The Minstrel

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On the streets there was panic. Innocent bystanders, curious onlookers, and righteous Pharisees were thrown about. Those from the fortress that held the good boys and girls from the American nation looked to blue knights riding the dark Chevys for protection, but to their surprise found themselves their hapless victims, caught in an onslaught directed at the dark-skinned peasants. This, perhaps, was the greatest shock more than the actual threat of violence from the serfs. They expected as such from them; after all, that is what serfs and peasants did; their brains were too inferior to know any better. But not the noble knights. They were there to protect them, not destroy them. Something had obviously gone terribly wrong. They wondered what.

The grand jury had finished deliberation. Right now, there were probably in the holding pen praying for their lives. They were cursing the fates that they had been chosen for this task. They hated being in a free country; perhaps being the law abiding citizens they were, life would be nothing more than a simply day doing the little tasks that the government was so generous to share; perhaps then they wouldn’t be here, barely clinging to life. They had done the right thing, according to the government, and yet rage still abounded, ready to close on them in seconds. Others wished they’d be voted the way they really wanted; at least then the fear they were being exposed to would have been worth it. Those individuals felt cheated; they had been robbed of their voices. All remained silent and locked away with them; perhaps, until some literary agent or ghostwriter offered a contract for their story. Maybe one day they would be heard.

There were those among them who’d stood up for a brother, to on, even a friendor a friend of a friend, to be exact; he’d never be here if he were the friend himself, and he was not one to lie to the court about things like that, being a Christian and an American citizen to boot. Those people sat in bemused skepticism more than any real fear. They had expected the riot outside, knowing full well the potential violence in the white man. Their ancestors had suffered under the lash too much for them to be ignorant of such things. It amused them to watch fear in the eyes of their lighter fellow jurors. They were like scared children on their first roller coaster ride. Watching them wile away the idle hours they spent in confinement. It was nice to see the rich white asses sweat a little bit, and behind bars, no less.

Right now, Tony Jones Velda as a free man that wasn’t quite yet free. He, like the grand jury and the other defendants who’d been scheduled for heating after him were sequestered in a single room which the court officers sometimes used for recreational purposes like smoking, and when they could, drinking beer. All were quiet except the venerable Velda himself, who kept the atmosphere quite noisy with his vocal complaints and outburst, such as the decor and culinary fare. Besides, he shouldn’t be here anyway; he was a free ma. Why the (expletive) was he here stuck in a (expletive) seedy room with the (expletive) scum of the (expletive)earth?

Nobody paid attention to him, busy with their own expletives, such as restraining other defendants itching to start their own riot inside. They looked at Velda with the same regard as they would a mosquito who refused to be killed. The level of control in the room was stifling; twenty-nine bottles of uncapped rage ready to burst. Thankfully for the court reporters, the TV was mandated to be off. Other than the muffled noise that was fairly commonplace outside the dingy room, there was no indication of life outside the four walls, let alone a riot. But the officers knew better. Like faithful disciples in the line of fire, they refused to speak as the grand jury and everyone else threw questions at them, increasingly becoming more pointed. The good officers had been under strict orders from a higher authority not to divulge any information about the riot to the prisoners, including Jones-Velda.

Outside, scuffles had escalated. There were the white ministers, demanding that Velda be executed; to desecrate the lives of God’s chosen leaders was purely sacrilegious; they claimed. The bishop spoke. A woman whose lover recently was murdered jumped at him, demanding to know his whereabouts when her lover’s murderer was allowed to live while her love rotted in the grave. The bishop was only there to protect his own, she screamed. She lunged forward, but never met her target. He was nothing but shit, the woman screamed as she was dragged away by police. When a Spic died, no on in the Church cared, but when the churchmen died, the Church all of the sudden wanted justice. Fucking hypocrites, were her final words as she disappeared amidst three blue uniforms, one of whom got kicked in the kidneys as he passed an angry white boy. The blue guy coughed but diligently continued on his way; being a rookie he was always meticulous in carrying out orders, but being human, he thought of his wife and two girls at home. He wondered if this job was worth it.

