Duty calls…

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Quill looked out over the city from the hotel balcony. The sky-wheel was lit up and spinning slowly. The reflection sparkled on the river, and if he strained, he could hear its music co-mingled with laughter drifting on the night air.

It was the first peaceful night he’d seen in months. And, truth be told, he needed it. Cringing, he hitched his injured shoulder to a less irritating position.

‘Damn.’ He cursed as pain surged into his chest. Behind him, his cell phone chirped. Cursing, he spun and yanked it to his ear. ‘Where…?’

wc: 94

Author’s note: This is just a little blurb from something I’m playing with. Edited it a little to fit word count. Quill is actually Msgt. Jonquill Burden, shortened for this bit. I wonder where he’s been the past few months, and if his shoulder injury is indicative of a deeper wound we cannot yet see. And, if it is, will that wound effect his job performance… And while we’re on the subject of questions… who is on the phone and why. All questions that I hope to answer as I write more on this story.

This work of fiction is written for  Friday Fictioneer ‘s 100 word writing challenge hosted weekly by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-fields.  Come on out and join us at: Friday Fictioneer ‘s if you’re up to a good challenge, or even a really great read. These little stories are well worth your time! A Huge thank you goes to Dale Rogerson,  for sharing this week’s photo prompt with us.We’d love to see you around the table.

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Both Sides of the Track #9

Both Sides of the Track #9

photo prompt: http://www.pixabay.com

wc: 1334

Chapter Three

Prejudice wasn’t confined to just our street, or even to Coffee Town. I began to see it everywhere. The innocence of childhood was shattered for me, like the silent dawn by the train’s whistle. For the first time, I was becoming aware of the truth, both the obvious and the hidden; of the realities that existed around me. Soon, very soon, I would find my childhood totally obliterated by a train of reality that would never stop in this world. I would not only see; but also, experience evil and personification of it in the world. Whatever the precipitate, I was going to see hatred for what it was. And, it would change me forever.

I noticed the prejudice first at school. We had two black families, one Vietnamese family, and a few Native American families – mine, included. he Vietnamese family had two children, but they were in younger grades than I was. One of the black families was in my grade, and the other was a year ahead of me. I began to notice how the two students, one male and one female, in my class were treated. They were in class, but they really weren’t. That is to say that though they had books, attended class, and no doubt studied; they were ignored. They were never called on to speak, and if they did raise their hands to answer, the teacher ignored them. It was the way it was, the way it had always been, only now I was beginning to recognize it.

The other Native American kids, like me, did their best to hide who they were. It was a matter of survival that my Grandpa had already taught me. Outside the home, we were to act ‘white’, it was just that simple and that complicated. It is what it was. So, we were the minorities, and I began to notice how we were treated. We all lived on the fringes of society, always there and never noticed. It was as if we were on a side rail that lead only into obscurity. In that, first and foremost, we were all alike. We were all minorities in a majority world. It was an experience that helped to shape who I am today.

By the end of that horrid summer, I decided to change tracks. I decided that MY train would lead down a different rail from that of my Daddy’s example. I decided that my Father and his friends were on a train that was bound for helle’s station and that I would have no part of it. And by doing so, I found firm footing on a set of rails that would unite rather than divide people. Or, at least, that is my hope.

As changed as I was, the hatred still reached it’s ugly claws into our home once more with tragic consequences. It was on the cusp between summer’s oppressive heat and the welcome chill of fall, near to the date of my birth. By then, Daddy had returned from his visit with the police. Momma and he had decided to go and visit Daddy’s Memaw (Mom) in Kentucky, leaving me to care for my Great Grandparents. I was a very responsible child, even at that young age. Part of that responsibility was drawing and injecting my Great Grandma with her daily insulin, once in the morning and again at bedtime. After that, I made breakfast for the three of us, cleaned up, and went to school. Our next door neighbor would bring us dinner, and old Doc Day was just a phone call away should we need him. I was eight, but it wasn’t the first time I’d cared for my Grandparents over a weekend.

