Debt ( The Rule)


“Get back to your chores,” you said harshly, reaching across me to open the door.

“But,” I said, wanting to ask how you found me? How you knew I was in danger? Why did you help me? There were so many questions I wanted to ask, but you shouted at me again.   “I said get!

I stepped out hastily, dropping my bag on the hard brown ground. “I want supper on the table in an hour,” you said.  I was about to reach down to pick up my bag when you closed the door.  I had to step back fast before you drove over me.

I picked it up watching the dust cloud rise from your speedy departure as you headed to the barn. I stood there as you parked the truck near the opened doors of the red building, and jumped out with your rifle to run inside.  I wondered what you were planning.

We had road the short distance without speaking one word. But I did look over at you a few times to see your tense jaw line, and the tight grip you had on the steering wheel, while you kept staring behind us. My heart was racing in my chest.  I kept looking out the rear window to see if anyone was following us too. There was no one, but that didn’t mean someone hadn’t heard those shots or seen us leaving. The woods are full of eyes that see; at least that was what Papa always said.

Still frighten by what happened, I kept thinking, you, a nigger had just killed three white men.  Papa said that he had never seen a nigger killed a white man before, but that he had heard plenty saying that they would. He also added that he knew they were either drunk out of their minds or just flat out lying.

Everybody knew the rule, no killing of white folks.  For every white person killed, the Klan would come in the night and drag four or five nigger families out of their homes to kill in return.  If anyone found out about those bodies in the woods, you and I both were dead for sure, as well as a few innocent families. So what were you planning?

I waited a while longer, but when you didn’t come out of the barn, I turn to walk back into the house. But out the corner of my eye, something caught my attention. It was a small cloud of dust coming from off the field way in the distance. There was someone out there. I stopped to stare at the dark figure, wondering who was plowing in your field.


Copyright © 2013 Glynis Rankin

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