Still no word on a verdict, though being two-thirty in the afternoon, the angry mob was well aware there was one. Black and white alike threw rocks at windows while angrily cursing out the others for their destruction. Brown boys stood in their own corner, angry but unheard. They spoke their own language as they roared, adding to their isolation. One dark one finally acknowledged their presence by picking a fist fight with one. The mob, excited by the action, made room for them so they had their own circular ring to fight in. They cheered on the fight; each vying for the man closest to his color. It was like being at a feast, complete with boxing. A day of fun in the Bronx.

There was live coverage for a time. At three o’clock, the news vans were sent home, to put it euphemistically. Most of the cameras had been knocked down and smashed in a sudden instant; wires had been yanked out and mortally wounded. There was talk among the anchors that there would be a lawsuit against the City of New York, particularly when it was found that a pretty, petite blonde of twenty-seven had two of her teeth knocked out and a blackened right eye. Someone had squeezed her breasts, too. She had been terrified that she was going to be raped. That was intolerable. Time to go to court.

Meanwhile, someone really was being raped and had no TV heavyweights to back her up: a poor young soul of a Latina who’d somehow gotten tangled up on the white side. She was surrounded in a fashion so that even if her people were looking to save her, they couldn’t because she was nowhere to be seen. The white assholes, they were having fun, would show her who was boss. They could get away with raping some Dominican bitch in the middle of the day in front of blue suits on the lawn of the municipal court (which being the Bronx, wasn’t much of a lawn), right in front of her homeboys and get away with it. But hell, it hadn’t been anything new for her, the first one announced with some disappointment. Fourteen, she had to be, and she wasn’t even a fucking virgin. She was a whore who deserved what she got, he yelled as the third one finished and they began beating her. Then solidarity of the circle was diffused during the beating, and in the cracks, the Latino men saw their fallen sister. There were spurts of blood as the white boys were not only stripped of their clothes as the Latina but their skin was stripped from their white bones. The girl had been the women of one of the Latino men, pregnant with his child. And she was nineteen, not fourteen, and they were to be married on Christmas Day. Now, she was barley alive. A black brother somehow got shoved into the midst of the fight, and an unknown fist crashed into his skull. His blood was just as red as the white boys’, and it was impossible to tell whose blood was whose when looking at the street decorated thoroughly with red. The riot had become a bloodbath, mostly teeming with the blood of brothers and Latinos. It was white boy’s day out.

Johnson-Frawley and Taylor sat in Johnson-Frawley’s office, watching the Latino boys attack their white boys. Up until this point, the uprising had been fairly more than a nuisance to them, mostly because they knew the white boys had enough decency to know how to conduct a peaceful demonstration; they had been taught right. But the blacks and Spics wanted everything white the whites lost everything. They didn’t want to be upstaged or have even a remote chance of the “evil white man” to be heard, so now here they were, animals that they were, causing chaos and destroying things. Enough already. The women weren’t going to tolerate an LA riot in their city, and the police weren’t doing shit to protect the white boys, so the women knew they had to act, and act now.

Michelle Johnson-Frawley got in touch with the mayor, a white liberal, telling him that the whites were getting out of hand. Joan Taylor called the National Guard and Armed Reserves, telling them that a federal building was under attack and that officials were being held hostage. She considered it their problem that they didn’t know that the nearest federal building was at least two miles away. Then both women, sensing that they had done something semi-illegal, crept quietly past closed doors where angry business was conducted until they reached the main lobby, where they headed to the cafeteria to have coffee. No one would ever suspect that the two professional looking, middle aged women of mishap. It would be blamed on the hippies, who were outside the door picketing and playing guitars for peace. The two women giggled between themselves, sharing secrets like a couple of teenage girls.

The verdict and the military happened respectively, three minutes apart. The brave-hearted reporters who had remained plundered the tower, for their gold, taking the blue uniforms by total surprise. When the mob tried to follow, the blues woke up to reality and drew their guns. Even the clubs of the gangsters paled against real ammunition. They stopped dead in their tracks, all were quiet (NRA). Then a lawsuit for police brutality was announced, and the rest took up the battle cry. The force of a mob, they figured, united together in the common cause of violence and fighting for the right to do harm to one anther, had to be stronger than the force of a few.

