Posts Tagged ‘Zora’

Uncle Hime, Part 3

…cont…

See, I had known him all my life, as a T&T drinkin’, walk-around-town drunk. Never seen him with no woman, and I aint heard of no woman tryin’ to be with him. So for him to tell me about a wife, well, that was somethin’ I aint never heard of. I wiped my chin while he just looked at me.

He said, “What’s wrong with you? You don’t think I had no wife? Didn’t y-y-you hear me t-tell you ‘bout all them wimmen I knowed?”

Well, he had a point.

I said, “I’m sorry, Unc, just nobody never told me you was married, that’s all. Tell me ‘bout it, was she good-lookin’? Was she fine?”

He leaned back, meal finished, and started with his pipe again.

“One last smoke, then I’m gonna send you to the sto’.”

He puffed, and he says, “Pretty? Fine? Boy, lemme tell you, d-d-dat woman had the biggest set of titties you ever wanna see! You know ol’ man Bradford wife? Think her titties big?”

He spat on the ground, an’ say, “Sheee-it, boy, Bradford wife packin’ p-p-peanuts. Peanuts! My wife had big ol’ titties! Man, my wife’s titties so big, she sent ‘em out on errands! One at a time! She named ‘em, y’know. The left one was, le’ssee, Sally, yeah, that’s it, an’ the right one was, uh, Betty! She talk to ‘em too, just like chirren. ‘Betty, move out the way, you pinchin’ Sally!’ Boy, boy, boy….I used to love it when she strap ‘em up, y’know, make ‘em stand up like so’jers, yes, indeed! She had that little tee-tiny li’l waistline….I used to wonder how her food pass down. But then—“ he started movin’ his hands out—“she had them hips….man, them what they called breedin’ hips, them good shakin’ hips. And don’t talk about her azz! What!?! Her azz so big, it cast its own shadow! When I put her on the Greyhoun’ bus, I had to buy two tickets! Big ol’ marshmeller azz!

He look at me e’ry now an’ then, just to see how I was takin’ it. I know he addin’ on some, but that’s just how storytellin’ go. I mean, I knowed aint no wimmen titties bigger than ol’ man Bradford wife. Lessen she work for the circus.

You wimmen gets mad when we men talk about the way y’all is made. I don’t know why, it’s the way God made you.

Read yo’ Bible, in the book of Genesees, God had made all the animals with a mate. Fido, he had Fee-Fee;  Elmo the bull, he had El-see the cow; Billygoat, he had Nannygoat; y’know, e’rybody had somebody, well, e’rybody but po’ Adam. Adam sittin’ there with all the fruit trees around him, apple, pear, banana, persimmon, mango, I mean he got it made! He lookin’ ‘round, e’rybody got somebody to play with but him. E’rybody all coupled up, an’ Adam, he sittin’ there like a fifth wheel. God look down at him, an’ He shook His head, cuz that aint right. Adam sit there too long, he get to singin’ the blues. Caint be singin’ the blues if you in Paradise.

So God, He fix a big glass o’ wine, handed it to Adam.

Huh?

What you mean, the Bible don’t say that?
It say God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam. It didn’t say how He done it!

Okay, let’s see…okay, God slip him a Mickey, an’ knock him plum cold…

You happy now?

Where you come from?

Yeah? Well, you need to go back. Go on, let grown folks talk.

Anyhow, God put him to sleep, cut his rib out, and took it to his studio, started moldin’ an’ craftin’, stuffin’ here and there, you know, puttin’ the cushion where it go. So when God finish, He take what He made down to Paradise, see how Adam like it. Adam wake up, rub the sleep outta his eyes, and he notice what God got standin’ there nekkid in front of him.

What!?!
A big ol’ fine, sexy thang, 38-24-36, nekkid, with a bowl o’ fruit in her hand! Brown-skinned, long, curly black hair, with a big ole smile on her face.

Well, Adam got so excited, he started preachin’! He say, “For this cause…uh-huh….. shall a man leave…….well, well….. his daddy and his momma, yessir…..and the two…….shall become one…can I get a witness?”

That’s preachin’, cuz what Adam know about a momma and daddy? Adam aint had no momma nor daddy!
So he took a good look at that fine Black woman, sprung out a good foot or so, and he say “the two shall become one.” Shee-it, Adam was ready to do his thang!

