Fall 1881-Natchez, Mississippi
I took me a whole three days to get back. Three days on back of the Tallow man’s horse and his cart fulla thangs no one wanted. He didn’t even ask me what happened. When he saw me standin in that do’ on the po’ch looking like a han’t was after me? He looked at me. And I looked back at him. “I’m ready.” He smiled, and I got my tow sack, a pillow case with my thangs in it. I ran to his cart, hid under the blanket and held my chest. I took the pistol with me.
We rode at night. I couldn’t think of that child’s name then. I had hoped I had done enough to make sure she would stay out her Pap’s room. I listened to the horse trot, and alla could do was cry. I took the tow sack to me, feeling the pistol in the tow sack. My room in Mister Benjamin’s house? I threw everything down, put another thunderclap through the pillow, and put the pig’s blood I kept hid 3 days ago over the bed. Over the pillow, the mattress, and prayed to Sister Anne.
Run like a demon gotcha!
I knocked shelves over, an unlit lamp. I look out at the window, put my eyes on the moon–big as a sun. I had to get outta there. I took the money I found out his formal study. I used all that steam I had to push over the desk. I tore papers, kicked over what stood in my way. I took plants to the flo’. I took jewelry and put the front door open like a barn door. The tallow man be by for the moon went tuh bed. I had only to wait. I was gettin good at it.
Tallow man was Ira’s brother. How I not know? Why he ain’t eva say?
I sat in Ira’s cabin, frontuh a small stove. I ate the biscuit he gave me. Him and Isabelle had stopped the cart, looking at me like the dead. Miss Victoria was gone again! Him and his Tallow brother got to talking while Isabelle went ‘side the house. Ira looked at me, back tuh him. I looked into the fire, just lookin’. The coals was coolin, I could tell. I drank the water, the honey fresh on the biscuit.
I didn’t care I shot the pistol. I didn’t care Rebecca, Mister Benjamin’s only daughter, was gon’ wake up to a house wit no soul in it. Ira went over to me, touched the toppa my head. I looked up at him. I didn’t say nothing. Looking at his eyes lookin into mine. He grinned at me. “We gotta get you North.” I went back to lookin into the dyin fire. I thought about if that is what Hell looked like right ‘fore you went in.
Miss Victoria was gone he said. Orpah was tending her Nan. Ms. Victoria back by week end. She was gon see her brother after she rested, he said. “We need to get Tally as fah as we can get her!” Herman, the Tallow man, sounded sour about me leavin. They was over there talkin bout me like I wassint here! From the porch, not carin it that white girl wit her half-breed baby heard me. “I ain’t leavin till I do what I come here for!” I, still in them three day old clothes, no bath and hair lookin like a sheep. “That woman, Victoria, her Pap killed my father!” I heard the snake venom come out my throat. “This land aint big enough fo’ us both to live on! If I gotta go see the devil, she bout to knock on that damn do’ first!” They looked at me. Justa lookin at me. “She lied on my Pap, tellin her Pap he touched her. He aint never seen her!” Ira and Herman looked at me, readin me.
“They took my Daddy, snatched them through my Gram’s house, lies on they lips, and made my Daddy a hog!” I felt that same heat when I pulled that thunder to take Mister Benjamin from the world. The night was too quiet, I was breathin hard and listening for crickets. “She took my Daddy from me. She can’t get away wit’it!” Herman walked over to me, then Ira after him. They wrapped they big arms ’round me, and I just howled.