But things quickly changed. A shot rang out. It froze much of the herd. Unlike many of their fellow mobsters, there were some who had never hear the sound of a gun up close. All the cop shows on TV in the whole world had not prepared them for it. Their sudden paralysis fractured the tenuous thread holding the previously warring fragments together, for many of the darker ones, who were not only more used to the sound up close but used to a white man with a badge threatening them with gunfire, found themselves fueled with new force. They pushed, shoved, and trampled on the prissy whites with no backbone. No white cop with a gun was going to dissuade them from their mission to save their black brother inside. Angry Latinos attacked the black herd, angry at their accusation that they were racist and had deserted one of their own, white the white bunch retreated and sat back to observe the violence, somehow aware that now that the cops were starting to shoot guns, it would mean trouble for them if they started messing around. Let the Spics and niggers take the heat. Besides it was fun to watch those stupid beasts fight. Entertainment.

Looking at the insanity from high above, the whole scenario looked like a zoo run amok. Jonathan Pfeifer noted as her

stared out a tenth-floor window in Municipal Court, just across the street from the commotion, which really meant at this point that if he walked out the door he’d find himself smack in the middle of the whole commotion. He’d come here at ten to serve some papers, and by the time he got out of the judge’s chambers at eleven-thirty, the street had become packed tighter than a sardine can. He sure as hell didn’t plan to g out in this mess, especially when several phone calls back to Frawley’s office yielded nothing. The drunkard was probably flat out again, and the receptionist had probably taken advantage of the whole thing by taking an early lunch for the rest of the day. So, Jonathan would too. In fact, his job was beginning to feel like one big lunch break. No one wanted to deal with Frawley with his incessant ramblings; even his bigoted colleagues didn’t want to deal with him. It seemed like everyone but Frawley and the new Nazis down below knew one some level that the only reason why Velda was incarcerated was because he knew he was the nearest black man to the scene. Frawley’s cronies avoided him because they were afraid for their lives with someone so bigoted; some mean black boy might drive by their luxurious homes one night and shoot them up. Most others didn’t want to be bothered because they thought he was going insane.

He went to the pay phone, thinking he should call Ashley. Every single one was in use each with a line of at least half a dozen people. Most waiting were cursing in impatience at whoever was using the phone, each one believing their call and their loved ones were more important than anyone else’s. Anger bred anger bred anger. Jonathan meandered to one of the longer lines. He was in no rush to call the house which he assumed was empty anyway. Anticipating the chaos, the elder Thomas had probably gone with her daughter to Tarrytown for the day; Raven was probably going to the Vanderhoffs’ again for the evening. He fumed internally without even having verified his contemplation. He didn’t feel like he was projecting; he only knew his wife too well.

He should get a divorce; for Raven’s sake. And he didn’t even love Ashley anymore. There was nothing to say to her, ever. Their lives were poles apart, and, what was worse, she hated him for being so different from her. Their marriage had become nothing more than a typical, worn out scenario where the very things that had once attracted now repelled. It was a sign of her immaturity. Ashley, for all her sophistication and upper class rearing and her well-bred manners, had never grown up. She was, and still was, a spoiled child who had everything she wanted handed to her and hadn’t known a day of hardship in her whole life. Jonathan had more problems than she had, much younger than she. None financial, which seemed to equate in most people’s minds that all other problems were inconsequential, ready to be paid off with a bank check and a signature. Somehow, being locked in a closet for a day by an angry parent or watching a mother cry night after night did not seem so bad to outsiders when there was a fancy meal to greet the victims afterwards and designer clothes for them to wear. Not that Jonathan’s family was ever rich, mind you. If they’d tried to contend with the Thomas league they’d be laughed all the way to California. But there was money, more than average. The bills were paid, his prep school was paid, and then some. In the early days, there had even been trips to Disneyland and Bermuda. Those days were mere hushes along a darker landscape that scoured the later years. Hospital bills, for mother’s nervous condition. Ruptured spleens, heart attacks, compliments of dad’s workaholic days as an engineer and rage attacks on his family at home. There was no money then.

