Eunice wasn’t mentally prepared for what she had just seen. Three murders by lynching over a fire with an exuberant crowd going mental. This in America.
“Praise the Lord,” the crowd chanted in unison.
“The moment of reckoning is coming for us. Our troublemaking sacrifice is what you’ve all heard about!” The grand wizard said, stepping aside to sit with others on portable camping chairs. He waved his robed arm to his side as six white robed ‘pall bearers’ surrounding the ultimate sacrifice. In a tight circle they stepped away so the crowd had a clear view of Sam Hood, the large black man tied to a birch log.
“Holy fuck Sam!” Eunice instantly freaked at the gravity of the situation and how she hadn’t made her next move in time. Perhaps meditative influence had made her easily mesmerized by the twisted spectacle.
She moved from her hiding place behind a tree to the coordinates provided roughly 45 degrees due east of the grand wizard’s microphone stand.
She quickly found the lift harness marked with florescent orange.
Oh Sam I’m coming. Eunice prayed, God help me. God if you get me out of this I will never drink or do drugs again. I will love and take care of Sam.
She figured out how to strap on the harness belt as rehearsed.
She yanked the wire twice in quick succession. An invisible weight offset hers and she soared up into the treetops. A few pine branches whipped her face on the way up.
The instructions had been incredibly risky so she was using blind faith. There were no guarantees and the plan was not foolproof. It was a one-way ticket without a breadcrumb trail back to safety. She’d need Spider-Man and Wonder Woman skills combined to make this happen.
At the top she grabbed onto a thick branch, searched and miraculously found the second orange marking. This time she attached herself to the other zip wire.
Using a similar pulley system as the klan torture contraption Dougie’s riggers had innumerable tricks of the trade set up or so Eunice told herself.
Marching band drums, twangy guitars and a trio of covered figures were partway through the Dixie National Anthem in unison.
Old Missus marry “Will the weaver”
William was a gay deceiver
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land
In a nutshell the plan was for her to make physical contact with Sam by swooping down the zip line from above. The odds of her getting to him and having enough time to count to ten was yet to be seen.
She hoped Cirque du soleil had come to Huntsville and they were on the good side.
She grabbed the wire.
But when he put his arm around her
He smiled as fierce as a forty pounder
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land
She was taken by surprise how quickly she shot down the lubricated wire. There was no time for fear. She careened feet first toward the huge bonfire. Then skirted toward the six pall bearers who surrounded Sam’s post.
I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! Hooray!
In Dixie Land, I’ll take my stand
The element of surprise could not have worked better as she landed hard as nails knocking two of the six robed klansmen out of the way with her feet. The other four scattered confused as if a grenade had gone off or sasquatch had attacked them from woods.
The nearby sopranos at the microphone looked at each other, shrugged and kept singing as it was there first round-up none of them knowing if acrobatic cat burglars were part of the was pomp or circumstance.
To live and die in Dixie
Partially unbound Sam fell to the ground with a thud then looked up at her eyes wide in surprise.
Look Away, away, away down south in Dixie
“Holy mackerel Eunice!” He shouted.
Away, away, away down…
“Listen Sam, I’ll be nicer to you when we’re out of here okay? Turning you over NOW!” she had full control of her faculties and there was no time to explain.
She rolled him on his side slicing through a thick rope with four scores of her cat burglar exacto blade. She had robot efficiency focused on her mission to save Sam and get them the fuck out of there.
One Mississippi; two Mississippi; three Mississippi… Eunice counted in her head.
The banjos kept twanging along as the singers kept singing. The crowd was chaotic with boos and shouts of obscenity while others appeared intoxicated by the excitement. Most watchers hadn’t noticed cat burglar Eunice flying down her fox zip and hotly anticipated Sam’s lynching finale.
Six Mississippi; seven Mississippi…
The grand wizard sat frozen faced at the unexpected turn of events, “Wallace, Wallace boy…” he turned and barked, grabbing hold of another members attention, “Did you pay Sheriff Griffiths his fee like you were as told?” he demanded pointing at the captured Sam Hood untethered on the ground along with others.
“Yessir, I did to. Holy Christ,” Wallace said, standing up at the sight of events on the podium.
Eunice was gobsmacked to see the elusive black klansman at Sam’s side. Faith told her to stay on point. Could be a game-changing distraction. She kept to the countdown.
For all she knew nothing would happen at the count of ten but Dougie had made it imperative she count this way, “Eunice we must be synchronized. When you’ve made physical contact with Sam the riggers will adjust their zips. You need to count with Mississippi’s in between. Eunice it is critical okay?” Dougie said, in earnest then demonstrating with his firm voice.
nine Mississippi; ten Mississippi…
On second eleven she heard the sound of metal skidding down from above as Dougie barreled down on a fresh zip line. The riggers had fashioned a massive shark net set with springs to spread out and encompass the grand wizard and those within range of the web.
