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Incognegro Periscope
A Conversation Between a Video Maker and a TV Hater: dateline 11/9/21
The Obama flip phone—black as one might imagine, though scuffed to gray in parts by the hard school of change-filled pockets—did not ring, but vibrated, as the inadequately silenced communications devices of extraterrestrial anthropologists, stranded on that savage planet of the apes known as Blue, are wont to do.
Regal M-116-S, after two mellenium having hopefully redeemed his standing as last in his class, saw that the call was from Incognegro, that high-functioning African he planned on taking back to the Home World as a centerpiece of his hybrid rigor thesis. You see, the problem with the apes of Blue was that some of them bred with the Neanderthals, an indigenous species that were supposed to have been eradicated, and soon outstripped the planet's capacity. But if these vivid fellows were sole masters of that little planet spinning at the end of the Milky Way, Blue would remain forever a prosaic and lush example of intelligent life yet in its innocent brutality thriving alongside such a varied fauna that only meteors and comets might effect extinction of.
“James, how are you?”
“Oh, fine. How about you and the kids?”
“I keep telling myself I'm not going to work this hard for long, just until I get the kids settled. But they're back to homeschooling and that takes my time. I am sending you pictures of the Hobo History Studio—used lumber and everything—and I'm going to move the coal stove further out from the wall like you suggested so I don't burn the house down.”
“You know, when I sent a picture of that melted paneling behind the stovepipe to The Colonel he texted back, “You did that—what are you black?” I assured him that the absence of duct tape and bailing wire was proof that it was not my handiwork.
“Well James, I tell everybody that you installed it, just so you know.”
[laughter]
“So James, how are you doing?”
“The writing is choppy. I've killed two computers since I left the one I lost on the train with you. I'm still on this little HP notepad that the FBI agent in Jersey gave me three years ago.”
“You know James, there should be a law against you owning a computer. You should travel around the country with a slave carrying your typewriter.”
“Speaking of that, I could use Barbara Eden, 1968, if you have your time machine handy.”
“Yeah, about that...I seem to have misplaced it. And if Barbara is still around I doubt if she will be up to hauling a typewriter on and off Amtrak.”
“Well, how about mailing me a savage mulattress with a razor blade hidden in her afro?”
“I might be able to help you there. But, I was wondering, how is your health.”
“Bro, I am trying to die in some prosaic way so that the videos you shot will increase in value and you won't have to do any more recording, just that cool post production stuff. But really, I have not been sick since I got bronchitis in late August 2020. It must be all the artificially sweetened tonic water I drink.”
“Thanks for the package, by the way. The kids really like the berry syrup.”
“Bob and Deb said if they run out, they can mail the empty jars and lids back to them and they will send some more syrup. We canned a lot of elderberry.”
“Thanks, really. I never thought I'd be concerned with my health, but being black, when I got fat I got worried that I wouldn't be around for these kids, you know, diabetes and hypertension and all that good stuff. So I've cut out all sugar, never looked back, been limiting the carbohydrates like you said, and I dropped from 230 to 190. Tay's mother even stopped telling me I was fat every time I walked through the door.”
“Have you noticed the price of chicken and beef is really up?”
“These are engineered shortages, and they will keep coming. I talked to three cattle ranchers who are getting record low prices for their beef, have to wait in line and lose money on feed to even get their cattle butchered by the big meat-packers who have used all these government regulations to monopolize animal agriculture. You should go for pork—the only meat holding a moderate price.”
“I know. But my grandmother down in Jamaica, dealt in pigs, still does, and I just can't get past the smell.”
“Well, if you can, check this out. I used a pork shoulder for 18 bucks to crockpot and freeze and used the stock with some chicken broth to cook 9 turnips and a head of cabbage. It has already fed me for a week and I'll get another week out of it. Do you like turnips—they're on Rick's list.”
“That's some shanty Irish famine food. I'm black Jamaican, born and raised in Baltimore City. Leave it to white people. You know God found that the turnip was a failed plant so sunk it six feet deep, and sure enough some white people dug that bitter stuff up!”
“Well, I know you people eat goats—raise some goats and you won't have to cut your grass twice a year. They'll kick the shit out of those racoons that killed your chickens.”
“I know I should—I do like goat. But I have trouble killing a chicken. Once my kids give these things names, how am I supposed to kill them?”
“Raise them and sell them to the Amish—they'll kill 'em. Or trade them for Amish beef.”
“That's a good idea and I will think about it. In the mean time I'm eating a lot of sardines and want to get back down to 160, fight weight.”
“That's great man. If I could stop drinking this hipster faggot IPA and spooner boomer stout, I'd be down to 160. I weighed 171.4 this morning.”
“So I assume you're in Portland?”
[laughter]
“How much longer will you be in Portland?”
“Mid December and then up to the Cascades with The Captain and The Colonel for a couple months. I'll swing back through Portland in March and then take a road trip from Oakland, California and get dropped off in Saint Louis Missouri.”
“What the fuck? James, those negroes out there are out of control!”
“Oh, I'll get picked up by a man who has promoted a lot of my work—more than me by far—who wants to interview me about every fiction book I've written. Then I'll spend a week in Illinois training with a stick-fighter and then land in Pittsburgh in the last few days of April. Then I should be in play again and hopefully my eye won't blow up like it did last spring.”
“Well James, you take care, and if you need anything like train tickets or whatever, just reach out. You always have a place to lay your head as long as I have one.”
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