Our Lady Of The Blues
The Heart Of The Matter
Rather than being awakened to a grim reality Dewey slept soundly until Sunset. Then, opening his eyes to Darkness while still exhausted he wove in and out of consciousness the night through until daylight brought the world back. It wasn’t fun but it was unavoidable.
He had to take three baths and shave twice before he felt clean. He had no time to reflect on what had been a momentous experience for him. Each segment of his trip was seared across his memory but the scars were too fresh for examination. It would be very late in life before he made any attempt to understand.
For now he was only interested in, as the saying goes, carpeing the diem. Having finally ggotten back he wanted to get out and relive his past. Unfortunately the past can only be relived on paper such as this. His past in any real sense was gone forever. He now learned that you can never go home again. I forget who said it but they said: The past is a foreign country. They do things different there. How true. Not only do they do things differently there, like puppets they can be made to form any pose, assume any attitude, express any opinion and then change them completely when viewed from a different perspective. The truth is hard to capture but whatever is captured is part of the truth.
It was at this moment that Dewey, how shall I say, intuited the fact that the past was a sealed book. What had happened had happened; what had been done was over. It was all over; the fat lady had warbled. He didn’t think about it; he didn’t understand it but he knew it.
Still worn out he sat around all day trying to think of where to begin. As he thought it seemed that his last leave had all but severed his relations with anyone he had known. He had walked out on Denny Demwitter, still he didn’t know who else to call. Denny naturally was at work. His mother said he would call back.
Louis on return from school had stopped by Caterina to pick up the mail. There was a letter from Red Hanrahan. Dewey tore it open and fourteen dollars fell out. The loan had been paid along with a sanctimonious note adving Dewey of the evil of charging interest. Dewey pocketed the money throwing the sentiments in the trash.
Denny returned his call that evening. He advised Dewey that this was Christmas; he had a girl and their plans were set but he would see if he could include Dewey in something.
That was that as far as Dewey was concerned. Now he had to figure out what to do with his remaining days.
He got up the next morning with a feeling of despair not knowing what to do. Coming back for Christmas now seemed the least wise thing he could have done. Feeling lackluster he decided to wander on down to Trinkow’s Drug to look over the pulps and magazines as in days of yore.
The days of yore were just that. The pulps had all but disappeared, a victim of the TV screen. The number of interesting magazines was thinning fast too. Since his mohter’s house was locked up he couldn’t even get his civilian clothes. He was condemned to walking around in his sailor suit which displeased him greatly.
As Dewey idly searched the magazines he was noted by John Dickman who also was standing around. Dickman didn’t have a steady job. He considered a steady job for fools only. He didn’t want one. He had been able to put his busybody proclivities to economic use which made his habits legitimate in his eyes.
He earned an adequate amount of as an informant or sort of researcher cum private eye for a number of attorneys. He could always immediately provide some background on nearly anyone in town while being able to come up with an in depth report within a matter hours. When every you talked to him you were providing him with valuable information.
Trueman knew who Dickman was from seeing him at Melville but he had never spoken to him during those three years. He wouldn’t have recognized him now. Dickman accosted Trueman:
‘How…uh…how do you know the Daggers.’ He asked carefully avoiding using Dewey’s name as he considered himself better than him.
‘How’s that?’ Dewey asked turning to meed him.
‘I asked how you know the Daggers. That’s simple enough isn’t it?’ It was simple; it was also rude and vulgar but since Dickman considered himself above Trueman it was imperative to speak down to him.
‘Who are you and what are daggers?’
‘You remember me.’ Dickman said softening a little at the truculent tone of Trueman. ‘John. John Dickman. I went to school with you. Don’t be coy. The Daggers from Bay City. One of them was in here yesterday looking for you.’
Now Dickman was giving out valuable information rather than receiving it which he was always loath to do.
Dewey stared at Dickman hard. He understood. ‘Duelin’ Dalton Dagger was in here looking for me?’ He said, concealing his alarm.
‘Yes. He seemed to know you very well. He wanted to know where you lived. I took him over to your parent’s place but you weren’t there.’
‘You…took…over…’ Dewey began and stopped. He wondered how or why this guy he barely recognized knew where he lived and how he knew Dagger. Dewey looked at him again in one intense but brief study then without answering turned and walked out.
‘Geez, what a busybody.’ He thought, flushed from a haunt where he had intended to stay for a couple hours. Now secure in his mind that Dagger wouldn’t be able to find him Dewey still had the full day before him. He decided to wander over to Melville to relive old memories.
Darktown Strutters Ball
One says he decided to wander over but in fact Dewey was compelled to revisit the scene of his failed hopes and spoiled dreams. He was drawn to this scene of ruined expectations. His mind lowered istself into a half conscious, half subconscious state where his motivations were separated from his volition.
He loved this vale of regrets, this Herman Melville High School, but it was a love built on sadness. The solidity of the old pile impressed him as he approached. There was a sense of dignity in the old building so unlike the frivolous nature of modern construction. The grandfathers had built it with the reverence due to a temple of learning. Its traditions were the traditions of modesty yet with the merited pride of achievement.
His familiarity with this temple of learning on Bercilak as entered was as fresh as the day he left it. He had no idea what he was going to do as he entered but the old wounds ever fresh from his subconscious directed his steps to the second floor wing containing Mrs. Hicks’ classroom.
His arrival coincided with the change of classes. Just as he reached the second floor landing the bell rang releasing the charging streams of students. There was a changed quality in their manner from his day. Back then he remembered that they had strolled, emerging cockily and moving leisurely like young lords of the manor down the hall challenging anyone to do something about it.
These students seemed to run from class scurrying down the hall as though in a mad dash for the safety of the next classroom. This year’s Seniors had been sophomores the year he graduated so he might possibly know but few of them and none of the Juniors and Sophomores. As luck would have it, sticking out like a sore thumb in his uniform, nearly everyone he did know saw him.
Ange, his first sweetheart, turned to scuttle away so as not to be noticed. Susan Doughty, her replacement, saw him from a distance and went the other way.
His brother, Louis, spotted him, coming over to say a few words with shining eyes. Dewey was troubled by rising subconscious motifs so he was not too communicative. While they were bandying a few words Diane Dever came rushing up.
Diane had had a crush on Dewey ever since he had delivered papers to her door in eleventh grade. She had desperately tried to stay in touch when he left for the Navy. Dewey had written to her during his first year but having no real affection for her he had discontinued writing when the Teufelsdreck went overseas.
Besides he had been so beaten down by his enemies, so reviled and belittled that he couldn’t see how any girl could love him. He didn’t feel he could hold his own against his fellows so he didn’t want to be humiliated in front of any girl he might love.
From Diane’s behavior now her cruch seemed to be true love. Her plans for Dewey had seemed realizable when he had been writing to her but then he had just stopped answering her letters. Perhaps, she thought, it was something she said. Perhaps she had been trying to impress him with her virtue too much. As with many women who aren’t getting the attention they want she thought she could win Dewey with sex or perhaps in her desperate love she threw caution to the winds hoping to get his attention with promises.
she rushed up excitedly overjoyed to see him. The halls were thinning as she spotted him. Melville had been all White when Dewey had attended but he noticed the presence of Black Boys in the crowds as they came out of the rooms. Now he understood why the Whites had all seemed to be running to the safety of their next classroom as the Black Boys took up threatening positions in the middle of the halls, somewhat like hall monitors, to harass White stragglers.
As Diane greeted Dewey she subconsciously straddled his leg rubber her vulva up and down. She may have meant nothing but a mating call but she caught the Black Boys attention. Nothing their looks Dewey quickly said he would call her, which he never did, but she was satisfied and scurried off in that scooting run now characteristic of White students.
