Thursday, August 11, 2011

Zeke Jones

A large black housefly crawls steadily up the porch screen. No sound but not trying to be silent; being a housefly is all. A soft breeze compromises its journey so it tightens its grip on the screen-lacing with its six hairy legs and continues its journey to nowhere for no certain time period. A colored boy looks out the screen of his family’s porch at Miss Tildalayhu smartly walking down the street on her way to church. Quite heavy in a bright yellow ankle-length dress, pink belt and pink sash on her large-brimmed yellow hat; her church-goin’ hat for sure. The housefly walks into the line of sight of the colored boy and his young ginger eyes reverse focus on the fly.

“Mornin’ Ezekial,” Miss Tildalayhu says, calling him by his given name though everyone else calls him Zeke.

His eyes again re focus on the proud Negro woman. Man, I hates people that calls me Ezekial, he whispers ever so lightly because if his daddy heard that kind of disrespect he’d smack the back of his head so hard fireworks would go off behind his eyes.

“Mornin’ Miss Tildalayu,” he says just loud enough to be heard but not loud enough to warrant her stopping and engaging him in conversation about something stupid then saying “Jesus loves you, Ezekial. See you in Church.” But the boy is not going to church. His momma will go. Pray for the whole family. Mans don’t hafta go to church. Woman’s job, he whispers. Below the bottom level of the screen he practices giving her the finger, holding down his first, third and fourth finger with his thumb. Zeke smiles at Miss Tildalayhu. He knows he’s bad but it makes him feel older, bigger, deserving of respect—not just a skinny little nigger boy who white people boss around.

The housefly is now walking in circles directly in front of the boy. It stops, does something with its legs. The boy squints down on the fly wondering if flys lick their butts like dogs do, like cats do; wondering if flys take craps or piss. So the boy decides to kill the fly. He rolls a newspaper and swats it, knocking it to the sill where he smacks it several times. Whack. Whack. Whack.

“What the hell’s goin’ on out there?” his daddy’s voice from the living room asks.

“Just killed me a fly,” the boy answers. “A dumb ole fly that pro’bly craps and pisses all over the porch.”

“You tear that screen and I’ll beat the crap and piss outa you.”

“Yes, daddy.”

“Yes, SIR,” he corrected.

“Yes, sir.” Zeke knows better. “Daddy? Momma goin’ to church? Seen Miss Tildalayhu on her way.”

“Yeah. She be along soon. We goin’ to my shoe-shine chair to meet the afternoon trains. You ready?”

“Yes, daddy.”

“Yes, SIR.”

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