AMERICAN MESSIAH - A GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL
Winston looked up from his laptop and paused a moment. He
peeked back at the computer and searched for the time. Three o’clock it was.
It was three in the afternoon on a Sunday with no one expected
to arrive on a Sunday at three, he thought.
He turned down the music streaming from his computer—a
smooth flowing African tribal beat with a techno undercurrent. It had just
enough bass to dance to, like the type he used to dance to that had a heavy
bass that, with a few drinks, could temporarily throb out the worries of the
world from his head. Those…the drinks and dancing and throbbing rhythms…no
longer worked at easing his troubles. But writing did.
He typed a few more words—hit enter—before getting up from
the desk in the small office off of the dining room and crossing over to the
door. You knew somebody was gonna come
looking for ya one day, he told himself, as he stepped out into the
Why are you surprised,
Winn? Huh? Are you that stupid-smart? You that smart-stupid?
Ricky, his lover, was upstairs.
Ricky had not mentioned anything to him about anyone
stopping by…especially not at three o’clock…not at three o’clock on a Sunday
afternoon. It could not be one of Ricky’s friends, he thought. All of Ricky’s
friends were likely still nursing a hangover from a Saturday night of drinking
and dancing and preening and ego stroking, and then most, likely comforting
shamed egos in a cold bed they had envisioned would still be warm with the
embers of passion from the night before. And Winston—Winn he went by—knew his
friends who were gray-beards like he, were probably still nursing their stiff
knuckles and sore knees after a Saturday night of drinking and dancing and
preening and…and…from a night of dancing to music seeped in that heavy bass
that throbbed their worldly worries away.
And besides, he figured, the knock-knock knocking just did not sound right. There was a tenor to
its tone that seemed to insist, this
ain’t about the arrival of good tidings, you old man.
Winston turned his head to the side and listened for the
march of Ricky’s footsteps descending on the stairway on the other side of the
house. But all he heard was the bubbling of the water heater in the basement,
and the growl of acid and black coffee swishing ill in his stomach. Hmm? he gathered. If Ricky stayed true
to who he was, and there was no reason he could think of to suggest he would
not, Winston figured that even if Ricky had heard the knock-knock knocking, he would choose to remain upstairs lost in
the midst of his electronic world of motherboards, cables, routers and computer
code that looked like hieroglyphics to his own dark brown eyes, and dollar
signs to Ricky’s lighter brown ones, which were twenty years younger than his.
Ricky was willfully preoccupied, Winston thought, which was
a good thing…at least for now. The knock-knock
on the front door…now a more determined knock-knock-knock…was
not meant for Ricky anyway, he figured. He had been expecting this for some
time now. Though that was not entirely true, he thought. He had been waiting
for a bullet to pierce the window and strike him in the temple. Perhaps when he
turned the keys to start his car, then it would come…the boom, that is. Poison
slipped in his drink while he was out dining, he contemplated more than once. A
rare, bizarre cancer from an agent that was somehow injected into his system,
he had pondered that means also. But a visitor who was knock-knock knocking on his door he had not guessed would be the
way he would finally be done in and silenced.
The walk from the office past the first of two sitting rooms
and then over to the foyer took his long lean legs less than twenty steps.
Ricky’s shorter and even leaner ones would have needed about ten more to cross
the same distance. Victorian homes like theirs always crammed all the rooms
together it seemed; no room that much further away from the next.
He stopped a foot shy of the front door. The door’s pane of
colored glass cast mixed irregular shaped designs onto him and the floor.
His distorted reflection in the mosaic made his thinning,
cottony black and white hair seem more unkempt than it actually was. Nappy—was
what white folks called it—kinky, he was always quick to respond, correcting
them. Spying the collar of his red sweatshirt reminded him he was still wearing
the outfit he wore the day previous—gray sweat pants and a white t-shirt
underneath his sweatshirt. He looked down. His sweatpants were blotched with
red table wine he had been drinking after another night of typing and
uploading, and listening to videos of what others had to say of his typing and
what he had uploaded. But right now, this very moment, what was most central to
him was who was on the other side of the glass looking at him, and had been
knocking on the door at three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon.
which had become a knock-knock-knocking, had
Winston squinted as he peered harder.
