Saturday, February 16, 2008


(Waterfall in front of cave, Sipsey Wilderness, Bankhead National Forest, Winston County, Alabama)

Another excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. The action in the story resumes immediately after my post yesterday. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, fifth item down, to get caught up.

Beginning of September 2004

The next morning, Allie was was up before Myra, sitting at the table looking through their folder of paper. Myra sat down dopily with her and said "Still trying to make sense of it?"

"Sleeping on it helped" said Allie. "Sure wish I could ask her some questions, though." Myra knew which "her" she meant.

"I guess this isn't quite what you mean when you said you wanted to find out about your people" said Myra. It wasn't really a joke, though Allie smiled tightly in response.

"Makes me glad to be as dark as I am" said Allie.

They were at breakfast at the Bluetick when Myra's cell rang. It was Edwina, asking to be connected to Allie. Allie turned over a sheet of paper and took notes during the call. When she hung up, she glanced at her watch and said "She's up awful early."

"Hard to sleep without you, I bet" said Myra. "What's she dug up?"

"She say there's a few Choctaw words could be a place name. I tried to write 'em as she spelled 'em out, but they's diacritical marks and what-all that, well, I haven't picked up yet from her" said Allie, handing the paper to Myra. "I went phonetic. Anyhow, one or two of them may give us geographic clues."

Myra read:

"Opa = owl; chinto = to be the biggest; chiinika = to be carried. Biggest owl or carried by an owl?
Paspokchakko = blue cornbread dumplings
Paachanahki = backbone, spinal column
Pataaka = to be flat, be laid out, be spread out"

She looked up at Allie and said "I like the blue cornbread dumplings one." As the waitress brought them their plates, she said "Do ya'll have cornbread or corn muffins on the side?"

"Yes ma'am" said the still unfriendly woman.

"Will you bring us a basket of them? And a glass of milk" said Myra. The woman didn't utter a word in reply.

"I'm taking the extra in the car, for good luck" said Myra after the waitress left.

Allie said "To me, the backbone or spread out one seems more likely to be a place name."

"Bless her heart. It's killing her to not be here with you" said Myra.

"I'm gonna come back and bring her with me" said Allie. Myra was experiencing a sensory rush from her red-eye gravy and only nodded in reply.

At the funeral home, they were allowed into the back office to do their own copying from the cemetery books. Myra was insisting that any version of the three surnames they knew about -- Billups, Rasco/e, and Allie's grandmother's maiden name Davis -- be copied, because of the possibility of transcription error. At the last minute, she added Moffatt to the list. Allie's lips tightened into a narrow line but she didn't argue.

They stopped at a convenience store to fill up with gas, buying a cooler, ice, and an assortment of drinks and snacks, as well as yet another map for the region. Myra bought sunglasses and bug spray, too. When they returned to the car, Allie said "I'll drive" and slid behind the wheel. Myra felt a rush of pride.

"Don't take off yet, but turn over the engine, I need the AC. Okay, here's the county land map we got, and here's the plots I know some of your great-grandparents' siblings worked as sharecroppers. Ellick Rascoe, he didn't show up in the deeds enough to make a living as a farmer, what did he do?"

Allie laughed ironically. "He carved headstones. They famous for their limestone here, and he'd learned stonecarving from his daddy. Nana said having a trade made him a more valuable slave, that's why Ellick's parents didn't get split up. They was together before freedom, got legally married soon as they could after. Ellick was the first child born after they was married."

"So did that mean Ellick had a steady income through the Depression?"

"Mostly. Nana said he got paid in scrip for several years, which they could only cash in for groceries. Which meant they got cheated, I'm sure, just like miners at the company store. But Nedrick told me it explained how come they didn't leave Franklin County, having a job and a trade like that. He say before emancipation, Franklin County was almost half black. Less than 5% black now."

"Damn, Allie, that's one hell of an exodus. I mean, I know about the Great Migration, but that's way more than usual."

"Tells you something about what it mean to be black here" said Allie grimly.

"Is that why your Nana hauled you two to Birmingham?"

Allie sighed. "Well, now I got to wonder if they wasn't personal stuff going on, too. But what she always said was the schools was way better there, and Linda's family was already living there. Not that they had a lot to do with us." Allie trailed off into thinking about the reasons for that for a minute. "Anyhow, we moved right before I started school. I remember we had to check with in the child welfare department about it; I had to get interviewed by a busybody white lady. Nana told me she had to swear she wasn't going to let Mama have me back, or see me without supervision."

