|Posted by Admin on March 24, 2015 at 2:25 PM|
My first stop was at the twins’ house. The strange thing about them was, they were white ladies. I thought it unusual for them to be living in an all-black neighborhood. I mentioned it to Raymond Trollinger one day, and he laughed and called me a dumb hillbilly.
“Them ladies is albinos, he said.
“What’s a albino?”I asked.
“It means they ain’t really white folks. They’s black.”
“Wait a minute…they’re really black – but they’re white?”
It took a while for me to wrap my mind around that concept, but I figured old Raymond knew his neighborhood.
I put the bike up on its stand in front of the twins’ house, a basic shotgun design, three rooms in a line…living room, bedroom and kitchen all the way in back. I lifted a box of groceries out of the basket, climbed the steps and stood on the narrow front porch, knocking on the much painted and flaking door. From an open window smells were emerging that I identified as some kind of cooking, but whatever it was, it wasn’t something that I ever wanted to eat. I moved to the other side of the door, away from the window, and knocked again.
“Come on in, honey!” someone called from the back of the house. “We back here in the kitchen whuppin’ up a mess of chitlin’s.”
I grew up in the country. I knew what chitlin’s were. I’d heard about all the methods of cleaning them; creek-slung, stump-whupped, or blowed. But even if I could convince myself that the sanitizing process made pig guts fit to eat, I could never get past the smell. Getting sprayed by a skunk right in the face would be like Chanel No. 5 by comparison. The deadly aroma of a snapping turtle, twitching in a pot of boiling water is the only thing I can compare it to.
I waited until a puff of wind cleared the air momentarily, took in a mighty breath and held it as I opened the door. I hurried through the living room, giving a tight nod to the lady who had started for the front door to see who it was. Hurrying past her, I shot her another glance. She sure looked like a white lady to me.
“Go on back and set the groc’ries on the counter, honey,” she told me. I nodded again, wide-eyed, and pushed on through the bedroom to the kitchen. I nudged the door open with my toe and braved it. Even holding my breath I could feel the toxicity of the air. Blue steam rose from a bubbling pot on the stove. Flies, foolish enough to investigate the strange aroma, lay scattered around the counter and floor.
Usually I take the time to unpack the groceries and save the box for the next delivery, but I knew I’d never survive if I tried that this time. My face was already beginning to turn blue. I couldn’t hold my breath much longer. I dumped the groceries, box and all on the counter and beat it out the same way I came in. As I breezed through the living room I spoke to the lady there (boy, she really was white!). “Youcankeeptheboxma-am,” I said in a strained voice, letting out what little wind I had left. I was out the door, off the porch and into healthy air before I took a chance and sucked in a deep, satisfying breath again.