Black-Out


by Christopher Williams

My brother hates me to this day. He hates me more than he hates a darkie on the street or our “slave shaded” mother. But most of all he hates me for looking exactly like him…

We’re only minutes apart. He’s older by 11 minutes and 50 seconds, born 31st of December, 1940. I was born at the stroke of midnight, New Year’s Day 1941. Our mother named us after the President of the United States; Franklin & Roosevelt Farmer—her beloved yellow twins. The nurse, apparently, made a joke that the President was our father as our clearly white daddy wasn’t present at our birth nor is he listed on our certificates. Our mother, Cordelia Farmer didn’t quite like that sort of humor, implying that she was a tramp but they assumed she was regardless of who the daddy was because she was dark as night with babies as white as paper.

‘Delia was a kind woman. Hard working as she was always away from home the moment Frankie and I learned to take care of each other. We didn’t see much of her which pleased my dear brother and brought the most pain to myself. She had two jobs: worked Mrs. Von Cannon’s house, cared for her snotty daughters, Sarah and Rachel, and then she hobbled on over to Mrs. Bilbrew’s house—wealthiest Negro woman in the county (but she liked to pretend like she wasn’t one of us). I think that’s where Frankie gets it from…

Frankie loved Mrs. Bilbrew. The woman was 32 years his senior but that didn’t bother him none. She had skin as pale as the moon, a sleek nose that she loved to show off, and a wig collection that put any woman to shame. The only thing Black about her was her hair so she had to cover it up as best she can. On Tuesdays she would have her brother, Harold, come through the backdoor and shave her bald, just in case the wig were to ever fall off she could claim that she were ill and needed her wigs to keep her dignity. Or at least, that’s what Frankie told me one day after painting her fence. He loved doing chores for her.

*

It wasn’t until high school, around 1965, that Frankie decided that he wanted to be white, officially. ‘Delia wasn’t walking us home from school anymore and no one really ever saw her as more than just a maid so Frankie thought that’s the story we could tell them, “Cordelia’s our mammy who remained close to the family as we grew and then became just our maid. Our father (the mysterious Mr. Farmer), is a wealthy white businessman who is always traveling and our mother, ‘Anne’ died when we were young and father never remarried.” Frankie had me memorize it and I did, and I went along with it too. Don’t really know why I did. Not because I wanted to be white. I don’t think…

His plan to be Anglo-Saxon worked, he even landed Jane Sails, head cheerleader, student body secretary, and avid church goer as her daddy, Rev. Sails commanded of her. I found this especially funny because Frankie was…is…well, he’s never been all that interested in gals. But Jane was blonde and blue-eyed, couldn’t get more white than this girl so he had to make his story fit perfectly. Jane is part of the reason my brother hates me. A small part but still.

*

In 1966, after the Harvest Festival, Jane (under the influence of whatever her daddy kept in his secret flask) decided that night that she wasn’t satisfied just having Frankie, or Frankie wasn’t satisfying her, she wanted the other Farmer boy. She took me behind the dumpster behind the algebra classroom and began touchin’ and rubbin’ all over me. I loved the attention too much to stop. I was wrong, I’ll admit that.

She began pulling down my trousers. I moved her hands up to my chest. I was scared, first time and all. She unbuttoned my shirt and kissed down my neck, then between my chests. She slowed up for a moment, curiously looking at my nipples; didn’t think a thing of it once she continued kissin’ on me. Jane finally managed to undo my belt buckle and unzip my fly. She was skilled with her hands, could multitask well. I thought to myself, “She must make some John a very happy man,” completely ignoring that she was Frankie’s girl.

The big moment was coming, her manicured fingers were wrapped firmly along my throbbing member as I caressed her pearly white breasts. “You’re so thick…” she whispered to me. Just as she was about to pull my Johnson from their chambered holdings I stopped her once again.

“Jane, we can’t.” I held her hand in its place.

“It’s just a little fun, Roosevelt. Relax…” She looked seductively into my eyes as she rubbed her free hand through my short straight black hair.

“But Frankie…”

She scoffed, “Frankie’s not a real man.” I looked at her curiously. “Oh don’t play dumb, R. Everyone knows he’s a fag. He won’t even finger me.”

My eyes narrowed, fixed on hers. “Then why are you with him?”

“Because, you had your eyes on that colored bitch, Dorothy and she had her eyes on you. You know those coloreds can be violent. So I backed off. But I can no longer resist, I knew I had a chance. You wouldn’t have brought a colored to the Harvest Festival no how. Now let me have it!”

Jane pulled my now decreasingly semi-erect penis out from its hiding. She paused. Looked up at me then back at it, confused and somewhere between surprised and horrified.

“It’s…” She paused. I was expecting to hear words like ‘gigantic’ or ‘humungous’ escape her lips as my ego predicted those were the only options. But what came next was something I was never expecting… “It’s Black!”

I looked down in a lost panic. I saw no difference. I thought all men looked the same under the waistline but I guess I was wrong. Perhaps white cocks aren’t light brown at the tip like mine or maybe it’s the prominence of the veins or maybe even my slight curve but either way she laughed, buttoned her shirt and ran off.

*

Of course I didn’t tell Frankie what happened that night but he found out anyways. Jane had told her best friend, Sarah Von Cannon, about the occurrence and her findings and Sarah, like a forgotten memory come back to the mind, told Jane about Cordelia, our dark-skin Negro mother. Jane told her brother and he told the rest of the school that we had been passing for white the whole time.

“Farmer twins? More like the Liar Twins! Nigga Roosevelt and his Fag-Brother Franklin!” Like some sort of carnival attraction.

From that moment on, Frankie hated me. He hated me for stealing his girl, he hated me for telling his homosexual secret, but most of all, he hated me for never allowing him to be the white man he’s always wanted to be. From that point on, we had no choice but to be our Black selves: no need to hide from the rain, we let our hair curl and coarse up. No need to hide our mother from our friends. Simply no need to deny it. Everyone knew.

Light skinned and all, we were Black and Franklin never forgave me for it…but, maybe, just maybe, Jane Sails did us an incredible favor…