For Part One of the serial story, read here. Part two is written by my good friend Matt Brock. Matt is the good friend that met me in Hickory (spawning the Tap Room shorts I’ve posted here). Enjoy.
Frank cleared his throat as quietly as possible and poured himself a more generous glass of his alcoholic vegetable concoction. He stared blankly into the glass that separated him from the camera and for a moment, contemplated plugging the machine back in and documenting himself as he documented his life. But, the man staring back was not worthy of that kind of attention. It was shocking how little he resembled his mother, and by process of elimination had to assume this meant he looked like his father. Of course I do, he thought.
“Juice.” He turned and saw a small child no more than 3 with red curly hair and freckles standing with only her torso squeezed into the booth stretching her pudgy arms up and reaching for a sip of Frank’s fragrant adult pacifier. “Juice..”
“Oh, uh no, sweetheart, I…” Frank held the thermos intentionally further away and the girl let out a long whine like one does after a waking up with a hangover.
“Whatsa matter baby?”called a smooth voiced woman from beyond the curtain. Frank looked about without a place to escape and said in hushed tone, “Ah Shhiii.”
The curtain flew back and Frank stared directly into the face of a black woman in her mid 30’s. She was beautiful, dazzling was the word Frank thought of first. It was the face he had always searched for in the group of bouncing breasted women in the National Geographic documentaries he watched in his youth when mom was away at her 6:30 hair appointments. He smiled.
“Excuse me sir, she don’t know no better.” She smiled largely, stretching out those full slick lips and revealing her perfectly straight teeth. The woman hoisted up the toddler and pressed her nose against the child’s sending the girl into uncontrollable giggling. She turned back to Frank. “God Bless you.” She said it with a wink of familiarity and then walked away. Frank felt so comfortable that he sat for a moment searching the empty corners of his brain for any missed connection. He did not know her, he had never met her in his life. Then he wished he had given her money, but she was gone.
Frank drew the curtain once more and glanced from the thermos to the page where he had left off, fixating on the word ‘vexation.’ The recent Lottery events passed over his mind, then the Pentecostal Tabernacle, then the ticket for New York City, and finally he looked above his head at the black plastic panel that allowed his detachment from the mall traffic and remembered the first time he mentioned to his mom about hanging out with a black girl. Frank repositioned and began writing.
“Mama may have been righteous, but she was also a racist, plain and simple.”