So don’t get mad when we talk about the way you made. Use what God give you. Be proud of yo so’jers, make ‘em stand up. Walk like yo’ caboose is loose.

We men likes that.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, Hime look at me, to see how I was takin’ it. I’m noddin’ my head, goin’ with the story. I know good an’ well her titties aint that big, she fall over when she walk if they was.

He says, “And boy, was she pretty! She had that look, you know, like she know she was the p-prettiest woman in the room, but she warn’t payin’ it n-n-no mind. She smile, an’ the room j-j-just light up. I fell in love with her, dint take long, neither.”

He puffed on his pipe, and I wonder how much tobacco left inside. If he send me to the store, I was gonna tie him to the step, don’t ask me how. But I was gonna hear the end of this.

“Now, Neph, this was the time when I was drivin’ trucks, hustlin’, makin’ good money. Y’know, when you haulin’ cross-country, not e’rything in yo’ rig belong to the m-m-man on yo’ paper. I’m runnin’ to Miami with a load, my return load might have a coupl’a pound of smoke an’ powder, y’know? Oh, boy, back in dem days, I made mo’ money mulin’ than truckin’. Never got stopped, neither.” He nodded his head, thinkin’ about it. “But, you gotta remember, boy, that was back when it was okay, long as you dint try to stiff nobody, just haul an’ hand off to the man, an’ he pay you, give you a little taste fo’ yoself.

So, I’m makin’ good money, got a fine, pretty woman, life be good. I sets her up, buy her a nice little house, buys it, paid cash money fo ’it, put it in her name, cuz I’m on the road alla time, somethin’ happen to me, it be hers already.”

He stopped, an’ pointed his pipe at me. He says, “Boy, don’t ever do that. Always have you a place to lay yo’ head where nobody kin put you out. Stay with yo’ momma, momma get mad wit’ ya, she kin put you out. See? Buy yo’ house, make sho’ yo’ name on it somewhere.” He clench his jaw aroun’ his pipe, and for a second I thought he would snap it plum through. I could tell he was getting’ mad, just thinkin’ about it.

He says, “We livin’ good, bill paid on time, I mean we doin’ fine! An’ me, I’m happy, got this pretty, fine woman, shoot, when I’m home, I drop it on her twice a day, I’m happy, she happy…or so I thought.”

He looked up, and I followed his look. I had been listenin’ so hard, I hadn’t heard the sound of the engine. Momma had done drove up. Oh, doggone! Now I wouldn’t get to hear the rest of it, f’shure.

Momma slam her car door, come out with a paper bag in her hand. She walk down toward the porch, then, lo an’ behold, she peep our way, and start walkin’ towards the barn!

Hime snorted, then he say, “Now what in the worl’ she huntin’? Aint nothin’ but Zora done give her a call, cuz she don’ know w-w-what we talkin’ about. Well, let’s send this chicken to the n-n-nest.”

Momma came up quick, but the sight of a sober Hime kinda slowed her up. Took her tongue, too.  She stood there for a second, then she says, “Aint nobody gonna speak?”

Uncle Hime say, “We sittin’ here. Y-y-you the one come up. How you doin’?”

Momma look at me, and says, “Boy, what you doin’ here?”

I says, real respectable, “Talkin’ with my uncle. Got somethin’ good in the bag?”

She answer, “Just a thimble and coupl’a spools o’ thread.” She hesitated, then she ask, “What y’all talkin’ bout?”

Hime look at her, then he kinda growl at her,”What you say?”

Well, she look like she would druther eat soap, but she was stuck with it. She say, “W-what ya’ll talkin’ bout?” She try to stick her chin out when she say it, but she wouldn’a skeered a puppy.

Hime pointed his pipe at her, an’ say, “I-I’ma tell you like I tole yer Ma. Go inna house, the boy be ‘long directly. Go!”

Momma look at me quick, but I just shrug. She knowed better than that, anyway.

Hime spat, then stuck his pipe back in. “Wimmen. Now she goin’ in there, an’ her an’ Zora gonna cluck their tongue, prolly call Mary to try an’ shake ya loose. Anyway, one day, I’m in N-n-new Orlin, haulin’ dry ice from M-m-m-memphis. I thought I was gonna turnaround to Mobile, but the company c-cancel. I had told the ol’ girl,  Charlene her name, I was gonna be home Monday, but since my t-turnaround c-c-ancel, I figger I supp-rize her.