At the same time, two of Dougie’s men in masks with fucked-up eyeholes snuck to the gold spectator seats from the woods. Audible gasps were heard from stunned as the masks of high ranking leaders were yanked up and off revealing their identities. Eunice wouldn’t recognize them but imagined it would be quite a shock or delight to find out a judge, teacher or real estate agent was high ranking member klan.
You just never know who is klan!
She found out the Mississippi countdown meant a lot for Dougie’s plan to work. He had gotten a rough copy of the round-up site coordinates so could estimate where the Dixie South leaders would be seated. His men on the ground had been given detailed instructions, “You boys do your best to put as many of ’em leaders into the net. It’s easy, they got colored stripes!”
Like a choreographed tango Dougie unhitched his zip line clip, sidestepped the shark net and yanked twice on his line. The signal triggered the net to enclose around the still masked grand wizard and three unmasked klansmen.
The huge net sprung and closed so the grand wizard and klan leaders were trapped in such fine netting; the more they struggled to escape the more tangled they became.
The four captives were hoisted half-way up and left dangling in the air like a disco ball over an afterhours rave.
The singers stopped singing. The banjo kept playing.
Without sound system announcements to direct the crowd they didn’t know which way to turn. Some ran around hysterical feeling trapped within the area around the fire pit as if pine forest was an invisible force field. While others grew weary and many had dispersed.
Without the spectacle folks began questioning why they were there or if they even hated African, Hispanic, European, Asian, Caucasian, homosexual, or trans people at all. Later all would agree never before had an audience witnessed such a show.
Eventually Eunice grabbed the microphone, “My name is Eunice Johnston. I am a fugitive wanted by the FBI. You might have heard of me from Montgomery’s school shooting massacre last year. I am here to turn myself in to authorities. I stayed in hiding so my daddy would get out of prison. My daddy is African American. My mother is white…I can’t change your mind but take it from me, living a lie for other people or hiding a secret is a slow death. I will never do it again. You all know this here is wrong. I suggest you make your confessions when the police arrive or you scram right now,” her voice was hoarse from exhaustion.
Sirens grew louder and a hint of blue and red glow could be seen coming through the forests curtain of darkness. The dwindling fire made for mood light on the held captives dangling in the Aliens pod.
By the time authorities arrived there were no signs of Dougie or his men, only nets and pulleys in the trees that could very well have been used by klan.
Eunice looked to the spectator area where Sam chatted with a hoodless white-robed black man. She had no idea what that was about but was sure she’d find out from him later.
You’ve been gone a long time Eunice.
CNN News: Lone Wolf Vigilantism
[show opens with quote on screen]
A rioter with a Molotov cocktail in his hands is not fighting for civil rights any more than a klansman with a sheet on his back and mask on his face. They are both more or less what the law declares them: lawbreakers, destroyers of constitutional rights and liberties and ultimately destroyers of a free America. (13)
- Lyndon B Johnson
“I’m Anderson Cooper. Tonight we take a look at lone wolf vigilantes. These criminals, yet superheroes to many, illegally plan and execute justice on behalf of everyday Americans. From what we know Eunice Johnston either acted alone or had help through a network of like-minded individuals who may or may not have known or been complicit with aiding and abetting a felony.”
“With 18 charges now laid against her including coercion, conspiracy, drug trafficking, aiding-abetting and disorderly conduct, we take a look at how it all started. Roll the tape.”
[A Documentary-style film shows highlights with photos, news clips and home movies from Curtis and Martha Johnston’s time in Harlem; associating with Black Panthers and radicals including Malcolm X, circa 1970.
Highlights of Montgomery affiliations with the First Baptist church and Angela Davis in the 1980s.
A 19 year old Eunice Johnston at large wanted by the FBI for the better part of a year.
Clips of her in court wearing an orange jumpsuit like her father. Photographs from her cell where she stands trial on 18 charges.]
Martha Johnston Scrapbook files: News Clippings
“Eunice Johnston has just about singlehandedly infiltrated and shut down South Dixie, a major klan rally and top secret location only known to the upper echelons of the organization.” - ABC News reporter.
“Sure I’m a racist but mainly because them folk are always playing victim, taking our jobs and an all-around nuisance. I ain’t never wanted to hurt a living soul. What I saw that night I will never forget. They were burning bodies alive on a trapeze thing.”
– Admitted racist former klan member
“It’s jaw dropping how this kid from a shithole in Montgomery has ripped the lid off the never-before-known klan rituals including kidnapping and murdering transient drug addicts. You can’t even say simply murder. This is modern lynching!” - Birmingham resident.
You know I can live and let live now as long as none of that is ever done to another American. I’ll never forget those screams. They weren’t real.
– Admitted racist former klan member
“With speculation that jury deliberations will be quick, the Eunice Johnston trial has captured the worlds attention for months. For once it seems humanity could take precedent and public opinion seems to have shifted from.”
- WSFA-12 News reporter.
“To have a more compassionate understanding of walking in someone else’s shoes is what I want for my kids.
– Crying, white privileged woman