Set 3, #3: The Others’ Tale …
Like, OMG! We are almost through the first part of our journey. Let’s see. [eyes looking upward, counting on one hand] We did, uhm, fathers, sons, and we have our last holy ghost or ghosts?
[Stares at you to the point of uncomfortable silence, then starts humming] Has it occurred to you adults, you silly little humans, that what you hate, like, most in this world is truth? [Gives pathetic, then sympathetic look]
Yes, like, you hide yourselves with pleasantries, like the smell of shit with potpourri. You put on sweet smells to cover your ugly ones, or so, like, you think. For what? To what … [leaning forward, dominant look, showing teeth] END? Fine-dressed Nazi Barron Otto von Wachter kisses thy wife and then kills a hundred-thousand Poles. The Catholic Church hugs the ratline like an abolitionist does the Underground Railroad, because, because, uhm, they hate Communism more than they love the Jews. Totalitarianism and Churches are totally fine with spinning truths as petty moral justifications. Marx, though, believes in equality and sees religion as a “crutch for the weak.” That silly little human was right but got one word wrong.
It was, uhm, duh, never about religion. It’s about power, the need for you silly little humans to put yourselves ahead, above others. So, yea-ah, socialism becomes communism, capitalism is slavery in disguise, and your Churches harbor child murderers in its closets. And you, so many of you dance in circles of religious insanity, the same thing over and over and over [rolling eyes], not to make society better, but to save your own assess.
Why would power religions be different? Why should I, if your God, not let your flesh burn off your bones, being sure you don’t suffocate first, so, like, you really feel the misery of burning to death? [Evil look] Were you made scumbags, and, if not, when did you decide to become so? Huh?
You want religion? Real religion, then look at me dead in the eyes, and don’t flinch. The only institution of God lies within yourselves and in your hearts, not in the spells that powerful men caste upon you for their greedy motivations. But you want daddy, a big hug from daddy. Even I cannot give you that.
The pain of this world is the freedom this world gives you; you cannot love God if you are a stupid sheep. Sometimes, like, you have to accept that dad is never going to huge you. But I will, and that has to be enough. [opens arms to you]
Remember that, as I told you! [shaking finger at you]. The institutions of God have nothing to do with God, though, come to think of it, they want God’s power. Even the best of institutions will find the devil lurks in its beds creeping slowly toward their hearts. Because evil is not separate from good. It depends on the moment. There is no such thing as good or evil. There is good and evil.
If you don’t believe me, then try this. Go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. Stare at your face and say this to yourself. Hello Satan-God, which will I be, and when will I be it.
I think Jesus said, to this affect, “Don’t you know that you are all Gods?” Yeah, but know your place first. Even gods must rise from like, gross, shit.
So, like, there is this old man, and he is funny. I had to laugh because he is a Lincoln scholar that looks like Lincoln, you know, that bearded dude that did not want to be president but was and killed a bunch of Indians and “mixed bloods” and mulattos and put them in concentration-reservations and waged war, like on unarmed kids, women and men and gave soldiers medals of honor and then got shot in the head while in a theater? Why would one be in a theater just after the Civil War? Like, back then, it could take soldiers months on the front lines to know the war was over. He was there enjoying, you know, when others were fighting and dying. Yes, you know, Lincoln was a good man, indeed. Should have been careful, Lincoln, should have chosen the right “Booth.” You know, that dude, that fosters genocide with his right hand and bleeds the Emancipation Proclamation on the other, killing while freeing can expect nothing less for himself. That man. Do you want the truth or not? Or do you want to dance within fairytales only to awake in an oven … you know, the truth?
There is this Lincoln scholar that looks like Lincoln, and, as he stumbles through history, like OMG, he sees a pattern emerge, the same pattern war-crime investigators notice, those on the front lines of mass death. So, I will tell you his little observation, then maybe give you a few Others’ stories, that is if you are good. Because if you want to understand what’s good in this world, if you want happiness, you need to start out in human incinerators. You cannot claim to know God when you don’t see the devil in the entity, you know. There is no such thing as separate, silly little humans. [rolls eyes, brushes you off with her hand]
So, uhm, if I were to add my two cents to our Lincoln-man’s discussion, I would say this. Evil-doing, not evil. Now, you’ve got to pay attention. Remember what they say, the devil is in the details [rapidly raising and lowering her eyebrows]. Evil-doing is nothing more than a formula. When it all comes down to mass murder and genocide, like, it’s not who you are so much, uhm, like, a venomous cycle of discontent, what he says experts call the chain of destruction. I would call it the devil in all of you.
Oh, oh, I know, let me tell it this way. I won’t give you the dry lecture. I think you have had enough of that. You seem to be getting sleepy. That is offensive, so I will tell the chain of destruction this way.
So, OMG, fasten your seatbelts.
Once upon a time, there was little red riding hood, but she was not white and blond but black and black. Unlike little red riding hood, though she was little red riding hood, her redness was voiced through her nails, not her frolicking short little red dress that exposed her buttocks, a child’s tale for adults.