Well, Neph, the supp-rize was on me. It was about one o’clock inna mornin’, I never forget. I walk in, tippy-toe, gonna flip the light, jump in, y’know. Good thing I flip the light, cuz if fin I wouldn’t, I’da landed on two people! Yep, she all wrapped up wit’ a nigger, I dint know who he was! I could tell the way she was clownin’ dat he warn’t forcin’ hisself on her, naw, if anythin’ she was killin’ him! I says, I says…naw, never mind what I says, it’s what I done! I reach in my pocket, an’ pull out my pistol. She scream, but it don’t matter none, she can scream all she want, scream don’t stop no .38. I was always good with a pistol, shootin’ rabbits an’ s-s-such. I put two in her, swung it on him, dropped one daid in the nuts. ‘Now,’ I tole him, ‘that’ll learn ya.”

He tapped the pipe, then dropped it on the step. “Law came, they put me inna jug. But one o’ those jailhouse lawyers tole me to plea not guilty, lessee how he said it, heat o’ passion. He warn’t lyin, there was plenny heat. Went befo’ the jedge, jedge lissen to the po-lice man tell what he saw, jedge tap his gavel, an’ off I go.”

He laugh, kinda bitter this time.

“Nigger woman daid, don’ make him no never mind. Be a Whi’ woman, come All Saint’s Day, you be buyin’ whitewash.”

He handed me a dollar. “I try to forget, e’ry whichaway I kin. No matter what I do, I caint get Charlene outta my mind. All t-t-t-that blood…..”

He put his head in his hands and start to cry. He raise up, an’ he say, “I pray, an’ I pray, ast the Good Lawd to f’give me. An, y’know what? I b’leve He done did it.”

He stopped, tears just runnin’ down his face.

Mine, too.

 

“But, me….I jes’ caint f’give myself…”

I left the dollar there.

Man ought’a get a free bag o’ tobbacca once in his life, don’t’cha think?

 

 

 

White Preacher, Part 2

Muh had said she could tolerate it ‘til the revival was over, but I warn’t sure. Rev would say stuff that I knew was raisin’ her hackles, and I was bracin’ myself for when she’d get mad enuf to blow. Not that I’da tried to stop her or nothin’, hell, I’da stole a coupla’ licks on him myself.

 

She held her tongue, tho’ but it was mighty, mighty close when he said, “You know, Sister Zora, it don’t make no sense for your pastor to only come twice a month. If he was a real pastor, he’d be here every Sunday, pastor y’all nigras right! You nigras needs somebody to look after y’all, make sure y’all do the right thing. Nigra left to hisself is just trouble lookin’ for a place to happen.”

 

She was cuttin’ okra when he said that, with her favorite okra knife, a nice 6-inch foldin’ blade with a buckhorn handle my Cousin Shug had give her from the Army, or so he told her. Shug aint never spent a day in Uncle Sam’s Army, but that’s a whole nother story.

 

Well when Rev. said that, I tense up, cuz I know Muh was gonna let go a’ that okra, and commence to cuttin’ her a slice ‘a redneck! Between him talkin’ bad about Elder Wimble, and Black folk in particular, he was skatin’ on thin ice, an’ bout to fall plum through. She stopped cuttin’, and she cocked her head a bit, and said, “You think so, Reverend?”

 

I had my eye on her knife, just a’waitin’ for her to slice ‘im up, but she just looked at ‘im, started whistlin’ real soft, an’ went back to cuttin’ okra, an’ let him continue talkin’.

 

Hmmm…..

 

When Muh whistled, things was real bad. Usually, when she worried, or grievin’, she’d pray. When she was happy, she’d sing. But whistle? The old people had a sayin’, Whistlin’ woman, or a crowin’ hen, aint no good to God nor men. Rev didn’t know it just yet, but he was messin’ with the wrong woman, trust me.

 

I tol’ Daddy about it, ‘cause I was mad. I was just learnin’ how to cuss, and I nearly let a few ripe ones out, but Momma was nearby, and she was already on edge because of Rev and all, and the last thing I needed was for her to let off a little steam on me.

 

Y’see, Momma’s cure for cussin’ depended on where in the house she heard you. If she was near the kitchen, red pepper; if she was near the bathroom, castor oil, so either way, you bridle your tongue around her.

 

Daddy says, “Son, man like that, that’s the way he think.  You could be in a room with a hundred Black people, man like that, he walk in, he figger he in charge.”

