First, an update: We have about 20 unpublished stories or responses to our prompt, and they are selected at random. I will go through the backlog, however, and will try to post those of you who submitted earlier in the contest. This contest is an invitation to dialog, and if you have not yet submitted a story, I would ask that you simply relate your experience, and let it stand on its own, or write a fictional account. You are free to use this
prompt to write an editorial, but if you do, know that the responses may be combative. And, if you respond with comments, this is your opportunity to demonstrate the civility that seems to be lacking in public discourse. I am an editor, not a censor. We are all adults. Let’s act accordingly.
Having said all that, I am pleased to post a story by my good friend Mischka Blank here in Prague. He writes of a metamorphosis–how appropriate in the ancient city where Kafka himself wrote of a transformation! Here is
by Mischka Blank
He didn’t notice the moment he woke up. Lazy light trickled through the blinds on fresh black skin. Just his palms and soles remained white, as if he had been stood against a wall, as he made suspects stand for frisking, and somebody had given him a lick of paint instead of the customary beating.
Paint? Hang on a second!
He rushed to the garage and scrubbed himself with turpentine, then bleach, then despair. He lowered the blinds so darkness swallowed him, while the world outside woke up to another loud sunny Texan day. Standing in front of a mirror he switched on the light, switched it back off in horror, then faded it back in and looked at himself. His brown eyes, normally grey and cold like steel, saw a face more familiar than any other – just the colour, the colour! He shouted, and his voice was still familiar too. His driving license and police badge showed a different man: Tom Tillerson, aged 55, sheriff in Amarillo. Credit cards showed the same name. In his wardrobe a police uniform hung next to a KKK costume. Was this a prank? An illusion? Punishment?
Tom called in sick at work, feigning a contagious skin disease.
Three days hiding changed nothing for his colour but depleted the fridge. He had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Some neighbour had already knocked on his door; it would be a matter of days, if not hours, for suspicion to rise far enough to get his colleagues involved. The only escape was to depart to the Klan meeting that night, but arrive in Mexico instead.
After darkness set in, after packing a few essentials, he looked around the living room one last time. Through the eyes of a black man, from behind the KKK mask, it looked so finite now, already a part of his personal history.
The garage door opened automatically, then closed again after he backed his Bronco out the driveway. Nobody on the street, all curtains were drawn, splendid. If nothing went wrong he’d be in Ciudad Juarez the next morning.
Somewhere on Route 66, at safe distance from Potter County, he ditched the KKK costume and fueled up. The cashier glanced at him suspiciously. Was it because he was black?
With a bit of luck he could do another 250 miles till he had to fuel up again. It took less than 20 for his rear-view mirror to fill up with blues and twos.
Let’s play Tom & Sheriff, he thought, I know the tricks.
Tom turned down a dirt road and stopped. A cop shone a flashlight in his face and demanded identification.
“You stopped the wrong motherfucker!”
A shot rang out in the vast empty desert, then two more. The flashlight fell to the ground.
Tom gunned the Bronco down the dark dirt road. He knew how this would end, and so did they, but now he was on the other side. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
But, all you need is…