Ruins of the Fall: Tree of Might

I originally put a chapter in my blog on this site, but this seems like another good place to put it (it gets better traffic).  You can buy the book (or hopefully REVIEW it) here.

"Ruins of the Fall: Tree of Might" is the first part of a trilogy which I talked about in my interview on Genesis Radio.  It's the story of a militant civil rights activist and his "final solution" to White racism.  As the Blacks beneath grow to distrust him, nothing is what appears to be.  The book also has ninjas, superheroes, and cyborgs in it.  Here's the excerpt:

The Bride









Code One subject was female, five feet, three inches tall or one hundred sixty centimeters, estimated weight one hundred thirty-five pounds or sixty kilos. Code One was under the protection of one Dayshaun Peterson by right of the Sheltered Family Protocol. Mr. Peterson was maritally engaged to the Code One on the date of the Code Sixty-Six execution. My team was a trio: two males as beta and gamma, with myself as alpha. The objective was to evaluate the Code One as a suitable mate for Mr. Peterson, per routine. If found unsuitable, Code One was to be recycled.



Her name is Jo Lynn Matheson. She’s been dating her high school sweetheart, Dayshaun Peterson for about seven years now. They plan on getting married this fall.


“My God, my God. Girl, you have got to be the best White hairstylist this side of Chathee county!” her Black American client exclaims, “My head look so sexy.”


Jo Lynn is White and works as a freelance hair stylist. Today, she’s at her friend, Mariela’s house taking care of a customer. The client is pleased. They almost always are. Jo Lynn’s been doing Black hair since she was a freshman in high school, around the same time she met Dayshaun.


“Thank ya,” Jo Lynn calls to her departing customer. “You call me if you need a touch-up.”


Jo Lynn stands outside Mariela’s house as the customer pulls out of the drive way. The car rolls away and Jo Lynn heads back inside. Mariela is sitting in the living room on the dining set chair Jo Lynn had used for her last customer.


“You already ready, Sugar?” Jo Lynn asks.


“Yes, ma’am, I am,” Mariela responds.


Jo Lynn leans back and holds her waist. She lets out a soft groan. “Could I take a little break?”


“Sure, hon,” says Mariela with a smile. She has pretty tan skin which Jo Lynn envies. Her brunette head has a mixed texture to it. The curly 3B texture on top of her head blends into a finer 2A grade of hair as it flows down her back. This combination of hair has given Mariela some trouble in the past with other stylists. She won’t let anyone except Jo Lynn come anywhere near her hair. “Why don’t you get some wine cooler?” Mariela offers, “It’s in the fridge.”


“You wrong for that,” says Jo Lynn, “But I’ll drink some anyway. That woman had a lotta hair to braid.” Jo Lynn lays on the lime green couch behind Mariela’s chair. After taking a draught of wine cooler, Jo Lynn asks, “So how’s the web cam business going?”


“Oh, same stuff. Everybody wants to see my tits,” says Mariela as she picks up the remote control. She flips the channels until she finds her telenovelas. “You should get into it. It’s good money.”


“I don’t have big tits like you do.”


Mariela waves her hand. “Pssh, who cares? You’re a pear. You got that big bunda back there. I bet you make Dayshaun crazy with it.”


“And that’s the main reason I can’t do it. He’d throw a fit if he found out. This pear-shaped booty is for him and him alone.”


Mariela turns around in her chair and eyes Jo Lynn’s frame. “It doesn’t have to be that way. Dayshaun can share.” Mariela gets up from the chair and sits on the couch near Jo Lynn’s thighs. Jo Lynn’s belly button is peeking out from in between her t-shirt and leopard print pants. Mariela touches her navel. Jo Lynn inhales.


“No. I can’t,” says Jo Lynn as Mariela’s hand moves up her blouse. “I love Dayshaun.”


Mariela pushes her hand under Jo Lynn’s bra. “I know you love Dayshaun. He can join in too.” She plays with Jo Lynn’s nipple. “Or he can watch. Every man has a lesbian fantasy.”


Jo Lynn grabs Mariela’s hand. “I’m not a lesbian. I don’t need to be one right now.”


Mariela pulls her hand away. “What’s wrong, Jo Lynn?”


“I’m talking about the Convention.”


“What about them?”


Jo Lynn sits up. “You haven’t noticed the people disappearing ‘round town.”