 

“Don’t worry, son,” he chuckled, “I been knowin’ yo’ grandmother a mighty long time. She done seed ‘em come, an’ seed ‘em go. Mostly, they go. This one aint no different. The fun is gonna be how she get him to git up an’ go. She started whistlin’, you say?” He looked at me, and winked. “Son, I b’leve I’m goin’ to church this week.”

 

I opened my mouth, then closed it. Daddy only went to Momma’s church on special occasions, or when the Masons was on program. If Daddy was goin’ to this revival, I warn’t gonna miss it, no sir…

 

 

“Abbie, I’m not sho’ I kin takes much mo’ of this,” Muh was on the phone with Momma. “That White man eatin’ me outta house and home, and them ugly gals is just plain nasty! When they takes a bath….yes, you heard me, when they takes a bath….Abbie…. baby….you should see the rang they leave behind!”

 

“Stop laughing, Abbie, that aint funny! Hol’ on, I aint tole you the killin’ part yet…..I caint prove it, they moves too quick, when one leave out the bathroom, the other jumps right in, but I b’lieve… they uses the same water! Cuz ain’ no way a bathroom rang be that color behin’ one person usin’ it!”

 

“What you talkin’ bout? Yes, I said color! Abbie, I been on this earth over seb’nty years, an’ I aint never seed a rang that color! What color it be? Green! You heard me! G-r-e-e-n! What you mean, how I know? Cuz they leave it for me to clean! Yes, ma’am! I’s the little cullud gurl that they got to clean up behin’ ‘em, I s’poze. Towel layin’ on the floor….well, I’ll be dogged, it jus’ hit me….they usin’ the same towel! They must be, baby, unless they eatin’ the other ones they use? All right, then! Nasty, just nasty! Uh, huh…uh-huh…they huddles up in my barn durin’ the day, in between meal times….yes, baby, three meals a day, plus snacks in between!”

“Fo him, breakfast, lessee…fo’ eggs, ten slice o’ bacon, he like it half cooked, grits with a slice a’ cheese on top, orange juice an’ coffee. Oh, wait, I forgot the pancakes…I aint lyin! Them wimmen don’t eat much, they is watchin’ they figger…if they ask me, I tell ‘em, take a look behin’ you, you find yo’ figger! But he eat pancakes on top a’ all that, chile…an’ he don’t stop ‘til he done et ten, sometime twelve! Then fo’ lunch, it’s double helpin’s o’ whatever I cook, chicken, po’k chop, gravy steak, whatever, plus a heapin’ plate o’ rice an gravy, an’ chile, he aint never met a vegable he didn’t like! An’ that’s just’ round one! Yes, ma’am, he be lookin’ fo’ seconds!”

“Then they goes into the barn fo awhile, I lissen once, they be havin’ church up in there, so’s I leave ‘em alone, I be glad for the break! In between time, he send one of them ugly gals in here…my little bird Sweeney can’t stand ‘em, he fuss an’ squawl long as they in here, the only way to stop him is to cover his cage wit’ a towel, so’s he caint see ‘em! They come in here, says, ‘Rev need a glass ‘a milk,’ or ‘Rev need some crackers,’ or ‘Rev was wonderin’ do you have any muffins?’ all prim an’ proper, like it’s my job to make sho’ I got somethin sweet whenever he ask!”

She nodded her head a couple of times and kept talkin’, “Well, baby, I been puttin up wit’ dis since Sunday, an’ tonight is his day-bew, like that ugly gal with the rotten mouf like to say when she drankin’ coffee. Baby, ‘twix you an’ me and the tree, I done made a point to mark the coffee cup she use! Oh yes, I make sho she gits the same cup, an’ I promise you, when they leave, dat cup gonna fly daid in the trash can! Yellow teef is one thing, but a rotten mouf like that? I ain’t got enuf disinfect to clean no cup she done used. Minute she gone, I’m gonna take the hammer to it, ‘fo I pitch it, make sho’ nobody drink behin’ it, never, no mo’ in dis worl’!  Stop laughin’ Abbie, that aint funny!”

 

Later that day, we kids was playin baseball out near the barn. Well, what we was really doin’ was tryin’ to get a lissen on what was goin’ on up in there with Rev an’ them two wimmen, but if we would’a just huddled around the barn, Muh would’a runned us off. It was me and my brother Jock, plus our cousins Bobby, Tojo, and Charlie, plus eight or nine of the neighborhood kids, Peanut an’ ‘nem, you know, the ones who lived on Garbage Alley, where the trashman made his round.