Jonathan found himself at an available phone line finally. Discombobulated from his thinking, he mentally stumbled as he placed coins in the machine, wondering who it was he was supposed to be calling.

Yeah, Ashley. See if she were actually home. Raven would be home from school now, so it would be unlikely. The prospect of Ashley spending time with his “bastard” child seemed almost unthinkable, he thought as the phone rang in his ear.

Two times. Three times. “Hello?” The musical quip was unmistakably Ashley. Jonathan almost gasped in shock.

“Ashley?” he made out.

“Jonathan? Is that you? Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m at the Municipal Court.”

“Omigod, I’m so glad that you called. I’ve been so worried about you all day, and when I called the office and you didn’t answer, I didn’t know what to think.”

Jonathan found himself touched at the sound of the old Ashley. The concerned voice of his wife soothed him after the nervous tension of the day. “I came here earlier to file some work for Frawley, but I never went back. I have a front seat view of the whole craziness.”

“You what! You’re right there? They’ll kill you!”

“Ash, it’s all right. There’s been no problems inside the court all day. I just thought it would be better if I wait here until things calmed down.”

“Oh God, oh God,” Ashley moaned. Jonathan wondered if he should have said anything about Municipal Court at all. The fact was, he’d been unprepared; unprepared to hear her voice or deal with her concern, even though he’d been the one who called. He’d received so little of her concern for so long that it surprised him when it was there. “This whole thing is so terrifying to me,” she continued; “I walked into town to buy some soup and there were people running around in the streets. Then I came home and saw the news clip. I ran to the school and brought Raven home as fast as I could.” Another surprise. The mention of her caring for his daughter completely won him over, and he was hooked once more. I’ve watched all day, but the cameras were all destroyed an hour ago. There’s no more coverage. My God, what is happening there?”

Jonathan looked again at the packs of animals, the black ones, the brown ones, the white ones all swarming amidst each other while keeping separate. The scene suddenly filled him with nausea. All these idiots, attacking other strangers just because their skin was a different color, as though pigment dictated an opposing philosophy on arrival. Jonathan couldn’t make any sense of it.

“Honey? Are you still there?” Ashley’s anxious voice was on the verge of panic.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m here,” a disorientated Jonathan replied.

“Oh, I was worried. The way these black people are acting, I thought one grabbed you.” Jonathan almost laughed despite himself. Ashley would never use the word “nigger”, but the way she spoke of blacks, she may as well have.

“They’re not letting anyone in the court. They don’t want a riot in here too.”

“Oh, good. They can be so obnoxious.” Obviously, with her mindset, she would have never interpreted the veiled message correctly; that the white people were more likely to start on the black people than the other way around. Jonathan didn’t bother correcting her; there was a line a mile long behind him, and his time here was running out. He had more important things to do with it.

“May I speak with Raven?”

“Oh, she’s sleeping. Would you want me to wake her up?”

“No, no. Let her sleep. I just wanted to know she was all right.” The last sentence he’d thought aloud without realizing until the words were out of his mouth.

“She’s fine, just a little tired. It was so crazy at the school, too, lots of people running around and yelling. It was upsetting for her, but she’s okay. She’s in good hands now.”

Jonathan wanted to believe the words she said. He wanted to trust his wife. She really had done nothing wrong. He sighed, eyeing the disgruntled line behind him, and felt there was nothing more to say. “I have to go. There’s a line waiting for the phone. I just wanted to let you know I was all right. Tell Raven I love her when she wakes up.”

“I will,” Ashley said quietly. “Be careful.”

“Sure thing.” Silence.

“I love you Jonathan.” Silence.

“I love you too, Ashley.”

In the silence then it was hard to tell if she was still on the line. “‘Bye,” he said.

