Thursday, June 20, 2019


They were in the air!  She was flying to Africa!  The Book Woman Club was headed to Ghana Africa to donate books to start a school library at an elementary school. see the Mother Land!

Kadi'jah was so surprised when the Book Woman Club members had embraced her idea of travel, especially to the Africa!  She had expected the older women of the group to stick up their noses and roll their eyeballs in the way that some of them did when she spoke about the principles of SANKOFA, "Reaching Back and Retrieving Your Roots".  But they had enthusiastically helped gather children's books and some even donated to Kadi'jah's plane fare, knowing that Kadi'jah was perpetually financially "challenged".  Glory "Amen" Johnson had donated $300 to her ticket cost, and 50 lbs of children's bibles with brown skinned children sitting at the feet of Jesus!  Eight Book Woman Club members, of all ages, had joined Kadi'jah on her quest!  They were seated all around her.  An sister circle of book lovers, each of them carrying a 50 lb. suitcase filled with books!  A friend of Kadi'jah's had arranged for one of their family members in Ghana to be their travel guide, and to identify a school for them to donate the books to.

This had been Kadi'jah's dream....forever.   Her 'return' to the Motherland! A dream of a lifetime, since she was in 4th grade and in the madness of a majority white school filled with so many mean kids; mean girls.  She was one of twelve African-American students in a private school, filled with the economically advantaged. When first her Mother, and then her Father finished their Medical degrees and their new careers provided the economics for this change, they wanted to give Kadi'jah the best education possible. Despite all the rhetoric about a post racial America filled with a new color-blind "we all is equal" generation, Kadi'jahs Amerikkka had been filled with intolerance, racism, and hatred. When no teachers were around, and sometimes when they were around, whispered voices ..."Nigger, accusations of affirmative action, pinches, tripping feet, and veiled threats of violence tortured Kadi'jah's days.

In the real world, her sanctuary was the school library.  She would get a pass at lunch time, and instead of eating in the cafeteria with a skeleton crew of adults monitoring, behavior and where her nemesis had free reign, she would read.  She loved books!  And in the sanctuary of her head; in the sanctuary of her soul, Kadi'jah dreamed about going to the Motherland - Africa!

And now, her she was on this plane, wings spread on the wind, heading to the Promised Land!
This had been her dream...forever!  She might not have been born in Africa, but Africa was born in her!  She was going......HOME!

Friday, November 2, 2018


My posts follow the stories of many different plots involving several women in the Book Woman Club.  If you are new to the Club, or need to refresh your memory about the Thunderbird may want to read the following posts on 5-14-11, 7-8-11, 8-13-11, 5-26-12, 11-19-12 and 
6-1-15. Enjoy!

Thunderbird fell back on the mildewed sheets of the big four poster bed. The yellow nausea in her stomach, the mushrooming pain from the lump on her head, and an explosion of overwhelming fear engulfed her. Thunderbird reached down and tugged at the chain that was attached to her right leg; that chain attaching her leg to the bed.  With her shaking hands, she pried at the leg iron circling her ankle, pulling at the padlock that held it in place.  Raw panic hit her, blood pounding in her throat and in her ears. Her hands traveled down the cold black links to where they encircled a hole in the foot board panel, and then wrapped around the thick hard wood of the post attached to the bed. Another thick padlock held the links in place.  "That crazy bitch!"  Thunderbird began to yank at the chain, pulling as hard as she could, trying to free herself from her bondage.  "Glory! Glory!" Thunderbird screamed out in terror and in frustration! "Glory!"  She wedged her feet up against the foot board pulling frantically at the chains.  "Glory!" "You crazy bi-i-i-tch! Gl-o-o-ry!"

Thunderbird rose into the air, her flapping arms unsteady and weak. She clambered to the ceiling, remembering her first flight in freedom, that night so long ago escaping the night visits of her father. The tips of her fingers scrapped the bumpy finish of the bedroom ceiling, blood leaking round the edges of damaged fingernails.  And each time she rose, the black chain thwarted her escape, jerking her backwards in a free-fall to the bed.  "Glory!" Thunderbird wailed!  "Glory!"  She rose again, and again trying to free herself. "Glory!" she screamed until her voice was silenced by it's rawness, until her ankle was raw from the pulling, until the drops of blood from her fingers were splattered all over the tattered lace curtains that blew in the breeze of her failed flights. Exhausted,Thunderbird plummeted from the air and hit the bed, unable to still rise.  "Please" she whispered, an echoed plea from the past. "Please, Lord in Heaven! Deliver me..."

