Read Excerpts from Books by Johnny Barnes

Thursday June 27, 2013

Each month, our readers are invited to click on "Commentary," then "Speak" and read excerpts from books either in the making or complete by Living With The Law Editor and Publisher Johnny Barnes. This month features Black, a semi-realistic, semi-surrealistic, semi autobiographical story about what growing up Black meant through the lens of the author. Black takes you on a fast paced journey through the life of one Black man who could be any Black man. Those who know the Author are familiar with his tendency to recount stories. His imagination allows a certain amount of embellishment, but for the most part the events are actual and true.


The photo is of my daughter who when visiting my Mother would rise before all of the other Grandchildren and have breakfast and conversation with Pinkie, whose wisdom and vision was captivating.


The photo is of my daughter who when visiting my Mother would rise before all of the other Grandchildren and have breakfast and conversation with Pinkie, whose wisdom and vision was captivating.


Chapter Two --- Pinkie

Quivering, trembling from the chill of the night air, across the sky, beneath the trees, she could see the pace of her breathing as she gasped to regain a normal pattern.  Johnny had grabbed her wrist, and they dashed away, running as fast as her legs would carry her.  At times, she was not sure her feet touched the ground.  Soon, sufficiently camouflaged by the deep Alabama brush, her heart continued to pound from fear of the unknown, the unexpected.  As always, she put her trust in God.

She was her father’s favorite.  As much as he favored her, the man she was with, boy really, bore his wrath.  Twice a father himself at age 14, he was not good for Pinkie.  One of six daughters and just two sons, Boo and Buddy, James Craig had reluctantly resolved to place the future of his Family in the hope he held for Pinkie.  Of all of his children, she seemed to have the disposition, demeanor, drive and temperament to hold things together.  This boy Johnny was a disruption.

In Pinkie, he imagined one of those great women who rose from Africa’s dusty pyramids, of regal splendor.  Empresses, Queen Mothers, Princesses, Goddesses; Hatshepsut, Amenotep, Isis, Amanirenas, Nanda, the Nubian Cleopatra, women who ruled their kingdoms and would sacrifice even life for their subjects; true Saints in the mold of Monica and Victoria.  At once, he saw her like the famous women providers, mid-wives, caretakers, fire gatherers, herbalists, the very heart of a tribe.  And, later those women would serve as conductors of the Underground Railroad, directing untold numbers to freedom and as inspirations to the civil rights movement.  He saw in her those to come; Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Ruby Dee and Maya Angelou.  To James Craig, Pinkie was the great past, and as a consequence, she was the future.  Johnny was a problem.

After a day working in the fields, sensing something was afoot, he violently pushed the door to the grey, wooden house open.  As he surveyed those gathered, and from his commanding voice he inquired of those he startled by the suddenness of his entrance and the volume of his voice.  “Where’s Pinkie?”  I bet she done run off with that l’il ole boy.”  Though filled with fear, all remained silent.  None would breach the confidentiality Pinkie had extracted from them.  She would have been just as loyal.  “Get the horses Buddy.  Come on Boo.”

The thundering sound of horse hoofs drew nearer and nearer, louder and louder.  Then, they were suddenly quiet.  The dust settled.  The two men riding the horses spoke.  One of the horses raised up, and against the moon’s light, the shiny flash of a pistol was revealed.  It cautioned her to end this flight of fancy.  This unanticipated exodus was unconventional.  It would not work.

Dressed in men’s clothing and recalling the encouraging words of her Aunt, the lead co-conspirator, Pinkie held her position.  She felt certain that her pounding heart could be heard by the horsemen.  If discovered, what would they do to Johnny?  What would they do to her?

Notwithstanding the dread of the moment, her hand remained in Johnny’s hand.  The decision had been made, and she was prepared to accept the consequences.  She gently closed her eyes, awaiting her fate, whatever it might be.  It was a courage born of revers that she had taken to heart, “Whatever God has for you, you will get,” a resolve often repeated throughout the years.

In time, it seemed so much time, her father and brother departed.  The sound of their leaving was the reverse of when they came.  Soon only a faint reminder of the close call could be heard.  The two men continued their search in the distance.  It was now safe to move on, to continue their journey.  For the first time in her life, Pinkie would be away from the familiar surroundings of home.  But, she was with Johnny, and they were in love.  Fearful, but determined, she kept going.  Oddly, the very characteristics which gave James Craig such confidence in her were the qualities that allowed her to join Johnny in this daring escape.

The travel was long and arduous.  Upon arriving in Fort Wayne, Indiana, she completed the plan to which her father had so strongly objected.  She married Johnny Barnes.  From the beginning and throughout her perilous journey, as she had done and would do throughout her life, she prayed to God for guidance.  And, he answered.


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