Remember those? You’ve got to pay attention. There is no such thing as a fairytale.
Like most young children, little red riding hood thought the world was made of fairies and unicorns, rainbows and ice cream, hopping bunnies and fine spring days. But even the child knows that looming, looming, ever hanging in the background is terror. The wolf, whose teeth is not meant for peace, its eyes not for connection, and its presence seldom for love, chooses with “extreme prejudice,” its victim. It must first isolate her from others.
For your little red riding hood may be irreplaceable, as the bunny’s babe and fairies and unicorns are, if they existed, but for a predator she is but one morsel, forgotten the moment engulfed.
Oh, oh, I got one! Because as ugly as this joke is, humor cannot exist without cruelty: How do you pick up a Jewish girl? Well, with a broom and dustpan. [laughs, snorting-like] I heard it from someone else. It’s not my fault but it is in telling it.
You laugh, huh. Is it funny incinerating dead kids? [Probing look]
No, you butthole, I am not talking about a wolf exactly. Wolves are beautiful animals that love their babes like you love yours. Just pay attention. Hey, a conundrum for you. Does a Nazi love his kids? A white supremacist, or does a Proud Boy love his daughter? Girls are Jews to misogynists.
As he hugs his child, the child thinks of the stack of dead naked bodies on a choo-choo train that passed by his bedroom window. The train vomits angry black smoke, spewing high in the frosty-frozen air. The Nazi child is having nightmares. He still identifies with the naked limbs and the bland likenesses the bodies possess. The dead, pale bodies looked like piles of naked kids. It made him think of his toy soldiers he often plays with, but something bothered him about it.
“Daddy,” says the child, “Will you ever throw me away?”
Now, you get to answer?
It will be fun. Try it, that is if you love your child.
So little red riding hood, against mom’s wishes because mom is religious and does not believe girls should wear makeup or do nails. “That is for the devil,” mom says, but she sometimes hears mom call girls with makeup hoes. She wondered how a girl can be what daddy uses in the backyard. But she learned to keep quiet. Kids are to be seen and not heard. Like the dead Jewish kids on the choo-choo.
She sneaks in her older sister’s room and guiltily takes her red nail polish because sis never seems to notice her.
Before, like, long, she paints her nails scarlet red, showing them off to herself. Being that she is just little, you know, little red riding hood, she did not think ahead much. How will she keep them from mama? No, she was too excited and felt like a big girl.
She heard mother yelling at her older sister to get up. She needed some sugar from the store. This was such an opportunity! Wrapping a shawl around her hands, little red riding hood told mother that she would go. She is a big girl. Mom still speaking to sis, pointed at the money on the table. She was sure to keep her palm facing mother while wrapping her other hands with the shawl. She could see mom was getting mad at sis, but she left before sis came. Little red riding hood darted out the door.
Now, you know, it’s the country side, and even mom, at this time, thought a child would be okay. I mean, the Klan is not going to go after a little girl, unless she is a slut. That is really why mama did not like makeup. Secretly, mama liked some makeup, though she did not believe young girls should “make themselves women.” But, free now, little red riding hood skipped along the road as light as a breeze.
She recalls, still, like the event, always behind her approaching, slowing and approaching, was a convertible full of white teenage boys. Of course, they had nothing else better to do, like; it’s too early to sneak drinking and flirt with white girls, but, as one said, “See here, a little (racist, misogynist term here) slut. Damn, the little bitch has … look at her nails.”
Of course, their daddies were mostly honorable people during the day, including the town minister, and Klansmen at night.
Before she knew it, they were upon her. Hey, [curse] girl, are your toenails slutty red, too? After a bout of harassment, they pushed her to the ground and took her shoes. Two wanted to go further, you know, teach a 9-year-old what happens to temptresses when men of good character see them. But even among the Klan, one had some heart and said, “No, come on, she is too young. Leave her alone. She learned her lesson.”
They stopped, gave a dirty look to the boy that said it, so he defended himself, “Hey guys, if I am going to do it, you know, let’s make it worth our time, you know, not on a kid.” They got in the car and left with her shoes.
Poor little red riding hood was in a dilemma. What would she say to mama? Sitting on the road crying, she thought how dad would give her a beating, a good beating for losing her shoes. She still had money, and though she wanted to run home, she thought she better be a big girl and go to the store.
So little red riding hood learned that being different meant that people could take your stuff, even your shoes because you are different.
Little red mustered up all the courage she had and continued walking to the store. Quickly but stiffly she walked faster and faster. The stones began to sting the soles of her feet, but she gritted her teeth and tried to think of something pleasant.
She imagined running and playing in a large flowery meadow. Before her run-in with the teen boys, she seldom noticed color, but now her dream made sure that only Black children were playing with her. But it was hard because even when awake, when trying, every moment, a white teen boy would intrude in her daydreaming calling her those horrible words. Her eyes were stinging, too, just like her feet, as the sweat on her face drooled into her eyes. Scared to pick up her hands and show her nails, she squinted. She hoped her crying would make her eyes sting less. It didn’t. It just made the pathway forward more difficult.
