A Story by R J Fuller

Are we all just statistics in the end of our own making?


The air was cool this morning. The woman made note of that as she made her way to her destination. She walked across the sidewalk and looked up to see if she was closer to the address. When she approached what she knew to be the desired location, she continued walking a bit, in case there was something overly suspicious. 
Oh, there was already something suspicious. She reached in her pocket to bring out her phone with the address still in her messages. She looked around to see very little people out and about this time of day, as well as it was a rather seculeded location. 
But she was curious. The message stipulated if she did not show up, a replacement would be summoned, so it wasn't like she herself was being singled out for anything nefarious. 

She stepped back to the open gate, eyeing the buidling for any sign of movement, acknowledgement she was being watched. There was none. She walked up to the front door and once again glanced about, still seeing no one else. If she didn't want to be there, they'd just call someone else. She had to know what this was.

As she drew near the door, rather like a very public business, the door opened. 

So I stepped on the mat, she thought to herself. Slowly she crept forward, peering about into the rather desolate establishment. She made her way into the entry with the utmost hesitation. 

"Hello?" she called  as her voice echoed throughout the chamber. She turned to observe one direction, seeing nothing there, then turned in the opposite direction to see an illuminated arrow pointing down an undetectable hallway. As she stepped off the mat and away from the door, it quietly closed behind her. She paused to stare at the door humming to its desired position, then she faced the arrow once more. She walked toward the arrow and made her way to its instruction. 

She hadn't gone far down the silent hall when she came to an opening. Slowly peering inside, she saw two people, seated on opposite sides of the room. The woman looked to her. 

"Hello," the woman said. 

She looked to the man who gives a faint smile, but said nothing. 

"Is this where I'm supposed to go?" she stammered, her voice resounding in the near empty room. 

"Mm-hmm," the woman said. "Probably so."

"What is all this?" she queried. "I mean, I was told to come here, . . . " She spoke as if she was the reason they were all there. 

"So what is this?" she blurted again, trying to quiet down a bit. 

The other woman looked at her and just sat with her arms crossed. 

"We don't know," she said. "Just have to sit and wait." 

She looked at the two people, then looked down the hall from where she had not emerged. It wasn't very big. It dead-ended just a few yards away.

She thought about that replacement being summoned again, so she decided she made it this far, she'd continue on. She sat on the same side as the woman and pulled out her phone. She didn't seem to be getting anything, as if there was some definite interference. She looked up to speak, inhaling in the process, then stopped. She suddenly had an idea they already knew. The man sat quietly with his hands on his knees, staring down at the floor. She put her phone away and stared at the door frame. No sign of anything to suddenly appear and close them in. She took a deep breath and continued staring just beyond the doorway. 

She didn't know how much time had passed when she suddenly heard footsteps in the outer hall, slowly drawing near. At last, she thought. Now maybe we'll get some answers here. But she could already detect the hesitancy, the moving about of the footsteps that it was someone else who didn't know why they were there. 

Finally the figure stepped into view of the other three people. She looked to him as she might be expecting an ally, but all she could do was the same as the other two; just look at him with the air of not knowing anything either. 

The black man stood at the entry, looking at the others, one at a time. He could see in their countenances, they didn't know why they were there. He refrained from asking, just being able to detect no one was authoritative there. The other man looked at him, then nodded to the other end of the bench opposite where he sat. The fourth person silently made his way to the bench and sat down. 

None of them spoke to one another. None of them moved. They were requested. They were told they could be replaced. 

The stillness was suddenly interrupted when a havey metal door at the other end of the room slowly opened. Somewhat startled, the quartet looked at the door, a light from within illuminating through it. None of them moved, waiting to see if someone would appear and summon them. This was when they noticed the overhead light in the waiting room was gradually dimming, plunging them in darkness. 

The first man was the first person to stand. Saying nothing, he made his way to the doorway to enter. The black man stood then as well, looking at the first woman, to see if she would follow suit. Slowly she stood and hesitated, looking at him. He quietly continued forth and made his way through the door. Gradually she too followed. 