Saturday, August 15, 2015


....Carmen felt the darkness engulfing her, and tried to hold her place in the light.  She could not get from under Erica, her head trapped under Erica's head as she registered each blow that Pedro pounded into Erica's face.  Carmen screamed and screamed Pedro's name, begging him to stop beating Erica, begging him to listen to her.  Begging him to hear that he was hurting Carmen too, as Erica's pain echoed through Carmen's skull.  The light moved further and further into shadows, as Carmen began to loose the battle to stay conscious.  And just as the last pin size beam of light faded, Carmen saw the shadow of a raised bat above Erica, behind Pedro.  In her darkness, she just barely registered the swing of that bat, and then Pedro fell on top of Erica, on top of her, knocking out her breath in one large explosion.

Carmen fought under Erica's and Pedro's weight, her words fighting to be heard as they were pressed back into her chest and mouth. "Help me!  Help me!  I can't breathe!" Carmen tried to push her need for air out of her chest and through her teeth.  And then, finally, strong arms rolled Pedro from Erica's body, releasing Carmen. Carmen sat up, inhaling fresh air deep into her lungs.  She could see that Celeste was sitting on the sidewalk, rocking Erica in her strong arms as Erica moaned in pain. Celeste was no longer holding the bat.  It lay on the sidewalk next to Pedro.  Carmen quickly kicked the bat with her feet, pushing it as far away from Pedro as she could.  Oxygen flooded her lungs, and her breathe was filled with fear as she looked back and forth between Pedro's limp body, and Erica's ruined face.  Erica's face was a mess. Blood and tears flowed from her mouth and nose, and bruises were rising in big hills and deep valleys on her cheeks, below her eyes, across her forehead and down the creases of her dimples onto her chin.

"Don't worry, sweet girl!"  Celeste's voice rocked and soothed Erica as her moans and tears began to subside.  Celeste's concerned eyes met Carmen's fear.  "Are you o.k.?" Celeste asked.  Carmen nodded as she scurried over to Celeste on her knees, and ran her hand over Erica's hair.  "You o.k., Erica?", Carmen kissed the top of Erica's head.  "Carmen!  Carmen!  Is he....dead?"  Erica's fear road her whispered question.  Carmen slowly crawled to where Pedro lay unconscious on the sidewalk.  A ribbon of blood ran like a river down from the rising wound on the back of his head, to a growing pool of red on the grey concrete.  Carmen cautiously reached for Pedro's hand, and felt for a pulse.

"Don't worry, sweet girl!"  Celeste said over and over again to the rhythm of her gentle rocking, Erica pressed deep into her chest.  The words were like a call without response, like the chorus of a hymn sung on Sunday mornings promising salvation. "Don't you worry about nothing, sweet girl!  He's never going to hurt you again!"      

Saturday, August 8, 2015


My posts follow the stories of many different story-lines involving several women in the Book Woman Club. If you are new to the club, or need to refresh your memory about the Thunderbird may want to read the following posts - 5-14-11, 7-8-11, 8-13-11, 5-26-12, 11-19-12 and 6-1-15. Enjoy!

It was like swimming with a concrete block tied to your leg...this waking.  Each time she tried to reach consciousness, Thunderbird felt herself pulled back under the heavy darkness.  She fought to find the light; her eyelids too heavy to open, her head expanding with each painful rhythmic throb, her nose trying to reach the air through a stale and cloying sweetness....was it Channel #5?  She remembered the soft leather of a generous car seat, the turning of a key, a fist hitting her upside her head....Thunderbird's eyes flew open.

The room was dark, the moonlight that filtered in through lace curtains created shadows on the walls around her.  She lay in the shade of a big four posted bed, a filmy canopy of mold-scented gauze surrounded her like a shroud.  "Where am I?", Thunderbird's mind circled dizzily for an answer.  "Glory "Amen" Johnson", came the answer.  "Glory....hit me!"  Thunderbird tried to sit up, but fell back as a wave of nausea hit her. She groaned, her hand cautiously rising to feel the lump that sat on the side of her head.  "She hit me!" Thunderbird closed her eyes, breathing deeply to fight back the vomit that splashed in her stomach.  What the hell was going on?

