Grover bought his wife some shoes at the Belks downtown.   He hated it in the tight cramped streets of downtown Durham.   He preferred to be at the gas station, or playing cards at the Elks.

       Paul and Buddy were fishing.    He thought about going to find them, but just drove aimlessly around in the Pontiac until he found himself on the fringe street past Roxboro Road where the whore kept an apartment.

       She was up stairs that ran up the side of the two story thick white paint siding claboard outside walls of the split up house that had once been a home to some one prolific family.

       He had trouble fitting the Pontiac down the tight drive past the wild boxwood shrubs and scrub and cedar, honeysuckle and all other manner of competing grasses and weeds run up in the wire fence till he was parked in the back on the thin gravel facing another fence overrun by vines.

       There was another car there, a 38 Ford with the swoop down back end.

       Grover turned on the radio and listened to part of a football game between Duke and Carolina.   He had played football for Duke.   He’d been Quarterback and Captain and he listened to the game remembering the way the guys had looked at him in the huddle.   It had always been interesting to him when he saw others move along with his will.

      The flying adventure with Carl had made him and the rest of the poker table laugh to tears in the telling.   As his three years younger brother he puzzled when he found himself vulnerable to Carl’s influence.   Rightly he had to keep the upper hand and so had emphasized every misstep of his brother, and the way Carl’s head had a perpetual scab somewhere on his scalp now.

      Still secretly to himself he had admitted that he was swayed and it had been hatching in his own mind that the family might need to go into another business.

       He himself was tired of the gas station and the tractor trailers they ran didn’t seem to be making as much money for the family as they ought to.   He was dreading the trip to New York with one of their hired drivers and the load of cigarettes.   He knew he needed to find out what really was going on and suspected that somewhere along the line the family was being robbed.

       Grover didn’t want to have to go back to driving himself as they had done when his father had put the brothers behind the wheels of anything that moved as soon as they were big enough to fight the machines and the weather and anyone who was stupid enough to attempt to stop them.

       His father had had to quit driving himself after he had beaten near to death a teamster on the docks who had threatened him.

       After Paul was hijacked they had all bought pistols, but hadn’t had to use them except for show after his father found a Business Agent to pay off so they could get in and out of the Brooklyn Pier.

      Still the whole thing still seemed more trouble than it was worth sometimes.

      The guy who had been with the whore came down the stairs.   Grover looked at his watch.   It was 4:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday and he had a box of shoes for his wife on the floor in the front.

       He had started the car and backed up turning when the whore came out and stood outside her door on the landing.   She was smiling and looking down at him when he backed into the place he had been parked in the other direction.

       She was wearing a flowered dress that hung clasped to her hips and fit tight to her moderate, but perfect breasts, in his opinion.   He thought he would miss her when she graduated from NC State.   She had come down from Carbondale Illinois where she had worked for a Madam in a brothel and started school at the University of Chicago for nursing.

       The first time he had had a black girl was when he was 15 and it had always been a part of his secret life only shared with others who had lives and interests like his and knew the need for secrecy and information shared over cigarettes and beer or liquor on the back porches of poker games taking a break from the game.

        It was a nice day, and he had some time.

        His dutiful but boney wife would not miss him or expect him till dinnertime, so he got out of the car and walked across the gravel and up the stairs.

        She stood there smiling and looking down at him as he came up the stairs looking at his feet till he got close and could near smell her.  She had an unusual smell to him, clean and musky at the same time.

        Her matter of factness and technical skill and the thicker feel of her skin was what he bought.

       "Well Carlotta, you got anything left for me?   Your visitor seemed young enough."   Grover said when she stepped back opening the door and inviting him in.

       "I heard your car and got a look out the window and got him gone in right good time I thought."   Her face coming up out of her chest and the smooth brown skin framed by the flowered dress was there round and round in brown curves of her body and eyes and cheeks and face with lips twice as big and soft as his white women.

     She turned and took a bottle out of the cabinet and poured him some Scotch into a glass and put it on the white enamel of the kitchen table.

      Grover sat down and she stood leaning her butt on the edge of the kitchen sink.

     Carlotta thought he was the largest of any white man she had given it to, and she liked him for his lack of timidity or worry.   She had taken to thinking of him as "The Dutchman" remembering how the Dutch had been different as far as white people she had come across.   He reminded her of her pimp who she had researched and made an agreement with when she had come to town looking for protection and humor.   Once on her own she had imagined the two of them with her.

       She kept such thinking to herself in a private ration that she regulated carefully and unspoken.

       Her father had been a butcher in Chicago and her mother had resented it when Carlotta had become old enough and commented on the "Uncles", and "Cousins" who visited when her father was at work.

      She hadn’t seen her father since she was 7 but she remembered him as big and shaped much the same as the man sitting in the hard wooden chair at the chrome legged white enameled table in that apartment kitchen where she lived and worked.

       She knew exactly what she would do with him in just a little while.   He would finish the drink and look at her and she would go into the bedroom and he would follow.

      Grover wasn’t looking at her face but at the V formed by the lay of her dress as she still leaned back against the kitchen sink when he asked, "Have you ever been in an airplane Carlotta?"

      "No."   She said.   "Black people don’t fly, you know that Mr. Grover."

      It was 7:15 when Grover left.   He marveled that he felt no guilt about what he had seen under his hands.

       "Black people don’t fly." – Was a wisp of a thought as he drove out between the houses and out towards his home.   He wondered what size shoes Carlotta wore and planned to get her some shoes as a present.   The one thing he really knew about women was that they liked shoes.





This entry was posted in Poems, Writing by Russell Scott Day. Bookmark the permalink.

About Russell Scott Day

I come from sailors and priests. My aim is to prevent apocalyptic riot, better known as nuclear war, when I was growing up. Creating a nation of airports will create the peace enough environment to prevent apocalyptic riot. I had a vision due to a period of boredom and bliss like the Aleph of Borges. That is the story I learned and was made up and happens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.