NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 125

“I noticed the stick for the trap door was down. What was it, a badger, a raccoon?” I laughed at my own wit. “A buzzard.” “Well, that’s progress, right? “Yeah, but would he have put that trap in our yard, if we had been white? After all, this is Comity Grove, where actors dress britches and waistcoats and madams in petticoats and apron and bonnets whatever and walk up and down Duke of Gloucester debating about the independence. Then the black actors come up when the white ones have left and talk about the merits of remaining slaves or running away.” “That’s an act for tourists, Bill. For tourists!” “A buzzard!” Janice said, hand over her mouth in mock indignation. “Well, westward ho! to Cleveland and a bigger house in a gated community!” I said, raising my fist and lowering my head like the two notorious black Olympians, back in 1968. “Well I guess that’ll learn him to set traps in a black man’s yard,” Janice said and laughed until tears came to her eyes. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow, Billy Huey Newton! I have some errands to run before choir practice.” “Racism!” When Janice left, I reached in my pocket for another cigarette and got another beer from the fridge, then wandered back out onto the porch steps to think about the possible move. “A Buzzard! “Billy, come on! Jeff and Myra welcomed us into this neighborhood with open arms. We haven’t had a problem with a single family,” Silver in the moonlight. Hey! Over here! The rabbits had come out of their hiding places. I had smoked two cigarettes past my ration and counted seven rabbits, forming the constellation of libra in the grass. There was a lone one to the far left, near one of the lilac trees that marked the separation of our yard from Jeff. We listened to the dove coos together. Suddenly, I thought, “Get prexylated! That would be the new tag line! My coughing had ceased, but not my daydreams, and every day now, every day, I was more lucid. In one of the last conversations I had with my father, he’d asked me how I liked living in an all-white neighborhood. I said, “Pop, I’m fine. Janice is fine. She’s more extroverted, but I can live in my head. I’m gonna be just fine.” “You sound ‘bout as silly as one of those rabbits runnin ‘round out there,” he’d said, scratching the same place in his head he’d been scratching since he was a boy. Just then, I heard a popping sound, like an exploding champagne cork. Had a car backfired? We didn’t move. We kept doing what we were doing. Another pop! One near the lilac bush went up in the air, then lay on her side. I knew she was a girl by the way she had pawed her nose. My ears flattened to my head. I sniffed the air and scanned the yard. Except for two that stood up on their hind legs and sniffed the air, the others didn’t move, over there and there and there, hiding in plain sight! I walked over to the fallen one, warm and soft to the touch but dead now. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE “I forgot to tell you. Jeff caught something in the trap, but it wasn’t a rabbit. In fact, the rabbits seem to have ignored it.” “Yeah, but we used to be the only black couple in the neighborhood,” I said, as I got up to go into the kitchen, “We’ve grown from one family to eight.” 123 Out the corner of my eye two kits were less than seven feet away, and one munched on something, wild weeds, of which my yard had plenty. The other jumped around in a mad, crazy dance. I held my breath and kept my pose, but I gripped the can so tightly that it crunched and they scampered away. Janice came outside and stood behind me on the porch.