This left the other woman all alone. She stood and walked toward the door as well, ever so carefully walking through the entrance with the others. 

They found themselves in a circled arrangement, with four podiums. They looked at each other, as if contemplating they had assigned areas, then they just randomly stood before one of the locations. An overhead lighting fixture like a round orb descended from the ceiling. It seemed to rthymically rotate, pulsating bright flashes as it did so. They all gazed up to it. Then they heard the voice. 

"White woman!" 

The other three turned and looked to the designated person. She said nothing, but continued to observe the orb. 

"White woman," it continued, "have you achieved equality with the white man?" 

"Huhhh," she began whispering, "have I achieved equality with the white man?" She looked to the first man and he as well was looking back at her. 

"Have you achieved equality with the white man?"

"I don't know him," she answered. 

"You know white men," the voice said. 

"Yes," she replied. 

"Have you achieved equality with them?"

"Uhh, . . . I'm the supervisor of my work area; there are men in my charge. I'm not their equal. I'm their superior." 

"Do you have their respect?" 

She didn't need to think long on that one. 

"No," she answered. "They are goof-offs and all." 

"Then you are still submissive to the white man," it stated more than asked. 

"Well," she stammered, "they won't let me be equal to them. It's like a club or gang for them. They don't want women in their club." 

"White man!" the voice now spoke. 

The first man, the white man, looked to the orb and meekly spoke, "yes?"

"Is the white woman your equal?"

Sensing the direction to take, the fellow quietly stated, "some women are in charge and capable. A lot of women are leaders and intelligent." 

"Do you respect them?"

"I can, . . . I accept, . . I know they are responsible for running busineses and all."

"Respect," the orb seemed to boom. "Do you respect them in their positions or would you rather a man be in their place?" 

He looked away from the orb. 

"It's, . . . I do give thought to maybe . . . maybe a guy could do the job and duties better, . . . sometimes. Like with politicians and all."

He looked at the two women who were looking back at him. 

"Sometimes, . . . it just seems the better person for the job would be someone who happens to be a man."

"That's sexist," the white woman spoke up again. "Is that what you want to hear," she said, facing the orb again, "that he's sexist. Men are sexist."

"Are men sexist because they will not regard you as an equal?" 

"I earn more money and get more benefits than the guys who work below me, but I think there are other supervisors who are men and get paid more, and have more vacation time." 

"Are there other female equals at your work, white woman?" 

She looked up at the orb rather befuddled at the description. 

"My name is Jenny," she said, "and yes they are, but I don't believe they get paid more than me. Probably about the same." 

"Are there more men supervisors than women at your career?" the orb bellowed. 

"Yes," she said, "but I've earned my bonuses and benefits." 

"Men who started at your job after you possibly get more pay than you?"

"It . . . .it happens," she began, "but there's nothing I can do about it. It's a man's world. They make the rules." She finished up and cast a glance to the first man. 

"Then you do not have equality. You are not equal to the white man." 

"Maybe I don't want to be equal to him. I want to stand on my own two feet," she answered. 

"And the white man gets promotions ahead of you," the orb concluded. 

Jenny was flustered now. 

"Well, they're going to do what, . . there are women who do their jobs much better, . . . "

"Black man!" 

The fourth person was a bit startled by the declaration. 

"Archie," he replied, "I'm Archie Winters."

"Black man, have you achieved equality with the white man?" the orb asked, oblivious to the given name. 

"I can only do what I can," Archie answered. 

"Have you achieved equality with the white man?"

"There's been achievements, but there seems to also be some of the same hurdles set up for black people," Archie said. 

"Is the black man respected by the white man for being capable?" the orb queried. 

"No," the other woman said calmly. The orb turned to her. 

"Black woman!" 

"My name is Shiela."

"Do you have equality with the black man or the white race?" 

"I have no equality whatsoever with anyone. I am a black woman designated to be observed and recognized for who and what I am, never to extend beyond that position," Shiela answered. 