“‘Bye, love.” Then the click. Jonathan felt suddenly empty as he hung the receiver in its place and walked away.

He ambled down a hallway, intending to go to the cafeteria to get some lunch. Suddenly the fact that he hadn’t eaten since he left his house at seven that morning hit him. He was searching at the office directory for the cafeteria when a news bulletin coming from an overhead television set snapped him to attention. There was a breakthrough in the Supreme case riot. A verdict had been issued. The media were going to the courthouse with the news. Jonathan wondered how they were going to do that if the mobsters chased all the cameras away.

But there they were, live coverage with anchor Sally Harkensen, standing with eager eyes and a big wide grin that seemed either artificially planted or ridiculously naÏve given the circumstances. She was new, anyway. Jonathan couldn’t remember seeing her before. Of course , they gave the dirty jobs to the new guy. Jonathan knew from experience.

Harkensen jabbered away, commotion filing in and out from behind her. It spurred on her speech, she was the typical rookie enthralled with being in the line of fire. Jonathan listened to her words with a half-opened ear: “we’re here at the Bronx Supreme Court, live, exclusively. There has been word from the foreman that there is a verdict in the grand jury hearing against Tony Carlos Jones Velda. We go live to the courtroom right now.”

There had been a camera in the courtroom, apparently. Somehow, this network had obtained exclusive rights to the drama. Jonathan thought of the other reporters, the ones ransacked. Jonathan’s heart went out to the poor bedraggled souls; all that chaos they’d been put through and there wouldn’t be any glory for them. The thought of all the dominance and aggressiveness, how willing people were to destroy each other just to get their way and get to the top, instantly sickened him. It sickened him to see mankind behave more base than the least intelligent animal.

“find that there is not enough evidence”

Raven had been made terrified today, exhausting her so badly that she couldn’t be out playing in the gorgeous colors that decorated the fall landscape, an afternoon sun almost as warm as and August morning. No one here enjoyed it either. No one noticed the oranges, the reds, the golds so briefly but majestically displaying their proud beauty before they fell to the ground and returned to the earth. The souls here were already deep into winter.

“free to go”

The camera had a transparent clock in the screen, Jonathan noticed. October 8, 1994, 10:20 AM. As if suddenly caught unawares from daydreaming, Jonathan jerked his watch to view: 3:07. The verdict had been issued four and a half hours earlier. It was far from “live,” and four and half hours of rioting had been allowed to go unabated. What the hell was going on?

There was a rumbling commotion coming from below. Far in the distance from his elevated view, Jonathan saw a sight that he had to do a double take on. Funny, but he swore he saw tanks? He blinked several times to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. As it turned out, he wasn’t. Several other people were looking out the grand window and pointing at the spectacle. A bewildered Jonathan Pfeifer sat wondering how the military had managed to cart tanks through New York Cityand why. AN armored vehicle would have been good enough.

All of the sudden there were uniforms everywhere, jumping out of vehicles that sneaked up behind the tanks. The mob dispersed in its confusion, began swarming away their huge bodies, only to be blacked on the other side by a new presence, a massive fleet of blue cars; probably organized in the wake of the confusion the military bestowed. They were from different precincts and different counties; Jonathan even noticed a patrol with Newark insignia on them. A mass effort to get an our of control city back under control again, as it was ready to explode at any moment. The vandalism was nothing compared to the actual fabric that held the society being ripped apart at that very moment, just by the sheer anger and hate that tore gulfs between everyone. Jonathan stood and watched as blacks and Latinos were boarded into the blue cars, while white ones were whisked into ambulances that carried them to safety. Filled with bewilderment at the scene, Jonathan wondered how the whites had gotten off this one. They had started the trouble, yet there had been no move to arrest them earlier. Now, the blacks and Latinos, put in a position to defend themselves and one another were being blamed. A bunch of blacks attacked the patrols, only to be confronted with guns to their faces. The gesture didn’t daunt them; they must have said something to the whites that were standing by, because suddenly the whites were on them again, cops notwithstanding. A new brawl had begun.

