Waiting for Tonight

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Burlap Sack

Sam was intent on finding out which klan chapter had an African American member, so he had sent his connection feelers out. He spoke to Eunice’s pal, Mike Watts to see if he or his network had leads, on finding where a cross state klan rally location might be.

Most folks in Montgomery got their news from WSFA-12 or the Montgomery Advertiser but they each had a spotty track record of censorship, so weren’t always considered trustworthy in the black community.

He could have gone to police but trust in authority, with them was also low. Traditionally news travelled better by word of mouth. In the 1950s the black press Chicago Defender and Pittsburgh Courier had proven reliable, often running completely different perspectives on mainstream reporting. Though gossip accuracy was risky news travelled faster and often more credible.

Sam had dropped hints over the past several weeks with friends, his parent’s, Eunice’s mother and select townsfolk for an ear to the ground.

“Do y’all supposed the good old klan boys have a more fearful presence nowadays?” he asked. If there really was a black klansman it was a juicy story, that would surely be talked about. Interactions at bake sales, barber shops and church choir could be more reliable than Reuters.

“You want to be careful sniffing around too much Sam. You’re being watched closely by the klan and the feds. Things could get dangerous. Let’s get this in front of the sheriff,” Mike said.

Sam looked at him in disbelief, “Mike you know the cops won’t rush on this. Don’t they still get paid off by the klan?” he asked.

“I’m sorry. I’ll ask around and let you know what I find out,” Mike Watts had said.

Sam had heard gossip through his folks he had a target on his back. The klan was pissed a young black man had the gall to buck tradition and pursue them with his identification of the black klansman to FBI.

Them fuckers are so lazy. No wonder they ain’t looking for Eunice Johnston no more.

He was frustrated there wasn’t one solid lead and it was difficult to know who or what the klan were up to. There membership was wider than any census could count and there was no all access TV channel showcasing their day to day affairs. Not yet, at least.

A day later just after 6:00 p.m., Sam left the law office along historic Commerce Street and headed for his car in the adjacent parking lot. He’d been trying to glean more information on how plea deals worked, puzzled by how there were so many. Maybe Curtis was right, “your own lawyer could be a crooked bloodsucker.” Were lawyers afraid of losing cases or were they too much work?

As soon he heard the crunching shoe scuff on pavement sound behind him he scolded himself for knowing better but he’d been so deep in thought. Always be vigilantly aware of your surroundings. You never knew who could creep up.

He was immediately surrounded by several masked men, looking almost comical wearing ladies dark nylon stalking’s over their faces, squashed their noses into pig snouts.

“Alright fellas, what are we playing at here. Now come on, I’m just minding my own business,” Sam said, less able to contain his frustration at whatever this was, would interfere with the plea bargain research.

There was no cajoling or fucking around this time. The assailants swiftly and had him to his knees overpowered to the ground and preceded to tie him with rope and coil him into a sheet of landscaper burlap cloth.

“We’re shutting you down Hood. You’ve been chosen to be made a token example,” one said.

Sam wasn’t sure they were klan and if they were, they didn’t seem to be on a joyriding expedition like the time with Todd but had specific instructions about what to do with him.

“D’yeah an example of what not to be,” another said, laughing at his own joke.

Assuming they were klan, Sam noticed they were less confident without their full regalia to hide behind, seeming almost erratic and rushed. He tried defending himself but assessed by their nervousness, too much aggression on his part might be like setting off a hairpin trigger.

“Once we get rid of driving ambition here there’ll be no one to take his place. Look at those other big mouths. They got snuffed out and it took twenty years for another one to come along. We’re putting a muzzle on your squawking,” another said.

“Where the fuck we gotta take him? All the way to Huntsville?” one said.

“Shut your pie hole idgit!” another scolded.

“Duh, sorry. We need to get him outta town for a few days,” he said.

Huntsville? Shit that’s way the hell up state. Although captive Sam got a cherry blossom of excitement in his belly signaling potential. Could this be your escort to the klan rally? As far as he could tell, the men were all white under nylon masks but maybe he’d find the black klansman after all.

“This is here is called Rohypnol. It won’t hurt you none. It’ll just paralyze you,” the bumbling one said. Sam didn’t even feel the prick in his arm with all the itching burlap on him. The anesthetic took effect as fast as a dental freezing.

In the blink of an eye Sam was embroiled in one of his philosophical ‘solve the world’ conversations with Todd.

“So you didn’t study klan in your privileged history class? Black history without the klan? I guess some history book pages got glued together,” Sam said.