“I don’t know,” Mariela says with a shrug, “There’s a lot less rednecks around.”


“It’s more than just the ‘rednecks’. White folk all over Rook Ridge are just gone. You remember police chief Roberts?”


“Yeah, he left. Now we have Chief Gumbayan.”


“He didn’t just leave,” Jo Lynn says in a loud whisper, “He and my daddy were friends when I was little. Chief Roberts ain’t the kinda man to just leave. His family’s been here since the Confederacy. Longer even.”


Mariela leans in and wraps her arms around Jo Lynn. “It’s okay, Querida,” she says as she strokes Jo Lynn’s auburn hair. “I’ll protect you, whatever it is.”


Jo Lynn meets Mariela’s eyes. “You don’t even see it, do you? I’m just another redneck to you, aren’t I?” She pulls away from Mariela.


“Hey, Querida, I’m Puerto Rican. I’m not Black,” says Mariela as she holds up her hands. “The Convention has nothing to do with me. I believe that beautiful people should stick together”, she says, placing a hand on Jo Lynn’s hip. “Beautiful people like you and me.”


Jo Lynn blushes. “Thanks, Mariela. That’s sweet, but it still doesn’t explain why people have been disappearing. Ever since the Convention showed up, White folk’ve been dropping like flies.”


“Did you ever think that they just left? It’s a big world outside of South Carolina, you know.”


“I’ve seen three or four moving vans, but it don’t explain all the other missing people.”


Mariela slips her hand back up to Jo Lynn’s bare breast. “What does any of that have to do with us?”


“I’m scared. You don’t know who my daddy is.”


“You haven’t talked to your daddy in years, ever since he kicked you out.”


“If the Convention knew about my daddy or being with you, I don’t think my life would be worth spit. Did you know I’m the last White person in town?”


Mariela gives a puzzled look. “No, not really, but I do know a secret.”


“What’s that?” asks Jo Lynn.


Mariela grabs Jo Lynn and inhales a pink nipple into her mouth. Her tongue grinds Jo Lynn’s areola against the roof of her mouth. Jo Lynn gasps and spreads her legs reflexively. Mariela allows the breast to slip from her mouth. Then she says, “I’m not the only lesbian in town.”


“Are you sure?”


Mariela smiles, “Querida, I’m very sure. Even if rednecks are disappearing, that doesn’t mean they’re going to take you. You’re engaged to a Black man, you do Black hair, and if you let yourself go, you’ll belong to a Puerto Rican. You’ve got nothing to worry about. The Convention’s not going to hurt you.”


“You’re sure?”


Mariela puts her hand in between Jo Lynn’s thighs. “I’m sure.”


Jo Lynn closes her eyes and lets the sensation between her legs rise up through her body. She can feel Mariela’s silken touch reaching for her soul. Suddenly, the caress is a vice grip on her leg. Her eyes pop open from the pain.


She sees Mariela being pulled upward. Something shiny is wedged underneath her collarbone. It’s a metal hook.


“Help me,” croaks Mariela. Jo Lynn’s pants are ripped as Mariela is wrenched away from them.


“What’s going on?” Jo Lynn shrieks. Mariela is suspended in mid-air by a hook and nothing else. Jo Lynn jumps up to pull Mariela down, but she’s thrown back down on the couch by an unseen force.



“Why didn’t you kill the Code One then?”


“Sir, she was still protected by the Sheltered Families Protocol.”




“Yes, sir, my squad carried the Code Sixty-Six out of the residence to the harvest center, a.k.a., Grimes-Billingsly funeral home, for recycling. I continued to trail the Code One. Code One returned to the home she shared with Mr. Peterson’s family. Soon after that, I contacted Mr. Peterson. I did not give specifics. I just let him know it was urgent.”




“Mr. Peterson was unaware of the Code Sixty-Six phenomenon in his area. I believed that if Mr. Peterson left his social activities early, he would see this phenomenon and rescind his protection according to the Sheltered Families Protocol, allowing us to recycle the Code One.”




Jo Lynn is running as fast as her legs can carry her. Tall southern pines are watching her escape down the small country road. She runs past one big yard and then another. Her throat is growing hoarse from the screaming. Darkness surrounds her as dusk envelopes Rook Ridge. The southern pines are watching while the sun turns away. Forest lines one side of the road. The other side is dotted with small, ranch bungalows.