So, I gave Grandma her shot then fried eggs and made toast for all of us. Then, I rushed to leave for school. I got into my desk seat just in time, too. Math was a hard subject for me and I raised my hand several times to ask questions. As was usual, I was totally ignored, no different than that black students who sat to either side of me. Later, when I got home, I would ask Grandpa and he would explain it to me, I knew. I wondered if Mike, Barbara, or Nyugen had family to answer their questions. The same happened for history and science class that morning. Those, at least, I could find the answers in the library before I went home for the day when we changed classes.

I loved my afternoon teacher, let there be no doubt about that. Mrs. Prah was a gem of great value. She opened our minds to the world beyond the classroom – and indeed, beyond the world itself. She opened every class with a prayer and read to us from her very own bible. But, what really made her so beautiful, was that she loved ALL of us – equally and without measure. By the end of the day, I always left school with a spring in my step and a grin on my face. The nine-tenths of a mile walk home was transversed with speed, and soon, I was skipping down the back alley and around our garage.

Then, I was slapping through the back screen door and hopping up the two steps to the kitchen from the laundry room. Here I was, such a big girl, taking care of my family just like Momma would. I felt so proud. I could do it. I could be a big girl, almost a woman, couldn’t I?

My feet thumped onto the kitchen floor.

I froze.

‘Grandma!’ I screamed. ‘Grandpa!’

My Great Grandparents laid on the floor, unconscious. Grandma had blood on and around her head. Grandpa had a black and blue face with blood coming out of his nose.

I ran to the telephone and picked it up just as I’d learned in Brownie Scouts. I told the operator that Grandma and Grandpa were hurt and needed Doctor Day. It seemed like forever before Dr. Day came through the back door and took the phone from me. I ran to get towels, just like he told me to.

The police and ambulance came. I watched from the front porch as they took Grandma and Grandpa away. When I came back inside, I heard the police talking about ‘white sheets’ and cowardice. I didn’t understand all of what they said, but I understood enough to know they were talking hate. This was definitely hate. Who could hate my Grandpa, though? He loved everyone. He didn’t hurt anyone. That, was what I didn’t understand.

‘Hey, Missy.’ Officer Bob smiled and gently squeezed my shoulder. ‘You did good to call the doctor today.’

‘I’m not supposed to use the telephone unless its an emergency, Momma says.’

‘This was, so it’s okay.’ Bob sat down on the kitchen steps beside me. ‘I can’t let you stay here alone, Missy.’

‘I can take care of myself.’

‘I know you can, but other people don’t. So, how would you like to come over to Ms. Gray’s house until your Momma and Daddy get home. I called them in Kentucky and they said it was okay.’

‘Will Miss Helen be there? I like Miss Helen.’

‘I’m sure she will.’ Bob winked. ‘And, I hear she’s going to make some sugar cookies.’

‘I like cookies.’

‘I do, too. What do you say we walk over.’ Bob squeezed my shoulder again.

‘Did the white sheet people hurt Grandma and Grandpa?’

Bob’s face sobered. ‘I’m going to be honest with you, Missy. It looks like they did. That’s part of why I can’t let you stay here alone.’

‘Will they hurt me, too? Like – like – Daddy did?’

‘I hope not, Missy. I pray to God all the time that they’ll go away and never come back.’ Bob reached into his pocket and pulled out a peppermint. It was just like one of Grandpa’s mints, and it tasted so good.

~

Both Sides of the Track#8

~

photo prompt: http://www.pixabay.com

Author’s Note: My apologies to my readers for totally hosing last week. I was away, dealing with some health issues. Back on the mend, now. Thank you for reading and commenting. It really does mean something.

wc: 388

Both Sides of the Track #8

Momma and I had circled the block before coming back to speak to the police. She told me to stay in the car as she got out. Instantly, she began yelling at Daddy until an officer held her back.

Daddy screamed back, calling Momma a ‘whore’ and a ‘nigger-lovin’ squaw.’

I got scared and started to cry. I watched the police put hand cuffs on Daddy and put him in their car to take him away. One of the officers patted my Momma’s arm then came over to the car where I was.

‘Hi, Missy, I’m Bob.’ He introduced himself.

‘Hi.’ I ducked my head. I was so very shy that even that one word was difficult to say.

‘Are you hurt?’ Bob, asked, leaning down to my level.

‘Where’s my Daddy going?’

‘Your Daddy did something bad. He’s going to come and stay with us for a little while.’ He explained. ‘Did your Daddy hurt you?’