There was a long silence, with only the fluttering of the map edges in the fan from the AC. Myra, looking straight at Allie, said "I've never asked you remember it? Before you came to live with Nana, I mean."

Allie's face was expressionless. "Some. Mostly it's -- a sense memory, you know? Not words and not, like, a connected story."

"I know what you mean" said Myra. They kept looking at each other: Over 25 years of friendship, and some details had never been shared.

Allie said "I slept with Nana until I was 12. I had nightmares. Wet the bed until I was 10."

"Do you...hell, Allie, you can just tell me to shut up whenever you want, you know that, right? Well, now I'm wondering if your mama -- if she got messed with. If that's why she didn't have any will to protect you. If..."

"You mean that old white man who was her daddy, was he diddlin' her, too? I got the same doubts now. I mean, Nana didn't live with him until Papa died, which was after Mama left home, so that argues against it. But, in this town, how folks are and what they likely knew, Mama feeling like shit and trapped to boot, then getting pregnant at 15 and Alvin running out on her as fast as he found out -- I've always thought I must have looked like part of what was keeping her down, to her. Aside from the drugs and alcohol, which, as you know, don't lead to coherent thought."

"Your Nana never drank?"

"Not a drop. Not even egg nog. And the only time I thought she might actually pick up something and hit me with it was when she found the whiskey in my dresser drawer. I'd been in line to be valedictorian, you know, until my senior year. It would have meant a scholarship, even here, even then: A good black college would have paid my way. But my grades went to shit, and she searched my room after I went to school. When I got home, she told me I either quit or she was throwing me out."

"So you went undercover" said Myra. She knew this part.

"Till I graduated. Anyhow, let's get on the road and see what we can find. What's your point about the map?"

"Well, families tended to settle near each other and to migrate from the same direction. So let's head toward where we know Ellick's aunts and uncles lived; it's down here in the southeast corner of Franklin County, and a few miles away is Winston. Plus, look at the line of hills and the creeks. Geographically it looks better than trying to suss out a complete county right off."

Allie put the Buick in gear. "You tell me when to turn."

Once they got off the main road, it was astonishing to Myra how rural it felt. There really weren't many places left in the country with so few signs of human development. Where there was a house or farm buildings, they were in bad shape. Twice they passed houses where a person was visible, on the porch or in a field. Myra waved, her Texan impulses coming to the fore, but nobody waved back.

They found fields which, if Myra's map-reading was accurate, had once been worked by Allie's collateral ancestors. Allie took a photo of one, full of late-season cotton. Right outside the almost non-existent small town of Dime, they saw a barbecue joint with a walk-up window. Allie pulled into the gravel lot without asking. They got chopped beef sandwiches with a pickle-filled potato salad put directly into the sandwich, between the buns -- "How they do it here" said Allie. It was so good, they got seconds. Myra also bought two of the peach fried pies to eat later, out of sight of Allie.

From here they headed east and south on a dirt road, searching for a cemetery marked on a topo map but not named. They never did find it, but eventually the road turned into a two-lane blacktop and a sign informed them they were in a national forest. The terrain became increasingly hilly and the forest thickened. Myra was flipping between the topo map and the crude map which had Apochanko marked on it, trying to interpret terrain. Finally she asked Allie to pull over and confer with her.

They decided the next main creek they crossed would be the Sipsey Fork, and if that was right, then about five miles beyond would be a long valley rimmed by bluffs which, if the shape matched the old map, might be Apochanko. Myra could hear her pulse in her ears as Allie got back on the road.

The creek was marked, and it was Sipsey. Allie checked the mileage indicator, and Myra used her inhaler. Three and a half miles later, they crested a hill and below them, running from the northwest to the southeast, was a bluff-rimmed valley.

"It's flat down in there" breathed Myra. "Flat enough to grow things, and you wouldn't be observed unless someone rode through these hills."

"Look at the line of rocks on that outcropping to the right" said Allie. "What that look like to you?"

Myra met her eyes. "The vertebra of a spine" she whispered.

But there was no road down into the valley, not in sight and not on the maps.

Finally they found a place to park and left the car to seek a better vantage point. As soon as they stepped out into the still heat, mosquitoes swarmed them. Myra grabbed the bug spray and they fogged themselves. Allie said "I'm nervous about trespassing."

"Then we won't. We'll just get to where we can see clear."

They found a vantage point atop a bluff a few hundred yards from the road. Myra felt apprehensive in a way she couldn't define. She wasn't particularly afraid of snakes, or of most wild animals, so she didn't think it was that. She was glad to get out in the clear again.

