Stingray

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Chapter 9 Julie Newsome Green vs Ernest Tyson Green

Ernie’s new cell mate had been silent the next two days. Ernie returned the favor in not speaking to him. The third day, while sitting on the cement floor of their cell and analyzing a sheet of paper in his hands, Jackie broke, “You know I ain’t just another dumb nigga?”

“You dumb enough to be up in here,” Ernie replied.

“Well, well, well, honkey, what the fuck does that say about you, huh?”

Good point, Ernie thought to himself. He changed the subject. “What the fuck are you doing anyway?”

“I had Leroy,” Jackie said, stressing the prisoner’s given name, “snag a piece of this draft paper for me. See, I got this game board at home that has a million little lines crossing cross each other just like this paper here. ’Cept it is made out of wood, and this here is paper.” Ernie nodded. “I could picture the paper in my head, but didn’t know it would work til I got it.”

“So, let me get this straight?” Ernie asked, making fun of his cell mate. “You are so hell bent on proving you are not dumb. But how do you do it? You figure white boys like me must love math, right. So you get straight to it, and in only three days’ time you make the biggest mathematical discovery of the 20th century.” Ernie said. His sarcasm was now through the roof. “You discovered that a Cartesian graph is the same whether it was printed on paper or printed on wood.

“Congratulations, 2718! But I got to ask. How long did it take you to figure out that paper and wood were made from the same thing?”

“Look first of all, quit pulling that guard shit, calling me by a fucking number. The name is Jackie, Jackie Johnson. On the streets they call me, Jay Twice. Learn one or the other. It don’t matter to me. Anything else, I am gonna knock your fucking teeth down your throat. Got it?” Ernie shrugged his shoulders. “Second, I’m telling you this for a fact, Whitebread. You got me wrong. I’m talking dead fucking wrong. You don’t tone that nigger hating shit down, you’re going to figure out zactly what I mean.”

“Oh fuck. It’s always the same thing. I got you all wrong huh? What exactly do I have wrong about you, Jackie? Huh? You hate white people the same I hate blacks. You showed your card the moment you walked in the cell.”

“But you hate all black people, right?”

“I hate anyone who isn’t white protestant,” Ernie corrected.

“See I just hate racist honkey mother fuckers like you. White people as a whole don’t bother me none.”

“Ah-hah,” Ernie said as if Jackie were making his point. “Unlike you, I don’t have the luxury of hating such a race of people with individual qualities such that I can pick and choose my hate by taste. Unfortunately for me, or for you in this case, all blacks are the same. Thus I hate accordingly”

“They ain’t all the same.”

“They all lie, cheat, and steal. All of em. Honestly, it makes painting my hate with such a broad brush almost too easy.”

“Bullshit.”

“Ok, Jackie. I tell you what. Here’s your chance to cure me of my racism. Prove ya’ll don’t all lie, cheat, and steal. Let’s take you. Specifically the story you fed me day one. I think the whole thing is a fucking lie. So that takes care of lie. Doesn’t it?

“But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt. Because, you never get those, right? We will say the story you told me is true. You told me ya’ll normally pay 20-30 dollars a game when you hustle, right? But you told the white guy it was a hundred dollars a game. So you either lied to me or him. Either way, just like the rest of em – you’re a liar.

“And you cheated by not paying the guy the hundred bucks you owed him after you lost. In all actuality you took a hundred bucks from him too. So that takes care of cheat and steal. And just in case my point can only be proved with a specific example from all three. When you shot the guy and killed him. You took his life from him.”

“Fuck you, Whitebread.”

Ernie shrugged in a way to suggest he made his point. Then he picked up the book he checked out from the prison library. The unnatural way in which he held the book high and in the direct eye-line of Jackie was by design. He hoped Jackie would see the title and be able to infer that Ernie was not just another white guy who hated blacks. Because deep down didn’t they all? He was that White Guy. The one who would act on the hate.

Either Jackie didn’t care or he didn’t understand the significance of the book that Ernie held in his hands. Looking over the top of his book at Jackie who now had went back to inspecting the paper and pantomiming different marks he would place upon it, Ernie figured it was the latter.

Was it that The Turner Diaries was too niche for the dumb nigger? Ernie asked himself while watching Jackie meticulously use the tip of his finger to mock up an X at intersection of two lines. After this imaginary X was in place, Jackie would then look at the paper and appear to nod at it approvingly. A half second later he’d shake his head of the imagined image and then put an O on an intersection and do it all over again.

Maybe I should be reading Mein Kampf, Ernie thought to himself. That would do it. Though he doubted the library had it, and was actually surprised that it had The Turner Diaries available for check out. Perhaps it was not only too niche for Jackie but too niche for the prison? Too niche for the mainstream?

Ernie turned the page violently in an attempt to get Jackie’s attention. Jackie looked up from what he was doing. Ernie said, “This is one of my favorite parts.”

“That right?” replied Jackie.

“Yea,” Ernie began to read. “‘Only by making our beliefs into a living faith which guides us from day to day can we maintain the moral strength to overcome the obstacles and hardships which lie ahead.’”

“S’pose there is some truth in that,” Jackie said, and looked back down studying the sheet of graph paper.

“Yea, you should read it sometime. It’s a lot more interesting than that fucking paper. This part here, they are pretty hard up and going back and forth debating whether they should just bust into a liquor store and rob it,” Ernie said.

“Been there,” Jackie said.

“I bet. Well they finally decided that it wasn’t right to do it all willy-nilly, because it wasn’t part of their ideology.”

“Decent of em, I s’pose.”

“Yea,” agreed Ernie. “You know what they did instead? They opened a phone book and found the liquor store owned by this guy named, Saul Berman. And decided to rob it because he deserved it. Him being a Kike, you see?”

“So they rob em because he Jewish?”

“Ding Ding Ding, you got it. So glad you are finally starting to see the picture.”

“Whatever.”

“It was a black tending the cash register when they walked in though.” Jackie looked up at Ernie. Ernie made eye contact with Jackie and continued, “No matter. They robbed him and got him with an Ivory Special. Know why?”

“Cuz he was black”

Ernie nodded. “You know what an Ivory special is?” he asked. “It’s a ski sock filled with bars of Ivory soap. Not really designed to kill, I’d guess. But they got this jig in the base of the skull with it –and he ain’t moving. So there is hope yet. Gotta keep reading and find out.”

The scare tactic didn’t appear to have its desired effect on Jackie. He just continued to play with his graph paper.


“What you trying to do over there anyways,” Ernie asked Jackie after two more days of shared silence.

In that time, Jackie had gotten his hands on a pencil with an eraser, and had made a small mark near the edge of the sheet. He now was working on the mark with the eraser. “Don’t want to fuck it up with no marks til’ I make sure I can erase em clean,” he answered.

“If you figure out that you can, then what?”

“I am gonna see if you man enough to play this here game. Then for the rest of your time here, you’re gonna have to live with the fact that you lost to a dumb nigga.”

“And what game is that?”

“Pente.”

“Pente? Never heard of it. That must be some game ya’ll play in the hood?”

“I learned it at a Pizza Joint in Oklahoma,” Jackie said. “Bunch of honkeys get together at this place and play the shit out of it all day long. Figured all honkeys grew up on this shit.”

“I have never been to Oklahoma,” replied Ernie, as if it explained everything.

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