“Not to the point of knowing all that. I’m actually going to apologize on behalf of all Caucasians. Seriously, it’s disgusting,” Todd said, looking embarrassed.

“Go figure, with that private school education! I don’t take your apology lightly. Thank you Todd,” Sam said. He’d never been able to talk race with a white guy before. Speaking freely without fear of reprisal was rare.

“Too bad the klan boys didn’t skip those pages,” Todd said.

“Yes I agree. I’m not even going to joke, they’re too dumb so they wouldn’t know, because the klan hide at all levels of education. Did you know it all started as a game?” Sam said.

“How so?” Todd asked.

“Allegedly supremacists began in a small town in Tennessee in like 18 something. They were goofing around on horseback dressed as dead Confederate soldiers. They had sheets with eye holes cut out playing ghosts,” Sam said.

“The beginning of heinous crime as innocent Cowboys and Indians, racist for other reasons,” Todd said.

“Boys will be boys. Back in the day they clowned around in good fun but who would they target in their except for a black boy? Sound familiar?” Sam asked.

“It sounds like hazing in University, supposedly meant to be a fun tradition,” Todd said.

“Until the game turns deadly, even if unintentionally. Then murder turns to ‘he had it coming’ or ‘too late to turn back now,’” Sam said.

Three hours later Sam’s burlap head covering was pulled off, leaving him looking headlong into a forest yet again. Fuck!

It was nearly dark out.

This time he’d been between awake and paralysis for the near two-hundred mile drive presumably to Huntsville. He guessed it to be their turf, their lair, the klan factory for torture and grinding humans into hamburger meat.

He was securely fastened to a ten foot birch log, propped up against other logs, presumably stockpile firewood for the pit. He was bound with thick rope, that cut into his hands and feet. His muzzle tasted rubbery in his mouth, secured by a kerosene stinking strip of canvas.

“You sit tight here. You will meet the grand wizard shortly,” a klan member said.

Sam pointed at his own mouth, making a gurgling sound with a mimed request to have it removed. He was ignored. His previous escorts were nowhere to be seen presumably working their next assignment.

He had a bird’s-eye view of folks readying the expanse of forest rally space. Members paid no mind to him while they focused like roadies setting up for the next act at Lollapalooza.

The teepee style wood fire pit was being lit by an experienced team. The klan thrived among the lawless pines with members looking at ease in their natural habitat. It wasn’t as if they got the chance to walk around town sporting white sheets. Except maybe for an annual parade appearance or one-off talk show guest spot, they didn’t have opportunities for pomp and circumstance.

From the center, he scanned the periphery like a protractor. The moon was clouded over, so he couldn’t see stars above the tree tops. The fire pit glowed, rippling out to the forest edge, a circumference halted by the dark velvet theater curtain of majestic pines.

Maybe fifty pointy masked, white-robed ghosts made their way in single file past the burning cross toward the fire and formed a circle around it.

Surely the black klansman was among them.

A hundred or more peasants in garish homemade masks surrounded the rim outside the first one. Their masks were less pristine in grays and browns. The common element being the horrific amateur sewn eye holes. Even farther beyond them were layers and layers of supporters making a ring of Saturn bleeding beyond the woods infinitum.

From his standpoint the entire scene looked like a large white cake for the devil’s birthday with the flaming bonfire as the candle. The symmetry made for a picture perfect demonic postcard.

It was only fair to expect the hate-filled followers to exact revenge on meddling in their ways. Sam wasn’t frightened anymore, accepting his fate as the unwelcome troublemaker. The klan has despised the cockiness of black men since the first ship arrived from Africa.

What they didn’t know was he’d already planned ahead with Tom Horsley’s guidance. Like the underground railroad, the school program was not one person but a team. Good triumphs over evil.

He brushed thoughts of Eunice Johnston away. Maybe next lifetime Babycakes!

The grand wizard appeared under a stadium spotlight, stepping in front of the microphone. His robe was whiter and crisper than the others with a double stripe trim at the hem. The crowd noise faded to hushed whispers out of respect or curiosity.

The last few bars of acoustic banjo playing Like a Prayer petered out as the maladjusted microphone squealed, “Hear ye, hear ye! These insults to white supremacy are the very image of self-hatred. Let us pray,” the grand wizard said.

Out from under, every pointy mask the gleefully berserk crowd prayed along with the grand wizard then cheered in soprano, tenor and alto. There were men women and children under klan sheets. Boisterous, loud but surreal without a view of lips and mouths moving.

