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‘A Hot Plate’
Story of a Predacious Negro at the Door: 7/31/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
MAR/20/23
Written from memory 8/6/2022 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
East Baltimore, Maryland
Emma and I were playing cards at the kitchen table in the East Baltimore Barrio. Megan was making breakfast. I can see the front door as I sit five feet from the back door, the row house merely 32 feet deep.
Megan will wander to the front porch every 40 minutes and smoke part of a cigarette. As she does, and Emma and I play Jokers’ Dozen, she begins talking to someone through the storm door.
“I don’t understand your question?”
I figured she was talking to the Mexican neighbor.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question.”
I turned and looked at the door and there was a tall ebony man, a muscular and lean 6 foot 4 inches, on the porch at 9 on a Sunday morning.
“Thank you, but we don’t have a lawn mower.”
‘Damn,’ I thought, ‘only the two inch blade in my pocket,’ as I was wearing my lounging shorts.
I stood as she said, “I don’t think so. We’re good.”
The grifter then glanced into the house through the locked storm door over Megan at me rising from the kitchen table and abruptly walked off.
“Jim,” she said, as I walked towards her. “That was strange. This man asked if I had cooked breakfast yet and I instinctively locked the door. I was headed out to smoke. I said, ‘I don’t understand the question.’ He repeated it and I still didn’t get it. He said he’d cut our grass for a hot plate of food. When I said we didn’t have a lawn mower he said he had one and I didn’t see it…”
I went outside, down the front walk to the wire fence and sidewalk with my mug of coffee, for this was a big Negro buck, wiry and athletic. Looking three doors down across the street I heard him speaking to one of the Mexicans, whose yard he left. He returned to the street, and stood over an electric lawn mower that had no extension cord. He stopped, put his hand on it, and looked up at me as the Mexican glared at him from the porch.
I raised my mug to him.
He turned and pushed the orange lawn mower down the street just outside of the parked cars.
I returned inside.
Emma: “I’m scared, MumMum.”
Megan: “We have Jim, Emma. He won’t let anything happen. The man said he wanted to cut the grass but there was something about him, how he was looking into the house over my shoulder, and I didn’t see a lawn mower.”
Jim: “He was talking to the guy three doors down across the street. He did have a lawn mower, an electric one with no extension cord. He could have gotten it out of anyone’s yard.”
Emma: “A scam I bet! I had a nightmare that scammers got Mommy’s bank account—you know they do that! Scammer are bad!”
Megan: “He really caught me off guard, asking me if I had cooked yet. As soon as you stood up he said, ‘I have to go,’ and just left. I’m so glad I slid the lock closed.”
Jim: “He was just trying to get in the house. He could have been legit and trying to get a meal and some white guilt money with a stolen lawn mower. But even then, the hoodrat mind is always looking for the angle. Older women generally don’t even know where the extension cords are and this would give him chance, to at the least to see if anything valuable was in the shed or basement and come back latter to steal.”
Emma: “Scam!”
Megan: “Something about him scared me, put me off. No way was I letting him in.”
Jim: “Even if he was legit, and he cut the grass and didn’t forget to return the extension cord, there is no way he would have swept the sidewalk. He just talked to the Mexican as a cover. He was looking up at me the whole time. He was looking for white women and elderly.”
Emma: “Scammers are bad—I hate scammers.”
Later in the day, as we prepped to go to the supermarket, where Emma suggested there might be some new Barbie dolls [selecting the one with the purple hair], her Mommy texted me: “Please be careful walking to the store, with all of these carjackings and human trafficking and child murders going on.”
I texted back: “I’m armed.”
Mommy: “Okay.”
Me: “Don’t worry, negro management is the only thing I’m an expert at.”
Mommy: “LOL! I feel better now.”
The funny thing was, while being interviewed by a blond news reporter, young Afrocentric Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, said that he would not “take black people off the streets,” when asked about the violent “squeegie kids.” And, in response to a question about the 383 car jackings so far this year, he said that he would change nothing about the policing policy. The news bit finished with the reporter saying that city officials suggested that motorists can “protect themselves...” “by not lingering near your vehicles.”
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