Nigger, please, you and your payday smile. You shine like you got new shoes, an ear full of good news, a winnin’ hand. Boy, you just think you havin’ a good day your way. Your good day’s barely the shadow of a genuine good as gravy on a hot biscuit day.
Now, Ed Mason, that’s a nigger that had a for real, down home good day.
Ed Mason walkin’ to work, a smile on his lips, a song in his heart a rhythm in his step. Stopped in his tracks. Caught in mid step. Frozen in place – by a car. A car parked at the curb with the windows and top down. Rag top stop. Heart beat drop.
Purple, maroon, magenta, cobalt blue, midnight black, a deep dark red, a river of shifting colors in the sunlight. Eye’s delight. Mind’s mystery. Heart’s desire.
Ed Mason stood over it, stooped beside it. Lay on the ground looked up at it. Rode the river. Fell into the flow and could not let go.
Ed Mason leaned in and toot, toot, tooted the horn. Echoed, relayed, bounced around that sound, rebound off the street into the alley through the open windows and tapped on closed doors.
Big man, suspenders bound, naked feet on the ground, ham fisted, cigar chomping, point at Ed Mason, “Nigger, you hell bound, dead man walkin’, clown. Sounding your own death claxon. That my ride. My pride. Paid in full. No liens. No loans.
Hand in his pocked. Razor in his hand. Suspender Man moving in on Ed Mason. Quick.
Ed Mason. Ed Mason fool that he was beckoned Suspender Man closer and closer still, and, and slowly, slowly with tender affection, a mother’s touch, a lover’s grace placed his blue-black hand on the hood on, the bonnet in the river riot color of the car.
Big Suspender Man’s face as grim as death, hand half way out of his pocket, guttural noises, closes the gap, and, and is stopped in his tracks. Caught in mid step. Frozen in place by the hand on the hood, in the hood merging with the colors flowin’ into disappearing into the car. Wedded. Bedded. Consummated. A union.
Big Suspender Man gingerly, carefully touches the camouflaged hand, confirming it’s on the car, in the car. Steps back. Reaches in the other, other pocket, deep, deep draws out the car keys tosses them to Ed Mason. Watches Ed Mason drive away. Waves and waves goodbye.
Ed Mason drove with the wind in his face and the sun at his back less than three, but not more than four blocks. Slammed on the brakes. Skidded to a stop. Honked, honked his horn. Pointed at a boy in a purple, stingy brim, black hat band, red and black rooster feather, felt, worn with a gangster lean.
The boy, the boy faces face to face with Ed Mason. “Me, me? What you want with me?” Ed Mason points to the hat, stares at the hat, at the hat. The boy, takes off the hat. Looks at the hat, at the car, at Ed Mason, back at the hat. Walks to Ed Mason. Places the shade on Ed Mason’s head -with a gangster lean.
Ed Mason points to the shotgun seat. The boy leaps over the door. Sits proud.
Ed Mason drove with the breeze cooling his face and the sun warming his back, drove less than five, but not more than four blocks. Smashed on the brakes. Skidded to a halt. Beeped, beeped his horn. Pointed at the two sisters walkin’ arm in arm. Points at the combs, the purple, black, red, and blue combs ridin’ high in their hair.
The taller, older one, hands on her hips, inviting lips, “What? What you jive turkeys trying to pull? What lame game you trying to run?”
Ed Mason points to her comb, blows a kiss to the comb. She pulls out the comb, places it near the car, next to the hat, touches it to Ed Mason’s hand. She calls, “Shotgun.” The boy and the younger sister in the back, close in the back.
Ridin’, ridin’ still ridin’ to this very day.
Nigger, believe it or leave it – that is a good day.
# # #
This collaborative project was conceived and initiated at the Art Farm located near Marquette, Nebraska in October of 2016
Frederick K. Foote, Jr. was born in Sacramento, California and educated in Vienna, Virginia and northern California. He started writing short stories and poetry in 2013. He has published over one-hundred-fifty stories, and poems including literary, science fiction, fables and horror genres and a collection of his short stories, For the Sake of Soul was published in October 2015 by Blue Nile Press. Another collection of short stories, Crossroads Encounter, was published on May 5, 2016, by Choose the Sword Press. To see a list of Frederick’s publications go to: https://fkfoote.wordpress.com/
Artwork: Alyssa Casey
Banjo: Rob Meeker