Babbit Redux

May 3, 2015

They pray at the café table, the husband doing the incantation. Their faces are grim; the afterlife is the Land of the Happy Whites Because We Ain’t Happy Here, and they want in. Meanwhile, stuff yourself and suffer. And wait for Fat God.

They weigh a collective five hundred pounds. They order enormous platters of food, lose sight of each other much less the room, and eat as if they had never eaten. When they are done, they shuffle to the glass doughnut case and stare in wonder and point. They might have been looking at puppies.

An old boy holds court with tales of a mole slaughter. He sat in a lawn chair at the junction of mole tunnels in his yard, shotgun at the ready, drank a cold one and waited. And drank another five cold ones and waited. “It’s a wonder y’all didn’t shoot yourself, man.” Every time the earth moved beneath him, he planted the shotgun in the ground and fired. Killed three, the rest escaped with minor injuries. Haw-haw-haw!

The juke box plays “new,” insipid country and western. All the songs have rock and roll beats by drummers on steroids, the lyrics—what passes for lyrics—are syncopated eighth notes, du-duh, duh-duh, du-duh, du-duh, and feature plenty of “Nah-nah’s” and “Uh- uh’s,” “Oh yeah-oh yeah’s” and off key humming. The themes are patriotism and touch: hold me, hug me, kiss me, God bless the USA. That sound you hear is Johnny and June Carter Cash rolling and moaning in their graves.

The three most sacred Midwest values are food (and the attendant diabetes and clogged arteries), banality of spirit and art, and right wing religion. We’re all miserable so eat up and pass the potatoes brought to us by God We Are Made in His Image He Is White Hallelujah. And we have guns in case you don’t like white bread.

Rice of color, bread of color, greens of color—even beer of color: we don’t like that here.

“That black bitch attorney general arrested six policemen for murder? Shee-it, what the world come to? The colored taking over.”

God shudders—I believe this. God shudders. The Jewish philosopher Jesus weeps. And weeps and weeps. He died for our ugliness.

And we got uglier.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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