Brown faces peak through window panes. Jo Lynn’s screams are rebuffed with closing blinds and shades. They know what she is. They know what’s coming: another job opening. Maybe even an empty house, ready for another brown family to move in. Another missing person. One less redneck. No one smiles. They can’t stand the screaming.


Jo Lynn knew this would happen someday. She knows there is but one shelter for her. She turns right onto Emmett Till Drive. She makes a run for Dayshaun’s house. It’s not far now.


She trips.


Her face hits the ground. She opens her eyes to brown pine needles. She sits up with a start. The grass all along the road is covered in pine needles. Jo Lynn looks towards the evening sky. The southern pines are watching her. Strange. Southern pines are always green, but constantly shed brown needles. She’s never noticed this before. How can a tree stay so green and spread so much death? Is that what it’s like to survive?


Jo Lynn picks herself up. Dayshaun’s house is the next one up the road. Dazed, she walks up the drive way to the car port, and knocks on the back door.


A familiar face opens the door. It looks like Dayshaun.


“Jo Lynn! Oh my God! What happened? Get in here,” says the kind, brown familiar face. The face smells like flowers. Dayshaun doesn’t smell like that. This must be his sister, Layla.


Layla brings Jo Lynn into the house, doting on her every step of the way. She brings her through the kitchen to the dining area. Jo Lynn sits down.


“Jo-jo, you need a drink of water?” Layla asks. Jo Lynn nods. She watches Layla as she goes back into the kitchen. Layla is tall with beautiful hips. She also has pretty tan skin like Mariela. Layla pulls a chair close to Jo Lynn and sits next to her.


Layla sees the rip on her pants. “Who did this to you?” she asks. Jo Lynn calmly drinks the tap water Layla’s given her. Layla repeats the question. Jo Lynn turns and stares into Layla’s deep, dark eyes. They glisten like Mariela’s used to. Layla’s crown of kinks and curls remind her of Mariela’s glory.


Layla brings her face closer to Jo Lynn’s. “It’s gonna be alright, Jo-jo. I got you. It’s gonna be alright,” she comforts.


Jo Lynn thinks back to her high school years. When her classmates teased her for her posterior, it was the Petersons that looked out for her. Dayshaun was attracted to her figure, but it was Layla that befriended her and treated her like a sister. Dayshaun showed her off to his friends. Layla taught her about hair. Dayshaun taught her about intimacy. Layla taught her about kindness and love.


Layla is holding Jo Lynn’s hands. “It’s gonna be alright. Just tell me who did this,” she implores again and again.


Jo Lynn hears the words and believes them, more so than when Mariela said them. Layla’s been there for her since the beginning. When Dayshaun’s father disappeared and later his mother, Layla was the one that stepped in and took care of him. Layla was the one that took Jo Lynn in when her father threw her out of the house. Layla is everything that Jo Lynn wants to be: strong, caring, and independent. She loves Dayshaun but she reveres Layla. Jo Lynn can see it now. Mariela was just practice.


Jo Lynn knows what she has to do. She’s already lost someone special to her today. She can’t bear to miss another opportunity. Layla’s face is so close now. She’s still asking questions Jo Lynn doesn’t have the strength to answer. Jo Lynn seizes the moment. She presses her lips to Layla’s, tasting her mouth and sipping her saliva. Layla pulls back with a questioning look. Jo Lynn leans in to Layla, placing her hands on Layla’s thighs.


“I love you, Layla,” she confesses. She kisses Layla again and squeezes her thighs. After a few seconds, she feels Layla’s hands on her face, stroking her cheeks. They stop to look at each other. Then Layla scoops her up and carries Jo Lynn to the living room couch. Their bodies are set free from clothing, free to explore the depths of their femininity. Sweat bursts from tender flesh. Forbidden ecstasy taxes the limits of their perception. Colors swirl and mix before Jo Lynn’s eyes. White hot passion scorches the brown-skinned earth. Pubic stubble exfoliates an alabaster crevasse. Dark brown kinks come together with short brown hair.


As the waves of orgasm wash away the pain of her ordeal, Jo Lynn thinks of Dayshaun. She wishes he were here, in between them, experiencing the both of them. She knows he wouldn’t like the idea. She pities him for being too firmly rooted in a world of rules and restrictions. She still loves Dayshaun. Maybe one day, he can have the same freedom as Jo Lynn Matheson, lesbian and Caucasian hair-braiding expert.


