A big man with a gentle voice, Walter Allen Hall regained his family’s fortune by venturing beyond the shores of England.
While his peers insisted the only money to be made abroad was via the British East India Company or through the slave trade, he staunchly disagreed.
“People are not a commodity. Not in England, not in Africa, not anywhere a good man wishes to lay his head without shame.”
In all his business dealings, he kept his wife Florence by his side. “No man could be as clever as my Florence. The opinions of my peers mean little beside your fierce mind.”
She needed a minute. Just one fucking minute.
To hold him, to breathe in the smell of his hair, to feel the thump of his heart against the skin of his neck.
It wasn’t fair. It would never be fair. There was nothing to be done. She’d exhausted all her options.
He made his choice.
He would marry the girl his parents wished. Return to England and live a life far from her, from this place, from where they fell in love.
First, she needed one more fucking minute.
To say goodbye.
© Shayne McClendon
“Why do you want to do this?”
To anyone else, Micah would appear annoyed, angry even. Almost thirty years as best friends taught you a lot about a person’s tells. Max knew he wasn’t angry. He was afraid.
“You know why…”
“I don’t bloody know why! Bringing her here could ruin everything.” He turned and stared at the skyline of Manhattan. “Knowing about our lifestyle on paper isn’t the same thing.”
“Here.” Max handed him a glass of bourbon. “Drink and let’s talk it through. Best case scenarios, worst case scenarios. We don’t do it unless we’re on the same page.”
Taking the glass, he shook his head. “Like I don’t know you.”
Max grinned. “I’ll attempt to talk you ‘round to my way of thinking.” He set several plates of food on the counter. “Eat. You think better when you eat.”
“What’s your name, kid?” the deli owner asked her as she rested against the side of his building.
“Mink. Who’s askin’?” She didn’t like folks poking into her business. She was waiting on the bus and didn’t need to get hassled.
“Hmm. Interesting blue hair you got there.”
“Yeah…” Older people always had shit to say about the different colors, the piercings, the tats.
“You live up on the corner, right? I’ve seen you in the neighborhood.”
He better not be a perv. “Yeah. That’s right. How you know that?”
The way he laughed was a surprise and she frowned. “Settle down, Mink. Got no interest in a kid young enough to be my great-grandkid. I need somebody close to run errands and I’ll slip you a couple bucks.”
He was raised by a bunch of men who defined every valuable thing by the color of the man or woman who possessed it.
If a fancy car was driven by a white man, it was a sign of success and class. By a black man, it musta been stolen.
For the first fifteen years of his life, he didn’t know better. He thought the same, talked the same, and figured everybody else been raised like him.
Then he almost died. A man he didn’t know, a man owed him nothing, saved his life. A man with skin many shades darker than his own.
Racing the back roads, he flipped his car. A black man walking the road with a big pack on his back stopped to help. His girlfriend told him in the hospital the man trained as a medic in the Army.
Without him, without his skills and his mercy, he would have died.