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by Daisan
Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Drama · #2287443
A traffic stop in 1950s Georgia is all but routine for two brothers returning from Macon.
          A few days later Lee Doyle was accosted by two men at one of his work sites. He was there alone waiting on a load of brick while his crew relocated to another site to finish up a porch. Bubba and his two younger brothers John and Wallace arrived just short of too late finding Lee holding two men at bay with a mortar hoe. The men departed as soon as they emerged from their truck promising both Lee and his sons that they'd see them again.
          Handy Davis was visited at his home the following evening just before dusk as he and his wife Bella sat on their porch talking and sipping iced tea. An unfamiliar car pulled up in their driveway just as the sky in the distance was getting ready to take on its prettiest orange and red hue. Two walked up to the house while three just got out and stood by the vehicle. One of them had even waved and exchanged greetings with their children.
          The two who came to the house wasted no time telling Handy that if he didn't stop his nonsense there'd be another visit except next time they'd have guns and a rope. Said it to him as pretty as you please and when he'd asked, "What nonsense you talkin bout?" the one who'd done all the talking said, "Don't get smart boy. You want them little pickaninnies to grow up without a daddy?"
          The other had snickered and added, "If they grow up."
          It had taken everything in Handy not to strike those men down where they stood, consequences be damned. Why they'd visited Lee and Handy was simple. They were related by marriage, were well known leaders in the community and had been a major force behind a movement to vote nearly a decade earlier. It wasn't a coincidence they'd been sought out on the same day. And that's they was it was for the next few months. Seemingly random acts of harassment, threats and in some cases physical attacks on any of the men who'd been at the Thomas household the day Hoyt Daniels and Bobby had stopped by. But still no one spoke.
          It was a few miles outside of the city limits when James and Leon Stillman got pulled over by the state patrol on their way back from Macon. Leon was the first to hear the siren and spot the lights flashing in his rear view mirror. He pulled his cobalt blue Chevrolet Fleetline Aerosedan to the side of the road and waited. The state patrol vehicle sat a few car lengths back of them with no one emerging. Leon knew better than to pull off and both he and his younger brother James knew better than to exit the vehicle unbidden, so they waited. Twenty minutes later they were still waiting. The heat was sweltering and James, the younger and more ill-tempered of the two, had grown restless in his seat.
          James peered out the back window, slapping headrest. "What the hell taking this fool so long?"
          Leon shook his head. He'd been looking in the rear and side mirrors for some type of activity from the patrol car since they'd stopped but hadn't seen any.
          "I know he better hurry up and come on, shit!" James muttered. "I'm damn near ready to piss myself I gotta to go so bad."
          Leon gave his brother an irritated glance. "Pee in yo' pocket Lil'' girl."
          "I ought to pee in your damn pocket!" James chirped back. "Dragging me to Macon sayin' we gonna have a good time and hit some spots, when all you wanted was someone to keep you awake during the drive." He smacked the dashboard, "I knew I shoulda' stayed my black ass in the bed!"
          Leon snorted. "You forgettin' that bed you talkin' 'bout in my house?"
          James shrugged. "So?"
          "So it's mine," Leon explained. "You living under my roof, eatin' my food and sleepin' in my bed but your triflin' ass can't take a ride with me unless sumthin' in it for you?"
          "Your roof? Man, that's Grandad and Gran'ma's house! Talkin' bout' under your roof. That ain't your damn roof!"
          Leon hunched his shoulder, palms upturned. "Who they leave it to?"
          That shut James up for a moment but after a beats he responded, "Only reason they did was 'cause you was grown and I wasn't. That's the only reason they left it to yo' ass! Shit, to hear you tell it, you working like a dog to pay the rent and my ass free loadin' off you."
          "First of all," Leon began, eyes shifting from the mirror to his brother, "it's rent when you renting, when you buying it's a mortgage. Second, when you livin' in a house and ain't doin nuthin but eating, shittin' and sleepin' it is free loadin'.", it is freeloadin! "
          "What mortgage you pay?" James asked. "Huh?" Grandad paid that house off years ago. Putting on airs like..." his voice dropped suddenly and he said, "They coming." Leon always drove under the speed limit and the car, was in pristine condition so they knew it wasn't due to some issue with the vehicle. He placed both hands on the steering wheel and waited. The patrolman, who had stopped by his door said nothing.
          Afer a few seconds passed Leon said, "I do something wrong suh?"