Louis gone, Dewey drift4d down the hallway toward Mrs. Hicks’ room with the intent of looking in. HIs memories were conflicted further by the sight of the Black Boys eyeing him wonderingly. Two years earlier and there would have been Whites leisurely jousting their way down the halls but now with two full minutes to go before classes only an occasional straggler came down the hall closely hugging the lockers along the side so as to get the greatest distance between them and the Black terrorists in the middle of the hall. It was a form of respect the Black Boys could appreciate.
Some half dozen Blacks were in Mrs. Hicks’ class which caused surges in Dewey’s mind that, while he couldn’t have explained them, would have been impossible to explain had he been fluent rather than inchoate.
None of these Black Boys had experienced the discrimination he had. It made Dewey angry when people spoke of discrimination against Blacks when he had experienced worse and without the comfort of sympathetic fellows who felt as he did.
As related in the Sonderman Constellation when Dewey had left Junior High Hirsh/Yisraeli had secretly enrolled him at Melville Trade School rather than Melville High so as to get him out of the sight of son and friends.
When Dewey showed up at Melville for tenth grade he was told that there was no place for him, he should trot over to Trade School and assume the position. Dewey had refused, sitting around the office for three days until Hirsh and the administration capitulated. After all the Law required that all youths be given the opportunity for a high school education, Black or White.
Next Dewey elected for college prep courses. Hirsh and the administration refused, wanting to put him in the Business Curriculum. They told him he wasn’t entitled for what he was asking. He had to brush aside their objections that he would never be going to college. How they knew what he might or might not do was anybody’s guess but as Dewey looked at these Black Boys in Mrs. Hicks class he smilingly wondered how many of them would be going to college except on an athletic scholarship in which intellectual abilities might be a liability.
In a truly desperate attempt to intimidate him into taking the less prestigious business curriculum, while showing their hatred for him, he was assigned to Mrs. Hicks’ college prep class which contained Michael Hirsh as well as most of his friends.
Evaline Hicks had been the instructor of the elite of the Valley since the late thirties when she arrived from State. She had a spectacular aura of respectability about her as well as being a top notch scholar. She epitomized all the Western Civilization hoped to be.
When Dewey presented himself in her class the Hirshes as a body rose from their seats to force him back driving him back by main force out of the room into this veryhallway on the very spot he now stood where his subconscious steps had led him. Then several girls from the Business English class across the hall came out like the sirens of Greek mythology to entice him with sexual promises, I did you not, into their classroom. Whoever came up with the notion that girls were chaste in the fifties must never have been there. Perhaps it is the same girls speaking now as mothers trying to impress their daughters with their former virtue. It’s not like they weren’t wonderful just the same.
Informed once again that he would never go to college he replied that he would and fought his way back into the classroom. After Mrs. Hicks had restored order he was grudgingly allowed to take a seat. How’s that for discrimination?
None of the Black boys in Mrs. Hicks class would ever go to college but they were now given seats in her sacred grove on a silver platter that they could not apprecieate. Dewey laughed to himself as he watched them wondering what a sailor was doing in school as these memories and comparisons surged around his subconscious. Animosity and hatred glowed from their eyes as the last White straggler scurried past them protected y the presence of Dewey.
The Whites had learned their lesson well and quickly. A full thirty seconds before the bell rang there wasn’t a White fact to be seen in the halls. Much different than when Dewey had attended Melville.
A few Blacks had attended Melville the past year as clumps of Negroes breached the Eastern Defenses crossing over from the East Side into Carroltown Township, just North of the Valley, that fed into Melville. Larger numbers had crossed after N-Day so now there were now two or three hundred Black students out of twenty-eight hundred.
The Blacks were unwelcome across the River, just as Montagues would have been amongst Capulets. Think social rather than racial. The defense lines would be reformed forcing them back across the River to the East Side during the year. They were told to stay on the East Side. Melville would be White again the next year. For a while.
No one understood how the Black population grew so fast. The flood of newcomers moving North from the South was an unrecognized fact. The Valley News never tried to explain or acknowledge it. They didn’t understand either. the subject then as now was taboo.
Originally contained in the First Ward until the ward was literally bursting the Blacks were now spilling out into the adjoining wards on the way to taking over the Northeast and Central East Side. The Whites were pushed South and further East reclaiming swampy lower ground where they were joined by the incoming White hillbillies hoping for the same unskilled factory jobs as the Blacks.
Much has been made concerning the low scores of Blacks on the Scholastic Achievement and IQ tests but the scores were pre-ordained. It should be noted that West Side White scores were also consistently higher than East Side White scores. The tests were culturally weighted toward an upper class White standard. West Side families were more likely to have magazines and books in their homes than the factory workers and Hillbillies of the East Side. Melville also sent a much higher percentage of its students on to college than Valley High of which the West Side was very proud.
The Blacks simply had not come into contact with the achievements of Western Civilization while actually despising them. Mrs. Hicks class was a model of the problem of educating Blacks to White or Western Civilization standards. Western Civ quite naturally excluded all things Black from discussion. Education was a White world; Whites had made the world from the fifteenth century on. Just a fact. They now had to be made ashamed of their achievement ‘to redress the balance.’
A surprising number of teachers at Melville had Masters degrees. Mrs. Hicks not only had onee but she was only a few credits from obtaining her PhD. As per the discussion between Dewey and Terry Gaste in the De Soto Mrs. Hicks was a serious scholar.
She was not exactly a feminist or perhaps Feminists were not yet known by that name but she took her Sex seriously while also having lesbian tendencies. She was well developed in all areas of English literature. She was deep into Medieval studies. Her accomplishments were such that it must be said that the West Side was repaid handsomely for whatever salary they gave her.
She was in advance of her times by giving a slightly different course of instruction to the girls over the boys. The girls were privately instructed in the Romance of Tristan and Isolde with its stress on platonic love. Perhaps in our misguided coeducational fantasy it is necessary to somehow impart the duties, hopes and aspirations of each sex apart from the other. Co-education may be a fantasy. Anything would be better than the smutty environment we’ve created now.
Now, as to the psychology of the Blacks. You don’t have to read a lot of Black literature to find what is missing in Black education. There are no references to White literature or history in Black literature. From Richard Wright to Iceberg Slip you are given a picture of reality devoid of literary references. Apparently Blacks don’t read White literature. Their lack of interest in White matters is part of their inability to respond to White education.
This is not a question of money. Those Blacks who had grown up in theValley attending grammar schools, Junior Highs, and High Schools had as much money spent on them as White kids. Black kids migrating from the South didn’t but there was no difference between these two Black groups in scholastic achievement.
The problem was not one of money but culture. In their daily lives the Black kids did not spend a lot of time reading anything. They were all functionally illiterate.
The layering of psychologies was such that Blacks had the burden of a couple layers of psychology than Whites. Both groups had to deal with their personal psychologies. They had to maintain their self-respect vis-a=vis their communities.
That done the Whites faced integration into a White society in which they were more or less accepted and knew their way around. The Blacks had to relate their personal and community psychologies to the structures of the alien White community, a community that traditionally had rejected and supressed them on every level.
This led to the development of different possibilities and ultimately a completely separate and antagonistic culture. What goes in Black Culture may be a crime by White laws. Conversely what may be seen as a crime in Black eyes might not to White eyes. There is a terrific conflict in standards. Also irreconcilable.
