Gary Copeland Lilley

Issue #
February 3, 2014

Working with Rednecks: Part Two

The white bosses and their sons were on

the long steps of the store’s porch, the men

drinking Budweisers while their boys drank

from the red cans of cold Colas. I wanted one

and strolled into the store, like I did when I lived

in New York, and all the hands followed me

to the counter where I pull a sweated dollar

from my pocket, and lay it down for a cold soda.

A white man, wearing a white KKK tee-shirt,

looked at me like he could just barely see me,

then he turned and reached into the chest freezer

and got me a cold Cola. All the hands bought one.

And we walked back to sit in the shade on crates

and buckets under the roof over the gasoline pumps,

talking on each other’s sisters when the white boys

get up, and one of them who was about my age of 15

crushed his empty can and threw it at me. I threw it back,

hitting him side the head, knocking his aviator shades

into the Carolina dirt in front of the white bosses.

All the white bosses stood up, and one of them,

Jasper Edmond, said “Go to him Junior, don’t you ever

take shit from a nigger.” All the hands got up

and stepped away, and Junior came at me. Scared.

White. My first blow was square in the middle

of his face and he went down, then looked back

at his fat father while blowing the blood from

his broken nose. He got up and came again.

Slow and ready to stop if I would let him find some

white way to do it. But I had the bear funk on me,

and I hit him in the same spot and he dropped

to his knees. Then down to his hands and

blood-mouthed the words please, please.

I lowered my fists, walked away saying I quit,

looking at his fat ass father, who said that he was

gonna surely pay me what I goddamn had coming

for the day, and I told him that he could keep it.

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