I’m sitting with Isaac in the back of the bus as we pass Pease Park, one of my favorites. Daddy said Governor Elisha Pease owned the land for a slave plantation. But Pease believed in the Union’s cause so I must imagine that he treated them with kindness. Pease also owned the area the area now known as Clarksville. Freedman Charles Clark Griffin bought two acres of that land for one-hundred dollars, the land where Elias Ford has his home.
But Shoal Creek, the grass and the oak trees, aren’t what catch my eye. I’d recognize that red Schwinn anywhere. He’s staring at the bus.
“Duck down, Isaac.”
Isaac doesn’t ask why until he scrunches down in the seat, his eyes wide.
“It’s asshole. He must have followed us.”
Ours is the next stop. We don’t get off. Fifteen minutes later, we find ourselves back downtown. The bus’ engine shuts off. I have to pee in a bad way.
The driver stands up, his hands on his hips. “This ain’t no tour bus,” he yells to us.
“Sorry,” I yell back. “I must have fallen asleep. I’ll stay awake this time, I promise.”
“What about you, boy?”
“Must’a dozed off too. I’m headed for Clarksville.”
When more people climb the steps to board, Dick-Driver restarts the engine.
“I think we lost him,” I say. “He won’t find me now.”
“We’re stopping at Clarksville first,” the driver fumes out.
Isaac is the only Negro on the bus.
We pull to a stop. The brakes screech.. “Out,” Dick-Driver says.
When I follow Isaac out the door, the driver shouts at me. “Where you think you’re going?”
Fifteen passengers turn their heads and glare at me.
“Home,” I say.
“Home,” Isaac says as he waits for me to get off the bus.
“What a jerk,” I mumble.
“Shoot, that was nothing. But I don’t mind saying, it feels good to be in Clarksville again. No offense or anything. I enjoyed the movie.”
“None taken. Can I use your outhouse?”
Isaac nods. “Uncle Elias keeps it real clean.”
After the bladder relief, I meet Isaac on the front porch. “I was wondering. Mind if I look at your books. I think that’s another thing we have in common. You know, movies, books, dislike for mannequins.”
“What time is it?”
“Not time for your uncle to be home if that’s what you’re asking. Besides, I won’t stay long. I have to get back to Olive’s.”
Isaac ushers me inside. Of course, I see no TV or radio.
“A hurry to get back to the mannequins?” he says.
“Yep. Can you imagine if Gladys and Fritz only have Olvie to talk to?”
Isaac snickers and points to the books. The one open next to his sleeping pallet has no writing on the outside. “Your journal?”
“Private, if you don’t mind. Now it’s my turn.” Isaac heads out the front door.
The bright green cover is the first of his books to grab my attention. The Negro Motorist Green-Book was about how to avoid problems when travelling. I dig further—The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes, Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Harriet, the Moses of Her People by Sarah Bradford.
The last book is called Black Like Me written by John Howard Griffin. Something about this book jars a Distant memory. Is it on our bookshelf at home? I open the front cover and see that it’s a library book. I pull the yellow card from its pocket. Checked out on July 31 by Sylvia Peterson. The day she disappeared.
Excerpt from my WIP, working title Olvie and Chicken Coop, set in 1963.
Daily word prompt: Distant