This is nowhere more evident than in the relation between the sexes. The Pimp was a culture hero in the Black world. In the White world he had no status. In the Black he had money’; he knew how to shine. Thus Black men tended to look on women as a means to wealth. Nor was this different than their situation in Africa. When they saw a woman they saw a potential prostitute or in their slang a hole or ho. John Lennon of the Beatles was indeed very rude to ask how many holes it took to fill Albert Hall. If you had a few holes in your stable you were set up.
This attitude was reflected in their music, which is say, everyday psychology, in such songs as ‘Shake Your Moneymaker.’ If you don’t know what a ‘moneymaker’ is it’s that ‘thang’ between a woman’s legs; ‘Jimmy Mack’ is another name for a pimp. Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee. When Little Richard burst onto the scene screaming ‘Long Tall Sally sure likes to ball’ you may be sure that not one in a hundred White Folks knew that ‘to ball’ was not a verb meaning ‘to party’ but one meaning ‘to fuck.’ Thus Little Richard was screaming, if you’ve never heard Little Richard I mean he was actually screaming: Sally sure likes to fuck. Probably for money.
It didn’t take long for fast Whites to learn what that meant. Now imagine a little five year old girl who had heard the song on the radio shaking that ‘thang’ as she shouts: Long Tall Sally sure like to ball. It happened, my friends, and her parents thought she was cute. The cultural differences were immense. Blacks and Whites used the same words but didn’t speak the same language.
Now, imagine a corps of young Black pimps released into a White hen house where the girls had never even seen a prostitute, Black or White. Consider that these girls had been raised on the ideals of virtue as contained in the Romance of Tristan and Isolde. ‘Tight ass White girls’ as the Blacks would say. It will be seen that their defenses agains Black ho recruiters were minimal unless the distance between the two cultures was maintained. Instead they were told that there were no cultural differences between Blacks and Whites and that they were evil if they ‘discriminate’ against Black Boys. In those days Black men ran Black stables of holes; today they are mixed. Pimps aren’t nice to their holes either; read Iceberg Slim’s book ‘Pimp.’
In those days the pimp was a Black culture hero, today the role is shared by White men acting Black. In the year 2000 Hollywood produced an animated cartoon in which one character was a tow headed White seven year old pimp. What was the cute little guy selling? His sister or mother? What a difference forty years makes.
Then there was the racial warfare to take into accunt. Except to the blind it was already evident on the playing fields of America. Let’s face it. Blacks had to be careful or they might be beaten without recourse. Blacks attending Melville had to traverse the entire White West Side. In those days students were not routinely bussed to school, although it was around the corner, only the rural students were. Everyone else had to find their own way. thus the Blacks had to walk across town or pay for the city bus.
Whether they were set on or not the apprehension was real. Blacks felt in physical danger at Melville which they countered with a pre-emptive terrorism of their own on the principle that a good offense is the best defense.
Coming from the East Side which was economically inferior the Blacks had to traverse the whole of the West Side which was forbidden to them at all other times. Dewey had grown up without ever seeing a Black face on the West side of the River and very few South or East of the First Ward. While the physical appearance of the rest of the town wasn’t significantly different from the First Ward it contained all the mysterious wonders of the White world. the true differences in life styles was heightened in the Black imagination. There were White women in those houses.
These supposed splendors were also joys and delights that were seemingly forever denied to them and that on the unfair basis of color, as opposed to what? Social caste? Weren’t they treated as dogs. Dogs.
The arrogant Urban Aristocracy was either cruel or inexplicably unaware of the consequences of their actions. Weren’t they after all educated people? They treated their orphans worse than they treated the Blacks. When Dewey was in the orphanage the children would occasionally be taken to the home of some well-to-do ‘benefactor’ for lunch. There they saw all the things money could buy including the luxurious mansion and acreage. When they were taken back to the orphanage the house mothers carefully explained to them that they would never be allowed to enter such a desirable life style. Such was only for their ‘betters’ and betters was heavily emphasized. Orphans too were ‘niggers’ who were to be forever denied. What is discrimination?
The effect on Blacks was much the same. If it wasn’t said it was understood that they would never be allowed to live int he same style much less among the Whites. If you don’t think Blacks and orphans experienced some bitterness, you’re mistaken. The big difference and this caused Dewey some bitterness too was that the racial lines allowed Blacks security as a group while the orphans were isolated individuals within the White society without support.
Still the orphans were not cut off from education by color discrimination, just discrimination. Once the Blacks entered the classrooms their minds had never been prepared to digest the material presented to them while they believed it was impossible for them to participate as social equals.
White minds had been prepared in varying degrees to ingest and digest the material while at the same time they knew or hoped they could apply apply the material by assuming places of stature in society where the information would be useful. Class lines couldn’t stop the demand for educated workers in an expanding economy.
At least for some of the Whites. The Whites had already been divided into three classes. Those Whites destined to be useful to the Urban Aristocracy by making things for them had been separated out and sent to Herman Melville Trade.
Those not destined for the manual trades and been organzied in the Business Curriculum which was inferior to the elite of the College Prep Curriculum in which those destined for success were enrolled. The elite of the College Prep was assigned to the most prestigious English teacher, Mrs. Hicks.
The second division of the elite went to the class of Miss Mattie Crump. Miss Crump was an adequate teacher but she had none of the flair and imagination of Mrs. Hicks. Evaline Hicks, by the way, had never been married. The Mrs. was as honorary a title as a Kentucky Colonel.
Once in Mrs. Hicks’ class you were usually there for the three years of high school. Dewey had braved his way into Mrs. Hicks’ tenth grade class; Hirsh in a rage had him exiled to Miss Crump’s class in the eleventh grade.
Dewey had immediately recognized the difference in quality. He had appealed to Mrs. Hicks to be transferred back to her class but she was either unable or unwilling to do so. She promised to take him back in twelfth grade which word she honored much to Hirsh’s chagrin.
Thus while Dewey fully appreciated Mrs. Hicks’ skills he had been discriminated against, kept from her class in the eleventh grade by prejudice. Now these Black Boys who completely negated the talents of the teacher, who were unable to appreciate what she could have done for them where given preferential treatment over the likes of the White Deweys. The sailor could only sneer at the Whites and laugh at the Blacks.
So the Urban Aristocracy treated the Blacks as a unit the same as they treated the Jews as a unit. the two ‘minorities’ were given defferential and preferential treatment outside and independent of the class distinctions of the Whites. Every Black and every Jew who was willing and able could have a shot at the Golden Ring as adjuncts of the White elite while two thirds of the Whites were placed beneath Negroes and Jews and the lower half of that over at Herman Melville Trade being taught to be useful servants.
The Jews knew what to do with their boon while the Blacks would take decades to make any progress at all and that was given to them on a silver platter hand fed with a silver spoon. For now these angry Black kids were incapable of competing with the Whites except on a physical basis. Hence they emphasized the physical.
Now came the great change in so-called American education. The shift was from education to inculcation. As the Blacks couldn’t increase their abilities fast enough the Whites had to be brought down to their level in the interests of ‘equality.’
The notion of education as a bringing forth as explained by Terry Gaste had to be discarded. Mrs. Hicks having a classical education naturally taught the same. Learning don’t come easy. Doesn’t matter whether you’re Black or White learing is work. She had set herself the task of drawing fortth her students step by step so that they could decipher for themselves what had previously been undecipherable. After all the learning process is a continual pushing to enlarge the envelope.
In Dewey’s time, as before his time and after for a while, Whites had to struggle through the Greek ;myths, the Song of Roland and excerpts from Mallory’s Morte d’ Arthur in the fifteenth century dialect. Talk about stretching your mind; it hurt. There were many Whites, even then, who objected to learning the antiquated language.