‘He didn’t mean to. I made a mistake. He don’t know no better since he had his stroke.’ The words came out in a rush.

‘I understand, Missy. Can you come out and show me where he hurt you?’

I climbed out of the window, and he set me down on the ground. I pointed to my arms that were still an angry red where he’d grabbed me.

‘Ouch, that must hurt.’ Bob soothed. ‘Anywhere else?’

I reached up to the back of my head, and he tilted it forward to look.

‘Meg, I think you need to see this.’ Bob called Momma over.

Momma came over to look at my head, too.

‘I’ll kill him! I swear, I’ll kill the mother-fuckin’ bastard!’ Momma’s voice rose in anger, and I cringed away behind Bob’s leg.

‘Calm down, Meg. You’re scaring Missy.’ Bob squeezed her arm.

‘Oh, Baby.’ Momma got down on her knee and pulled me into a bone-crushing hug. ‘You don’t have to be afraid. Momma loves you.’

‘I suggest that you take her over to Doc Day’s and have him check her out.’ Bob suggested. ‘I’ll type up your statement and bring it by later for you to sign.’

‘I’m taking her straight to Children’s.’ Momma insisted. ‘Will you tell Gramps?’

‘Sure will, Meg.’ Bob touched both of our shoulders. ‘I’ll be praying for both of you, too.’

Both Sides of the Track #7

photo prompt: pixabay.com

wc: 456

‘Both Sides of the Track #7

On Sunday, Grandpa drove Grandma and I to church. We went inside. He didn’t. He never said why, and I didn’t find out why for years. When I did learn the truth, I understood and my Grandpa all the more for his choice. My Grandpa was ostracized by the congregation because he genuinely believed that all people, regardless of race, were created equal. In our community, he never hid this belief, often helping the people in ‘Coffee Town’ an ‘Little Birmingham’ as best he could whenever he could. It is no my knowledge that this unconditional love came about due to his experiences in World War 2.

When Grandpa came home from that war, he was a changed man. He seldom spoke of it, but when he did, it was always to make a point. This particular Sunday; as I snuck out of Sunday School and joined him in the car, he spoke of the horrible way that he’d seen people treat people – even soldiers. He told me of fighting alongside Vivian’s Grandfather. He called Mr. Landry, Sr. a true hero through and through. With tears in his eyes, he told how Mr. Landry, Sr. had saved his own life as they fought in the ‘trenches’. He told me about fighting with other soldiers from around the world, all races, creeds, and religions, all to destroy Hitler’s hold and ultimately his hate. He called Hitler a coward who chose a coward’s way out. Then, he’d come home and the hatred he saw here and now, he called an ‘abomination to humanity’.

Grandpa’s lesson that Sunday morning was far more poignant than any Bible story could ever have been. It was real. It taught of diversity and the human will to survive. It spoke of double standards in a society that preached equality and punished it at the same time.

‘Never be fooled, Sa’we. In the end, we all bleed the same red. Until then, we all put our pants on, one leg at a time.’ Then, he reached up, turned on the radio, and we listened to a baseball game.

Looking back now, I can’t imagine a better example for how to conduct myself in life. Especially after having seen the very ‘real’ hatred inside my own father. Even at the time, young as I was, I saw and knew the difference between love and hate. It was years later before I also learned that Grandpa had seen what had happened beside the garage. Grandpa had been the one to call the police; and he’d come out to beat the crap out of Daddy before they’d arrived. It was the police who’d saved my Daddy’s life that day by arresting him for child endangerment and assualt.

Author’s Note: Sa’we means beloved, darling, sweetheart, sister. Often used contextually as ‘sister’. A term of endearment for a female.


Perceptions…

thoreau-nm

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

 

‘We’re here.’ John spoke softly.

Amber opened her eyes and blinked.

‘You’ll be safe here, I promise. This is the safest place in the state.’

Amber watched the loading dock doors open, and started as John drove inside the old building. She was struck speechless as she looked at the half-rotten shelves and empty coolers. Then slowly, they began to lower until they were below the store. Amber’s eyes widened in shocked surprise. She’d driven past the old abandoned deli everyday, but she’d never suspected.

‘You’ll love it, it’s packed with tech.’ John smiled. ‘And, he’ll never find you here.’