          The patrolman didn't speak. He was studying the car, walking to the rear of the vehicle then back forward, his hand running down the side rear and passenger door. He whistled then said, "Damn if this ain't a nice car."
          Leon replied, "Thank you, suh."
          The patrolman squinted. "What year is this? A '44?
          "No suh," Leon offered, nervous about correcting the man. "This here a '42."
          The patrolman nodded, "Som'bitch, damn if it don't look like it just come off the showroom floor." He gave it another appreciative approving look. "I always did like like these Fleetwoods."
          He peered in at Leon who, almost as if that was his cue said, "Thank you again, suh. I try to take care of it as best I can."
          "What's her name?"
          "Her name ?" the trooper repeated, gesturing with his shades to the vehicle. "Never met a car man didn't give his ride a name."
          Leon gave the man a tentative smile. "Bette. I call her Bette."
          "Bette." The trooper's face wrinkled. "Why Bette?"
          "Used to have a girlfriend name of Betty when I was younger," Leon explained. "But I always used to call her Bette."
          "Well, if that Bette was a looker like this one here you're a lucky feller two times over."
          Leon didn't know what to say. White people who didn't know you weren't in the habit of being as friendly as this. This was especially true of law enforcement. He felt James shift in his seat. Clearing his throat Leon said, "Uh, I do something wrong suh?"
          "That depends," the man said. "We just got a notice to be on the lookout for a vehicle this here color carrying two fellers what robbed the diner out on '56."
          "We ain't robbed no damn diner!" James blurted.
          Leon was about to do likewise but before he could he saw the trooper motion for him to calm down. Leon settled himself as best he could then said in as calm a voice as he could muster, "We didn't rob no diner, suh. We just getting back from Macon. We on our way home right now."
          "Calm down son. Calm down," The patrolman said. "I believe you." He bent down and peered across the seat and smiled at James.
          "You do?" Leon asked.
          The trooper nodded.
          "So why you got us pulled off the side of the road then?" James asked.
          Just for a moment, a frown flashed on the trooper's face but just as quickly as it appeared it was gone, replaced once again by a friendly smile. "Listen boys," he said. "The owner of the diner is on his way here with the Sheriff. Once they get here and he says it wasn't you, y'all can be on your way." He looked from Leon to James with eyebrows upturned, "Fair enough?"
          "Yes, suh," Leon said nodding. "'Cause we ain't rob no diner."
          "Good," the trooper patted the roof of the car. "Y'all sit tight then and they'll be here directly." With that he straightened and returned to the patrol car.
          As soon as he thought the man was out of ear shot, Leon spun on James and hissed, "Nigga, you tryin' to get us killed? What you thinkin' 'bout talking to that man like that?"
          "James, looking back at the other vehicle through the rear window shook his head. I'on't like this."
          "Just rest easy," Leon tried to sound more confident than he felt. "They get here, see we ain't who they lookin' for and we be on our way, just like the man say." James grunted in reply, still shaking his head. The time drug by. Leon, his eyes rarely straying from the rear view mirror, spotted movement in the patrol car after a few minutes, then heard the vehicle start up before it backing up a bit.
          James turned in his seat to get a better look. "What he doing now?" As soon as the words left his mouth he spotted a fast moving vehicle approaching from the distance, recognizing it a few seconds later by its coloring as a police car, not high way patrol. The car pulled to a stop in front of the other vehicle. After a few moments Hoyt Daniels and Deputy Boggs got out, walking to the rear of the patrol car conversing with the trooper.
          "Ain't nobody else in the car?" James craned his neck to get a better view. "You see anybody in there?" When his brother didn't answer he repeated, "Leon, you see anybody else?"
          Leon had heard him the first time. He didn't see anyone either and the trooper was walking back to their car alone. "Here we go," Leon breathed just before the man pulled even with his window and leaned down.
          "Sorry to keep you boys waitin' so long."
          "What's going on?" Leon pointed to the newly arrived vehicle. "The man ain't comin?"
          "Well," the trooper pushed his cap back on his head, removing his shades and rubbing his eyes, "It looks like they already caught the boys what done the robbery."
          "What?" James was unable to contain his relief. "They caught'em?"
          "Yesssiree," the trooper tilted his head, smiling over the younger brother. "Their car run off the road a few miles from the diner. Can you believe it?"
          After a few awkward seconds Leon ventured, "So," careful not to sound demanding, "we can go now?"
