In this fictionalized short story, Money Mississippi, notorious for the brutal murder of Emmett Till has had a one hundred and eighty-degree turn from its old ways. A mile from the infamous Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market sits a big shiny blue Walmart along an avenue populated with fast food restaurants and a Starbucks. Young black men with pants sagging walk along the broad sidewalks holding their girlfriend’s hands. No one bats an eye if the girl is blue-eyed and blond. At times a pickup truck bearing confederate flag license plates will rev its engine, but the young seem unfazed. A prosperous black population lives along the banks of the Tallahatchie River. Their ranks culled from nearby military installations and new industry. Still, taboos exist, and people remember the old Money Mississippi you will wonder if the spirit of Emmett lurks in the murky waters of the Tallahatchie.
What y’all aim to find by
digging up his old bones?
Old old bones, old and innocent bones
Why y’all want to disturb him?
He ain’t with his bones.
He down here in the muck with me
and ain’t nobody trying to dig my rusty ass up.
His Mama, bless her heart, she got the bones
and that head that looked like a bad cabbage.
Thousands seen it in Chicago. Millions through Jet.
Where was my picture? I suffered.
I used to gleam prissy and howl
now mud bugs nest in my teeth.
I kept the good stuff off that boy—his spirit, his soul, his spleen
caressed it out of his naked body
The real Emmett sometimes he runs up the road to Money
gooses that white gal between her legs—boy still gots
that spunk in him.
Then he runs back to me for shelter.
Carolyn wakes up, rubs her thigh
goes back to sleep. 1955 was a long time ago
She wants to rest. I want to rest, and even Emmett.
You got the pictures. You won’t forget
Every now and agin some black boy still gets
drugged behind a car, still gets strung up in a tree
or the roof rafters of a county jail
They still make fans like me
heavy enough to drown boyish devilment.