In the intellectual climate of the times the only relevance of the Greek myths was as didactic pretty stories used as figures of reference in literature. Showed you were educated if you knew a bunch. Thus it helped to know who Apollo was to understand what was meant when some guy other than yourself was being described as a real Apollo. It always seemed to be the other guy, too. There was nothing too intellectually challenging there, just some memory work.
Roland and Arthur while being more linguistically demanding were still in the realm of fairy tale therefore not really challenging except for the language. By the time you got to Shakespeare, that’s where your heartaches began. The Whites had to study and think to have their intelligence drawn out while the Blacks just shined it on. Fuck it.
This transition from Ghetto to Melville was more than a few miles; it was the transition from the limitations of the Negro dialect to the full glories of the modern English language. The two peoples were nearly speaking two languages. The Whites used English the Blacks had never heard while the Blacks used words and phrases like ‘to ball’ that had no or different meanings to Whites.
Besides the very word ‘English’ stuck in the Black craw. The Blacks hated the English by which they meant their old owners. If you have listened to Harry Belafonte on his Carnegie Hall LP you will get a very genteel feel for the hatred and anger the Blacks have against the ‘English.’
The transition from Black Culture to White Culture was difficult to impossible for the Blacks which none of the Urban Aristocracy educator took into account. The Blacks were now asked to deal with a despised twice or thrice removed foreign English Culture as an ideal expressed in terms five hundred years old or more. I mean, for Whites a gloosary is real hand if not essential to understanding Shakespeare.
Imagine Black or teen Whites presented with these examples of the Bard’s artistry:
…the Sun ariseth in his majesty;
Who doth the world so gloriously behold
That cedar tops and hill seem burnish’d gold.
Venus salutes him with this fair good morrow:
‘O thou dear god and patron of all light,
From whom each lamp and shining star doth borrow
The beauteous influence that makes his bright…
The senat house of planets all did sit,
To knit in her their best perfection.
Be Mercury, set feathers to they heels,
And fly like thought from them to me again.
Kind of makes you wish you’d paid better attention to those Greek myths, eh?
The strangeness of the the Shakespearian idiom compared to the Black idiom infuriated Black Folk. The polite disdain of Harry Belafonte was joined by the rage of the Southern Negro Preacher, Jesse Jackson.
The Blacks sat in the class dumbly, angry at the Whites who seemed to hand the material so easily although they were struggling to learn the material themselves. Even Mrs. Hicks didn’t know what ‘The senate house of the planets all did sit’ really meant. She and Smyrna Gaste, Terry’s mother, whould have had to have been friends for her to learn that. Freedom on conscience has its limits.
In retaliation for being made to feel really stupid the Blacks disrupted the class. ‘Charlie Brown, he’s a clown’ as one popular song put it.
Mrs. Hicks’ favorite book for tenth graders was George Eliot’s ‘Silas Marner.’ How much George Eliot’s being a woman writing under a man’s name influenced her decision can never be known but it seems that there is a concealed feminism there. The idea of George being a woman created a minor sensation in Dewey’ class.
She lost half of Dewey’s elite alla White class with old Silas while half of the half hacked their way through Eliot’s choppy jumpy class conscious style. The last quarter of the class claimed to enjoy the book. The phone country dialect was a real treat as Eliot subdivided class from class to arrive at the bottom of the social structure which was, however, above that of the Blacks. Even Thomas Hardy was exasperated by her style while Anthony Trollope thought there was little chance of Eliot’s books surviving time. You never can tell. No one was ever assigned a Trollope novel to read even though he is far superior to Eliot.
Two years after Dewey there wasn’t a Black guy in class that even cracked a book. They just sat seething and getting angrier and angrier while feeling more inferior each session.
Harry Belafonte’s mild rejection would burst forth in an angrier denunciation a few years later when the volitilce Jesse Jackson, successor to Martin Luther King, Junior stood up at Stanford University and shrieked in that emotional Southern Black churchy manner: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civilization has got to go.” Niftly little phrase maker he; he wanted to throw out the baby and the bath at the same time.
Strangely enough in that bastion of the Urban Aristocracy’s elite his White listeners agreed with him. Mencken was right after all. they chucked the likes of Shakespeare and George Eliot out the window embracing the semi-literate, half educated Black psychologist from Martinique, Frantz Fanon. Fanon was passed off as ‘French.’
But by then the ‘e-ducere’ was a thing of the past as educators pounded all kinds of inferior literature from William Golding’s puerile ‘Lord Of The Flies’ to Chaim Potok’s racist ‘The Chosen’ into the heads of their charges. The idea was no longer to educated students but to inculcate them with the prevailing prejudices. Theprocess was much the same as the conditioning given the Jews over the Haman shriek. You either responded correctly to cue words or you were excommunicated from the flock, kicked out of school and denied employment that might lead to influence. THEY called you a bigot.
The Whites had so lost the ability of intellectual discrimination that they embraced the ephemeral fruit of Fanon’s novel ‘The Wretched Of The Earth’ as though it were the Holy Bible. Once can understand a Black Panther like Huey Newton walking around with the book in his pack pocket but required reading for the Urban Aristocracy at Stanford?
Made to feel inferior in the classroom the Blacks turned to aggression in the halls; and what agression. Rapes and beatings escalated the level of violence to unheard of proportions. Even in the post-Blackboard Jungle days when White Boys attempted the same things the crimes were not allowed to become institutionalized. The administration had moved to break up the White gangs. The Black gangs were immune because of their race. The administrators sat quietly in their offices with their hands folded; to discipline them would have been an insult to the Black race. ADL, NAACP, they were all hoping to create an incident, get involved, make things happen.
So the test scores just continued to drop. The Blacks didn’t any smarter; the Whites just dumbed down. The Blacks got bolder; the Whites put more time into evasive measures than study. Tricks were turned in the toilets. Twenty years later the streets would be filled with ‘the homeless’ who didn’t even exist in 1958.
Black influence functioned much as the influence of the barbarian Germans functioned in ancient Rome. The Germans flooded in surveying Roman marvels that they had no ability to understand. The difference in capabilities was such and so insurmountable that the Germans just destroyed rather than trying to emulate.
So with the Blacks. Just as they felt they were being defaced they defaced the physical plant at Melville. Nearly pristine after forty years of use by Whites things began to be chipped and broken just like at Black dominated new Valley High. Unable to understand the English of the classroom the Blacks invented a script that was incomprehensible to Whites and scrawled it as grafittie over every blank surface.
The Urban Aristocracy never did catch on and hasn’t to this day. the notion of Blacks having a distinct psychology is just as foreign to them today as it was then.
Just before the bell rang, the Whites, who learned the new guidelines quickly, had flet to class leaving Dewey and a file of Black Boys eyeing each other. As Dewey looked down the line he reflected that each and every one of these children of supposed poverty were dressed better than he had ever been. they wore expensive slacks and costly shirts. Their belts were not ordinary leather. they wore their clothes well too. Unable to compete intellectually they could at least look better than their White counterparts, if anybody could look better in that shade of green pants. Just as in the Navy, they looked sharp.
Dewey was older and in uniform so they fidgeted restlessly unsure whether to harass him or not. Finally their minds made up they began a show of power by strolling past him with one of their peculiar walks which are meant to show how cool they are.
They hip hopped toward Mrs. Hicks’ door with a walk so leisurely that Dewey would have fallen over unable to balance himself at such a slow pace. The entry was delayed by a full three mintues as they increased the volume of their noise as they pomped through the door with a contemptuous smirk at the Whites.
Another full five minutes were taken to seat themselves. Remember that photo of that cute little Black girl in the pink pinafore being escorted down the walk by those big White National Guardsmen in Little Rock a scant year previously?
