At eighty-two, I’ve lived a long life. A long-time Mississippian, I loved keeping a cigar dangling from my mouth, and it didn’t have to be lit. I just kept it comfortably on my tongue to taste the raw cedar. In Tulla Springs, a small town toward the west of Mississippi, I was known for having the best lawn. I would be outdoors making sure my yard was the finest among all of my neighbors. My perfect white, two-story house, with a white picket fence, was one hundred percent pure American. Best of all was my favorite sitting place under the oak tree that stood in my beautiful yard. Feeling the breeze tap against my wrinkly, old skin was almost as good as Heaven.
So far, I was living the perfect life, and it felt so good and peaceful to live in a remote area on the outskirts of town. Suddenly, in 2006, Tulla Springs drastically changed its color landscape. Once it was primarily a white area where we ran all the city offices, school boards, and businesses, but now the town is full of Coloreds. There’s a colored sheriff, deputy mayor, school superintendent. There are even a few so-called black-owned businesses. I mean, the whole thing made me sick! Why I remembered years ago before that Civil Rights Movement, Coloreds knew how to stay in their place. It was simple. They kept to themselves and we whites kept to ours.
From generation to generation of my family, we firmly believed whites were the superior race. We were put here by God to take care of this world, and the Coloreds and everyone else were meant to work in it. My daddy told me this was a fact because according to him, it was written in black and white in the Bible.
Inside my house were pictures and plaques during my days of rallying with the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, I still have my white garb and the hat hanging freely upstairs in my bedroom next to a few of my late wife’s things. Abigail and I were together for fifty-five years, although she passed on five years ago. I hoped I would someday pass it to my children, but unfortunately, she couldn’t bear any.
On a warm fall afternoon, I was sitting at my favorite spot under the oak tree with my brother’s oldest son, Billy. The wind was just right while the sun was peeking softly from behind the clouds.
“Yep, I did live a good life,” I said, slowly lighting my cigar. “You know every liberal folk out there, whose sayin’ segregation or Jim Crow laws was wrong, is a damn fool! It happened ‘cause it was good for this country. And if it wasn’t for that Martin Luther King, and all of those other Coloreds in this country, we would still be number one!”
Even though my nephew gave me one of his sorry stares, I was still proud of him. He served his country well by fighting those Iraqis and taking care of those enemies before they tried to come in our backyard and kill us. Remember 9/11? That tragedy summed it up. Get them before they get us!
As I rocked in my mahogany chair that was handed down by my daddy, I glanced at my nephew wearing a gray Army t-shirt and jean shorts. With a receding hairline and brunette hair like my momma’s, Billy continued to shake his head.
“Hey, Unc?” he said, in his Mississippian accent; a southern drawl heavy like molasses. “What about that black soldier when you were in World War II? Was he bad for the country, too?”
I rolled my eyes and sucked my teeth at his foolish question. The solider he was referring to was this massively tall Colored man named Jeremiah Johnson. With perfect teeth that were whiter than snow and a big baldhead, he was known as Preacher Man because he gave sermons and prayed for fallen soldiers. Actually, I don’t know too much about his personal life. I just remembered Jeremiah telling the other Coloreds that he had a wife and two children back in Tennessee. He still should’ve stayed in his place. If he were in my shoes, I doubt I’d take a grenade for him.
After Billy shook his head in disgust at my rants, he went to work at the local post office, leaving me alone under the oak tree.
“That damn liberal,” I said about him as he drove away in his late model truck.