Author’s Note:ALL PEOPLE ARE CREATED BY GOD AS HUMANS AND ARE EQUAL IN HIS SIGHT! I believe this with my whole being. I also believe that given the nature of this story, this needs to be said.
ALL names, places have been altered. Events are real though set within fictional environs. There will appear words, phrases, etc. of a durogatory manner over the course of this story. This story deals with prejudice, racism, etc. and it is my hope that none will take offense with the knowledge that the words are true within their context. Please keep this in mind before commenting. Thank you.
Photo prompt: pixabay.com
Both Sides of the Track
Chapter One, cont’d.
I heard the yelling, the chanting, long before they came near the tracks.
Vivian’s eyes widened until I thought they would pop out of her head. She dropped her doll and dove for the dark recesses where the ramp angled down to the ground.
‘Vivvie, what are you doing?’ I cried, picking up her wooden doll with the pop-knot rope hair.
‘Shh,’ She insisted. ‘They’ll kill us for sure. I gotsa hide.’
The chanting grew louder.
‘Hide, Missy. They find us… we dead.’ Vivian’s voice shook with fear.
I hid, too. But, I looked through the rotten boards. It was a whole group of men, dressed up and wearing white hats. Their eyes looked out of black holes. They shook big sticks with rags on the end high into the air.
‘It’s a parade.’ I whispered to Vivian.
‘No, it’s lynchers, what it is.’ Vivian reached up to cover my mouth. ‘Shh.’
‘Death to Niggers!’ They chanted even louder as they crossed the tracks into the black neighborhood.
As soon as they passed us, Vivian shot out of the darkness.
‘Hey, where – …?’ I called, but she’d already made it past the boulder at the corner of the alley.
I ran out, too, but it was to follow the parade. I stuck close to the houses, behind the bushes and trees. Their chants filled my ears. I followed them until they stopped in front of Vivian’s house. I watched her mom run inside.
One of the hooded men sat a bucket on the ground and everyone put their sticks into it. Then, someone made fire, and passed it around. While this was going on, other men nailed the windows shut and secured a board across the door. I watched from behind a bush across the street as they torched the house with Vivian’s Mom inside.
I saw her at the door, pounding and screaming.
I ran all the way home and to my Great Grandfather’s arms. In a rush of broken words I told him Vivian’s house was on fire with Vivian’s mom inside. He jumped up to the phone.
There were a lot of police cars, then. I saw the fire truck, heard its bell. I wanted to run and follow. Grandpa wouldn’t let me.
‘Grandpa, what’s a nigger?’ I asked as he held me on his lap.
‘That’s a very bad word. I don’t want to ever hear you say it again.’ He wheezed.
‘Never!’ He pulled me close, kissed my head, and I heard him praying out loud for Vivian and her family.
Later that afternoon, we all got into Grandpa’s car and drove down past the tracks, all the way down to Vivian’s house. The whole front of the house was blackened and smelled like a campfire. My Grandpa told me to stay in the car as he saw Vivian’s dad come out to the porch, a rifle resting across his arms.
‘Stay in the car, Sa’we.’ Grandpa told me as he opened the door and got out.
I watched through the window as Grandpa approached the porch, his hat in his hands.
‘Howdy, Mr. Landry. I’m sorry for what happened here. How is your family?’
Vivian’s dad was a big, burly man. He was the strongest man I knew. I’d seen him empty the full garbage cans every week with just one hand. But, when Grandpa asked about his family, his shoulders began to shake and pained cries came from his lips.
Grandpa pulled him into a hug. I watched, afraid for my friend’s momma. Was she okay? Did she burn up? Finally, they separated and Grandpa picked up and returned Mr. Landry’s gun.
‘You’d do well to keep that handy, Sir.’ Grandpa said. ‘I’ll have my granddaughter Meg bring your family some dinner this evening.
‘Thank you, Mr. Jacobs. You are good folk. Thank you.’ Mr. Landry blew his nose again.
‘God made us all.’ Grandpa pointed upwards before coming back to the car.
‘You see that, Sa’we?’ He asked, pointing to the house.
‘Yes, Grampy. I see it.’ I was on my knees looking out the window. That, Sa’we, is what ignorance and hatred does.’ He choked on his words, sounding angry. ‘God made us all the same, Sa’we. God don’t care about the color you are. He loves us all the same.’
I sat down as he backed the car out onto the road. I began to sing ‘Jesus loves the little children’. Grandpa tried to sing, but he kept choking on the words.