published by Volcanosunset Publishing ©2014
The cicada is an insect of the locust family, it makes a queer trilling type of sound in the woods. I had never seen or heard one in all of my life. But in the last summer of my childhood. I would come to know of the locusts, witness a homosexual rendezvous , and see a man attempt to coverup the accidental death of another man,. and leave my boyhood, deep off in the piney woods.
I had lived in the city all of my life, and hearing them sing, for the first time, from the high tops of the trees of Mississippi, changed my whole view of the world.
I had never breathed the air outside the city of Chicago in all of my life. I had never met my mom’s mother. It was the Summer of 1969 a few days before the Eagle landed on the moon, in the Sea of Tranquility. Momma came to me on the eve of July 6 and had me tote the suitcases down to Reverend Wren’s 58 Ford. The Reverend and his wife took us to the bus station and we ( mom, my little sisters and me) caught a Greyhound bus to a state mom called Mississippi. Where Momma was born and raised. My folks had gotten another argument the other day, they sent us kids downstairs and outside.. But I went to the bottom of the steps, and crept back up. and listened in anyways. I knew even then that my step-dad would never lay a hand on Mom, I knew that Uncle Monroe didn’t like her husband. Whenever he would visit us, he seemed anxious to beat Walter Turner to a pulp, he was always looking for a good enough reason to start an argument with him. But Mom would always step in and tell Uncle Monroe that if he didn’t respect her house, then it was time to go back to Detroit.
They were arguing about that woman again, I don’t know what her real name was, but Momma called her Jessa-bell. Momma saw the woman at the laundry mat on Thursday night when we went to do our weekly laundry. We used to go on Saturdays, but it got to be so busy that we had to wait too long to get a machine. That woman was in the washertia, drying and pressing her clothes. I felt the onset of trouble as soon as we came in with our laundry. Their eyes met as we came through the glass lead doors , and they stared each other down for a few seconds, I almost run right up Mom’s back when she came to such a sudden stop. It made me think of what happens when two male dogs when they spy each other from across the street. That moment before they begin to fight, with their fur standing on end, and they snarl at each other. Although they never exchanged words or blows, the look in their eyes , said everything that needed to be said. Miss Jessa-bell, finished up her clothes and left after maybe five minutes. Momma stopped sorting the clothes and watched her leave. The look of sheer hatred on Mom’s face didn’t seem to fit her demeanor, but Momma showed extreme disdain for the woman, as I had never before seen. Not before that day, and never since. As I stood on the stairs, leading up to our apartment, I heard Momma’s voice say, “If you want that sleazy trifling heifer, then you don’t need to sneak around! I will happily get the hell out yall’s the way, and let your sorry ass go with her! Everybody in Chicago is talking about the fact that y’all been screwing. They say you got two kids by that ugly cow! So, you don’t need to keep coming here and lying to me about where you been. Coming home drunk and smelling like a funky fish market every Friday night! You works in a foundry, not the fuckin’ fish market. You ain’t got no business coming in here smelling like her funky ass! I then heard Poppa voice ” You go ahead and believe those funky mouth lies if ya want to! Gone ahead, you don’t believe a word I say anyway! Every time I gets home you down there, skinning and grinning in that preacher’s face. You act like you’s married to him! Is that what’s going on? Is he praying over your pussy? Are you getting your share of his religion? Momma said “God’s gonna get you for that kind of talk, He is gonna punish you for that. You mark my words Mister, You mark my words…. came down to my listening post on the steps. Momma didn’t say anything after that, and she called us up for dinner about twenty minutes afterwards, Poppa was watching something on TV and drinking a Schlitz. They weren’t arguing any more, at least not with words. I could see that Momma was thinking about something, and I knew whatever it was, it would affect all of us, soon. I had ridden on a city bus, subway, and the “L” trains. But this Greyhound bus was an altogether different ride. It seemed to float on air like a cloud, I could picture the dog painted on the side of the coach running so silently and gracefully. Because of the nearly soundless motion of the Greyhound coach I was fast asleep by the time the bus rolled out of the state of Illinois.