"How can you say that?" Jenny asked. 

Shiela turned to her. 

"Because it's true. No man is ever going to look at me as any kind of equal. Nor is any white person." 

"I don't know you," Jenny began, "but I could see you as . . . as someone who can do what needs to be done."

"As your equal?" Shiela asked. 

Jenny hesitated with her answer. 

"I rest my case," Shiela concluded. 

"That's not fair," Jenny said. "You're making it sound as if I don't give you any regard because you are black." 

"Not regard," Shiela said, "but as your equal." 

"Why are you mad at me?" Jenny asked. 

"Girl, please," Shiela said, looking away and waving her hand up in the air. 

"You're mad at me." 

"I am not made at you. You could not bring yourself to say you see me as an equal." 

"I don't know you." 

"Can you see a black woman, or person, for that matter, as your equal?" Archie asked. 

"I don't know either of you," Jenny replied. 

"Not us," Shiela responded, flustered. 

"Not us, but any black person, man or woman. Could you see a black man or woman as your equal?" 

"She's mad at me." 

"We're not talking about being mad. We're asking about being seen as equal," Archie stated. 

Jenny took on a very sullen expression. 

"I'm not answering with her mad at me like that." 

"Now she's the victim," Shiela stated. 

"No, you're getting mad at me for no reason," Jenny said. 

"Honey, it's not about you," Shiela answered. 

"It's about racial and sexual equality," Archie commented. 

"I didn't come here to be yelled at," Jenny replied. "Where's the door? Where's the door?"

At this moment, the four people looked around and realized the door was no longer visible. 

"Where is it?" Shiela asked. 

"You've locked us in," Jenny yelled. "I want to leave!" 

"White woman!" 

"Don't call me that!" Jenny yelled. "I want out of here now!" 

The orb continued to fluctuate its glow. 

"Open the door!" 

Shiela, Archie and the white man looked at Jenny. 

"Let us out!" 

"You need to calm down," Shiela said. 

"Don't tell me what to do!" Jenny yelled back. "I want out of here. Let us out now!" 

"What are you going to do," Archie asked, "if they don't?" 

Jenny looked at Archie with bewilderment. She turned away and let out a very loud scream that managed to echo in the room. The other three put their hands to their ears. 

"Will you stop that?" the white man said. 

"I want out!" Jenny replied. 

"It doesn't look like we are getting out until this is all through," Shiela stated. 

"I don't want to do this anymore!" Jenny yelled. 

"Calm down!" the white man ordered.

Jenny gave him a wild-eyed look and huffed like an angry bull. 

"I'm not doing this anymore," she now stated calmly. 

"Then let us see what they want and try to get us out of here," Archie said. 

"Well, I'm not doing it anymore," Jenny said. "I don't like being called racist." 

"Who called you racist?" the white man spoke up. 

Jenny stammered a bit, then got out, "she did, saying I don't see either of them as equals." 

"but do you see them as equals?" the man asked. 

"Do you?" Jenny shot back. 

The unnamed fellow stood there a bit, then commented, "the orb hasn't asked me yet, and the only reason you got put on the spot was when you spoke up when she was answering the orb about if she felt she was seen as an equal." 

"Because she shouldn't be that way!" 

"But she does," the fellow responded. 

"But she shouldn't!" 

"It doesn't matter if she shouldn't," he said calmly, "but she either does feel that way or she feels we think that way, that we don't regard her as a capable equal." 

"Well, I don't see her that way," Jenny huffed. "I'm not a racist." 

"It seems that is something the other person should tell you, not what you yourself should say about you," he stated. 

"I'm not a racist," Jenny snapped back. "You might be, probably are, but I'm not!" 

"What if we asked them, these two, if they think we are racist or not?" 

"I don't care!" Jenny shouted. "They can think or anybody can think of me whatever they want. I know what I think!" 

"Do you think I see you as an equal?" 

