(Warning: The language in the following entry may be offensive to some readers with tender eyes and fine sensibilities. Proceed with caution.)
“We can’t convict everyone,” said the Witness Protection man, “sometimes we’ve got to make a deal. You can’t blame us if you blew your own cover.”
For a few days he never left the apartment. He opened cans of beer and listened to the drumming of basketballs outside his window. A letter came back from his Momma scolding him for writing to her. His brother was going to prison. A cousin had been shot. If you write again, send money. I miss you. I love you very much. The kids in the playground continued mimicking the Blacks of the city.
“I had no business getting out of the city, no business a’tall. Someone was going to have to get hurt to get everything even again, and that someone was gunna be me.”
He heard that a farmer wanted help at his chicken farm. Tyrone went there in the morning and two semi’s were idling in the driveway, all loaded with boxes. The work crew pulled the boxes off the truck and brought them into the chicken coop. Inside, forty thousand white hens were screaming bloody murder. Eggs paraded on conveyors in front of the cages, each holding seven birds worn out from laying and waiting to die. When the last of the eggs were collected, the work crew pulled the birds, squawking and wings flapping, out of the cages and stuffed them in the boxes. In a few cages, there was a bird dead already. The farmer pried its body out of the cage and threw it in the shit pit below. If a bird gets weak, he explained, the others in the cage will peck at it till it dies.
They got done loading boxes of birds and the farmer said he wanted Tyrone back tomorrow. He liked the way he worked. Like his life depended on it, he said.
The next day Tyrone came in and the farmer strapped an engine on his back and put something like a vacuum cleaner hose in his hand, only it didn’t suck the air, it blew it out. He told Tyrone to blow out the cages with this machine. When they got so many hens living in cages for so long, their feathers rub against the metal, making white feather dust that had to be cleaned out.
Next, the former drug dealer was going down the rows of cages holding the hose like it was an AK-47.
“There’s no cages no mo’, I’m mowing down every motherfucker I know.”
There’s no bleeding bodies on the street to draw chalk around, they’re all exploding into dust. There’s no police stretching tape across the scene; there’s no bystanders gawking at death. There’s only him and his rage.
“I’m cleaning house and nothing’s going to be the same no mo’.”
He got the job done and the farmer came up to him, grinning.
“Look at you,” said the farmer, “you’re as white as I am.’
“I looked down and, sho’ ‘nough,” said Tyrone, “I got the feather dust all ova’ me.”
Tyrone stoped by Burger King to get his last paycheck.
“I don’t have to tell you they were there again. They’re waitin’ in line at the register. I know they know who I am and there’s no gettin’ away. I go up to the counter and say can I help you?
Burger King might just as well as closed down right then and there. The whole store just stopped. The church ladies in their flowered dresses patted their lips dry with napkins and looked up at them. The lonely, old men gawked like bystanders at a crime scene. The yuppie tourists folded their maps all so quietly. The bikers rose up and glanced outside at their bikes like they’re saying it’s gunna get too rough for me.
“The whole store was lookin’ at us like none of them has ever seen so many niggas all in one spot.”
There was no getting away for him. He was like those chickens in the cages waiting to be grabbed and stuffed in a box. They snatched him out of Burger King and stuffed him in their car.
They drove way out in the countryside and stopped. Accordion Neck got out to take a piss on the side of the road.
“I’m thinkin’ this nigga’s got a bladda infection, but he comes back with a stick.”
“Yo’ trouble is you see too much,” said Accordion Neck. “So’s I’m going to stop yo’ seeing.”
Accordion Neck shoved the stick in his eye.
Tyrone had been jabbed in the eye a few times on the ball court and he knew it was going to hurt. But it didn’t hurt at first. At first he was just confused, thinking a water balloon had burst in his face.
“Shit, fuckin’ nigga’s got his eye juice all over me,” said Accordion Neck. He handed the stick to the other man. “Do the otha’ one.”
“How’s it feel, now?” I asked.
“It fuckin’ hurts like hell. I need that morphine.”
“And everything is black to you?” I said.
“Black? Shit, no,” he said. “I don’t see black. Everything I see is white. The whole world’s turned fuckin’ white.”