She opened her eyes again, taking in the peeling and torn floral wall paper, the hanging yellowed ceiling plaster,  a thread-bare Victorian couch.  An open closet door showcased ceiling to floor dresses, coats, hats, shoes.  A wave of nausea hit her again, as Thunderbird's hand traveled from the lump on her head to the scratchy lace collar choking her neck.  "What the....?"  She threw back the heavy, mildewed quilt that covered her, and stared in bewilderment at the high necked - full-length flannel night dress that engulfed her from neck to ankles.   "Where the hell are my clothes???"  Thunderbird rose from the bed, attempting to swing her legs over the side.  A thick black chain jerked her back, her legs forced open wide in an arch of pain!

"What? What?"  WHAT?????

Monday, June 1, 2015


Glory "Amen" Johnson's big boat of a Cadillac rocked and swayed as she drove up James Street, turned left onto Oak Street, and then came to an abrupt halt in Glory's drive way.  Thunderbird sat up from where Glory had her laid out in the back seat.  "Where are we?" asked Thunderbird.  "At my house." came Glory's quiet answer.  Glory opened her car door, and stepped out of the car.  She closed her door, and then opened the back door on the driver's side.  "I thought you might want a little tea and some rest..."  Glory held out her hand, and as Thunderbird reached for it, she thought she saw Glory start to pull her hand back, but Glory's hand stopped mid-air, and then firmly gripped Thunderbird's hand. Thunderbird unfolded herself from the Cadillac's back seat, propelled by the surprisingly strong arms of Glory "Amen" Johnson. Thunderbird tried to reclaim her hand, but Glory gripped it even stronger, and gripped Thunderbird's elbow with her free hand.  "Let me help you!  I know you have to be feeling weak after the, after the....uh...!" Again Thunderbird felt Glory's hands loosen their grip, this time trembling as they began to loose purchase.  But as before, Glory's hands remembered their mission, and Glory began to guide her towards her front door. Thunderbird looked up with curiosity, at the massive Victorian house, a dueling setting sun and rising full moon hovering above the house in the hazy dusk of the ending day.  The cooling shadow of the house sent a shiver down Thunderbird's spine.  A whispered thought, then a buried scream burst inside her head....."Don't go in there!  Don't go in there!"  She felt her toes begin to lift from the ground, but she forced herself to downward!  She would not erase the events of the last hour, that were meant to protect herself from having to leave Syracuse, to have to give up everything and run again.  Thunderbird kept her feet on the ground, and did not fly!

"I think I should go home".  Thunderbird tried to turn out of Glory's grip on her hand and elbow, but Glory continued to propel her firmly towards her door.  "Just a cup of tea, my dear!  Then I'll drive you home." was Glory's insistent reply.   Glory reached into her purse, her fingers still locked on Thunderbird's elbow, pulled her keys out, and opened the house door.  Thunderbird tried to take a step backward, but tripped over the entry way welcome mat as she felt a hand on her back shove her inside!  "Hey!" she cried out! Thunderbird's unsteady turn, her outreached hand seeking something solid, her chin raised in indignation, her brows bunched above her eyes, were not prepared for the pain from the fist that hit her up-side her head!  Her outreached hand faltered as it tried to hold off the floor, but her body collapsed under her!  And as she began to black out, Glory let go of the grip that she had on Thunderbird's elbow.  The last thing that Thunderbird's eyes registered, under her knitted brows, was Glory's triumphant stare and her balled up fist, raised to hit her again!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Rose-ann was in mourning.  The funeral was this afternoon, and she was unprepared for the grieve that flooded her stomach.  It had been churning and bubbling all night, and she woke up vomiting.  All things must die.  She knew this.  But she felt that she was barely out of mourning her parents death seven years ago, and now she had to deal with more death.  Things had gotten progressively more and more out of control when they died.  And now...more letting go.  Rose-ann didn't know if she would survive this funeral, this death.

