April 18, 1863
Refusing to break her trance-like
stare a dark-skinned, tall, lanky young girl (no more than thirteen)
rocked on her heels as she sang, Green green the crab apple
tree, where the green grass grows tall. She stopped the
tune. I free, she said.
No, a rather young white man said as he stood towering
over her with a toothless grin. You mine. He grinned
more, showing indeed he had teeth. Minemy slave.
He pointed his whip toward himself. This here America; you
belong to me now.
Free! she said. I free! Nam-o belongs to Nam-o.
She pointed at herself. Free. Free!
No, he said narrowing his eyes. You mine. I
own you. You...belongs...to...me.
Nam-o belong to no one but Nam-o. Nam-o and God!
Your name is not Nam-o...your name is Peggy. Peggy. Thats
your name now. Say it.
The young woman squinted her eyes, continuing to stare him down.
I Nam-o. I free. I born free...I die free. Nam-o gonna always
He drew back and lashed out at her with his whip. Youre
a troublemaker I see. Thats what I done bought myself
he lashed her hard, a troublemaker! Well allow me to help
you understand. He hit her again. Youre my slave.
And if I say youre mine... he struck her again, ...then
thats what you are! Im the Master around here.
Nam-o yelled with pain as the whip cut open her flesh.
He continued to beat her mercilesslysmirking at her now
torn bloody body. Ill teach you to look a white in
their eyes! He struck her again and again until finally,
his whip lay quiet.
She struggled to stand; tears now dry...white on her face. Her
eyes held the ground as the young master spit tobacco juice past
her lowered head. He flipped a silver dollar at her feet. Cost
me 450 of them there449 more than you worth, it looks like!
I suppose you do get what you pay for. I knew I should have bought
that one they had for six-hundred.
He turned to leave, but stayed when he heard a laugh. But not
just any laughone later described as pure-dee-evil!
You think you own some-body...some-thing? Nam-o said
clutching the coin and a shred of the green cloth torn from her
body. I tell you what then Masterdie and see. Die
and see just what you truly own! Nam-o show you a mystery. Nam-o
know free. No whip gonna tell Nam-o no different. You sow, I sow.
Soon both us gonna reap. Then all gonna see!
It was two weeks to the day when the otherwise young and vigorous
master fell dead. Ironically, in almost the exact same spot where
he and Nam-o had stood that day.
The documented cause? Unknown.
* * *
It was the mild more spring than winter weather all across
the South including Alabama that seduced quadrillions of dainty
color blooms to burst forth early. The year two Friday the thirteenths
did a tango back to back...
The yearI killed my own father...
June 9, 1998, at the grave site. I can recall so clear what Rev.
Goodword read from the book of Psalm.
Into thine hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me,
O Lord God of truth. Amen? he had said.
And with bowed heads and humbled hearts, we said in unison, Amen.
From my journalJ. M. Taylors. Mine. My thoughts, my
words...the bearing of my soul. Still, no one has the right to
it. No one unless I say so. No onesave me. Right? No one!
Truth? Yes truth.
Confession they say, is good for the soul. Well...maybe.
A novel Is it solely fiction or riddled with facts? If you
take the truth...change a name here, a place there; make whats
short, tall; whats thin, plump. Who truly recognizes it?
But if fact is the truth and fiction a truth, doesnt truth
still manage somehow to be told? Does real life hold deeper truthsdeeper
Sometimes, my father once told me, it...
(life?...truth?) ...it can be as simple as putting on or
taking off an old coat.
Many accuse me of not allowing folks to get close to me. Making
it hard to sympathize or feel for me.
They say I and those around me build walls no one
can seem to get past.
What do they know? What do they expect?
Who, in truth, can know all there is to know about another unless...until...time
has been spent between them? And not all is known then. Even Jesus,
had a Judas.
Time...trust...either...both bring to light who weunder
the cloak of darknesstruly are. Thats what I say anyway.
And just like the walls of Jericho, even the strongest structures
do have their waysin the endto come tumbling down.
Oh. But Ive gotten a little ahead of myself. I do that,
from time to time. Sort of like a prologue before the story.
Still, I find it does help to begin at the beginning. Or at the
very leastclose enough to it.
* * *
Begin At The Beginning