The Soul Recovers
by Minc Eve
Part 1 is in the archive, here.
The luckiest fluke, Ellis laughed, telling his favorite story, was that Obama had been raised outside of New York City. It was policy for delusional Blacks who held tightly to their beliefs of equality and mobility to be singled out and officially hunted down on the streets of New York. This ‘surveillance’ was practiced by ‘Offices of Investigation,’ or ‘Offices of the Fuck,’ as they were known on the street. Untouched by the local horror, Obama, a Black man, was free to become President of the United States. ‘Eubonics,’ understood as the repression of poor Blacks’ expression, sideswiped the white agenda itself to become a renaissance of rap music, hip-hop, R and B. It grew from reflecting the violence of the ghetto to taking over the music scene altogether. Ellis insisted on pointing out miracles that had gone unnoticed.
Genet and Ellis had been appearing in the papers and magazines as a ‘happening couple,’ he the new young Black reformer, she the dancer\choreographer. At heart, Genet found politics empty. Genet misread him totally. Ellis seemed to keep repeating empty rhetoric as if reminding himself of what he was supposed to stand for. Meeting him occasionally, she was unaware of the long days, sometimes sixteen hours of commitment that made him stand out. His associates brought this to her attention.
Ellis was running for Congress when the gaggle of men started showing up everywhere Genet went. They dogged her very steps, then cars started appearing, coming close and circling back. Men would come at her on the streets, veer off. Strange things she had seen for months started to add up. Ellis was too busy with the campaign to bother to listen to her. He just insisted, laughing, that she was terribly attractive. Guys just couldn’t help themselves.
But then, the worst were missing whites, she noticed. A hideous proof everywhere, ‘MISSING’ notices affixed on poles, parking signs, blurry black and white mimeographed faces torn from newspapers taped to building exteriors. A haunting lack, a smell of blood, a sudden shift of everything revealing a trail leading to murder, more murders strangely unsolved. Serial murderers could be felt left on the loose to facilitate these official executions.
Genet hadn’t slept for months, could barely eat. She walked through the many ambushes, the sudden arrival of a number of official cars screeching to a stop beside her. She pretended not to notice, found herself blacking out. Others, many, broke, believing the lies, the official label they were somehow subversives, had done something wrong, criminals unwittingly. They knew they were to be killed for the public good. They KNEW, just as Genet came to know just by seeing themselves hunted down by twenty or so officers that certainly one was ‘fucked,’ that everyone in the city knew instantly that you were ‘toxic.’ Thus designated, you became that very bad person. No one could help you because they, too, would be murdered. This would eat at you, drive you down, the knowledge of the endless watching over and those very many who showed up day after day as witness to your death. Your body told you there were guns at you both day and night, even in your house with the windows shuttered. Blacks, freaking suddenly, finally overwhelmed by the horror of it, would start running. If the Fuck didn’t get them instantly, they would continue waiting, often with extreme glee, even sexual, slavering in their many sitting cars. The chase, the shots, the horror of the victim crumpling to death. All in Midtown. No New Yorker could afford to notice. It was not their business.
How many like Genet would hold out, isolated, removed so long from the human race, having succumbed to their own fear? Suffocate, strangle themselves? The Police rule these deaths as heart attacks, especially if they’ve been bludgeoned to death. So many made paraplegics in the city.
It took Genet years, though, to remember that civil rights lawyer, Darrell, how he had passed her in the street, nodded, stopping for just a split second. His eyes sparkled at her. Then he barrelled on by, a midtown street. How the heavy guy, a follower of Malcolm X, was Ellis’s close friend. How she barely noticed the several men directly to his side, behind him, definitely not bodyguards. These were the known tactics of the Black Desk, quietly following you, disturbing your nervous system. This must have been going on for a time. In days, Darrell was shot to death by police for freaking out on the street, ‘acting suspicious.’ The funeral was massive, tearing up Ellis to no end. But how many years did it take Genet to remember passing Darrell in the street, how many years?
But everything was easy to forget once the Park murder came out. The hideous death of a girl resembling Genet came to light shortly after Darrell’s death. The papers were seized with news of her death. On the cover of the Times was a private photo of Ellis and Genet taken in his bedroom as he dressed himself in his tux. The photo had to be hacked from his personal computer. Ellis was taken in immediately, but not before sending Genet off into hiding. He was released in hours, yet the threat from ‘Offices of the Fuck’ had demonstrated itself as all too real.
“I thought you would die,” he said.
He sat in the armchair across from the bed, late night. The air was too heavy, and so was her skin. It hurt to turn in the pillow. A fever ate at her. Covers seemed to bruise her as did the light of the lamp by her bed. She sat up to turn it off. The wind raged, moaning and snaping against the outside wall. The snow piled up at the window. She recalled getting up, throwing up. But that was days past. Wasn’t that so?
And where were they, some place in Virginia? Long curving drives through endless soft rises, mansions with sparkling windows, perfect views. They drove and drove on highways cutting into the woods. She wondered how many towns, cities, there were here? Not so far before they arrived here, he pointed out ‘Hickory Hill,’ which used to be the Kennedy’s. How many fugitives, branded by horror, were there out here?
“God is so vicious, testing us like this,” he had stopped to say, before he left.
A shrine has grown from her tired backpack that yawns open on the chair by the bed. Black toe shoes with faded ribbons, stacks of old letters held by a hairband, thin portfolio of papers, thick worn plastic envelope bursting with photos of family, friends. The same battered red leather journal she often examined like now, knees high in banked up covers. Lined pages so worked up that the pages themselves are torn through with obsessive jottings. She tries to make sense of them.
Yet folded, refolded, unfolded. Humid and mottled, newsprint ink faded. Reexamines the clipping. Can’t see, can’t think. ‘Hideous Murder,’ says the Post, washed out photo of her and Ellis drifts down to the carpet. Hoult stops to pick it up. This is the first day after weeks she allows light in her room. He stands up, muttering. She looks through him onto a dark wreckage that once was her life.
Up above, the Senate loudly rages on the flatscreen, as it does in every room of the house.