The living room has a sliding glass door across from the couch, next to the television set. Brown needles fall to the ground outside. Jo Lynn can see them. She can almost feel them. The southern pines are watching, ubiquitous and green. They shed the unwanted to protect the green needles. Always shedding. Always dying. Survival has made the trees harsh and judgmental.


Layla and Jo Lynn lay together naked on the red, leather, living room couch. They don’t hear the key entering the lock.


Layla runs her hand through Jo Lynn’s auburn hair. “I love you, Jo-jo,” she whispers. She doesn’t hear the door opening.


“I love you too,” replies Jo Lynn, oblivious to the footsteps in the kitchen. “I think I always--”


A baritone expletive splits the air like a thunderclap. Dayshaun is home early from bowling. Layla jumps up from the couch and tries to hide her nudity from her little brother.


Dayshaun is demanding the immediate clarification of what his fiancée and big sister are doing on his brand new leather couch. Layla swears it’s not what he thinks. Dayshaun walks back into the dining area and slams his fists against the faux wood table. Layla fumbles for her panties and a shirt, and then follows after her brother. Jo Lynn, still naked, wanders after them.


“I didn’t want you to find out like this, little brother,” says Layla, laying her hand on Dayshaun’s shoulder.


Dayshaun swats her hand away and warns against touching him again. He inquires about the sexual relationship between her and the woman he is to marry this fall.


Jo Lynn stands far behind Layla, glancing around aimlessly. She’s not sure what’s going on. The walls seem to be flickering slightly. Dayshaun swings around suddenly and storms towards Jo Lynn. Layla gets in front of her little brother, although in size and strength, Dayshaun is anything but little.


Dayshaun stops his charge and turns his anger back on Layla, reminding her that she has had sex with a woman that Dayshaun has been committed to for seven years.


Jo Lynn feels a curious sensation, as if the all-seeing trees are in the house with them.


“She wasn’t my first, Dayshaun,” Layla responds. “I’ve been doing this for a while. You remember Mariela from around the corner?”


Dayshaun screams about Mariela being the webcam chick.


“Yeah, that’s my girlfriend. We’ve been dating for a couple months now.”


Dayshaun spits profanity at his sister.


“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, little brother. I did wrong. I know I did wrong. I’m gonna have to straighten this out with Mariela too. It just happened. I don’t know. It just happened.”


“…Mariela’s dead.”


Layla stops. “What’d you say, Jo-jo?”


“Mariela’s dead. I saw her die. They killed her.”


Dayshaun asks why anyone would want to kill a stay-at-home stripper.


Jo Lynn swallows, then replies, “She was touching me. I let her touch me.”


Layla’s eyes widen in rage and horror. “You were touching my girl? And then you come here and sleep with me?” Dayshaun and Layla level accusatory stares at Jo Lynn.


“It doesn’t matter. She’s dead. They killed her.”


Layla buries her face in her fists. “You touched my girl?” she says. Dayshaun is covering his ears. Jo Lynn hears small whispers.


Say the words. Let her go.


Jo Lynn backs up. “Don’t do this. It wasn’t my fault. She touched me and they killed her!”


“Who did?”


Jo Lynn points at the flickering shadows crawling on the walls. “They did.”


Layla and Dayshaun look about the dining area. Can’t they see them? Jo Lynn looks past her two former lovers at the back door. Wasn’t it closed a minute ago?


Say the words.


Dayshaun has had enough. He loudly declares that Jo Lynn is part of his family. He yells at the walls about how every family has problems, but there is no problem that cannot be solved with love and understanding.


The whispers stop. The flickering shapes on the walls disappear. Jo Lynn doesn’t feel the trees in the house anymore. Dayshaun has saved her life.


Layla exhales. “Well, that was strange.”


A shiny, meat hook buries itself in Layla’s calf muscle, yanking her off her feet.


Dayshaun says his sister’s name. Jo Lynn starts screaming.