Allie said "Damn, I wish I had binoculars."

"Let's sit down and let our eyes adjust" said Myra. "Anything made of logs will have crumpled by now, will be an overgrown mound a little too square in shape."

Slowly, they were able to pick out a number of overhangs that looked like shallow caves. They argued about whether the forest growth on the flats was appreciably younger than that on the slopes, or if the difference was an optical illusion. Myra wanted proof, she wanted this to be the place. Allie was more wary.

"What are you feeling here? In your gut?" asked Myra.

"Honestly? I feel a sense of desolation. But..."

"Here, give me the camera. I'll photograph it from one end to the other, and maybe we can blow them up and look at them with a magnifying glass back at home." Allie sat, her hands on her knees, while Myra used up the roll of film.

"Let's go, Myra" said Allie in a bleak voice.

"Okay. You want to go to the county seat here and see if we can find another Nedrick at their library?"

"No. I want to go home."

Myra was caught off guard. "Really?"

"Yeah. I do want to know more, I'm not calling off the hunt. But I want to see Edwina, I want to remind myself how far I've come. Can you do more research online?"

"Yes. And at big libraries, interlibrary loan and such. If you want me to keep digging, I -- we can find out tons, Allie."

"I do want it. Just -- let's get out of here."

They walked back to the car, Myra wanting to check behind her and refusing to let herself look. Once in the car, with the engine running, Allie wiped her forehead and said "Grab me some juice, will you?"

After a couple of miles, Myra said "The way you wrote about Podinqo, as a small community of several families, that's how your grandmother told it?"

"As I remembered it. Through the filter of a kid's mind."

"Which must be how she heard it. No sense of threat or impending doom?"

"None. So either she edited that out for me, or it was edited out for her" said Allie. "I'm starting to realize how much she edited out. Not just the obvious, you know, growing up with Jim Crow and all."

"Did she keep her promise, about not letting your mother have access to you?"

Allie's fingers tightened on the steering wheel. "She was invited for my birthday and for Christmas. If she was sober. But she only came a handful of times. I always had presents that were supposedly from her, wrapped in the same paper Nana used. My father did send Christmas presents, ones that really were from him. When I was 11, it was a watercolor set. That was the best."

"You wanna research his line, too?"

Allie glanced at Myra. "Yeah. His name's Pride. His parents were E.B. and Amanda. I don't know what E.B. stood for." Myra pulled out a pen and added notes to the folder.

" went back to Franklin County every year, after ya'll moved?"

"Yeah, two or three times a year. We didn't stay with -- Moffatt. Nana had a cousin and we'd sleep in her living room, Nana on the couch, me on the floor. We visited him, though. Except after I turned 12, I didn't have to go with her if I didn't want to. She let me stay home, and Aunt Linda would check in on me every day. I kept the doors and windows locked, but during the daytime, it was really fun to have the house to myself."

Myra was wondering if there was a reason why Allie's grandmother kept her away from Russellville once she entered puberty. Nothing felt safe here. She realized one thing that had been bothering her: This was the Deep South, yet except for Ruthann and Nedrick -- and the old man at the grocery store -- they'd seen almost no black people. Fewer than in Seattle. She suddenly wished she still carried a gun.

Allie continued, "We didn't have a car, so we always took the bus on a Friday after school. Nana packed pimento cheese sandwiches as a snack, and a bottle of water. I got to sit by the window, and I had to be completely quiet, more than usual. So I drew. I had an extra Big Chief tablet, and before we left I sharpened all my pencils at school -- I had two each of a #1, a #2 and a #3. My version of charcoals. I had an old metal pencil box that had belonged to one of my aunts or uncles, and I could keep the point on my pencils in that. Nana carried our lunch and travel stuff in a pasteboard box, heavy construction with a strap that buckled down, and once we were on the highway, she'd pull it out from other the seat so I could balance it on my lap and use it as a flat surface for my tablet. I drew the whole time, except for the one stop in that town I pointed out, where we could get out and use the restroom if we had to."

"Do you still have those tablets?"

"A couple, yeah. I'll show 'em to you some time."

The fact that Allie had never offered before was not lost on Myra. Their relationship, close as it had been, had taken a new turn. She thought about the vulnerability of an old black woman and a small girl, riding a bus across Bull Connors' Alabama in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and how Allie helped enforce her own silence with a pencil and paper.

They didn't say anything for a while. They passed the barbecue joint, but neither of them were hungry.