Karen would be there at noon.  To begin the process.  Rose-ann wanted to bar the door.  Barracade herself in her house.  Shut out the world and it all seeing eye.  She felt that the mess that her life was in was on display, and she wasn't ready to bury that chaos that had become her world.  But Karen would be there at noon, and would not be put off.

Rose-ann sighed.  It was time to let go.

She continued to tape together the boxes that Karen had brought over from the U-Haul store. A stack of folding tables stood ready in her garage.  It would be the garage sale of the century!  Rose-ann was digging out from under her piles and piles of fabric, buttons, beads, lace, trims, and findings.  This was the last day of her hoarding of cloth.  Karen was on her way, and this was the day that Rose-ann and Karen would box up fabric , buttons, beads, lace, trims and findings for a massive yard sale.  Rose-ann had promised she would end her fabric addiction and her hoarding.  And, she had committed her home to a Book Woman Club meeting in August!

Rose-ann rose, pushing aside the cardboard boxes she had been assembling, to go over to a five foot tall pile of fabric in her living room.  Somewhere underneath was a couch she hadn't seen in at least five years!  She ran her hands along dusty cottons, and dug deep in the stacks to smooth out taffetas, brocades, velvets and woven tapestries.  Rose-ann just loved the touch of fabric; the feel of it's textures on her hand, on her face.  She lifted a piece of Kenti cloth and smelled it woven edges, remembering the smell of Africa that summer in Bonwire, the village where she had bought the woven length in. 

Suddenly, Rose-ann gathered a pile of cloth in her arms, her eyes wide and darting wildly from side to side!  Her heart began thudding in her throat, beating against her veins in her neck painfully, and Rose-ann's lips parted in loud panicked breaths!  Where could she hide this cloth, so Karen could not find it?  Where would it be safe from the up-coming purge?  Where?  Where?  Rose-ann began to run to the back of the house, and tripping, fell on her face in the back hall, knocking down huge piles and bins of fabric that reached from floor to ceiling!  She struggled to get out of the piles of cloth, gasping for air as bin after bin, pile after pile of fabric covered her!  She was drowning and she kicked her feet, flaying her arms out in wide arcs in an effort to tread above the depths of smothering fiber!  Rose-ann began to scream, to yell for help, but she was the only one in this house of madness.  She thought, if a pile of fabric falls in a hall and no one is there to hear it.....!  She fought her way out of the hall, swimming over, under, through layer after layer of cloth!  Finally, laying on wood, she drank deeply the dust and lent filled oxygen, gasping and coughing, crying and sobbing!  As the dust and lent settled, and her tears and panic dried on her cheeks, Rose-ann pulled herself up.

She slowly crawled to the living room, and pulled herself up on a chair, the only cleared space in the house, and reached for a flat square of cardboard.  She began to put together another box.  The funeral was to begin at noon.  Karen was coming, the only mourner besides herself that would attend this secret and priavate ending.  All things had to die.  And, Rose-ann knew her fabric addiction had lived out it's life expectancy!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


The Book Woman Club has not been meeting!  It's recording secretary has continued to drop the ball, but is picking it up again!  Check out my November 14th, 2011 story "Carmen" before reading this entry.  Carmen is trying to find Erica before her very angry husband does.....

Carmen left Bessie Davis Hudson's house with frown lines folding down her forehead.  She needed to find Erica before Pedro found her.  As gentle as Pedro was with her, he could not seem to keep his fists off Erica's face!  She was going to have to move her time-table with Pedro up a month or two!  What was Erica thinking?  Disappearing like this and scewing up Carmen's plan!  Where could she be?