          The trooper put his shades back on and nodded, smiling again. "Sure can. And let me say again, I'm sorry to have held y'all up this long but I couldn't take any chances. You boys understand, right?"
          Leon nodded, relief flooding his body. "Yes, suh. We understand.
          "Alright then," the Trooper gestured over his shoulder. "I think the deputies want to get some info from you but that should take just a minute. Once they're done you can be on about your business."
          He smiled one last time, patting the roof of the car and giving James one last smile before turning and walking back to his vehicle. Hoyt Daniels met him half way, saying something as he passed, Boggs was on his heels. The trooper kept walking to his car. .
          James saw Boggs stop step off the road to come up on the passenger side of the car, Hoyt walking on the black top. He looked to Leon. "Why he got that gun with him?"
          Leon had noticed it too. Mr. Hoyt Daniels with that shotgun of his hoisted high, barrel resting on his right shoulder, glinting in the sunlight. They kept walking until he and Boggs had reached the front of the vehicle and stopped. The two brothers looked at one another and then at the lawmen, confused. James was turning to ask Leon him what he thought was going on when Hoyt shifted the barrel off his shoulder into his left hand and racked the slide.
          "Shit!" Leon ducked, grabbing his brother and pulling him down as Hoyt fired, the blast coming a split second before buckshot ripped through the windshield of the car sending fragments of glass zipping past Leon's ears. Another blast came from the other direction a second later, this one punching a huge chunk of what remained of the the windshield away and tearing into the seat above his head peppering the driver and passenger seats. Leon could feel his forehead and left ear stinging as he tried to get even lower in his seat, the pricking sensations from the shards of glass imbedded in his forearms. He looked across at James who was hunkered down low in the space where a few moments earlier only his legs and feet had been. The right side of his face streamed little rivulets of blood from where the glass had strafed him. His eyes were wide with fright but Leon didn't think he'd been hit. A few seconds later he heard his door open and he turned to see Hoyt Daniels looking down on him.
          "C'mon out here boy."
          Leon held his hands in plain view as he extricated himself from beneath the steering wheel as he exited the vehicle. James started to get out also but Boggs barked at him, "You, stay where you are." James froze where he was, looking out helplessly at his brother.
          Hoyt glanced across the top of the vehicle making eye contact with Boggs who nodded back. Hoyt looked at Leon and with a flick of his head motioned him closer. Leon inched to within a yard of him, stopping when Hoyt shifted the open end of the barrel in his direction.
          "You...you wanted to talk to me Mr. Daniels?" Leon's eyes trained on his feet.
          Hoyt observed him a moment, not saying anything. Over the years he had learned silence was an effective psychological tool when dealing with others, especially the colored who had more to be afraid of. "Tell me something Leon," he said finally.
          "Suh?" Leon's downturned face contorted in anticipation, eyes firmly on the black top beneath his feet.
          Hoyt had known Leon since he'd rolled up on him late one night, pulled off to the side of a dirt road, pants pulled down past his ass pumping away at some lady at least fifteen years his elder. He had been so engrossed in what he had been doing he hadn't even noticed Hoyt until the woman had screamed and Leon had looked over his should only to be blinded by Hoyt's flashlight shining through the window. Hoyt had let him go but not before scaring the daylights out of him and acquainting him with the official policy of the sovereign state of Georgia as it pertained utilizing a public thoroughfare for the partaking of pussy after hours. Hoyt saw the same fear now as he had then and had marked Leon as someone from whom information would likely flow as willingly as water from a faucet on a hot summer day. "Look at me Leon," he said. Leon raised his head slightly and turned his eyes upward until he was looking into the lawman's. Hoyt said, "I want you to tell me something." He fished a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, shook one free and secured it between his lips then pulled a silver zippo lighter from his pocket which he flicked open, bringing it to life with a deft swipe of his thumb over the spark wheel.
          "Wha...what you'chu wannt me to tell you Mr. Daniels?" Leon watched as Hoyt brought the lighter up, touching the flame to the tip of his cigarette, taking a few light puffs to get it started before flicking the lid shut and putting the lighter back in his pocket.
          Hoyt fixed Leon with an unblinking stare as he took a long, slow drag holding it in his lungs for a few seconds before exhaling through his nose. He shrugged, the gesture almost nonchalant, considering what had just transpired. He shifted the barrel of the shotgun until it was inches from Leon's face, watching the man's eyes bugged at the gesture. "I don't know son." He inclining an ear toward the man as if he were open for suggestions. "What is it you think I'd like to hear?"

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