NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 16

Fon By HENRY DUMAS A short story, from Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas From the sky. A fragment of black rock about the size of a fist, sailing, sailing….craack! The rear windshield breaks. Nilmon snaps his head to the rearview mirror, wheeling the car off the road. “Goddammit!” He leaps from the car, leaving the door open. He examines the break, whirls around and scans the evening countryside with squinting eyes. The distant mooing of cattle blends with the sharp yap of a dog. And then he catches a movement. 14 Through the trees behind him — past a large billboard with the picture of Uncle Sam saying I Want You, over and down a rocky incline, toward a final rise at the top of the levee — Nillmon thinks he sees several pairs of legs scurrying away. “Niggers!” He steps back to the car, leans across the seat, jerks open the glove compartment, snatches up a pistol lying between a half-bottle of whiskey and a stick of dynamite, and crosses the torn asphalt in four quick strides. Pieces of pavement scatter beneath his feet. The road is in disuse except for an occasional car and a few cattle crossings. He runs toward a path by the billboard. As he loses sight of the point in the distance where he thinks the figures disappeared, he runs faster. He reaches the beams supporting the billboard. The area behind the sign is a large network of angled shafts and platforms. He follows the path, stooping his shoulders and grunting. He lurches through an opening, twisting his way from the entanglement of wooden beams. He curses. Then he slows his pace, realizing that he’s chasing children. EDITED BY EUGENE B. REDMOND, PUBLISHED BY COFFEE HOUSE PRESS IN 2003. He slips the pistol in his belt. He clears his throat and spits at the long edge of the billboard’s fading shadow. Then he r W7V