She thought of Jesus and said a prayer. Jesus would go up the Mountain, much like the man Mama loved that saw the mountaintop and then was shot to death because he wanted to help garbage men. He wanted peace and love.
She tried to be positive, but all these sad thoughts. Nonetheless, everyone stops crying at some point, and she was at that point when approaching the store. It was a small store, and the man, the owner seemed nice to mom. She walked in and was relieved to feel the cold floor on the soles of her feet.
A large woman was in the corner looking at magazines. She glared at little red riding hood, and said, “Good heavens Butch, look what the cat dragged in today?”
When she approached the man, she was pretty sure he was the same man mama went to every week. The only difference was that he smiled at mama for some reason, but his face looked scary now as he made eye contact with her.
Where’s your matha?
“Um, sir, she needed me to pick up some sugar.”
Little red put the money on the counter, forgetting to hide her nails.
Mr. Butch, looked at her, then down at the money and the nails and then back up at her. He called to the woman in the back. Mrs. Willabie. Kindly lock that door until we are finished heah.”
He glared at the little girl. She started to tremble and cry.
“There’s no use crying. Let me see heah. Your motha thinks it’s fit that you come in heah with yoah dirty little feet, bare feet that are dirty from birth because yoah BLACK and you mess up my store!”
“No, no sir …” crying loudly.
“Shut up! You do not speak, or I will cut yoah tongue out. I would cut yoah tongue out, but given that all of us boys met yoah daddy last night after Church; I, you see, I got the grace of God to consida!”
Laughs an evil laugh. “Isn’t that right Mrs. Willabe? She is in for a big surprise on the way home.” Willabe and Butch laugh.
“And” Butch goes on, “yoah paint yoah nails the color of the DEVIL!” Butch slams his hands on the table, the money flies off the counter.
Little red riding hood jumps with the coins and instinctively tries to pick up the money.
“Leave it! Leave it, dammit!”
He stoops forward, close enough that his cigarette breath is nipping at her face.
“I don’t want yoah dirty money.”
He starts to chuckle, “But I will give yoah shuga, but it comes with a lesson and a cost.”
Willabe creeped up behind red riding hood and snatched her with a scarf over her mouth. She attempted to drag little red into the tool room. Little red riding hood fought so much that Butch had to pick her up and then tie her down.
The pain almost made her forget, but Willabe held her down as Butch pulled out each of her fingernails with the pliers. He was sure to take his time and do it slowly for her not only being a “sinna” as he said, but a Black female one.
It must have been late; little-red did not know what time it was but she hugged the sugar in her arms and walked back home. Mr. Butch said that he was a kind man. He was so kind because he should “deflower” her and then hang her, but he felt good and merciful. He would let her live because there was a big surprise for her coming. Yet, he wanted to teach her to always respect a white man and a white man’s property.
The more she thought, the more it hurt, and the faster she ran. She realized while running that the next step is to take from a person what is theirs. Those were her fingernails, not his, but he simply took them and owned them. He said he would make a neckless out of them.
And, like, then the next step became clearer as she got closer to home, a poor, slum-looking neighborhood. If you treat them poorly, maybe they will die early and blow away, like the little Jewish-girl ashes. They take your health.
As she moved closer, she wondered, from a distance why smoke was shooting in the air. Her daddy was too poor to afford her to get glasses, so he would go out at night and work. She wished she could see what was burning.
When she came home, mama did not seem to notice her or her missing nails. Little red riding hood saw mama outside looking terrified but numb. She said, crying to mama, trying to be a big girl. “Mama, I am sorry.”
Mama did not make eye contact but hugged her so quickly that the sugar fell all over the ground.
“Is that a cross? I cannot see. Is it on fire? Why would someone set dying Jesus on fire?”
As she asked the questions, she felt each word make mama’s body quiver, but her voice was steady. Mom looked at her sister and said, “Let’s go in the house and clean up.
“They are gone.”
So, like, for little red riding hood, the terror now hangs with every suspended cross; every Jesus she sees is a painful reminder. She did not want to think of Jesus that way, you know, but some things are tough to erase.
You know, her nails would have grown back, but her childhood never did.
The end of the First Book of Trinity
Editor’s Note: Read the previous chapters here.
Earl Yarington (LMSW) is a social worker and school bus driver. He taught literature and writing for nearly 20 years and spent 3 years working in forensic social work internships with offending populations, including work at Delaware Correctional facilities and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He has a PhD in literature and criticism (feminism/women writers) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Master of Social Work from Louisiana State University, and an interdisciplinary Master of Liberal Arts from Arizona State University, where he studied the impact of visual image and girlhood in media/social media. He also has an MA and BS in English from SUNY College at Brockport. The opinions and analyses that Earl writes are his own and are not necessarily the positions or views of his employers, the agencies he supports, or that of his colleagues. Reach out with comments or questions.