Though the glass distorted the view of the white man as much
as it did his own image, Winston realized that he did indeed recognize the man,
even though he was certain he had never met him before. The man’s white hair
and goatee were clearly familiar to him. The man was leaning in toward the
door; bent at the waist like a father in the midst of a lecture to a child. His
white face, however, was sans the grimace a fatherly lecture would undoubtedly
induce. It was more of an uncle’s kindly, yet authoritative demeanor his
crooked posture and tightly pressed thin lips conveyed.
And dressed for business he was; white suit and a white
briefcase gripped in his right hand that made milky the reds, blues and greens
coming through the stained glass.
Winston put his left hand on the doorframe as he yanked open
the door. The door opened with a creaking yawn, as new doors on old homes were
won’t to do on old homes that were constantly settling. He waved the white man
in—bidding him an ill welcome—with a swish of his arm down and away from his
The man was easily equal to his six-foot height, Winston
noted, as the man stepped past the threshold and into he and Ricky’s restored
Victorian. Winston opened the door wider, backing up until his legs pressed
against the radiator on wall behind him and he could go no further.
The white man stopped for a moment and then turned, and
smirked at him. Such a simple gesture…that grin…was enough to gin up a face
full of uneven, symmetrical wrinkles on his face that was already teeming with
them. His dark pink, practically red lips stayed curled in that smirk all the
while he looked at Winston. He looked up and then down, as though appraising
all that had been so recently remodeled in the house that now made it more of a
caricature of a Victorian than a restored one.
And then the white man resumed. He carried on down the
hall…smirk still intact; deep set wrinkles proudly still on display. He made
his way down the narrow hall that was just wide enough for one person to access
and two to squeeze through if they were careful to forgo nightly, sweet
excesses. His stepping in his white, shiny shoes were solid and sure, as though
he already knew where he was headed.
Winston closed the door and followed him.
The white man—this familiar white man—glanced left as he
passed the narrow living room, and then swung his attention to the right, where
he turned and entered the much larger room—a dining room—with gold painted
crown molding smiling down from above and boasting a dining room table that
could sit ten, though was in a house of only two. The white man stopped a few
feet past the threshold of the dining room and turned, waiting for Winston to
“Dare I say, good evening…Winston Herrera-Parks?” the white
man asked, as Winston came in and moved back from him so that they stood facing
one another. “I suppose whether it is good or not is dependent on how the
evening proceeds. For in the end, I may say it was a good one. You on the other
hand may have quite a different perception about it. But let us not start
there, hmm? Let us say it is a good evening thus far, shall we?”
Winston stared at him—his brown eyes dancing with white
man’s sparkling blue ones.
“My name is Samuel Merrica,” he said, as he brought the
white briefcase directly in front of his crotch and grasped it with both pale
hands. “And let’s just be frank. There is no reason for you and I to dance this
dance anymore, is there? This is not the time for subterfuge or…or veiled
deceptions. So,” he said and paused for a moment, “you already know why I am
here, don’t you?”
Winston raised his grayed, black brow.
“I am here to kill you,” he said simply, and then smiled,
showing teeth there were just as ghastly white as his skin. “Oh, indeed, Winn,”
he insisted. “Winn…that is what your boy, Ricky, upstairs calls you isn’t it?
Yes? No? Who cares at this point? Hmm?”
“I know why you’re here,” Winston mumbled. “You might as
well come in and have a seat.”
“Why, I’d be delighted!” Samuel gushed.
Winston motioned toward the chairs on the opposite side of
the table. Samuel grinned as he walked about the dining room that was decorated
with wood carved African masks with slit eyes; paintings and pictures of
niggers in chains and chokes…barefoot Negroes in ragged burlap shirts…colored
folk wearing straw hats, top hats…and discerning African-American ladies in
flowered tea hats on their way to church.