 

wc: 100 exact

This work of fiction is written for  Friday Fictioneer ‘s 100 word writing challenge hosted weekly by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-fields.  Come on out and join us at: Friday Fictioneer ‘s if you’re up to a good challenge, or even a really great read. These little stories are well worth your time! A Huge thank you goes to Jean L. Hays,  for sharing this week’s photo prompt with us.We’d love to see you around the table.

Both Sides of the Track #6

glass-97503_960_720

photo prompt: pixabay.com

Both Sides of the Track #6

wc: 787

Chapter 2

We weren’t entirely immune to attacks from the KKK (Klu Klux Klan). They were a group with so much hate in their souls that they attacked nearly everyone that summer.

I huddled in my Great Grandmother’s lap as she rocked the old chair back and forth, singing a prayer to drown out the chants. Great Grandpa was on the phone, calling the police. Mom was in the foyer with her shot gun. Daddy was… well…

I looked out the front window and could see the bad men with their white robes and hate filled eyes looking in. I was afraid that they would burn us up like they tried to do to Vivian’s Momma. I shivered as Grammie held me against her chest. In my ear, I heard the steady thump-thrum of her heart along with the gentle timbre of her voice. There was a level of comfort there. She sang in the language of our people – Shawnee. The song – one she often sang that spoke of healing and praises to God for His work in our lives.

Great Grandpa hung up the phone and went to the foyer to join Mom until the police arrived. After the police got rid of the horrible people outside, Grandpa called me to his lap and gave me one of his precious peppermints from his drawer.

‘Our skin isn’t brown,’ I cocked my head in confusion as I took the mint. ‘So, why do they want to hurt us?’

‘Sa’we, those type of people hate just to hate. They don’t need a reason and they don’t care about the color of your skin.’ He hugged me close. ‘They know only hate inside their hearts.’

‘But, Grandpa,’ I leaned up to whisper in his ear. ‘I saw Daddy through the window.’ I pointed. ‘Does Daddy hate me?’

‘Oh, Sa’we, my dear little Sa’we…’ Grandpa’s eyes began to water. ‘Your Daddy loves you.’

‘But – …’

‘He loves you. You are his little angel, Sa’we.’ Grandpa hugged me so tight I could barely breathe. I felt Grandpa’s strength as he whispered just how much he loved me, as well.’

I still do not understand how if Daddy loved me so much, he could have been one of those bad men dressed in white. His eyes had looked so angry and mean. I sniffled back tears.

~

The next day, I was out by the garage helping Daddy with the garden, weeding around the rows of corn and carrots. I was pulling the weeds just as he told me to do when he suddenly screamed at me. Daddy yanked me to my feet, angrily shouting as he slammed me against the garage wall.

‘You damned pic-a-ninny squaw!’ He yelled, grabbing up the garden hoe. ‘I’ll teach you a lesson you’ll never forget!’

I cowered against the wall in fear. I’d never seen my Daddy so angry; nor did I know why. I began to cry even as he drew back the hoe and began to swing it at my head. I ducked, and the blade embedded several inches into the wall right where my head had been. He reached to pull it out and began to swing again. That was when Momma stepped around the end of the garage and grabbed the hoe.

‘Get in the car, Babe.’ Momma shouted at me.

I ran past them and got into Momma’s car. Behind me, I heard Daddy and Momma screaming at each other. Then, it got real quiet and Momma came into the garage alone.

In silence, she got in the car; backed out of the garage and headed down the alley toward ‘Coffee Town’. As we passed the garden, I saw Daddy laying in the garden, asleep.

That day with all its events stuck with me for a lifetime. It was that day that opened my eyes and heart to the true depths of hatred that prejudice begets. A hatred so deep that it even transcends the love of a parent for a child – a Father for his daughter. I would not see my Daddy again for quite a while, forever it seemed to my young mind.

I was told I had to forgive him because his stroke made him do things that were wrong. I didn’t believe it because that day I saw the all-too-real hate in his eyes; heard the anger in his voice. To this day, nearly fifty years later, that day affects my life. I live with a crippling fear of making even the smallest mistake, and I cower and am completely terrified by the sound of raised voices – especially angry ones. Nor, I might add, have I ever weeded a vegetable garden. The fear is just too paralyzing.