Tradition,a term thats been burned into my impressionable 8 year old mind.
In 1963,being only one of two kids visiting Birmingham Alabama,presented a host of social horrors,all aim towards my parents,and other family members.Our strong family unit,protected us kids.I reasoned why my aunts,and uncles decided to leave all their children at home,protecting them from the sadistic Jim Crow.
Its a wake at the house.Maybe living in the chilling Chicago Washburen house,had opened up sometype of dark realm within me? Meaning:I had experienced firsthand,black american supernatural occurrences,at the tender age of 6 years old.It was the last night of,my uncle somebody? Camping out dressed in his dark blue Dracula style funeral home suit,laid out in a brown oak wooden coffin,in the middle of a dimly lit frontroom.The time was set for,uncle somebody? To be planted in the ground.
The festive kitchen,was the spot of family celebration,located far in the back of my aunt's huge,ten room house.Me,and my little cousin,a few years younger,was told to leave the kitchen and go to bed.My guess was,the grown folks wanted to celebrate in private,with all the cussin,and drinking.
My little runny nose,hysterical crying cousin and I,started to venture down the long tunnel like,both sides pictured hallway,with pictures of family members in frames,with grim faces,some long dead,others still kickin,giving us both a right of passage towards a dim light up ahead,as we nervously eased closer,and closer to a dead black man,whose life was no more. "Boy,shut up that dam cryin!" Someone yelled from back in the kitchen,over the blasting roar of a blues number by Howling Wolf on the radio,mixed in with the cling/clang of whiskey glasse's,filled with brown liquor,and the raw tobacco smell,of non-filtered camel cigarette smoke.I held on tight to my little cousin's sweaty palm,both dressed in our bright red Mickey mouse PJ's,as we approached this man-a man we never knew from Adam,who once screamed at us both,for walking past his shiny new car. "Get yo,little asse's away from my car!" A man now laid out in a box,with thick gray tone funeral make-up on his death mask animated face.We eased past uncle somebody? Horrified,hearts beating like Buddy Rich on drums.Opening our bedroom door,locking it behind us,jumped in bed under the safety of covers,hand in hand connected like conjointed twins.Tap...Tap....Tap...a soft knock came from behind the bedroom door,with a slight jiggle of the doorknob. "Get...away from my car,get awayyyyy." An eerie far off disembodied voice from behind the door chastised two very frighten little boys,who fell off into deep sleep,haunted by the continous: "Get awayyyyy,from my carrrrr..."
Protected by prayer,prevented whatever from entering,the innocence of a childs slumber.