Layla is quickly snatched from the dining area into the kitchen. She claws at the floor. Her nails dig through the faux linoleum lining into the hardwood beneath. Dayshaun dives for his big sister and catches her hands. The hook lifts Layla’s leg up as it pulls her towards the back doorway. The strength of Dayshaun’s construction worker hands keeps Layla in place. She screams as the hook rips deeper into her leg, pulling her harder towards the door. Another hook buries itself in Layla’s shoulder. Dayshaun can feel his sister inch towards the door. He yells for Jo Lynn.


Jo Lynn ceases her hysterics and jumps on top of Dayshaun. She wraps her arms underneath his shoulders and pulls upwards. Dayshaun grips his sister’s hands harder.


Layla pleads, “Don’t let me go! Please, don’t let me go!”


The tug-of-war lifts Layla’s body up off the ground. A metal hook pierces Layla’s other calf. They’re all jerked forward, but Dayshaun hangs on. Fetid fumes enter Jo Lynn’s nostrils. Layla has lost control of her bowels. Jo Lynn pulls harder on Dayshaun. Two hooks embed themselves into Layla’s thighs. Her brother’s hands start to slip. He grabs even harder. Layla’s knuckles crack in Dayshaun’s grip.


Four more hooks break into Layla’s flesh. A metal hook snags Layla’s neck. Blood spatters into Dayshaun’s eyes. He shuts them reflexively. When he opens them, she’s gone.




“Did he say the words?”


“No, sir.”


Ramsus sighs. “So you recycled two Code Sixty-Sixes, but no Code Ones?”


“Not quite, sir. Later that night we encountered the Code One at a Code Seven.”


Por favor, what is this ‘Code Seven’?”


“Sir, a Code Seven is what happens when multiple Code Ones form an armed militia.”




Grief can be a powerful aphrodisiac. Jo Lynn still feels sore from her love-making with Dayshaun. Somehow, seeing his sister taken freed all the love he had inside. His passion had no limits and Jo Lynn was there to take it all in. After seven years of joy and pain, she knows that Dayshaun is still in love with her. That’s why she has to leave him.


Jo Lynn is driving along the newly-minted Denmark Vesey Highway. She’s heading to the next town over, Mean Bow, her old hometown. Chathee County never had many people, so it only needed one high school: Rook Ridge High. The citizens of Mean Bow didn’t like the idea of sending their kids to one integrated school with colored people. Jo Lynn’s father especially didn’t like it.


Her daddy, Matthias “Chief” Matheson, didn’t like the mud people, as he called them. He didn’t like their dancing. He didn’t like their singing. He hated the raucous ceremonies they passed off as church. He didn’t like Black people. He didn’t like the so-called “educated” Blacks, like Dayshaun’s parents. He hated when mud people protested his right to hang a rebel flag in his backyard, which happened to face the highway.


Jo Lynn knew her daddy was proud of his history and heritage. Her daddy hated having to get his point across. He didn’t like having to form a posse and kill some mud person who was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Jo Lynn remembers how mad he was when he came home that night. Matthias didn’t like it when Jo Lynn asked questions about it. He didn’t like it when some woman came to Mean Bow looking for her missing husband. Jo Lynn remembers how her father hated hurting women. Most importantly, her father hated when Jo Lynn started dating Dayshaun. It was probably because Dayshaun was Black or maybe it was because Dayshaun reminded him of the things he hated doing.


Either way, Jo Lynn is heading back to Mean Bow. Her father kicked her out once, but Jo Lynn knows he’ll take her back once he knows she’s left her mud-loving ways behind her. She has to leave her love behind. She has to leave Dayshaun behind. She loves him. The Convention is coming for her. She knows it. Mariela touched her and they took her. Layla touched her and she’s gone too. She has to leave Rook Ridge before they come for Dayshaun as well. She’s going to Mean Bow. Her daddy will protect her.


The four-lane highway is scantly lit with dim streetlights. The Convention renamed the highway, formerly Strom Thurmond’s Way, but have not repaired the streetlights. Jo Lynn is driving Layla’s domestic hatchback through the night when she sees bright lights shining over the next hill. As she reaches the top, she can see the lights belong to a fleet of cars and trucks strewn across the freeway. It’s a roadblock. She slows down. Jo Lynn squints her eyes and looks for blue lights. There are none. As she stops for the roadblock, the car is quickly surrounded by masked men in white sheets. Jo Lynn rolls her window down.


“You got anybody else in the car, ma’am?” says one of the men as his compatriots look through her car windows with flashlights.


“She’s clean,” says another white-sheeted man.