Then the strangest occurrence happened. In the middle of the brawling races, a figure emerged as if from nowhere, walking between fighting foes as though it was the most commonplace thing in the world. It was enough to send the boxers into such a confusion that their fighting stopped. Then the figure turned around, facing the former fighters and gesturing with his hands in all directions. All just stood there and looked at him. From where Jonathan was, he couldn’t tell if the gangsters were laughing at the fellow or now, but his antics seemed to quell the fights better than the army’s best weapons could. They were so taken aback by his lunacy it was as though they forgot about fighting. They formed a circle around him while the cops took advantage of the diversion, taking the culprits in small clusters into custody. The perpetrators didn’t even seem to notice; they were too busy watching the crazy man.

Finally, one white boy came forward, the first to dare challenging the crazy man’s hold by attacking a black boy on the outskirts who said to a white girl that he should stick his black dick in her pink ass if she really wanted a man. The crazy man dodged through the circle and knocked the white boy away while angrily yelling at the black kid. Scared, the young fourteen year old black, who only wanted to sound important, ran away from the crazy man. There was such anger and rage in his eyes. He had to get out of there as soon as possible.

White boy seemingly was not as intimidated as his black peer. Anger at being assaulted and publicly humiliated by a crazy man dissipated any fear he had. He reached behind crazy man as he was yelling and grabbed him by the throat, pulling him onto the ground, ready to beat him to a pulp. The white guy suddenly felt full pain; on the way down, the crazy man somehow kicked him where both real men and male cowards feel pain most. White boy held himself in pain, if you didn’t know better, you’d think he really had to go to the bathroom badly by his position. But, the crowd did know better, and white boy’s predicament caused a raucous of laughter among the minorities, that is, until the crazy guy started yelling again. The Latinos suddenly appeared somber by his words, as the blacks started cursing at the crazy man in frustration. English, man, speak English. We don’t speak no Spanish. Yet somehow, even not understanding, they were rendered as quiet as their Hispanic rivals. The white boys were silent, too; mostly because the police were there. Not that the police scared them. They just didn’t want to look like the guilty ones.

The momentum had been broken. Finally. Slowly, inch by inch, individual by individual, the band of rioters were disbanded. No one walked off with any prized loot; but bounty had not been the point of this riot, blood had. It had been one of passion and glory. Each man had fought for the dignity that they deserved as God’s creatures, though at the moment, God had been far from their minds. They had been created black, or white or Hispanic; and they’d be damned if someone was going to cut them down for being that way.

By four-thirty, most of the blatant perpetrators had been carted away by the blue cars. Barricades had been formed outside the court in preparation for the release of Velda, and the more benevolent of the crowd remained, anxiously peering over the blockades and each other, hoping that they would catch a glimpse of the famous anti-hero that had been the catalyst for such vast emotion that day. The crazy Spanish man had disappeared as quickly as he had come, and his presence was forgotten in the din of anticipation for another exalted image. Jonathan Pfeifer, sitting on the third floor in Municipal Court, getting a haphazard view of events from his vantage point, finally felt safe enough to return to ground floor so he could make his way home. He had no interest in meeting the source of destruction , though he had an idea that Velda was more and excuse for the violence than the actual cause. Man was violent because he wanted to be.

The crowd milled on the streets as Jonathan reached the entrance, nearly blocking his path to get out the door. The looked like they were lined up for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Jonathan almost expected someone to walk down the street with a cart of cotton candy. The absurdity of it would be good, considering the nerve-wracking tension most had suffered that day.

Despite his earlier plan, Jonathan found himself in the midst of the throng waiting for Velda. There was nowhere to move with all the people there. He thought of Raven, then Ashley, and wished he was there at home with both of them right now. He was sick of crowds, noise, and confusion. Too much destruction had been witnessed today; he needed peace, but none was forthcoming. He was resigned to spend his time with ogling, wide-eyed children waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. Between the rioting earlier today and the infantile wonder of the crowd now, Jonathan decided he had never seen so many adults act so immature at one time. With all the screaming, hooting, pushing and nudging, Jonathan felt like an alien creature. He wondered if there was even one other soul in the crowd that felt like he did, but from what he could see, he was alone, in his sentiments. He sighed as he resigned himself to stay in a place he didn’t want to stay, for God knew how long. There was nothing he could do.

