Into The Water, A Short Story
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In this fictionalized account, 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.
Jill a thirty-year-old white woman and Alvin, a seventeen-year-old black kid are having an affair. The relationship is as much about rebelling as it is about love. Jill enjoys rubbing her KKK grandfather’s nose in the tryst. Alvin like most young men has one thing on his mind. But he too is on a mission to resist his Grandfather’s teachings rooted in the old ways of Money. He sees Jill as a sexual conquest and to prove his grandfather wrong about white women and “light skin women.” However, Jill and Alvin are on opposite sides of the track. While Alvin comes from the more prosperous River Hill Estates, Jill lives in a housing project along side a swampy tributary of the Tallahatchie River. Her only future is Walmart and the pills she takes for PTSD brought on by a traumatic incident that happened when she was in the army.
Alvin goes off to college and leaves Jill pregnant with his child. He returns four years later with his bride-to-be and plans to take his child. What happens on his return will make you wonder if the spirit of Emmett lurks in the murky waters of the Tallahatchie.
As Alvin walked along the river, he felt himself wise for a boy. In that brief summer escaping from murderous Chicago, he had been fed a healthy diet of grandfatherly advice on everything from blues to women. And 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 or even a cloudy sky.