Every Friday I post a piece of something I’m working on. Today I’m offering you this story of a young man in 1930’s Florida. I just started working on it but I will definitely continue. Thanks for reading and Have A Great Weekend!
Stand Your Ground
by Ben Robinson III
Denny Lennox. Pete Tarver. Ol’ Man Jenkins. Beating that boy for no reason.
Their creepy laughs and hoots kept looping in my mind like the sound the owls make at night.
That poor boy’s face was split open at the lips and his darkened right eye was closed and bloody. I saw Denny grab a rope from the back of his pickup truck while Pete held him down. Ol’ Man Jenkins let out a stream of piss all over the boy as laughter filled the air. I wanted to run out and help him but I was frozen.
What would they do to me if they saw me? We both had the same color skin and I didn’t want to die swinging from a different branch next to his.
So I ran.
I ran until I was so far away from them that I knew they would never find me.
I knew it was late because the moon had reached it’s high place in the sky. I knew Mama would be waiting with loud words and threats of no more playing baseball in the field near the swamp.
That’s when I realized that I didn’t have my bat anymore. I wasn’t sure where I had left it. Maybe I dropped it when I ran away from that scene with the poor boy.
He was probably dead now.
I couldn’t stop hearing Lady Day’s ‘Strange Fruit’ echoing inside my thoughts.
Who’s son was he? He wasn’t anyone from our town because everyone knows not to cross Greydon’s Field when it got dark. The only reason I was getting back so late was because I went to Joe’s house for cookies and juice after baseball and fell asleep in his Gran’mas rocking chair..
Had I crossed the field just a few moments sooner…
As I approached my house I saw my father sitting on the porch next to the radio holding a brown mug, probably filled with Whiskey. The porch light was dim but I could see the glow from the cigarette near his face.
“David” he called out to me as I walked up towards him. “Boy you know it’s late.”
“Yes sir. I was playing baseball at the field”
“Took ya too long ta’ come home” He said as he rose to his feet. “Did anyone see you?”
I didn’t want to lie to him and yet I was too scared to tell the truth. Before I could answer Mama leaned through the screen door looking at me with low eyes.
“Boy you’re late.” Is all she said. I could always tell what Mama was thinking or feeling from the look on her face and the sound of her voice. This one was a cross between “I’m too tired to yell at you” and something else, though I didn’t know what it was.
When I sat at our kitchen table I saw Mama had placed a fried drumstick, peas and carrots on a plate with a glass of lemonade. The drink was now warm and the food was cold, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to rid my mind of those images I had seen.
Mama’s eyes were weary as she watched me eat. I didn’t know why she was acting so relieved and watching my every move. Maybe it was because I got home so late. Maybe it was something more.
“Go wash up for bed.” She instructed after I finished the last gulp of lemonade.
I ran so fast up the stairs that I tripped up the third one and hit my face on the fifth.
“David” Mama called out. “Are you all right?”
“What in blazes was that?” Pop’s voice preceded him through the screen door. Mama sat holding me while checking my head for bumps and scars. He just shook his head and snickered. “Slow down boy. You know you clumsy.”
I felt fine but for a moment I thought I was seeing dim pops of orange light dancing behind Pop’s back. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the light I saw was a group of men carrying torches making their way to our front porch.
“Jake…” Mama spoke softly, her eyes fixed on the shotgun resting behind a plant at the front door. Pop turned around slowly. “What they want?”
“Jacob” an authoritative voice called out to him. Pop strolled to the screen door with caution and it creaked like dying mice as he opened it. “Jacob we need to talk to you.”