Jo Lynn takes a deep breath. “I need to talk to Chief.”


“Excuse me, ma’am? He’s busy right now,” says the masked man at her window, surprised. “We gotta big problem with some mud people coming outta Rook Ridge.”


“I know you do,” says Jo Lynn. “I still need to talk to Matthias. He’ll see me. I know what you’re up against.”


The man smirks beneath his mask. “I think we can handle whatever they got,” he says as he holds his shotgun across his chest.


“Ya can’t shoot what you can’t see.”


“Excuse me, ma’am?”


“Jo-jo?” a white-sheeted man with an older voice walks over to Jo Lynn’s car. “Is that little Jo-jo? The negras kick you outta town, missy?”


“The lady says she needs to see Chief.”


“Of course, she does, Brother Bo,” says the older man as he proudly gestures towards Jo Lynn. “This here is our prodigal daughter. You don’t recognize her?”


Bo doesn’t lift up his mask. “I don’t recognize traitors.”


“Oh, be nice, Bo,” says the old man. He rests his arms on Jo Lynn’s car door and lifts up his mask. “If she’s here to see Chief, then she’s turned over a new leaf.”


Jo Lynn recognizes the old man’s face. “Uncle Chuck!” Jo Lynn hugs her uncle through the car window.


“I’m glad you’ve seen the light, little lady. Pull your car over there. I’ll take you to your daddy.”


Jo Lynn does as her uncle says. Bo sneers under his mask. “I thought once you go Black, you never go back.”


Chuck glares at Bo. “That’s just negra propaganda. You’re too smart to listen to that stuff, Bo.”


Bo nods reluctantly. “Yes, sir, Brother Chuck.”


After Jo Lynn parks her car, she’s escorted to the center of the road-blocking, truck rally. Her daddy is sitting on the back of his old, full-size pick-up. The big, white truck is shiny and polished. Her daddy still respects the power of Anglo-Saxon engineering. She can see that he still loves his truck. Chief is surrounded by a dozen other white-sheeted, masked men. His mask is up while he’s going over some plans. It must be something serious if he’s taken the truck out of the garage this late at night.


Uncle Chuck taps Chief on the shoulder. Chief looks up. Cold, grey eyes stare out from a face framed in brown fur. Chief stands up, towering over the other men. Slowly, he walks towards her. He reaches out to her and puts his hands on her shoulders. She looks into his eyes. She sees a tear run down his face. He speaks:


“You’re alive. I thought they’d killed you by now.”


“I’m back, Daddy,” Jo Lynn says, “and I’m never leaving again.”


Her daddy embraces her. “Oh, thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus! You didn’t make no negra babies, did you?”


“No, Daddy.”


Chief lets out a sigh of relief. “Good. We gotta big problem now. Brother Chuck’ll take you to the shelter with the other women folk.”


“But Daddy…”


“No ‘buts’,” says Chief wagging a finger at Jo Lynn, “We gotta war on our hands, girlie, and I’m not losing you to the mud people again.”


“You can’t see ‘em, Daddy. They’re invisible.”


Chuck gently grabs her arm. “What are you sayin’, Jo-jo?”


Jo-jo swallows hard and takes a deep breath. “Daddy, the negras have soldiers that can turn invisible. They’ve been grabbing people with hooks and dragging ‘em off into the night. I seen ‘em do it.”


“You seen ‘em do it?” asks Uncle Chuck.


“Yes, sir. I saw ‘em snatch a girl, a Puerto Rican. They’ve been doing it all over town. Daddy, I’m the last White person left in the town. That’s why I’m here. I’m scared, Daddy,” she says as she breaks down in tears, “I’m so scared.”


Uncle Chuck hugs Jo Lynn and comforts her, while Chief bows his head in contemplation. The white-sheeted men have been listening. Many of them gather close to Chief and his big, white truck, surrounding it. This is the day their forefathers had warned them about. These are the times the old Confederates feared. Fast-talking politicians and God-less liberals have led them to this: a time when White people no longer fight for their values or purity, but for their very existence. On this night, surrounded by the southern pines, ever-green, ever-watching, every white-sheeted man knows that they are about to face the armies of darkness. After several moments, Matthias “Chief” Matheson, retired Master Chief of the United States Navy, addresses his men.