“Now to begin the sacrifice ceremony. As annually we have three human sacrifices to prove our faith in what is right and just,” the grand wizard said. “I give you the sacrificial lambs. Praise the Lord!” he wowed the crowd yet again. They mob roared turning to each other excitedly as if in Times Square when the New Year’s ball ascends.

Three large crosses spontaneously burst alight as flames raced from base to tip. High above the frenzy, three figures had been strung along like birds on a wire, in direct line to the raging bonfire. Three emaciated bodies dangled beyond human from extensive meth and crack use. The poor bastards were likely addicts picked up from a drug infested urban ghetto.

Regardless of race, religion or other orientation the souls had long been abandoned be family due to an abhorrent lifestyle of addiction. The klan being mindful not to lynch productive members of society just junk no one cared for.

Sam was stunned. He was witness to the unimaginable hell that was Dante’s Wood of Suicide, the last stop ritual performed annually by klan who used drug addicts as human sacrifice.

Their last moments taunted and tortured by harpie monsters who tormented wrongdoers and carried their souls to a netherworld. Only the klan Harpies were white sheet wearing mutherfucking psychos who reveled in sacrifice for the sake of their white supremacy.

The final stage addicts had gone missing, abducted from parks or crack dens. Their poor unclear minds perhaps surprised the last hit didn’t do the trick.

Their souls transitioned to gnarled, sunken cheeked, thorny trees on a courageous road to meth suicide. The vegetable minded trees refusing life remained fixed in drug-dead sterility no longer recognized as human beings.

Sam planned out his last words, “We are connected as humans inside our hearts. Killing me doesn’t change that!” He winced when they exploded.

Pulleys moved the bodies along the tightrope wire. Once they got close to the heat they combusted with a quiet woof sound turning them into slow burning roasted marshmallows.

It hadn’t been clear to spectators if they had been alive until the rodent-like screams escaped from their mouths. The crowd erupted into cheers or horrified screams depending on whether it was your first round-up. The snap crackle and pop of the raging bonfire burned on.

The grand wizard was back on the microphone as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred, “Hear yee. Tonight we have a special occasion. We have chosen one of our living breathing enemies of the people to make an example of. This man is a demon to us. Sam Hood has tried to undermine and silence us on numerous occasions in his young live but we won’t be silenced.

Sam’s post had been lifted to standing position with the aid of [well-known farm machine company] to hoist and position post in a pre-dug hole at left of center of the podium.

“This Neanderthal is sneaky. He tried to tear our legacy of the past fifty years in equality down in our unrivaled Montgomery center. Sam Hood is the number one black blemish of the year. But first we’ll hear from … ” the grand wizard sounded more educated than blind followers knew.

“String him up! String him up!” the lemmings chanted.

“You been lookin’ for me Sam Hood?” a klan ‘pall bearer’ whispered in his ear while purposely stepped forward to reveal skin under his white sleeve. His arm skin matching Sam’s own.

It was the black klansman.

His brethren did nothing to intercede.

The grand wizard kept things lively with rousing story of why hate is so important before introducing the sopranos choirgirls.

The black klansman then jerked his mask off from above. His face was nose to nose in front of Sam’s snot dripping from his nose and drooling mouth. He didn’t look to be in charge of his faculties. He was either inebriated or insane maybe both.

“String him up! String him up!” the lemmings chanted.

Sam’s brain cleared away the snot and drool and he froze in the realization. It was a mic drop moment. Full stop.

What? What Sam pieced together didn’t add up. How could he be the klansman?

But I certainly have missed you brother!

It was Sam’s little brother Rory Hood.

“But why?” Sam said into his deranged looking face.

“String him up! String him up!” the lemmings chanted.

“Why? You wanna know why?” Rory was millimeters from Sam’s face stinking of shit and piss, “All that pussy-whipping you done took. You whiney little bitch! Making your race ashamed of you! Klan see you as a bunch of whining ingrates who hide behind history. Hide the fact you is as lazy as fuck!”

Sam’s life really did flash before his eyes. Rory had been gone since he was 14…

“String him up! String him up!” the lemmings chanted.

“It’s with pride I ask our fine soprano trio to take us through the original national anthem instilled by the forefathers. And then the moment you’ve all been waiting for to STRING HIM UP!” the grand wizard said. He stepped off the podium to sit with the klan elders.

The soprano trio began singing the Dixie National Anthem.

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton

Old times there are not forgotten

Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land

In Dixie Land where I was born

Early on one frosty morn’

Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land

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