Chapter 1 The smell was sickening. The embers flew from his body and onto the ground as if they couldn’t wait to flee such a horrific scene. A circle of white men stood around him with what looked like pitchforks in their hands. One stood out. I guess he was the leader. I hope I never have the chance to look Satan in the eye, but I imagine that if I did, he would look like this man. He wore a white sheet over his head, but I could still see his eyes. They were a clear blue, with a piercing stare, and if looks could kill, I would swear that he set the man’s body on fire just by looking at him.
I was four when I saw my uncle Harold being lynched. It had stung. Tears had fallen, but it didn’t crush me like it did my mama. She cried as they hauled us out of our home in the dead of the night and forced us to watch as he died that painful death. The tears had come out of her like death itself– like she was dying right along with him.
After he stopped squirming, they loaded us into the wagon, right on top of each other and started out into the night road. I remember that I wasn’t afraid. No, not even a little bit. At four, I had seen death. I had felt it in my bones. And my innocence had been replaced by a conviction that was as strong as the cold in that white man’s eyes.
I was determined to avenge uncle Harold, and all of the men who had suffered like him. I had heard stories of lynching. I had even seen beatings, but nothing lit a fire inside of my belly like that fire done to me that night. And it would burn…hotter than any torch that I could hold for myself– bigger than any flame I could feel for anyone else. It would burn until I figured out a way to make my uncle’s life worth giving.
Our master’s name was Thompson. Dean was his first name. He was a handsome man, if you liked white men. He was tall, with brown eyes, just short of hazel- like if you dropped just a bit of cream in a black cup of coffee. He was tall and lean. His hair was cut so that his hair dropped down below his eyebrows in the front, but stopped short of his collar in the back. And he always wore a suit, with a pocket on the left side of his vest for his time piece. He would check it just about every hour as if he always had something important to do that he couldn’t be late for. Only thing is, he never gone nowhere.
He stayed at the main house and hardly ever even left the porch. He would come out, make a comment about the field hands and then go back inside after checking the time. His daddy had been the same way, and I guess he just learned from him. We called his daddy Papa Dean. I was sixteen when he turned over the farm to young Master. We were all real sad to find out Papa Dean was too sick to run the farm anymore. He was always real nice to us all. Well, as nice as you could be as a slave driver. He made sure we had enough food, and extra clothes in the winter. Yeah, he was as nice as he could be, but even now as a teenager, no amount of nice could extinguish that fire…now raging in the pit of my belly.