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The Alley
Flood #11
July 1971
Israel was working behind a new property—actually, it was as old as shit and falling apart, but he got it for $100 dollars—that would take him the rest of the month to make habitable. He was in the alley behind North Avenue, only two blocks from the Baltimore Cemetery looking like a castle of bright white death at the end of the street that had once described the northern most limits of black habitation back in the day when he had come to town as a youth. The white folks were now completely gone, houses boarded up and going for a song.
The section eight business was booming. The government would pay a bitch to have a kid so long as there was no man around. So these women like old Brenda no longer had to put up with a shiftless Otis—they had up and married the government instead! The government had felt so guilty about folks burning down their own neighborhoods that now a hard-working man like himself got guaranteed money directly from the government. He didn’t even have to collect the rent if he didn’t want to—but he did, because there was no sense in letting one in every ten dollars go uncollected. Of course, if the lady were young and fine and had a ready smile and cooked a good meal, Big Daddy might be inclined to forgo his rent collection…
He was not even 30 years yet and owned 15 houses. There were many a time like this, as he proudly went to work, dirtying his own hands, doing all of his own work except for the electrical—which could get his ass fried—that he wished his Daddy could see him now, maybe sitting in a lawn chair in the yard watching him work.
There was still an old white lady living next door. She brought him cookies, was glad to see him cleaning up the place next door, though her shine would sure fade when he brought in these section eight renters. Her big, black German shepherd, meanest dog he ever did see, was definitely prejudiced against black folks. His name was Blackie and he’d grin every time he called to him and the dog snarled and snapped.
His van was parked in the alley and he was using that trusty old dolly to haul out the shell of the rusted out water heater.
The old lady was on her back porch, way up high. It was too hot to be inside and she had no air conditioner unit except the one in the third floor bedroom so there she was, always watching him work.
Blackie was barking as usual.
Then, as he got to the back of his van and closed the gate behind him, three fellas, somewhat younger than himself by about ten years or so, made a semi-circle around him. The one near to his height and muscular had a bicycle chain doubled over into four strands and duct-taped at the base.
He kept his grip on the dolly and said, “What can I do fo y’all?”
The thinnest one, who was hiding a knife behind his hip and was in the middle, said, “You can pay yo tax, nigger.”
He smiled, knowing it was on, “Why, I did—paid thirty dollas in taxes to The Man when I bought this place.”
The other skinny on the far right, next to the back of his van, said, “You know who we are, nigger?”
“No I don’t, Chumpass fool.”
The knife guy announced, “We Black October, bitch.”
“Well, den y’all mus’ work for me, cause I’m blacker den all y’all and was born in October.”
He kicked the water heater at the skinny with the knife and then did an axe swing over head with the dolly, chopping off the front foot of the fool with the chain, like cuttin’ cheese with a butter knife, leaving the face of that sneaker filled with toes in the alley while that fool squirmed like a worm on a hook and howled to heaven.
He back-handed the skinny that ran his mouth second most so that his head bounced off the door of his van. Then he was on that fool with the knife, who had tripped over the hot water heater and was waving that knife up in front of him while he sat on his ass. Israel heel kicked him in the teeth, sending them chicklets down that skinny throat and the knife rattled clear.
He grabbed the stunned skinny against the van, picked him up and threw him into the lady’s yard, “There ya goes, Blackie—eat his chump ass. I bet ya likes me now!”
The munching of the brown boy by the black dog who hated black folks was a hilarious sight to see and he would always remember it with a kind of reverential glee. Of course, the dog’s digestion was about to be spoiled according to the old lady. So he, after a few minutes, and before the police showed up, had benevolently rescued the much chewed upon chump.
He fielded the police questions well enough and there were no charges. But then the white civil rights lawyers showed up and he had to give up this house to some bullshit charity for fools that got all hooked on drugs.
In later years he would reflect that it had been worth it. The toes were sewed back on that chump’s foot in what he was told was a landmark reattachment surgery. If it wasn’t for that surgeon he might have had to give all of his houses to charity for criminals.
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SeanDecember 24, 2020 10:55 AM UTC

Mr Lafond,Flood has been a great read.And when blackie got fed the skinny I laughed till my sides ached.If ever you make it as far as London they’ll be a bed and a decent steak for you .🇳🇴Wishing you a good Christmas and a positive new year .
responds:December 25, 2020 12:58 PM UTC

Thank you, Sir.

Happy Yule.