"I don't give a damn what you think!" Jenny yelled back. "I don't know you and I don't know these two. I know I want out of here now!" 

With that, only the rhythm of the orb could be heard. The four people remained silent, until Jenny spoke again. 

"I said now!" 

"I am a white man and I am a racist." 

The other three looked at him with his comment. 

"How can you say that?" Shiela asked. 

"I judge by appearance. I know I do." 

"I think we all can do that," Archie said, "whether a person is black or white or thin or overweight. We can reach pre-conceived ideas." 

"I don't want to be in here if you're all going to admit to being racists," Jenny said very forcefully. "I don't want to be in here with any racists!" 

"Have you done anything recently that might be taken as racist?" Archie asked the white man. 

"I haven't!" Jenny bellowed. 

"I don't know," the white man said. "I'd have to think on it, but I know I've looked upon black people with distrust." 

"Well," Archie said, rather smiling, "I could look upon people who are black with distrust as well, and there are white people I could react the same way toward also." 

"I suppose so," the white man answered, "but do you ever look at another black person and think they are unpleasant because they are black? An unpleasant white person could have nice hair, beautiful appearance and a lousy attitude." 

"True," Archie replied, "I can't say if I'd distinguish between a black man who is disheveled and unkempt and a black man who is fashionable. I guess either one could be difficult once they spoke." 

"With your racial observations," the white man said, "I should look upon you as an equal." 

"Do you?" Archie asked. 

The white man inhaled. 

"I guess that will come down to how I feel and how I make you feel." 

Archie laughed. 

"I suppose so."

Archie turned to look at Shiela. 

"Well," he said calmly, "do you agree or disagree?" 

"I'm not concerned one way or another," she said. "White people are going to do what they are going to do, and men are going to do what they are going to do. All I can do is what I'm going to do and can do, try to do and just find some satisfaction with that." 

"You shouldn't think that way," Jenny interjected. "You have to fight." 

"Honey, the fight is an everyday struggle, regardless, but I got to walk my own path. If men are going to dismiss me as a woman and as a black woman, I'm not going to spend my time trying to convince them otherwise. I've got to get on with my life." 

"Then you're letting them win," Jenny concluded. "You're giving up." 

"I have been hindered by people who were black as well as white, men as well as women," Shiela forcefully stated. "I can't stop and contend with another black woman who has done me wrong any more than I can a white man or a black man."

"But if you give up, . . . " Jenny began. 

"I'm not giving up," Shiela answered. 

"You didn't let me finish." 

"Because we all can only do so much, black, white, male, female. I'm not going to see every encounter as a battle." 

"Can I finish?" 

Shiela held her hand out to Jenny. 

"I'm going to speak and don't want to be interrupted." 

Shiela gave her a nod. 

"If we don't stand up and fight back against men and racists like him, then we are letting them win." 

"Who is we?" Shiela asked. "I got my own life to live, hoeny." 

"You didn't hear what I said." 

"You said we." 

Jenny turned away from Shiela. 

"I give up. You won't listen." 

"I listened." 

"I'm ready to go," Jenny calmly stated. 

"We have to pick and choose our fights, honey," Shiela replied. "I can't bother fighting with every black woman who crosses my path anymore than I can any man or white person."

"I'm ready to go," Jenny said loudly. 

"So you are giving up?" Archie asked. 

Jenny said nothing. 

"Are you surrendering?" the white man asked. 

"I don't talk to racists. Can we get out of here?" 

"But you are walking away from the discussion without making your statement and you are telling her she has to stand up and fight or she's surrendering," Archie concluded. 

"But that's in a fight," Shiela repled, "and this isn't a fight." 

"I'm not fighting. I want to leave," Jenny said, then yelled, "I don't like being in here with bigots! I'd like to leave." 

"Do you think we avoid discrimination and can just leave if and when we don't like it?" Archie asked Jenny. 

"I don't, . . . " Jenny started, then became frustrated. "I don't know, . . . I don't know what you go through. I'm not black," she said turning to Archie, "but I feel singled out here and I don't like it." 