Anyway, we playin’ baseball, but we got our ear out on the barn. Sho, nuff, Rev and them wimmen havin’ church, singin’ and praisin’ the Lawd, carryin’ on, havin’ theyself a good time. They must’a been ‘Postollick or Cogic, cuz they cuttin’ up! Just three of ‘em, but they soun’ like twenny. They sang awhile, then they commence to prayin, an Lawd, did they make some noise!

 

I was playin’ first base, an Bobby was pitching to Jock. Jock hit a grounder to Peanut, and he threw it low, and ‘bout the time I scoop it up, Jock was safe. We listen in, and Rev an’ them wimmen just prayin’ up a storm! Jock grinned at me, and said, “You think we ought’a bust up in there?”

I said, “An’ do what once we get inside? Pray with ‘em?” His face fell, he hadn’t thought’a that. That’s how he was, he always come up with some devilment, but never think it through.

 

We kept on listening, and they was just a-prayin, you could hear them jus’ as clear as a bell, “Yes, Lawd! Thank ya, Jesus! Yaaaaasss! Praise the Lawd, Halleyloooyah, Halleyloooyah! Glory! Glooooraaaayyy!” I mean, just cuttin’ up! We just a listenin’ and laughin’ at ‘em, cuz we know they aint no good, but then, the sound kinda changed. That White man said, “Yes, sister, take it off! Take it all off for Jesus!”

We looked at each other, cuz we aint never heard nobody say that, not in no church we ever been to, an’ we been to plenty church, trust me. He says it again, “Take it off, Sister, take it off to Jesus!”

I said, “Take what off?”

Jock said, “Hush!” He waved Bobby over to take a lissen, an’ by the time he got there, she must’a had done took it off, cuz he says, “Yes, Lawd, nekkid I come into this worl’, an nekkid I shall leave! Praise the Lawd, Sister, we are nekkid befo’ the Lawd!” Then they started makin’ some funny noise for a minute, an’ Rev said, Yes, Sister! Yes, Lawd! Don’t stop, Sister! Praise the Lawd!”

Bobby said, “Ooo-wee! If that’s how they have church, I wanna join!”

I said, “What you mean?”

He waved me quiet. “If you got to ask, you too young to know,” and he started grinnin’. “Yeah, Ol Rev havin chu’ch up in there, heh, heh, heh! Praise de Lawd!”

 

The rest of them had crowded around by now, and Charlie said, “Wha—wha…what dey do-do-doin up in there?” He stammer a bit, you know.

Tojo said, “What you think they is doin’?”

“Well—well…if I—I knowed what—what—they doin’, I—I—I wouldn’a ask you!” he answered. We listened for another minute, and then the sound changed, sound like both them wimmen done gone crazy, gruntin’ an’ groanin, hollerin’ “Ooohh, Jesus! Jesus, sweet Jeeezus!”

Charlie’s eyes got big an’ roun’ like gingersnaps. He turned ‘round quick, and said, “I’m goin’ tell!” He ran off before we could stop him.

A minute later, Muh strode grimly towards us, Charlie in one hand, Matilda in the other. We stepped back from the door, as she asked, “What in the worl’ goin’ on here?” Bobby pointed to the barn. “Rev and them wimmen havin’ chu’ch,” he answered with a straight face.

Muh cocked her ear towards the barn. “Je-je-je-je-jeeee-zus! Jeeeeee-zus! Ohhh, Lawwwd!”

She raised her shotgun, then looked around. Charlie put his hands to his ears, Matilda being the next best thing to a cannon. Muh looked around, hesitated a bit, then lowered Matilda to half-mast. “Charlie, Jock, and Buck, y’all go in the house. The rest of y’all, go home! Bobby, when you get home, tell Pacon to come pick me up, y’hear? “

 

“Nasty, jes’ plain nasty! Yes, Abbie, they still in there! No, I didn’t bus’ up in there, them chirren was right there wit’ me! Oh, I had a mind to let a little double-ought fly around in there, but I’da have to pay to get the roof fixed….oh, but wait, baby, jes’ wait fo’ tonight! I’se gonna fix Revum’ Thibodeaux’s lil’ red wagon….Stop laughin’, Abbie, that aint funny!”

 

End Part 2