Sweat filled Carmen's armpits as she turned onto James Street, heading back towards downtown Syracuse.   The humidity of the Syracuse weather and Carmen's fear for Erica radiated their sour smell through her sweat.  She had to find Erica before Pedro got to her!  She damned Erica, and she damned herself for not being at the Book Woman Club in time to pick Erica up!  Carmen thought back on the afternoon that she had spent with Pedro and shivered.  He had gotten a babysitter to watch the kids while he was with Carmen.  He had taken his time, and had not left an inch of her body untouched.  She shivered again.  That's why she was late picking up Erica!  Pedro must have left Carmen and gone home to release the babysitter right away!  She thought she had enough time to get Erica and give her a ride home before Pedro got impatient.  He was such a bastard! 
Carmen was jerked out of her thoughts, spotting Erica and an older woman coming out of a big house near the corner of James and Tealle Ave.!  Carmen slammed on her brakes, and pulled her car over, the brakes screeching as she threw her bright red convertible onto the curb!  "What the hell is wrong with you!"  The driver behind her screamed a profanity as he pulled around her, his fist raised in the air!  Ignoring him, Carmen she jumped out of her car, leaving the motor running, and ran over to Erica and the elderly woman.  "You need to come with me, NOW!", she shouted, and grabbed Erica's arm.  "Carmen!  You're hurting me!"  Erica pulled her arm away from Carmen, rubbing the bruises that didn't show yet, but had begun to throb under her skin.  "Pedro is driving around looking for you, and he's really pissed!"  Panic rose in Erica's eyes!  "But he said I could go to the Book Woman Club Meeting!  He knew I was there!"  "Yeah, he's been to Ms. Hudson's house and made a big scene!  Said you were late getting home!  He had all the kids in the car!"  "But I'm not that late!  You weren't at the meeting, so I was walking home.  I just stopped for a few minutes to talk to my friend Ms. Celeste!"  Erica turned to the older woman.  "This is my friend that I told you about...Carmen this is Ms. Celeste."  "Nice to meet you, Ms. Celeste."  Carmen pulled impatiently at her sweat drenched shirt.  "Erica told me alot about you...  I don't mean to be rude, but we got to go, now! Now, before Pedro drives by and sees us!  Sees you!"  Carmen grabbed at Erica's arm again, but let go when Erica winced.  Glaring at Carmen, Erica rubbed her arm, and then turned to Celeste and gave her a big hug.  "I got to go.  I'll try to come see you soon, ok?"  "You could stay here, my child!  You know you can stay here!  I don't want you to get hurt!"  Celeste gently took both of Erica's arms by her wrinkled hands, their touch soothing the bruises that were forming from Carmen's roughness.  She looked deeply into Erica's eyes, her own eyes reflecting the fear that filled Erica's face.  "You don't have to go back there!  You can make a choice, right now, and change your life, Erica!  Stay!"  Erica's eyes brimmed with tears and she shook her head.  She whispered, "I have to go!  I have children.  I can't just leave them!"  Tears of resignation and defeat ran down Erica's cheeks.  Celeste repeated what she had said so many times to Erica, hoping that she would hear them this time.  "I have room for all of you.  The door is open!"  "I can't!  I just can't!"  Erica pulled away from Celeste.  "Yes, you can!  You can, Erica!"  Celeste took a step towards Erica as Carmen pushed Erica towards the car.  "Come on Erica, we got to go!"  Carmen voice rose as she frantically scanned the street.  Carmen turned to Celeste as she and Erica began to move towards the car.  "When she's ready, Ms. Celeste.  When she's ready, I will bring her myself!  I'll take her home!  He won't hurt her if I'm there!  I promise!"  Before Carmen and Erica could get to the car, Pedro came barreling down the street.  His car rocked as he swung it in a wide arc to park at an angel in front of Carmen's convertible, the back hanging out into James street and blocking any possibility of escape!  "Bitch! Where the fuck you been?" Pedro shouted as he jumped across the hood of his car, the screams and wails of the children pouring out of the car windows!  Carmen swung Erica around, sending her running back towards Celeste's house, using her own body as a sheild between the raging Pedro and the terrified Erica! Pedro threw his body towards Erica.  "Bitch!  Where you think you going?  Don't you run from me!"  He leaped across the sidewalk and shoved Erica to the ground, trapping Carmen under Erica as they both fell!  "No, Pedro, no!" Carmen's screams mixed with Erica's as Pedro raised his fist!  Carmen tried to crawl out from under Erica's weight; tried to sceam through Pedro's rage, begging him to hear her!  "Don't do this Pedro!  Don't...."  Blood filled Carmen's mouth as she felt the the blows of Pedro's fist travel through Erica's face, to her face!  "Please, Pedro, please!", Carmen's screams mingled with Erica's as blow after shared blow fell.  She saw stars, comets, the flaring of a million suns as she began to black out...