Sûrah LIII
THE STAR
"The heart lied not in seeing what it saw."

53
TWINKLE TWINKLE

Franchone halts mid-flight then backpedals, apprehended in retreat by a mechanized voice that echoes through a speaker near the mail box.

(FEMALE VOICE)

Yes, who is it?

FRANCHONE

U.P.S.

He checks his watch, then rolls his eyes; it is way too early.

(FEMALE VOICE)

At this hour? Come back later.

He reflects, as static from the speaker goes tersely mute.

Least someone's up. The question is; did I ring the right apartment? And, if I did, are both girls out of bed?

He frisks his pockets, finds a toothpick, pokes the tip through its plastic sheath, and wedges it to depress the nipple-like buzzer, then scampers back to his lookout parallel to the bus shelter.

That should do it. If I park myself right here I can see the door through the foyer's grate, and... Yup, there's one of 'em—mad as a hornet—not the GRAY-HAIRED GIRL; too bad. But if she's  there, with any luck, she'll vacate soon.

Meanwhile... Jesus in dreads, I think I was describing, his crown of thorns all but lost in a Rastafarian do. Broad nose, wingtip nostrils, inner-tube lips, skin dark as mine—I kid you not—Christ was a bro, in my forty-wink-delusion. Can you imagine? Can you picture White folks worshipping a God who's Black, Red, Yellow, or Brown, or for that matter any shade besides their blond-haired, blue-eyed icon's? Only niggers can be made to venerate Gods who don't resemble them—slave, or slave mentalities, key to the subterfuge. Or such was my 'polemic' when refuting dear ol' Dad.

FRANCHONE

Of course, the Whites force-fed us Christ; how better to keep the Black man meek? Jesus was a pacifist—"Love thy neighbor as thyself"—an ideal archetype for a class of folks whose face got slapped ad nauseam. "Turn the other cheek," our Masters told us through our pastors. "Yassah, Mars, Praise God," we chimed like docile dumbbells.

REVEREND PINKNEY

The rule applies for Whites, as well.

FRANCHONE

You ever see them follow it? Not a White man on this planet lets a non-White man reprove him, much less strike him and escape retaliation—tit for tat, with extra measure, to demonstrate who is boss.

REVEREND PINKNEY

That's Malcolm speaking.

FRANCHONE

Wrong; it's me; it's I, your son and resident atheist. God is nothing more than a mythical projection of human hopes and fears

REVEREND PINKNEY

Don't blaspheme.

FRANCHONE

Blaspheme? I'm just reasoning, turning nonsense into common scientific sense. Faith is superstition, charms, chants, spells et al.

Plus other inflammatory outbursts. Devil's Advocate was my role, until my Westward Ho to college—which he paid for, hence my having to undergo sermons whenever I returned. I think he knew, though, that he'd lost me, and it pained him, bless his heart. I've never hated loving anyone more than dear ol' Dad.

The traffic builds, as cars set off to join the rank-and-file commute—trucks on delivers, buses shuttling (Franchone waves another by), the city rising with its morning-breath-yawn to pollute an amber sunup turning puddles of vagrant piss into uric-acid clouds.