Who knew paper and ink could be so vicious.

Advertisements

The booklet is simply a list of laws stating what colored people can and cannot do, in an assortment of southern states.  I skim the first page, puzzled why this is here.  The laws are neither threatening nor friendly, just citing the facts:

No person shall require any white female to nurse in wards or rooms in which negro men are placed.
It shall be unlawful for a white person to marry anyone except a white person.  Any marriage in violation of this section shall be void.
No colored barber shall serve as a barber to white women or girls.
The officer in charge shall not bury any colored persons upon ground used for the burial of a white persons.
Books shall not be interchangeable between the white and colored schools, but shall continue to be used by the race first using them.

I read through four of the twenty-five pages, mesmerized by how many laws exist to separate us.

… [He] kissed me so slowly with an open mouth and every single thing in my body – my skin, my collarbone, the hollow backs of my knees, everything inside me filled up with light.

On day three, Mother calls up the stairs to ask what in the world I’m doing up there all day and I holler down, Just typing up some notes from the Bible study. Just writing down all the things I love about Jesus. I hear her tell Daddy, in the kitchen after supper, “She’s up to something.”

I give in and light another cigarette even though last night the surgeon general came on the television set and shook his finger at everybody, trying to convince us that smoking will kill us.  But Mother once told me tongue kissing would turn me blind and I’m starting to think it’s all just a big plot between the surgeon general and Mother to make sure no one ever has any fun.

The best part of a writer is on paper.

“DO NOT SPEAK TO ME, SPEAK TO THIS MACHINE.  I DO NOT WISH TO SPEAK.  SPEAK TO THIS MACHINE.  I AM NOWHERE AND YOU ARE ALSO NOWHERE.  DEATH COMES WITH HIS LITTLE HANDS TO GRIP US.  I DO NOT WISH TO SPEAK.  SPEAK TO THE MACHINE.”

One of my successes in life was that in spite of all the crazy things I had done, I was perfectly normal: I chose to do things, they didn’t choose me.

“Can you sleep at night?” I asked.

“We have to drink to sleep.  And then you can never be sure.  Those bars on the windows might not mean much.  My neighbor has them.  The other night he’s eating dinner alone and then there’s a man standing behind him with a gun.  Somehow he got in through the roof.  There’s some kind of passageway up there.  They are under the house and in the roof.  They can hear everything we say.  They are listening now.”

Four loud taps came up through the floorboards.

In a capitalistic society the losers slaved for the winners and you have to have more losers than winners.