Our last name, with the exception of our Mom, (whose married name is Turner) is Clark. Just like our natural father Stanley E. Clark Jr. He died while saving some people in a fire, when I was five years old. There is in every family with siblings, a child that seems to be a born snitch. This group of children were part of a sub family of humans called the “runandgotellit” tribe. There are billions of them around the world, and probably some living in your own family. One of the characteristics of them was that they appeared to be sweet and innocent. But on the inside, they are demonically spawned imps. My little sister Aida Lee, was the entity’s name in our family. She seemed to get a charge out of pimping on us at every opportunity. I remember once, me and another kid named Popcorn, spotted the Cola-cola man’s truck in the alley. We took a case of sodas each, ( the old wooden cases that held the glass bottles, were heavy as hell) while I was escorting Aida Lee home from school one day. I had grabbed a case of Frostie’s root beer, Popcorn had gotten a case of Coke. We took the cases back to our clubhouse, and stashed them inside, Popcorn gave Aida Lee a dime to keep quiet about what she seen us do. Aida Lee ran straight to mom, and told her what she saw, she included all the details of my crime and the ten-cent bribe that Popcorn gave her. Well a long story short, I got a whooping, I was forced to take the root beer back to the grocery store, where I swept floors for three months. My mom called Popcorn’s mother, (I don’t think his mother did anything about Popcorn’s misbehavior) and Aida Lee got to keep the dime. But that was justice back in those days. My other sister was named Wendy, she was between me and Aida Lee. Wendy was the quiet brainy one in our family. She grew up to be a High school Principal of a school in suburban Chicago, and the only one of us, that never had any natural born children. I think her inability to have children caused her first divorce. Poor kid, she was really in love with Chester Thurman. but her barrenness put a strain on their relationship, eventually to the point of termination. When Wendy found out that Chester had fathered a child with another woman, mirroring the pain that Mom went though with our step-dad, she ended the marriage without another word. She was never the same after that, and her caring heart that she had always showed toward others seemed to cease to beat. A few years later, she moved in with a lady and her kids. Although I suspected that she was in a relationship with her roommate Carrie, it was never discussed. We treat Carrie and her teenage children as if they were family. Although Carrie and her children are White.
When I woke up, the city scene had given way to the green countryside, the sunset had began giving the landscape a golden glow. I had mixed feelings about going to the place Momma calls “down home”, mostly because I had no idea what to expect. I had heard Momma tell stories about her childhood in the back woods of post-Korea Mississippi, the world was quickly changing. Everywhere, but in the South. The former states of the Confederacy were content to leave things just as they were 12 decades ago. Momma’s recollections of “down home” were riddled with tales of all white schools and not being able sit in the Wool worth’s and eat your food and the story that I heard the most, Momma was helping a family friend serve at a party in an exclusive home. Their ride home broke down and the had to walk home in the dark. The were stopped by the police three times for being “out-of-place”. The police had standing orders to detain anyone that did not appear to belong in the neighborhood. Any non-white person seen walking in the neighborhood after dark would be stopped.
It was a summer vacation for me, the first and only vacation I’d ever go on with my Mom. (My mom was running away from an abusive relationship with my Stepfather) that took us South to my mom’s hometown, of Clarksdale, Mississippi. The South was still segregated in many parts of it. There was much of the old signage still in place, it may have faded or was attempted to be removed. But you could still read ” Whites only” or “No coloreds Allowed” through the disfigured paint. Old Southern traditions were still around, the Federal government could not erase 350 years of things being the way it were, with the passing of a few laws. I met some new friends, found out about clandestine meetings that a local White man was having with some Black teenagers and witnessed a grab ass incident that lead to a death of another man, something that only me, God and the cicada’s witnessed.
End of the free preview
On the outskirts of Clarksdale, Mississippi 1914 Oakhurst Stovall Road,