A prologue to ‘The Mediocre White Man’
Miss Johnson mean mugged me from her den recliner while burning through a soft pack of her second favorite cigarettes. I purposely purchased her second favorites to piss her off. I hoped she’d perceive my willful negligence as an act of incompetence and insist she accompany me to the corner store so I wouldn’t fuck it up twice. The nearest corner store was closed and boarded up for the duration of the hurricane, which meant we’d have to go to the gas station. A trip to the gas station was only a three-minute walk, but for Miss Johnson’s one-legged ass, it was a three-minute walk to my car from her porch. If she intended to rectify her nicotine situation, before shit shut down indefinitely or we both perished of boredom and old age, she’d have to get in my car and let me drive her there. At least that’s what I hoped.
I knew she was on to my ruse when she very matter-of-factly asserted “come hell or high water, I ain’t goin’ no-fuckin’-where,” to which I responded…
“They gonna drag your ol’ ass outta here, kickin’ and screamin’ if you don’t get yo’ ass in that goddamn car.”
Cigarette hanging from her lip, Miss Johnson casually reached beside her recliner, picked up her Mossberg pistol grip pump, and said “I wish a nigga would.”
It was August 28, 2005 and Miss Johnson hadn’t shot a nigga since Cash Money took over for the ’99, year 2000. She had a pot on the stove–to get her cooking for the week out the way. She was wearing a muumuu and house shoes, and her foot was propped up on a case of shotgun shells. On her side table, where she rested her room temperature rum, sat a Glock 17 and Smith & Wesson model 29. The coffee table–which was also propped up by cases of ammunition–was covered with rows of loaded magazines, revolver speedloaders, and 40x46mm grenades. The grenades were for–and I don’t know from where the fuck she got it–the Milkor MGL (multiple grenade launcher) she had leaning next to the front door. She would turn ninety-five the next day and chose to spend her birthday–as she’d done for decades now–prepared for the great American shootout, an outright race war that never came.
She missed it by thirteen years.
On the subject of fight or flight, flight was for the opposition. Miss Johnson always stood her ground and she had the stump at the knee to prove it. To her, evacuation was just running away, a coward’s path, and Miss Johnson cowered before nothin’ and nobody, and definitely not before “a lil’ bitch-ass wind and rain.”
“Ain’t nothing bitch-ass ’bout a hundred-thirty-five-mile-per hour winds when they impale yo’ ass with a dislodged stop sign! You don’t leave, they gon’ find you in a parade of bloated floatin’ folks drifting down a flooded fuckin’ street!”
“Boy, I’m from the Nine and I don’t mind dyin’!”
“Well, I ain’t staying to watch!”
“Ain’t nobody invited yo’ ass!”
I’m not gonna lie, her resolve left me with a nasty bout of cognitive dissonance. I didn’t want to leave her home alone during a category five hurricane, but her refusal to abandon her home in the face certain annihilation was gangsta as fuck.
“All I got is my balls and my word,” she said. She didn’t get that from Scarface; that was reference to Young Bleed’s sole No Limit release she had bumpin’ on repeat.
She was a warrior without a war and she’d outlived her desire to live. She decided to make an exit, and that was it. I imagined I’d feel that way at some point, but I still wasn’t about to watch the woman who raised me commit nature assisted suicide, so I bailed.
“Fix yourself a plate,” were the last words she said to me. The pot on the stove wasn’t for the week; she was making my favorite: beef stew.
I made three plates.
There was nothing more to say. She would not be moved. I wrapped my arms around her one last time and kissed her cheek. Our adventures had come to an end.
“Come hell or highwater,” she said, and high water did sure come. Not long after, so too did the Devil.
To be continued…