190. The negro boy

“The negro boy will assist you, miss.”

“Clemence,” the shopkeeper yelled.

Out came a skinny 16-year-old in ragged clothes, his eyes turned towards the floor.

“You will carry miss Fortner’s groceries to her home, you hear, boy?”

Clemence nodded.

“And you be on your best behaviour, now. If I hear you’ve been a bad nigger, there’ll be hell to pay.”

The boy took the groceries and followed miss Fortner out onto Main Street.

“You been in master Abernathy’s service long, boy?” she asked.

“All my life, miss.”

“Then why haven’t I seen you before?”

“Been working on the wheat fields near Goose Creek, miss. Master Abernathy only started my store training last week.”

“You enjoy it?”

“Master Abernathy don’t like me talking to clients.”

“I asked you a question, nigger. You will answer.”

“I prefer Goose Creek, miss.”

“Charleston a bit too sophisticated for your taste, I s’pose?”

“I don’t know that word.”

“Silly me. Here I was thinking you negroes were literate. You haven’t read a book in your life, boy, have you?”

Clemence did not answer. They had reached miss Fortner’s house.

“Put them on the porch. The help will take the groceries inside.”

She hadn’t taken a good look at Clemence till now. He was quite attractive for a nigger.

“You ever fucked a girl, boy?”

Clemence blushed. Miss Fortner slid her hand in his pants. He dared not react.

“You tell master Abernathy I want you to bring my groceries every Thursday from now on.”

Clemence returned home to his mother later that afternoon, scared and confused. But he did not speak a word of what miss Fortner had told him. He saw his mom had been crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“They’ve shot him,” his mother replied.

“President Kennedy is dead.”

 

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6 thoughts on “190. The negro boy

  1. […] recommended: The Negro Boy by Dieter Rogiers […]

  2. William says:

    Huh. So that’s what being slapped in the face with a pillowcase full of bricks feels like…

  3. I knew there had to be some kind of twist. I didn’t know it was going to pack such a wallop!
    Nicely done!

  4. A Mugwump says:

    Nice display of bravery with the n-word. I’ll get there some day. Hopefully.

  5. W. K. Tucker says:

    Hummm…..I was in the fifth grade when President Kennedy was shot. And I also did, and still do, live in Arkansas. Though I enjoyed your story, as I always do, this one didn’t quite ring true. Where I came from, blacks were not treated like this story suggests. There was segregation, yes, but I never saw a white person treat a black person like they were little more than animals. Now maybe if the story had been set twenty years earlier…

  6. The “good looks” mystery! Good.

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