Allie cleared her throat and said "I'm a little embarrassed to quote Oprah, but one thing she said that I like is 'Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.' It's a variation on your 'Proceed as the way opens'. And for me it sums up how we, my people, have accomplished anything at all, beginning as we did with jack shit. Not even our own names and memories. When I first heard that quote, I realized it was how Nana had lived."

"A good way to live" said Myra.

"I went to church, I liked the community and the way wimmins ran things, and the singing, but I didn't get the -- it didn't help me emotionally. Didn't take with me. Not like art did, or drinking. I didn't cry until I began drinking. I was a weepy drunk -- "

"I remember" said Myra. She and Allie smiled ruefully.

"And thank god once I gave up the sauce, I kept being able to cry. But that was one more way I didn't fit in my family. None of us cried, except at church. Or funerals. We was sitting on such a backlog, I guess..." Allie trailed off for a while. They turned onto a county road with shoulders and a few other cars in sight.

"I know we're conditioned as women, Myra, to not acknowledge our own power, to not take credit for what we actually do. And there's a similar kind of conditioning for po' folks, to not get fancy pants, as I heard it, to not think you're better than everyone else because we all gotta huddle together. That's there in being raised colored, but it's something else, too, something that black power tapped into, why it swept the country. Something about how if you take actual pride, with it comes the rage and grief that you maybe can't handle. I don't know if this is making sense -- "

"It is" said Myra.

"Anyhow, whatever Podinqo was, I'm living a life they could never have imagined. Never ever. And when I think about how that happened, I don't give myself, or Nana, all the credit for it. I think it luck. A lot of it luck. Your luck included in that."

"I agree, Allie. 'Course, I got some of the same conditioning you did, so I could be deluded, too."

"I don't think it's wrong to notice luck and be glad for it" said Allie. "I think maybe it helps ground you in what Colbert makes fun of as the reality-based community."

They laughed together. Myra asked slowly "Al, do you know that my luck in having you is ever bit as great as your luck in having me?"

Allie grinned sideways and said "Actually, I do. You lucky beyond words to have me keeping you on the road to glory."

Myra threw back her head to laugh, and began singing "I got a home in glory land that outshines the sun..." Allie joined her, and they came into Russellville still singing.

As they passed the car dealership where they'd rented the Buick, Allie said "I just realized, this car, we can't drive it to Birmingham to catch our plane there. No way for them to get it back."

"There's no real car rental place here in town" said Myra. "Shit, what will we do?"

"They's buses" said Allie. "At least, used to be."

They went to the motel and checked into bus lines. The nearest point to catch one was too far away. Stumped, Myra stared out the window for a minute.

"Well, this is where being rich comes in handy" she said suddenly. She opened the phone book again and found the local airfield. After half an hour, she'd secured passage for two on a small plane to Birmingham leaving at 6:00 that evening. They'd be in time to connect with an 8:30 flight to Seattle.

When she got off the phone, Allie said "I don't want to know how much that cost."

Myra grinned at her. "Pack. We have to clean the car before turning it back in. I'm calling Ginny, you want to use the land line to tell Edwina?"

It was Edwina who picked them up at SeaTac. Their flight had been delayed, so it was past midnight. On the drive to Capital Hill, Allie couldn't keep her hands off Edwina behind the wheel, her arm around her shoulder, touching her hair, watching her avidly. Myra remembered years before, coming back home with Chris after her book tour, how wild she'd been to see Ginny and the babies. Maybe she hadn't been gone long enough this time, or maybe she was older and more settled. She was glad to be home, really glad to be out of Russellville, but for her the search was still pending.

The house was dark. She scrambled to punch the alarm buttons before it went off, dropping her keys on the floor. It woke up Ginny, asleep on the couch. They embraced gratefully, Ginny kissing her half-asleep. She was at that stage of night when it was hardest for her to wake up. Myra told her to go on to bed, she'd be in soon.

Myra walked back to her study to put away her folder of papers. She hadn't meant to walk off with them -- Allie would want to show it all to Edwina. She looked in the new refrigerator and saw leftover salad from dinner. She made herself a plate: She was constipated from all her Bluetick meals. She sat down at the table to only the light from the kitchen, and when she bit into one of Ginny's perfect tomatoes, finally she was able to weep.

She got up the next morning to have breakfast with the kids. She gave them each a peach fried pie from the day before she'd never gotten around to eating. As Gillam wolfed his down, Margie asked "How is Allie? What did you find out?"