There was no establishment photographer around to catch this shot of her big Black Northern brothers. Nor would such a photograph have been published. The last ‘blood’ to enter stopped with his back to Mrs. Hicks. Facing the class he coolly unzipped his fly spreading his trouser tops ostensibly to tuck in his shirt. He was wearing no underwear. Being sure to give the White girls a sight of his shaft he smirkingly zipped up then hip hopped to his seat.
Willie had stuck it in the face of the White Folks just as his counterparts in professional baseball were doing every time they stepped to the plate. Jackie Robinson in 1948 had been instructed to be humble, to endure whatever insults the Whites might give him. Ten years later the table were turned. Every Black player who stepped to the plate reached down to grab his root and shake it in the face of White America. Back to their roots.
White Americans sat respectfully and watched the Black ballplayers shake that thang.
Not to be outdone in Mrs. Hicks’ class another North of the Ohio Emmett Till leaned over to a White girl, who was just as cute as that little Little Rock pink pinafore, saying loud enough to be overheard: ‘Say, honey, you too beautiful to be walking around in those rags. Let me teach you how to shake that thang, put that money maker to work. Man, you go with me and you be walkin’ around in silks and furs. Don’t give me no answer now, think about it. Dig you later.’
The White girl sat paralyzed not so much from fear as from being unable to respond properly for fear of being called prejudiced. Black Boys and Girls tittered and giggled pleased at their unopposed success at putting a couple over on the White Folks. Emmett Till laughed from his river bottom.
The flower of Western Civilization sat grimly behind her desk watching the degradation. All that wonderful education had come to this. Another couple years and George Eliot would be chucked out in favor of that obscene parody of literature written by an arrested adolescent: The Lord Of The Flies.
Thus while not only disrupting the class the Blacks incited disrespect for discipline which the White Boys would quickly learn to imitate. If it’s good for a black gander it’s good for a white one. The standard of education disappeared as mere indoctrination replaced it. Test scores sank and sank year after year.
What did you think was going to happen? There were other ways of handling the situation but the Urban Aristocracy wouldn’t hear of them. Society would accept their point of view or else.
You won’t read any of this in history books which are censored to eliminate it because to merely relate the truth is bigotry to these ‘democrats.’
The memory of these momentous events to Dewey became a compressed pellet if information in his mind as he walked out the door indisgust, shame and fear for his people. He knew what he knew but he couldn’t tell it. Decompressing the pellet into its elements so he culd express what he understood would take decades. Even then it was forbidden knowledge.
Detroit City Once Again
When Dewey graduated form high school in the recession year of 1956 about half the men in his class went into the service. of the other half about half toughed it out at home while the remaining quarter of the whole trekked off to college. About half of Dewey’s eating club went to college.
Among those was LeBaron Briscoe. The University and State were the favored home State colleges. The third most popular college in the State was Wayne State University in Detroit. Detroit was in Wayne County. No doubt it was named after Mad Anthony Wayne the famed Indian fighter. An early day Custer if I remember correctly.
LeBaron attended Wayne State with a Melville alumna by the name of Meggy Malone. Meggy had been in a terrible car accident the week before finals which had broken most of the bones in her body. she was laid up at Wayne State Hospital. Several girls from the Valley were attending her around the clock. People had seen Dewey enter town. A news of sorts, the information was learned y Meggy’s attendants, from them to her as gossip. For reasons to be explained she expressed a desire to see Dewey.
Meggy knew all the members of Dewey’s eating club quite well. She was an especial friend of LeBaron Briscoe who had been in Dewey’s eating club. LeBaron agreed to drive Dewey up to Detroit to see Meggy. So a request was make to Denny Demwitter who called Dewey to inform him that he had found something for Dewey to do. How would he like to drive up to Detroit with Briscoe? Alright with Dewey.
LeBaron Briscoe picked Dewey up at eight for the long drive to Detroit. The drive was only a hundred miles but it took a lot longer to get there than it did between San Diego and LA.
The morning was a frosty 10 degrees above zero. LeBaron and Dewy had known each other well without ever becoming close friends or even real friends. In a way the trip was a means of getting to know each other. Dewey was discussing the changes to the Dixie Highway as the road to Detroit was called. In Dewey’s day it had been a two lane road but was now four lanes; what they called a freeway in Michigan but the cars stopped to enter the highway rather than having on ramps and integrating themselves into traffic as in California. Dewey was chatting about this to LeBaron’s uncomprehending ears when the highway before them to the extent of a mile appeared as a solid sheet of ice.
Not being a driver Dewey was unaware of the extent of the danger. LeBaron who did exercised what caution he could but he was on the ice before he could slow down; there was no longer a chance of applying the brakes. Then in the middle of the sheet a strong wind gusted across the highway. Fortunately the wind pressure was equal the length of the car so it didn’t spinout nor did they break traction but the car drifted eerily from the slow lane into the fast lane. The lane was empty but then a fresh gust pushed the car out onto the divider toward the oncoming traffic.
There was no barrier, the divider wasn’t even built up; the sheet of ice ws level into an adjoining field. LeBaron was adept. He kept the car headed forward which required great skill. Dewey became a little panicked demanding that LeBaron pull back across the highway. In his anxiety he came close to breaking LeBaron’s concentration. The car continued to slide toward the oncoming traffice but then the gust died down allowing LeBaron to pilot the big sled back into a lane just as they reached the edge of the ice sheet.
Dewey’s breath exploded outward in relief as the tires hit concrete.
‘What did you get so exicted for Dewey. What did you think I could do?’ Lebaron asked.
‘Geez, Bare, I’m sorry. I don’t know. I don’t have a driver’s license and it never freezes in California so I mean, I’ve never been in anything like that before. I’m glad you stayed so cool, kept your presence of mind.’
When they got to Detroit LeBaron drove Dewey to a McDonald’s hamburber stand for lunch. McDonald’s was brand new at the time; Dewey had never heard of it. The sign said that only three million had been sold; that’s how new the chain was. The first three million had been sold Without Dewey noticing a single one.
‘Let’s stop and get a bag of burgers.’ LeBaron said.
‘Yeah, sure.’ Dewey replied wondering why LeBaron said a bag rather than ‘a’ or a couplc.
They pulled into a rather grotty parking lot. Dewey sat there waiting for the carhop. Up to that time all drive ins had means of taking your order from the car. They either had female carhops wearing funny demeaning sexual uniforms or a speaker phone on a pole like at drive in theaters.
‘C’mon, let’s go.’ Lebaron said.
‘Go where? Where’s the speakers so we can order?’
‘We have to go up to the window to order, this is different. Better.’
‘Not only better but more inconvenient too.’ Dewey quipped.
The little dump was busy, long lines stretched back from the two windows into the cold. There was no indoor seating just lines of people at the windows buying hamburgs. The stand was pretty grungy looking too.
‘Two hamburgs and ries, mustand and onion only.’ Dewey ordered.
‘There isn’t no mustand and onion only; they come with everything.’
‘Just hold the rest of everything and give me mustard and onions.’
‘If you don’t want to order just get out of line and let the other people up.’
‘They only come one way Dewey. Just ask for burgers and fries.’
This was the beginning of the American tradition of our way or the highway. Dewey did order but he wasn’t happy.
Back in the car Dewey opened his bag to take out two quarter dollar sized tidbits.
‘What are these, bite sized?’ Dewey asked puzzled.
‘You should have got a dozen like I did. They’re small but they only cost fifteen cents.’
‘Yeah, well, so what? It looks like ;you end up with a lot of bread and ‘everything’ but little beef. Why don’t they make ’em for sixty cents and give you something to eat?’
‘McDonald’s is the coming thing, Dewey. They’re going to have thousands of these everywhere in the country.’
