomb exploded.

Terrance Caldwell was thirty nine years old and was born and raised on the south side of Chicago in an area that had been primarily black since World War I.  Terrance showed so much promise as a young man.  He attended Malcolm X College to study business and wound up a heroin addict.  Terrance went from flopping in abandon homes to robbing people and stealing things until he wound up in jail for a few years and then later again for a few more.

When they found the heavy built eight cylinder automobile that was built with pride in Windsor, Ontario for Ford, it was cleaved in half right up the middle.  The police and curious neighbors, found belongings and body parts in the parkway adjacent to the expressway.  Terrance was a wreck when they found him one hundred or more feet from the burning vehicle.  Terrance had been drinking hard alcohol and took some pills before deciding to drive north to get his daughter from his ex-common law wife’s apartment north of Chicago.  Luckily for the little girl, Terrance never made it.

Terrance’s parents were both bust outs if you will.  The job of rearing Terrance became that of his aunt Matilda who was a small bowl legged black woman that never missed a day of church in over thirty years.  Her white wooden house was a show case of days long since gone.  Porcellin figurines, doilies and pictures of her soldier husband from World War II filled the immaculate living room.  Terrance was actually the grand son of Matilda’s sister who had died fifteen years earlier.  Terrance was dropped off by his mother at Matilda’s door when he was four years old and never returned.

Matilda did all she could and tried to instill good Christian values in the young man but he ultimately fell victim to the allure of quick money from other young men without strong male figures to guide them in their neighborhood.  When Matilda got the news from the state police that Terrance had died, she was of course grief stricken but relieved that a troubled life was finally at peace.

Matilda’s husband had believed in hard work and saving money.  He remembered stories from old people when he was young, people who remembered slavery and being a slave.  Those were people who had nothing and owned nothing and it was important to own things rather than being owned and so Jacob, Matilda’s husband purchased a final resting place for his extended family.  There just happened to be space for Terrance at the plot purchased by Jacob in 1958.

It had just been two months since a neighboring cemetery was under investigation for a scam where by cemetery workers were digging up the long since dead, discarding their remains and reselling the plot.  As Matilda drove up in the cab along 127th Street, she could see the Illinois State Police camped out in front of the neighboring Burr Oak Cemetary.  Across the stree, Matilda came into the office of the Lincoln Cemetery which was named after a man who had been a president of the United States, lived in Illinois and pissed off a lot of white southerners by declaring all blacks in the confederacy free.  The blacks in the union were already free and the declaration never really freed one black man at the time but it sounded pretty good or as the saying goes; looked good on paper.

A well dressed young black man ushered Matilda into an office and offered his condolences before hitting her with the fees.  It had been over twenty five years since Matilda had to bury a relative in the family plot.  A lot had changed since 1984.

“Now ma’am…  We will work all this out with the funeral home.  This is a one stop shop operation if you will.  The funeral home will do all the preparation of your loved one.  The charge for the services of the funeral director and staff is for their response to initial service, conference with yourself… The responsible party to determine all services required at this time, cooridination plans involved in the final disposition of the deceased, recording vital statistics, securing permits, authorizations, filling out and obtaining the death certification and any other forms necessary at this time.  The charge for this also includes services of the funeral director and the staff for the coordination and direction of the wake and visitation service, funeral service, handling of the flowers and any and all other memorial tributes, the supervision of the burial and any other requested and or necessary services…  I’ll need your signature here and down here and initial that you understand all that I have just explained to you,” said the facilitator.

There were several words that sound as if they could be strung together to make a sentence that would have been familiar to Matilda’s ears but for the most part much of what the young man explained, did not resemble the English language.

“Now then Ma’am…  Embalming…  Embalming is not required by law but it may be necessary if you opt for a viewing…” said the facilitator.

“Well…  I ain’t so sure I want people to be seeing Terrance.  He got into a terrible accident and well the po-lice were able to git most his parts together but he in terrible shape,” said Matilda.

“I understand ma’am.  Your other choice is cremation and then we can discuss burying the remains in your plot,” said the facilitator.

“Cremation!  I don’t know bout that, now.  Naw, I don’t think I want cremation for the boy.  You go ahead and do the embalming.”

“Now then…  Let’s go over the other fees.  The cost for visitation and viewing is $190.00.  For the use of the chapel which would accommodate a small group will be $325.00.  This includes transportation of the remains and set up fee for the church services.  The cost to transfer the remains is a flat fee of $325.00 within twenty five miles.  Anything beyond twenty five miles is a .75 cent per mile charge above that,” said the facilitator.

“You all running a cab service?  Y’all nickel and diming me til I’m in the dang gone ground…  I’m jus glad mah Jacob done took care of my costs foh me befoh he die.  Ida hafta git a job now jus to pay foh ma own funeral…  Go head then young man, let me have it,” said Matilda.

“Yes…  The acknowledgement cards are $20.00 per 100 cards,” said the facilitator.

“Ima have mah self an three other old ladies an that’s that.  I ain’t got no use foh no 100 cards,” said Matilda.

“I understand ma’am but $20.00 is the minimum,”

“Fine.  Go head befoh you burying me.”

“The registry book is $20.00, pallbearer’s gloves are $20.00, limousine is $375.00 from the funeral home to the cemetery… Let’s see what else we have then…  The minister cost is $95.00, the organist is $95.00 as well as the soloist except on Saturdays then they each charge $125.00.  A men’s suit cost is $150.00 and come in either blue or black but we now have white available…  I believe that is so, let me just make a quick call…  Mary, do we have white male suits available now?  That’s what I thought, thanks…  Yes, we do have white and the cost for that is $200.00 and that includes the white leather shoes…” said the facilitator with a smile.

“You ain’t told me yet bout the caskets,” said Matilda.

“Yes, yes…  We have this very nice ornate casket that goes for $2500.00 and can go up with accessories up to $9,298.00 for everything which would include a music box of your love one’s favorite song, mirrors and gold handles with his initials engraved upon them,” said the facilitator.

“Imma take the one you got here foh $350.00.  He dead and he won’t mind.  Tally all this up, young man.  Let’s git this finished today,” said Matilda as she removed and envelope stocked with one hundred dollar bills.

The visitation and funeral was attended by Matilda and three of her friends from the Baptist Church.  Matilda opted to use the funeral home minister, organist and singer for the ten minute service at the funeral home since it was cheaper than what her own minister would have charged and then Matilda would have had to feed everyone in attendance from the whole church.

At the grave site, five chairs were set up for the old ladies to sit and hear the canned words from a stranger as the remains of Terrance were lowered into the ground.  Matilda cried as the fat black man sang, How Great Thou Art, in a deep baritone.  Three Mexican men shovelled dirt onto the casket as the four old ladies waddled off in their nice dresses and hats.  Matilda ordered the limousine driver to take them to Chinatown.  It was a surprise snap decision by Matilda.  The old ladies questioned the choice.  Matilda had a simple response.

“Back when that boy had his whole life ahead of him and I could still reach him, he would aks me to take him to Chinatown to eat if he was good…  I want him to know where ever it is he wind up that he was always good to me.  He done broke mah heart but was always respectful…  An I don’t want no complaints bout nothing from any y’all.  I’m paying.  Food always find a way to taste good when it free…  Amen.”

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