"She's okay. I -- I think I should leave the story of our journey to her, let her tell you."

"But did you find Podinqo?"

"I think so. Except it's not what we thought it was. Really, that's all I can say."

Margie said, "Just tell me, is what you found out good or bad?"

Myra hesitated, long enough for Margie to say "Bad, then."

Ginny looked at her as inquiringly as Margie was. Margie said "We're supposed to leave for Olympia tomorrow after school, so will you please ask Allie to come over tonight, so we can talk with her before we go?"

"Yeah" said Myra. After the kids left, Myra said "I'm going back to bed, I'm behind on rest."

"I'm going with you" said Ginny. "Daddy, I don't mean to abandon you -- "

"That's all right" he said. "I'll be painting, I'm happy."

Ginny pulled off her clothes and closed the blind, in that order. Myra said "I really do have to sleep. But I'd like to make love, and, equally urgently, I need to talk with you."

"Same here" said Ginny, sliding in next to Myra with a happy sigh.

Myra fell asleep after an extra-long, extra-sweet bout of lovemaking. When she woke up, Ginny was pressed against her back and sleeping as well. Myra rolled over gently and Ginny woke, too.

"I have genuinely shitty nights without you here" said Ginny. "I'm way dependent on you."

"Well, don't tell the 12-step posse, but I like that kind of dependency." They kissed and readjusted themselves in a close wrap.

"David's looking good. What's up with him and Helen?"

"She's not seeing her 'boyfriend' any more, and he's going to Al Anon meetings plus sessions with his therapist at least once a week. She won't agree to quit drinking or see a therapist herself, but she has gone once to talk with their rabbi, so Daddy's put the divorce on hold."

"Damn. Wonder what she told the rabbi?"

"Some self-serving load of crap" said Ginny bitterly. "Still, at least he's getting more of what he needs."

"What else should I caught up on?" asked Myra.

"Nothing big. I want to hear about Allie" said Ginny.

Myra told her everything she could remember, jumping around between episodes, frequently interrupted by Ginny's reactions. Eventually she and Ginny were both sitting up, facing each other, hands interlaced in a web of emotion. Ginny said, "Oh GOD, Myra. This means Allie is, what, one-fourth white?"

"At least. I mean, most African-Americans know there's white in their background. Just usually there's not a name and face attached."

"And here she is raising white kids."

"I know." Myra was relieved to hear Ginny give voice to this. "It keeps crossing my mind that maybe Allie's options are not completely open, either. I mean, her Nana made some choices that -- we can't judge. Allie and I saved each other. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her, and I know the reverse is true. But it's not completely equal, is it? Thank god she insisted we make family, not go to bed together, at least she was smart enough to keep us from that lie. Still..."

"That thing you say about how there's no real consent, you can't say yes if you can't say no without repercussions? Which throws most of heterosexuality into the tank, you know."

"Yeah, that's what I'm driving at, Ginny. We don't actually own black people any more, but we own their labor, still. Capitalism is built on ownership of labor, because you can't underpay people enough to make a profit if you don't own their labor, and when serfs were finally liberated from the gentry and land, it was only because they were bringing in slaves to take their place. To take a collapsed historical view of it."

"But Myra, all throughout, women stayed property, too. Women and children."

"I'm not arguing which is the bedrock oppression upon which all others are built, Gin. I don't care about that any more, because the only way out is for all of us to get free together. ALL of us."

"There goes your separatist membership card, up in smoke" grinned Ginny.

Myra grinned back, even as her brain tried to sort out a maelstrom of ideas and feelings. "I just -- I have this horrible fear that her connection with me is across as great a chasm as I see women having with men, how women lower their emotional standards in order to have intimacy with them because male conditioning is so toxic and most men are hopeless about even seeing it."

"Not all men, Myra. And not all women lower their standards. Some women are fighting the good fight, and have men doing their share."

"So is that what's going on with me and Allie? I don't think it's coincidence that she was finally able to start looking at her past in a new way now that she has Edwina."

"Of course Edwina makes the critical difference. But Allie got to Edwina by making a commitment with you, and eventually with us. It's not an either/or. And -- I know you want me to reassure you, but here's the best I can offer: If there's a rotten piece of how you and Allie are connecting, one of you will figure it out. If it's her first, she'll tell you, and you'll have your heart broken, then you'll get over it and change. That's how you two work. It's why you work."

Myra dropped back onto the bed, throwing her arms out in a mixture of apprehension and release. "Ahhh! Whoever said 'the unexamined life is not worth living' forgot to add that it's back-breaking work, all the same."