‘Not if they don’t make their hamburgers bigger they won’t.’
‘Oh yes they will. They’ve researched the market carefully and I’ve researched them carefully, McDonald’s is going to be big. I’m buying stock as soon as it’s offered.’ LeBaron said with that gut wrenching tone that says you’ve made a momentous decision with life and death consequences.’
‘Stock? You mean shares like on Wall Street. You mean this dump is listed?’
‘It sure will be. A thousand shares that’s what I’m buying.’
‘A thousand shares? Look at this dump Bare. You can’t even go inside. This is just a stupid little hut that could blow away in the wind. They don’t even sell anything but these stupid dinky little jerkburgers, fries and Cokes. Where’s that at?’
‘And milk shakes. You’re missing the fine points, Dewey. I’ve really studied this. Look at the arches on either side of the building.
‘Yeah. Bigger than the building. Hot stuff.’
‘See, but at a distance the arches form an M for McDonald’s.’
‘Wow. They still got dinky hamburgs.’
‘That’s the beauty of psychologically.’ LeBaron said with breathless fascination at the immensity of the idea of tiny hamburgers. ‘You think you’re getting a lot for just a little money. Promotion is more important than the product. I’ve taken a few classes.’
‘You’re not representative of the sample, Dewey. Take my word for it this is going to be big. If you’ve got any money buy stock now. You’ve got enough for a couple hundred shares don’t you? That’s all it will take.’ LeBaron said throwing two tiny burgers into the hopper at once.
‘Well, if the price will be what you say I could buy a hundred, but jeez, Bare, look at this dump. These things aren’t even going to be worth anything.’
So much for Dewey as a financial prognosticator. Had he bought he would have more than doubled his money by the time he got out of the service. LeBaron did all right over the next forty years with his thousand shareds.
‘I appreciate your financial advice, Bare. But you didn’t come up to Detroit just to show me this dump did you?’
‘No. You know who’s in the hospital. Margaret Malone. We should drop over to see her.’
‘Who’s Margaret Ma…you don’t mean Meggy Malone do you?’ Dewey asked in horror.
Dewey remembered Meggy Malone from high school where he had despised him. constantly interfering with him. Dewey didn’t remember her from kindergarten and second grade but she was on of the group of Michael Hirsh that had given him his central childhood fixation, nor did he know of the influence she had had onl his eating club. Dewey thought she hated him but he didn’t understand why.
‘You know Meggy Malone, Bare?’ Dewey asked astonished.
‘Sure. Margaret’s one of the most terrific people I’ve ever known. If any of us are ever going to amount to anything she’s the one.’
‘Really? I didn’t know that. Did you know her in high school?’ Dewey asked who realized for the first time that there may have been a lot he didn’t know about his friends.
‘Oh yes. Our families were very close.’
‘No kidding? Well, you know, Bare, Meggy and I didn’t get along very well at all. I don’t have any choice but to go with you but if I’d known you were going to see her I wouldn’t have come so when we get there I’ll just wait in the car.’
LeBaron started the car with a smile heading in the direction of Wayne State.
Dewey looked back at the arches to see whether they mad an M. They did.
‘I still wouldn’t waste my money.’ He thought.
The Ballad Of Meggy Malone
There is a school of thought that says there is no such thing as an accident. As a categorical the notion must surely be false; however in the general psychological sense it must be true. Nearly every ‘accident’ in my life could have been avoided by either forethought, conscientious attention to detail or awareness of other people’s intent. At anytime the subconscious take over you may be sure the action was directed.
Had LeBaron not been intent on avoiding an accident, had he been the least bit suicidal, the ice slick might easlily have been the death of them both. On another level even driving in those conditions was to ‘invite’ an accident.
Meggy Malone would never have admitted that she had caused her accident to happen. Caught in a miasma of depression her subconscious sought an accident in an attempt to avoid a painful reality. To have taken that curve under freezing conditions at the speed she did was deliberate death seeking. Her story varied until she got it right. At first she said she absent mindedly took the turn at that speed but it all came out the same; she oped to crash and crash she did. She headered into a metal light pole as she skidded off the road and rolled the car three times down the embankment.
Thrown under the dash by the crash with enough force to crush several bones the successive rolls finished the job. She had to be torched out of her near coffin to be rushed to Wayne State Hospital which was nearby the campus.
It took several days to straighen out a number of multiple fractures while toward the end those which were already knitting had to be broken again. Now with her conscious mind in control she felt ‘lucky’ to be alive.
Psychologists would have described Meggy’s pre-accident state of mind as ‘complicated.’ The only thing complicated abut it was that the psychologists would have lacked all the pertinent details to evaluate it.
Meggy wasn’t complicated at all. She had simply been brought up to believe the world was her oyster and that she was the knife to crack it open.
Her parents and their circle of friends were intellectual leaders in the Valley. They thought highly of themselves while they all wanted their children to exceed them. This would prove that excellence was not a personal achievement but a genetic superiority that placed them above their fellows.
Unknown to Dewey, LeBaron and Meggy’s families had been very close. LeBaron’s father was head of the Social Studies Department at Melville while Meggy’s father was recently elevated to Superintendent of Schools in the Valley.
Financially inferior to the business types the families nevertheless enjoyed greater prestige. Within this tight circle of very proud people Meggy’s parents had relentlessly developed the notion that Meggy was to be treated as the crown of creation presumably because her combination of genes was superior. Within that restricted environment Meggy was equal to the task. By the time she reached high school everyone within the elite deferred to her.
Backed by her parents attainments she believed herself to be a superb intellect because of her genes and this treatment. She wasn’t stupid but she wasn’t all that bright either. Some more discriminating eyes would have noticed a few genetic deficiencies. Still, she graduated with a 4.0. The grade was nevertheless specious. On more than one occasion Meggy had received a B or even once a C. On each occasion she had indignantly stormed up to the teacher to demand that her grade be changed to an A on the basis that she was an A student, always received As and if she hadn’t this time there was something wrong with the teacher. In each instance the teacher had changed the grade to an A.
Dewey had watched her do this the first semester of tenth in Mrs. Hicks’ splendid English class. Dewey had drawn a B which infuriated the Hirsh crowd. He snickered as Meggy stormed about being an A student. Meggy had fixed a hateful eye on him exclaiming: ‘You aren’t even supposed to be in this class. You Hillbilly.’
There probably was some basis for her belief is his origins because a this time Dewey had a raucous vocal style in an attempt to gain attention. Mrs. Hicks explained the importance of modulating his voice to him. He always respected the teacher so he learned to speak in more even tones.
Meggy in her way insisted that he had cheated in benefiting from Mrs. Hicks’ instruction. She was even more unrelentling in her persection of him after that.
Still, she did graduate with a 4.0 while being the cynosure of the class and hence the West Side. She prepared to enter the wide world to repeat her success after graduation.
A student of Meggy’s apparent stature should have selected the most prestigious University over Wayne State. The subconscious knows what the conscious mind rejects. Perhaps Meggy’s confidence had been undermined by one too many temper tantrums to obtain an A. Perhaps subconsciously the fear of failure gnawed at her confidence. Not that Meggy feared flunking our but in the big pond of the U she knew she could never be more than a small fish.
She sensed that without the support of her circle things would not be so easy. At any rate her worst fears had been realized in her first term.
She didn’t draw a 4.0 nor could she intimidated anyone into changing here Bs and Cs into As. She wasn’t the cynosure of the university nor was it possible for her or anyone else to be. She also realized that after college if she did realize the fantasy of who she thought she was the effort would take years and years during which she would have to struggle as a non-entity. Meggy was no Amazon warrior.
