AS ALVIN WALKED ALONG the Tallahatchie, he felt wise and blessed for a boy. He had escaped from murderous Chicago. Money Mississippi turned out to be a cool place, unlike the image of a backwater town full of confederate flag waving tobacco-chewing rednecks his mother had warned him about. Black people were in charge. Money had a black sheriff, a black city manager, and most like his grandfather lived in the good part of town along the riverside. His grandfather fed him a healthy diet of steak and greens, plus all of the advice he had in his seventy-year-old head about women and blues. It was the subject of women that had intrigued Alvin the most. He let the John Lee Hooker, BB King, Charles Johnson, Lead Belly, Muddy Waters, and Son House albums gather dust while he studied the white girls of Money. He had dated white girls in Chicago an act that got him in trouble with a local street gang in his Southside neighborhood. It had taken his book smarts along with his good looks to wow those northern girls.
When he got off the bus at the depot in Money and looked around at the willows blowing in the breeze, he felt oddly at ease and imagined those willows as the arms and legs of girls bending and yielding to his enchanting northern accent and street edge. He would allow them to cast their spell first of course. His grandfather had said that was the gentlemanly thing to do. He loved the spells of white girls—the eyes that changed from blue to green from amber to black at the whim of the sun and moon. There were plenty of girls for Alvin to choose from—ten times more than there was in nineteen-fifty-five when a black boy accused of crossing the color line met his death. Money had grown on both sides of the Tallahatchie when the Government decided to build a giant warehouse complex at the intersection of the river and the old Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad. The warehouses full of Government surplus built atop a mysterious bunker revived Money and the surrounding towns. The local Walmart store and distribution center brought paved streets and a strip center anchored on opposite ends by Starbucks and Dairy Queen.
“Money has risen from the mud and buried its ugly past,” the Mayor declared at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Walmart.
Alvin’s grandfather wasn’t so sure about the past being buried. He was a little boy about the same age as Mamie when he stood next to his father and watched the white men pull Emmett Till’s foul smelling body from those murky waters.
“White and high yellow women ain’t no good for black men,” Silas cautioned his grandson whenever he caught him staring at fair skin girls. “Black men need flesh from the soil of the earth, not the salt. The Bible says—”
Alvin cut his Grandfather off in mid-sentence, with a laugh and kiss on the forehead. “Paw Pee, what I could tell you about white girls would make your eyes pop out,” he said sprinting out the door.
Working at Walmart and away from the watchful gaze of his Grandfather, Alvin was free to explore the rainbow of women and girls around him. They noticed his thick lips and high cheekbones. He let them play in his hair. They nicknamed him “Model Boy.”
He used his looks to unlock folded arms and crossed legs. He entered those barriers quietly and quickly behind pallets of toilet paper, candy, motor oil, detergents, and scented candles.
Jill was a different kind of challenge for Alvin. At first, he paid no attention to the white woman with the “fake arm” who stared him up and down. He felt slightly annoyed when his co-workers teased him and dared him to “holla” at her.
“I thought you was a Chicago boy. You scared of the one-armed bandit?” Howls of laughter followed the derisive comments.
“I ain’t scared of shit.”
“Well holla at her then, nigga.”
And he did speak. The idea of his first older woman intrigued him. He needed to show those Mississippi boys a thing or two. Jill’s hard plastic arm with the metallic fingers tugged at his imagination. Rather than being repulsed, he was curious about other parts of her body. He wondered what it would be like to fuck her. His male co-workers laughed at him when he mentioned wanting to screw the woman with the fake arm.
“Aw man, you like that mechanical pussy? I didn’t know you was going to take it that far. We just wanted to see if you would holla. You a freak, nigga.”
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