Shadow of Momma Queen

Shadow of Momma Queen

A Story by kihindei



No one ever came to our house. Those who did were usually fishing for gossip and even then, they'd either yell from the car or stand in front of the stoop. It was rare for someone to just sit down and engage in casual conversation. Grandma Queen said the brick dust kept them away. She'd wake up on Monday morning and scrub the front porch using pee. When it dried, she'd sprinkle brick dust all over. She said if people were up to no good, they wouldn't cross your threshold, as long as it was there. Every now and then, she'd give me an explanation for some of the things she did. Other than that, I would spy and eventually figure it out on my own.

She didn't know it, but I saw everything; although I'd never tell a soul. Other people wouldn't have understood my grandma's beliefs, especially if they weren't from the south. However, in my eyes, Grandma Queen could call fire from the sky if she wanted to do so. Nowadays, they call it metaphysics but grandma called it working roots. Something she learned from her mother and they from theirs, stemming all the way back to the cotton fields of South Carolina.

“Day, Day!”


“I saw you peeking out that back window at me. You know you can't hide that white face.”

“I'm not white”

“Damn near! Some things aren't meant for kids to see!”

Ooh, I hated when she called me white. She only did it when she was angry with me. A lot of it had to do with painful childhood memories concerning her great grandmother, who was a Jew and the varying complexions of her siblings. The way I understand it, the lighter ones were treated better and whenever they went to visit their grandmother, they had to stand outside under a tree in the back yard. Whatever the case, it was painful. I guess she wanted to make sure that my light skin didn't cause me to feel privileged or better than she. To me it didn't matter, but I guess pain can cause you to see things differently than they are in reality.

“Get your shoes on and go to the store for me!”

“Ok. the black store or Hollywood's”

“The colored store, only people I see in there are light and dark brown, and they darn sure weren't Africans."

I don't know why I asked. I hated going to that store. There were always red-eyed bums standing outside swaying with the wind or propped up on telephone polls.Some of them would just sit on the curb like birds on the telephone wire, clutching brown paper bags,and glaring at anyone that walked past. You had to push your way through the crowd and once you got in, the store was packed. Every now and then, things would get interesting when a big country rat would scurry across the counter, making a dash for the bread rack. No one ever said anything about it though. Regardless of the vermin, fried fish and chicken sandwiches were the biggest sellers.

“Get me a bag of pinto beans and a box of Carolina rice.”

“They don't have that at the black store.”

“Oh that's right,” her face dropped in disappointment. “Well go to Hollywood's then.” Come hell or high water, grandma tried to support the black store as much as possible. Even if she found a box of rice where the rats had chewed their way through, ate and left turds; she'd throw it away, laugh and keep going. To her, they were just colored folks like her, trying to make it.

I was so happy, when she said to go to Hollywood's until I skipped out the door, singing a song.

“And don't slam that door! One of these days, you're going to slam that door, knock the shingles loose and set the house on fire!”

“Ok” I responded as the door slammed behind me.

“Got almighty damn,” I heard her yell.

Like clockwork, as soon as I got to the end of the block, I started praying. “Please God, don't let those kids be there! Please God, don't let those kids be there!” I'd would whisper, three times over. Most of the time it worked. But there were some days, when it seemed as if the devil happened to be listening in, and out of meanness, sent the exact kids I wished to avoid.

For some reason, I attracted every bully in town. There was never a break and although there were quite a few ugly people around, for some reason I was considered the ugliest of uglies. One would think that being light skinned was enough to get you through the door in a color struck community such as ours. Yet, I soon learned that black folks analyzed the pedigree of people by hair texture and facial features no differently than people judged dogs. Yet there was something askew about their beauty standards. Things looked upon as beautiful by the majority were seen as freakish or hideous to them. Had I remained in that environment, I probably would be in and out of the fourteenth floor of Nassau county medical center and living off disability. Just like all of the rest of the people who looked or acted differently.

It didn't take long before I could see Hollywood store, in the distance. Just when I began to thank God for a clear path to the door, I no sooner shook my fist at him when I saw Tony Bains crossing the street, on his way to the store.

© 2010 kihindei

Author's Note

This is a draft of a story I started working on the other day. Any insight would be appreciated.

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Added on February 5, 2010
Last Updated on February 5, 2010
Tags: black, ethnic, conjure, brick dust, southern, folk magic, bullies, people, hempstead, long island



Toscana, Italy

One day, I hope to write a fantastic novel, blending elements of my past, my views and things I've seen. more..