As her Junior year began she experienced a continual sinking in her stomach, a swooning sensation in her head as her subconscious drove hom her fears. A persistent depression sat in as she sought a way out. Quitting was impossible as was flunking out. An apparent suicide was disreputable. An ‘accident’ was possible but it would have to be so serious that if she didn’t die an aborting of her ‘future’ was possible. That way it wouldn’t be quitting, it wouldn’t be suicide and it wouldn’t be her fault.
Thus Meggy lay in bed in hospital over Christmas having missed first term exams while she would be laid up long enough to be unable to finsh her Junior year on schedule. Full recuperation could be stretched out to two years. Meggy could return home to resume her life as cynosure without a sense of shame.
Even attended by her coterie of maidens a la Isolde she felt low. She needed to talk to someone beneath her to levitate her spirits. when one of her maidens had scornfully told her that Dewey Trueman was in town she had a girl call her dear friend and admirer LeBaron Briscoe.
LeBaron sincerely worshipped the ground on which Meggy trod. He would do anything for her. In her despaire at Wayne State he had counted on LeBaron for that unstinting admiration which he alone at the college could give. Thus he pulled into the hospital parking lot with Dewey aboard. What a coincidence that Dewey should return on leave just after Meggy had her accident. Life is funny that way. It couldn’t have been planned.
Dewey had been nervous all the way from McDonald’s to Wayne State. He couldn’t remember that Meggy had been on of Michael Hirsh’s friends who had trapped him in that semi-circle in second grade which had afflicted him with his central childhood fixation. He didn’t know how Meggy had been trying to have him thrown out of his own eating club; in fact he had no specific memories of Meggy because he blocked all that unpleasantness out but like a dark shadow he knew she had been behind a lot of unpleasantness toward him. He knew she hated him.
‘Listen Bare, you go on up alone. I’ll just wait here in the car.’
‘Oh no,m Dewey, you’ve got to come up. Margaret want to see you.’
‘Meggy Malone wants to see me?’ Dewey asked incredulously. ‘How long has she been calling herself Margaret.’
‘Ever since we started at Wayne. Come on, Dewey. It’s the polite thing.’
‘That’s what you think.’ Dewey muttered under his breath. Then: ‘Bare, me and Meggy never got along. She despises me; she called me a hillbilly in tenth grade. She was always in my hair at Melville. Always belittled me. I can’t believe she wants to see me.’
‘Dewey, Meggy is the most wonderful girl I’ve ever met.’ By which LeBaron meant that it was an honor for Dewey to be despised by Meggy. ‘I would ask her to marry me except she’s too good for me. I only wish I was worthy of her. You’ve got to come up; I promised her. For the sake of the dinner club if nothing else. Come on.’
Dewey drew in his breath, compressed his lips and flipped the sun visor up and down a couple times.
‘She’d better be decent.’ He said getting out of the car.
They do things so much differently in the big city. The hospital was disguised to look like a spiffy new ranch style building even though four stories tall. The upper floors were set back from the front line of the building giving it that neat clean construction that made Americans feel that they had solved all life’s more difficult problems. That confidence is gone now. Now buildings all have a fortress like quality.
Meggy had a swell new private room. If you had to be laid up this was the right place. She was immobile on her back arms and legs in casts. She was able to move nothing but her neck and head and she had to be careful about that. Any other movements sent racking pains beyond the limits of the painkillers to kill. She still had bruises and inner injuries.
Meggy was secure in her prejudices. She thought Dewey shared her opinion of him. She thought he accepted the position of imploring inferior. She though Dewey would consider it an honor that she had asked for him. She had projected that feeling on her maidens who snickered playfully as Dewey entered, prepared to fun him a little.
Dewey caught their mood flinging it back at them while he grasped Meggy’s projected understanding of their relationship with contempt.
As LeBaron and Dewey entered the room Dewey gasped as LeBaron went down on his knee beside Meggy’s bed.
‘Please don’t shake the bed, Lee.’ She said sweetly at this sign of obeisance.
She called him Lee. In a flash Dewey realized that so did the rest of the guys in the eating club except when he was around. Crushingly Dewey realized his own crowd had always treated him as an outsider.
‘Oh gosh, Margaret, I’m so sorry to see you this way.’
‘These things happen, Lee.’ She said magisterially. Then looking at Dewey she asked regally as thought Isolde to her serf: ‘How have you been, Dewey?’
Dewey’s mental teeth ground as his stomach rolled over in revulsion. How dare this woman who got grades by demanding them act superior to this ‘hillbilly.’
‘As good as can be, Meggy.’ He said between his teeth.
‘It was good of you to answer my summons.’ She said with maternal condescension.
Did she say ‘summons’? Dewy thought as he watched her haughty mien seconded by the giggles of her maidens. ‘Does she think I’m a peon?’
‘Well, uh, Lebaron had to come up to Detroit and he asked to come along so I did.’ Dewey replied sotto voce as thought twisting his hat in his hands.
LeBaron was commiserating with Meggy’s condition when Dewey decided to ask for a point by point description of her accident.
‘Well, I was driving along just off campus when the accelerator got stuck.’
‘You mean that the gas pedal jammed down by itself somehow?’
‘Yes, if you wish to put it so crudely. Then it continued to accelerate until the car was out of control. The car was speeding when I went into the turn. Then the car went out of control and it hit the lightpole.’
‘Then what happened?’
‘The force threw me off the seat under the dash which was painful enough but they told me it saved my live. If I had remained in the seat or been thrown out of the car I would be dead. I’m lucky I guess.’
‘The gas pedal stuck all by itself? How come? I’ve never heard of that before.’ Being ‘summoned’ plus the preposterousness of the story rankled Dewey.
‘I don’t know how it happened, it just did. I don’t know that they have explained it yet.’
Dewey’s plan cleared in his mind. He had warned LeBaron of his relationship with Meggy while Meggy certainly knew before she ‘summoned’ him. Dewey started cracking one liners. Meggy tried to restrain herself but she finally had to start laughing. Her laughter ground her broken bones together which sent her well past the threshhold of her painkillers.
Dewey let it settle down. Just as he was preparing a second barrage LeBaron caught Meggy’s eye signal suggesting they leave.
‘Come on, Dewey.’ LeBaron said deprecatingly taking his arm.
Dewey was more than willing to leave while he had no intention of saying goodbye. Meggy could have let it lie but as LeBaron and Dewey approached the door she said icily: ‘It won’t be necessary for you to come back to see me again, Dewey.’
Between being summoned and dismissed Dewey found it more than he could bear. His seething hatred caused by subconscious memories and the conscious memories of the demeaning manner Meggy had used toward hi in school burst through with the vengeance felt by a Richard Speck.
‘Do you see this uniform I’m wearing, Meggy?’
‘Well, this uniform means I’m in the Navy. If the Reds start shooting I’m there to protect even you. I’ve got another three days of leave. If you had any smarts you’d know it wasn’t necessary to say anything. If I had nothing to do I would still have better things to do than visit you. I don’t know why you ‘summoned’ me anyway because you never liked me. I’m real sorry you got hurt so bad. I hope you’re not crippled for life. Goodbye Meggy. I don’t think you’ll ever see me again because I’m not coming back to theValley when I get out and if I ever do I won’t look you up.’
Meggy’s maidens gasped slapping the air at Dewey while LeBaron eyed him mournfully and reproachfully.
‘What did you think was going to happen LeBaron? I told you she didn’t like me and I’d wait in the car. Is that what you brought to Detroit for? To answer Meggy’s summons? then take me and show me where she had her accident.’