"Well, what do you think we do if we feel singled out for our race?" Archie asked. 

Jenny clenched her mouth sternly and looked around. 

"I'm not saying anything else."

"Then you surrender," Shiela came back. Jenny sniffed. 

Archie turned to the other man. 

"What's your name?" Archie asked. 

"Derek," he replied. 

"Do you really think you are a racist, Derek?"

Derek stood quietly for a moment, then answered, "I don't know. I can't say, can I?" 

Jenny turned her back to him. 

"Sometimes," Archie began, then exhaled, and continued, "sometimes all that can be required in showing some aspect of equality is to listen and speak, and that's what you have done here." 

"Well," Derek began in a low tone, "I will agree with Jenny on one thing." 

Jenny didn't turn around. 

"What's that?" Shiela asked. 

"I'm tired of this," Derek replied. 

Jenny turned her head sideways. 

"I got to agree," Shiela said. "What was the point of all of this?" 

"I don't know," Derek said. 

"it looks like we were supposed to be a representative of each of our statuses; black, white, male, female," Archie answered. 

"What a silly concept," Derek replied. 

"Well, I was told if I didn't come here, someone else would come in my place," Shiela stated. 

Jenny turned around to face the others. 

"I was told that, too," she commented. It wasn't clear how, but she seemed to be warming up to the group. 

"I guess they would have just found another person, black, white, man, woman, if one of us refused to show up," Derek said. 

"Maybe there were others who didn't show up," Archie began, "and we were their replacements." 

"I guess we can all be replaced," Shiela said, laughing. The other three smiled. 

"So," Jenny said, then became louder, "are we through?"

Jenny looked up, then Shiela and the guys did the same. 

"Yea," Shiela yelled. "What more do we need to do?" 

"do you think if I swing my purse up there," Jenny asked, "I could hit the orb?" 

"No, don't do that," Derek said. Jenny looked at him coldly. 

"Uh, excuse me," Archie now called out, "is there anything else we need to do?" 

The orb flashed a few more times, then the door opened with a sealed hum again, to become available to all. The four people gave insincere cheers and laughs, then walked back out the way they came in. They walked down the hall back to the front door and once they drew near, the door opened. 

"Ah!" Jenny said, "fresh air!" 

"Oh, yes," Shiela replied. 

"Well, I don't know what that was all about," Archie commented, "but I hope they got what they wanted. The group chuckled again in the warm sunshine as they made their way out the gate. 

"Well," Jenny began, "I guess nice to meet you all." 

"Yea," Shiela agreed. 

"I guess this is good-bye, then," Archie said with a chuckle, then added, "ah, anybody need a lift anywhere?" 

"No," Shiela answered, "not really." 

"Yea," Jenny stated, "I could stand a lift, if it's not too far out of your way." 

"O-kay," Archie said, smiling. "Anybody else." 

"Well, I was going to catch the bus," Derek said, "but if you're giving rides, I suppose I can join." 

Shiela looked around and then said, "oh, let's just make it a foursome then," to which they all smiled. 

"My car is this way." 

The group began walking and as they did, Jenny spoke to Derek. 

"Derek, do you really think, . . . you're a racist?" 

Derek looked forward and didn't make eye contact with anyone in the group. 

"I don't know," he said quietly. "Maybe I am, or maybe this is something Archie and Shiela need to decide. But you know what I really think?"

"What's that?" Archie asked. 

"I think I was just saying that in there so whoever was doing that would hurry up and let us go."

Shiela laughed. Jenny smiled as she looked at them. 

"Just tell them what they want to hear, huh, Derek?" Archie asked, smiling. Derek smiled back. 

They continued on to their destination in the parking lot. Who they were to one another may have changed or it may always be the same. They may have seen each as other as what they were upon entering, but now they seemed to know each other for who they were much more.   


© 2021 R J Fuller

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Added on July 19, 2021
Last Updated on July 19, 2021
Tags: male, female, black, white, racism, discussion