December 6, 2009

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz

Fly Freddie. Fly.

Don’t ever see that nigga till he want something. Mama shushing Daddy. The children, she say. Daddy glancing at us, frowning; his eyes narrow, brows almost touching. He know we love Uncle Freddie. Freddie pockets full of good time and candy. Daddy asking, You gonna pay the dentist bill when they teeth fall out? Uncle Freddie winking at us. In a whisper, he say, We’ll put ‘em right in here. He pats his pocket. Next to the candy. We laugh. Oh Freddie!

Two boys running wild. Gangly dark arms and torn jeans racing down any path till Daddy turn this way. Freddie, come on. But Freddie don’t. Cain’t wait on you. Go’n then. Freddie don’t want Daddy’s road. He say, Man, I gots to fly.

Freddie got a plan. A man with a plan. A man gots to have more than that, Daddy tell him. Gotta have some kinda work to go with it. And what make you think I ain’t working it? Daddy laugh. ‘Cause you sitting up in my house talking it. Freddie get all mad in the face. It pucker like he ate the sour candy he sometime bring. You’ll see, he tell Daddy, as he storm out the door. It snap shut, his footsteps sharp till they go away.

Phone ringing in the middle of the night. Daddy’s face full of sudden tears. I told him, he say, shaking his head. I told him.

A man with a plan. It gonna take him somewheres. This time. For sure.

—First appeared in Black Magnolias, 2009.


Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz is currently working on several projects revolving around the Civil Rights Movement in Nashville.

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