“I fear it’s worse than we thought. My daughter, a former lover of the mud people, has come back to me begging for safety, which means the negras are not taking prisoners. They don’t want our women. They don’t want our money. They just want us dead.”


Grunts and nods come from the crowd. Chief continues:


“Furthermore, we all know that people have been disappearing from Mean Bow. Good, honest, White people are gone from this, our God’s green earth. We came here to stop that right here and right now!”


Cheers erupt from the crowd. A white-sheeted man vanishes. No one notices. Chief continues:


“But my daughter has told me that she is the last White person in the entire town of Rook Ridge. We are already too late to save the good, White people, who through misfortune or ignorance, lived among the mud-people. I’ve talked to other leaders from other states, and, I’m sorry to say, that this seems to be happening all over the South.”


A gasp comes from the crowd. Two white-sheeted men disappear. Again no one notices. Chief goes on:


“Me and the other leaders have tried to get to the bottom of this. We’ve tried to tell people what’s going on. The liberal media won’t listen to us. They think we’re just paranoid. We’ve even gone so far as to contact the FBI. They won’t investigate. Probably because we’ve got mud people running the government our forefathers created.”


Five more men are gone, while the oblivious crowd cheers. They all feel the power and pride coming from their leader.


“America has turned its back on us. Again. And again, we must defend our race. We are not just White men. We are Southern White men. We are the defenders of White power in America. No one else. When the Yankees freed the slaves, we put ‘em back in their place. We shot Martin Luther King. Every time the liberals brought our race to the brink of destruction, the Southern White man has been there to bail out White America. We are the line, every one of us here tonight. The White race exists in America because of men like you: Southern men, who will fight for their God, their country, and the White power that flows through our veins. I don’t mean to put too much on you fellas, but if we fall, all is lost. So I implore you, brothers, fight!”


Shadows flutter along the ground.


“Fight for our families!”


Shapes flicker in the headlights.


“Fight for our children!”


Brown needles fall from the pine trees.


“Fight for our FREEDOM!”


Several pops are heard and smoke envelopes the crowd. Jo Lynn drops to the ground and rolls herself into a ball. The smoke makes her eyes burn, so she keeps them shut. There’s nothing around she wants to see. Her daddy will be proud. There are no screams. She doesn’t hear any white-sheeted men panicking. They don’t fire wildly into the air for fear of shooting their comrades. His men are dying bravely, as bravely as you can die coughing from the smoke while your eyes are burning.


Jo Lynn’s own coughing subsides and she can hear the sound of bodies being dragged from the highway blacktop. She stays in a ball with her eyes shut. She knows she’ll be next. Jo Lynn is White, so is her daddy. Her daddy is the leader of the white-sheeted men. She’s going to suffer for the sins of her father. Jo Lynn wonders why innocent White people have to suffer with the guilty. Jo Lynn’s never done anything to hurt Black people.


A hand touches her. She flinches. It’s her turn now.


A familiar voice says her name. It tells her that everything’s alright. She imagines that it’s Mariela or Layla speaking to her. She knows it’s not. She opens her eyes and looks at Dayshaun. Dayshaun reassures her that she’s okay. He helps Jo Lynn to her feet. She hugs him tight. Whispers are heard in the middle of Denmark Vesey Highway.


Say the words. Let her go. She betrayed you. Let us take her.


Dayshaun holds Jo Lynn tighter. He refuses to relinquish her to the darkness.




Jo Lynn knows. Dayshaun is a good man, a family man, but a family man without a family is nothing. Jo Lynn is his family now. He’ll never leave her.


She’s a lesbian.


Dayshaun tells the darkness about what he believes a lesbian is. He explains that it’s just another hurdle in life. He reiterates that there is no problem that love and understanding can’t solve. He assures the darkness that Jo Lynn will never touch another woman again as long as she lives. As he walks toward his truck, he thanks the darkness for helping him find her.


Jo Lynn leans against Dayshaun as they drive back to their home in Rook Ridge. She loves Dayshaun. He saved her life with his love. She will marry him this fall and bear his children. The children will be Black and know little to nothing of their White heritage. She will do everything in her power to keep Dayshaun happy. Her survival depends on it. She will have urges to sleep with other women. This will never change, but she will brush those thoughts away, like brown needles. She will be a southern pine. She will shed those thoughts to stay green. Always green, yet full of death. Such is the price of survival.

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