"They didn't have to add it. We all know it, which is why most people say 'No thanks, what's on American Idol?'" Ginny lay down beside Myra, pulling Myra's head onto her shoulder. "The place where my mind keeps going is 'How did they bear it?' Allie's people, I mean. How did they face raising children in those circumstances, how did they bear losing children to being sold, knowing they'd never see them again? I don't think I could live through that."

Myra leaned on her elbow to face Ginny, almost aggressively. "But you have to understand it, you have to find a way. Because what I hear, when you say you couldn't bear it, is that they must be some other kind of person because they did bear it. And in our culture, another kind of person translates into not quite human, not human like us. It's the same as all the folks who wonder how come Jews could let the Germans just come for them and haul them off to camps." Myra tempered her words by cupping Ginny's cheek lightly in her palm.

Ginny's eyes were wide. She closed them after a minute, and swallowed. When she opened them again, she said "Margie is asking for full disclosure, you know."

"I know. So is Gillam, in his silent way. We have to decide, are they old enough?"

"With all the upheaval of this year, all they are already dealing with..." said Ginny.

"They're dealing with this, too. Subterranean racism is no less real" said Myra.

"Maybe we can follow Allie's lead? Help them deal with what they hear, take that load off her shoulders?"

"I guess we all learn to bear the unbearable together" said Myra. They kissed again, and Ginny said "When we have to go into a nursing home, they'll have to let us have locked-door time so we can keep processing to the bitter end."

"Nursing home, hell. One of our kids is going to give up their lives to take care of us" grinned Myra. "They owe us, after the adolescence we're only just beginning to suffer through."

"You ready to face the day now?"

Myra got up and began pulling on clothes. In the kitchen, David was standing at the stove stirring a pot.

"I used some of your tomato puree to make bisque" he said, "but something's wrong, it doesn't taste right."

Myra grabbed the spoon and licked it. "It's all right, has to simmer another 15 minutes or so. While we're waiting, shall I make bean and cheese taquitos to go with it?"

"Yum" said Ginny, opening the fridge.

"I started a salad, too" said David.

"You get homemaker points for the day" said Myra, discreetly adding salt, pepper and garlic oil to the soup.

"And I steamed three ears of corn in the microwave, the way you showed me" said David, with growing pride.

"Excellent. We could strip off the kernels and add them to the taquito mix" suggested Myra.

"We'll do that" said Ginny, handing a cutting board and the corn to David. "You call Allie."

Myra walked around the breakfast bar and dialed. When Allie answered, Myra said "You up yet?"

"Hell yes" said Allie. "I been up since Edwina began getting ready for work. Listen, you've got my folder of papers."

"I know, I'm sorry about that. You can come get them and have lunch with us, or I can drop them off after lunch, or -- we're leaving town Friday, Margie and Gillam want you to come for dinner tonight and spill all. What do you think about that?"

Allie considered for a minute. "Yeah, I'm ready. We'll come over when Edwina gets done. But I have a request: After dinner, will you show me, well, both of us, how to start doing family research on your computer?"

"Sure thing. I've got paid access to census and other records, I'll give you my passwords and get you launched."

"That'll be our weekend, then."

"Allie, should I ask Chris and Sima to come tonight, too?"

Allie didn't hesitate. "Absolutely. They helped me and you get to here. I'll call Chris myself."

After she hung up, she mixed a can of vegetarian refried pintos with the peppers Ginny had chopped, while Ginny began grating queso fresco. David said "Ah, about tonight -- would you like me to make myself scarce? I mean, will Allie want me there?"

Myra looked at him, an old white man. Ginny said "Of course she'll want you there." Myra said "I -- I think if she doesn't, she'll say so. Especially right now. But if she doesn't object, I want you to be there. Only...I think it would be better if you didn't ask any questions. Not from her or Edwina. Save them for me later. Can you hang with that?"

Ginny looked upset. David, however, smiled and said "I'm honored to be included at all."

"I believe you, David. Just as I've been honored to be included in the Jewish part of your family's life."

"I think of my time at your table as my dine essen teg. I'm the Yeshiva student, getting fed in several ways at once" said David. Ginny's face relaxed. Myra said "In that case, boychik, what would be your first choice for the main course tonight?"

"Your fried chicken" said David without hesitation. Ginny began laughing wildly.

Copyright 2008 Maggie Jochild.

1 comment:

letsdance said...

Okay, I'm on the edge of my seat now!