He took his attention away from the masses themselves, for their antics did nothing but disgust him. Instead he scanned the crowd to find the crazy man he’d seen earlier. Form the tenth floor, he’d obviously not gotten the best view of the lunatic, but Jonathan kept expecting to spot him in the crowd and recognize him. He wondered if it had been the Hispanic man he’d found on the side of the road, but dismissed his own thinking. His thinking was slightly skewed on the subject, lending him a confusion about his own inner workings. He himself was somewhat unsure of why a part of him kept searching for a man he hardly even knew, particularly one that didn’t seem to desire his company, or anyone else’s, for that matter.

He wondered what it took to make a person to desire absolutely nothingno roots, no family, nothing to tie oneself to one place. Even he in his freedom days had desired some connection, which is probably the main reason why he’d gotten involved with Jennifer in the first place. It was like way back when, trying to find himself and who he was about. Even when he’d woke up to rejoin the world, he hadn’t given a clue to anyone who he was. Maybe he didn’t even know himself. Jonathan wondered who the guy’s wife and daughter were, and where they had gone that he was searching so hard for them. Maybe the guy was a bum and his wife had packed up with the kid and dumped him, with no trace of her whereabouts. Either way, it could understandably send a guy over the edge, lose his marbles. But somehow Jonathan had a gut feeling that it wasn’t the case with this one. Something more drastic must have happened to make the guy who he was now, he was sure of that.

His feet hurt and his head ached. The stench of sweat, diesel and pollution was burning away into a fairly breezy evening; all Jonathan could feel was the heat emanating from the other bodies smoldering into him. It was all he could do from passing out just from sheer exhaustion, like many others he saw around him doing.

He daydreamed for a little bit; wondering about Jenny, if she was still alive and how she was doing. It was hard for him to think of good things, he felt so negative. He kept thinking of Jenny, how she was never accepted by his family even when she was pregnant with his child, and how the prejudice she experienced at the hands of his family and other whites in his circle undermined what little confidence she had until she dwindled down into nothing. It was like a self-fulfilling prophecy: the no-good Indian eventually became the no-good Indian. In the end, she was so beaten down by drugs and self-abuse that even her own people hadn’t accepted her, and the child she birthed had been nothing more than an inconvenience and a nuisance; white people had done enough damage to them, so the last thing they felt compelled to do was accept a half-white as one of their own when the Indian part was a junkie.

Jonathan loved her like she was an extention of himself. He felt the least he could do after his desertion of Jenny was treat her unwanted child like gold. By the time Jonathan left Jenny, she’d been so far gone with drugs that she didn’t even know she had a child, couldn’t recognize with him or the fruit of her labor. It had broken Jonathan to leave, but didn’t want Raven raised in an area where she’d be rejected by everyone including her own mother. Jonathan had still loved Jenny; memories of the old jenny far outweighed the Jenny she’d become. Perhaps if it hadn’t been for Raven, he’d still be with her right now. Maybe Ashley knew that. Maybe that was why she always seemed distant to him, just out of reach of truly loving him. Maybe it was the same for him.

Memories held him through until Velda made his stage appearance and his fans were satiated enough in their lust for his presence. He thought of the home he and Jenny created, full of beautiful flowers and sculptures that Jenny herself grew and created from her own hands. Such a gentle spirit that always gave to anyone she knew, gave her time and compassion. She had not deserved to have been hated for her color. She had not deserved his adultery and desertion. She had not deserved him, or rather, he didn’t deserve her. She had deserved much better than what she received.

A proud Tony Jones Velda strutted past the crowd, his head high, his back tall and proud. He had survived prejudice and bigotry, and he had come out far higher than he ever was. Jonathan would try to fell joy for him. But remembering Jenny, he couldn’t. All he felt for the gallant figure was an empty hole.

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