Strangely LeBaron was only too willing to show Dewey this consecrated tragic spot. He had sat gazing at it mournfully on a couple occasions. As I said they do things on a different scale in the big cities. In the Valley this stretch would have been merely functional but in Detroit at the great Wayne State University this avenue that led into the University was quite grand. The roadbed was immense. While ostensibly only four lanes generous aprons made it seem very large. As Dewey suspected Meggy must have been driving at a suicidal speed, seventy or eight, to force the accident. He didn’t believe the gas pedal story.
This time he kept his mouth shut. The two men had little to say to each other on the drive back. They parted never to speak to each other again.
Meggy was not so lucky. Had she known the consequences of ‘summoning’ Dewey into her presence she would have shuddered at her folly for that summons became a pivotal point in life. Perhaps she had been seeking to triumph over Dewey in the second grade at Emerson when in answer to Michael Hirsh’s and her set’s request she had taken part in Dewey humiliation.
she had been proud to march out of class with the feeling she was part of a powerful group. When she stood in the semi-circle around Dewey, second from Michael Hirsh to the left of his keystone glaring hatred at Dewey she had felt the power and the glory. When at Michael’s command Dewey had begun his step forward and frozen in mid-step at Michael’s further command she had had a prepubescent climax. When Dewey remained frozen in that position for the entire recess she had giggled and giggled with electric pulses at the joy of humiliating another.
She little knew that the scene had been so humiliating that Dewey had blocked her and it out of his consciousness. But the Shadow knows. In her way she had sought to repeat the situation to alleviate her misery on his hospital bed. the Shadow of the Past in Dewey’s mind had risen to crush her in her folly. ‘Summons’ indeed.
The mind is an amazing thing. Acts of arrogance or vengeance have serious consequences for the perpetrators. ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’, and ‘vengeance is mine, saith the Lord’ are excellent maxims. Mind your own business. The conscious mind thinks it can handle the situation in an objective manner but the subconscious mind knows that subjectivity controls the microcosm.
Meggy’s accident was too fresh in her mind for her subconscious to have digested it. When, three year later, her subconscious had constellated the incidents associated with the accident her encounter with Dewey had most unfortunate results.
The contellation included bits and pieces ofher past only related circumstantially with the accident. Her mind brought up guilt for the second grade induced by the pain caused by her summoning of Dewey. It was too late. Both situations constellated as the central motif of her accident. One of guilt and one of fear.
Subconsciously Meggy had caused the accident in order to retreat from a most painful reality. In typical female fashion she refused responsibility insisting that the accelerator stuck increasing ‘the car’s’ speed. Her subconscious refusing to accept responsibility grasped for another explanation so it passed responsibility to Dewey Trueman.
Now the female subconscious is XX. As both chromosomes are X they must be clothed by females. But the longing for the missing y chromosome is translated into a longing for the male; particularly his penis or ego.
Thus when the contellation was completed and took its final form in the dream life of Meggy Malone three years later she relived the terror of the accident in this way: As she was driving a male demon’s foot came down on top of hers forcing the pedal to the floor. As the ends of her broken bones clattered together causing her to relive the pain she hurtled toward a giant open mouth representing the maw of death. Just before she entered the mouth snapped shut exposing concrete teeth. Just before the crash she would awake screaming falling out of bed.
She no longer recognized Dewey, of course, but the demon assumed the low class hillbilly characteristics she projected on him. This dream was only the beginning, verse one of the Ballad Of Meggy Malone, as it were, as her interesting sequel will show in verse two, same as the first.
Meggy went back to the Valley where for two years she recuperated. The events of her accident constellated in her subconscious while consciously she brooded about how she was to realize the expectations of her childhood. It wouldn’t be right to say that she didn’t want to marry but she just couldn’t find anyone who merited her favors. Not only had her parents exalted her beyond human limits but the notions of chivalry and Tristan and Isolde she had picked up in Mrs. Hicks’ class made her yearn for a knight in shining armor who just didn’t exist.
During her convelescence from 1959 to 1961 the racial scene continued to heat up. Meggy was always on the right side. Now that the right side had clearly shifted in favor of Blacks Meggy was wholeheartedly in sympathy with the Negro plight. She didn’t bother to learn anything about the distince Black psychology, the existence of which she would have denied, but she knew what was right.
Her new attitude required a revisdion of her past history and beliefs but that was done without effort on the plane of consciousness. She simply turned the past inside out. Whereas Dewey had been punished in second grade for interfering with his group’s social policy toward Negroes in kindergarten she merely changed so that Dewey was justly punished for having discriminated against the Black kids that year. The solution was simple and neat nor would she have been able to be budged from her new story; it was set in concrete.
Having absolved herself from her part she turned to her future. She needed a job but the employment, as she referred to it, would have to increase her dignity while allowing her to help ‘the poor Black people.’ It also had to carry its own prestige to elevate Meggy from her depressed conditions.
The years of inactivity had benefited Meggy’s appearance rather than hurt it. She gained weight but she gained it the right way. From a rather spindly girl she became a solid square built woman whose appearance alone commanded respect. As her face filled out her homeliness rounded into a kind of beauty. Her weight was evenly distributed on her torse; square shoulders and nicely rounded hips. Even her skinny legs added the weight right.
Having a tasteful conservative notion of dress her clothes and manner as she looked in the mirror just before leaving to apply for the job gave her a pleasant surprise. This was the Meggy who always should have been.
She had settled on the Law courts as the scene fromw hich she would do good in the world. She didn’t want to become a legal secretary to an attorney because an attorney to her was a mere moneygrubber. She decided to become a secretary and legal aide to a judge. There, withher ability to project soldity and integrity, she was accepted at her own valuation eventually assuming an almost judgelike preeminence.
She was attached to the court of a newly elected judge by the name of Guy Pascal who was beginning what was a long and seemingly illustrious career. This appointment was not to be entirely fortuitous for either party.
Judge Pascal had been born Guido Pasquale. As this sounded too Sicilian for him he dropped the final E and changing the QU for a C while shortening Guido to Guy he became ‘Americanized.’ Guido Pasquale when he left for the U, he returned as Guy Pascal.
Guido Pasquale was the son of Giangiacomo ‘Jack’ Pasquale. For those of you who have read Vol. I of the City On the hIll Jack Pasquale was the man Dewey had seen harassed for being an immigrant on a street corner in 1947. One of the boys harassing Jack had been Dennis Malone who was Meggy’s older brother.
The past has a way of rearing its head. Jack Pasquale was not a forgiving man. Vengeance was part of the way of life to the Sicilian. Jack memorized the name of each of the boys who had harassed him vowing eternal hatred. He damn well meant it, too.
As the leader of a large family Jack inculcated his hatred into this numerous progeny. Now some twelve years later Guido had insinuated himself into a position to take vengeance no only on the Anglos as a whole but on the Malone family in the person of Meggy. He would. It would cost him his position and reputation but he would do it. One should always understand vengeance belongs to the Lord; let him have it.
Now when it come to ‘discrimination’ the notion only applies to Anglos. It is forbidden to Anglos to use terms like Wops and Micks but it is not forbidden for ‘minorities’ to have such feelings and use such terms. The Italians indulge themselves. Read the literature. The Italians really like fast Mick and Polack girls. If you’ve seen some of those Italian mamas you can understand why Italian men may marry them but they don’t want to sleep with them. Guy sought to make Meggyhis mistress from the start which in itself would be vengeance on the Malone clan. He soon found out she wasn’t fast but was morally stout as a brick wall. She rebuffed him with all the dignity of a medieval queen to an upstart admirer. Guy was put in his place where he was to stay for the duration. However he vowed that if she ever gave it to another man she was going to get it from him one way or another.