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Candy Cane in the Sky
Hurt Stoker: Chapter 1
© 2012 James LaFond
Right Night Light
The night was cool; the dark sky clear, even of stars, and the moon was yet to rise. But the giant ten-story candy cane of light lit the country road for nearly a mile. The night was right, he thought, as he strolled along past the mail boxes, hung with the stars and bars. It was autumn, September 29th, Dixie Day in the South, and he was barely, yet snuggly in it’s languid embrace. The cold north, with its belching factories, big-promising hypocrite masters, and football, could rot.
Let the weak ones run to Uncle Yank. I’ll keep my hand in the Good Ole Boy’s pocket down here, that I will.
Most of his kin had gone off there to the North. But Whiff Gleason was just fine where he was. Whiff had not been much of a Negro League ballplayer, particularly not with a 119 batting average. But, Whiff was perhaps the best-off colored man in all of The South. Whiff owned that carnival above which the towering candy cane of light spiraled into the night. He managed performers, wrestlers, boxers, midgets, bearded women, freaks of every describe; and even bossed himself a dumb white man or two. In fact Whiff was feeling mighty right on this fine fall night.
This is yours,
your night,
all yours,
your right;
your big money-sucking candy cane of light!
Beneath the candy cane of rebel light ahead the carnival faded into last night, as the carnival goers walked off under the trees toward their homes. This was a big night though, and men would still be taking drinks over on Main Street, just on the other side of the church grounds, where the carnival sighed its goodbyes for the night.
As he walked along that illuminated country road—Singers Run if he recalled rightly—he wondered what it must have been like to be one of Stone Wall’s boys when they cut down Meade and his yanks 150 years ago, beneath those green hills, and literally saved the world for the Whiteman and his ways. It was whispered among the Gleason kin that Stone Wall’s man servant, the man that turned the tide by ‘Saving The Man who Saved The South’, not once but twice, had been a distant relation of the Gleason’s; Whiff’s Aunt Mary’s grandmother’s great uncle…
Yesiree Mister Gleason, Lincoln might as well have hung by your very hand as far as Uncle Yank is concerned. So there is truly no sense in fleeing the Ole Boy’s porch for Uncle Yank’s basement. Just look what happened to that runaway fool Freddie—Uncle Yank sold his ass back to the Ole Boy anyhow, and woe to his book-complaining ways!
Like Daddy said, ‘You don’t fight that Ole Boy; don’t run from him, don’t sass him—you manage his delicate-minded ass!’
But Whiff Gleason, often whispered about by uncivil colored folk as ‘a traitor to the Colored Cause’, was, after his daddy’s instruction, a master at managing the Whiteman.
Why any man, who is so caught up with the need to project an image of superiority, must by his very nature, be predictable and easily influenced.
In reality, Whiff thought of himself chiefly as a ‘Whiteman management expert’. Such thoughts had to remain on the down low, but his thoughts they were, and no man, not even the giant, mythical, and impeccably well-dressed beast-man that was the Confederate States of America, could take a man’s thoughts from him.
You’re in my silk lined pocket Ole Boy—get used to it!
Well, I suppose you are used to it at that.
Yessir Captain, good little Whiff has got it all worked out to your advantage; no fuss, no muss, no never-mind. Indeed, you would have surely thought of it yourself if you hadn’t been so busy minding more important business! This humble fancy-dressed fat-man just predicted the inevitable product of your sage consideration, Sir.
Whiff continued on his way, admiring the rows of neatly laid brick homes, their mailboxes yet aglow for the occasion of their liberty.
You know Whiff, coming up to Maryland was the best thing you ever did do. Managing the cross-line tourism; catering to those white Pennsylvania fools; providing diversions for the more civilized northerly elements of Confederate humanity; who would have thought what a profitable niche this would be?
Yessiree Marie Mister Whiff, you are a straight-up successful colored man against all odds.
Don’t you know it Whiff—and don’t you need to show it with a new pair of walking-man dress shoes!
Whiff mentally processed the inventory of Marybelle Mason’s Shoe Find House as he jaywalked to his pleasure across the street to the trolley offloading lot; knowing full well that he could pay double, triple, any ticket that might be conceivably incurred, without even reaching for the money belt, but from his vest pocket alone.
Jaywalked
What is that—It better not be Jordy in the flatbed coming to protect your fat behind. How many times have I had to remind him that one does not survive the Ole Boy by force, but by polite guile?
Besides, these soft-headed flatland hillbillies need their rest if they are going to be up and about buying my Hangover Allover cranberry ice cream before the church bell tolls.
Oh my!
Whiff looked up over his left shoulder just as he stepped up on the curb, into the looming wrought-iron grille of a Union Motors pickup truck, big old headlight blazing yellow and rimmed by chrome, packed with three Pennsylvania rednecks and a well-to-do Maryland boy.
Not easily—not even possibly—shaken Whiff flashed a fawning grin, “How are you fine gentlemen tonight—enjoyed the carnival I hope?”
The largest of the flannel-shirted mental midgets stepped out of the passenger-side door onto the wrought iron running board of the massive truck, and a noose swung from his hand as he attempted—poorly to be sure—to mimic a Georgia drawl, “Boy, we’all are doin’ jus’ fine—hangin’ ourselves’ a negra tonight!”
This would have to be the only night in seven that Jordy neglected to neglect my instructions about playing bodyguard.
Indeed, a mental note to commend his past disobedience and his sagacious forethought, and perhaps a small raise—as soon as I talk myself out of this inconvenience.
If they thought they would see his eyes bug out when their strong-arm man tossed that noose playfully over his head, they were sorely mistaken.
I certainly hope they are sentient enough to appreciate the magnitude of the civility fee you are willing to—oh that is uncomfortable!
You would have thought, lynching being such a refined rarity these days; that they would have used real hemp rather than this scratchy wood-twine junk from the Thriftmart.
Thankfully there was no dragging to be endured, other than the scuffing of his pearly white Jamaican goat-hide loafers on the red-dog gravel of the lot.
Damn it to heck! Jordy just polished these with the luster cream.
Statutory Reference
Negro
A person of sub-Saharan African descent; of 6% or more African ancestry. Such people, born or naturalized to the Confederate States of America, are wards of the Confederate States of America; subject to all state, municipal and interstate laws, and entitled to the privileges due their kind.
-Negro Bond Act. 1898
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