The Brown Boy's Home

Ronaldo Wilson





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The Brown Boy’s Black Father Loses It

In the dream, the brown boy’s father is crazy. He is naked and has come out into a kitchen scattered with open boxes, his cock, shiny, hard and sticking straight into the room. The brown boy knows he must get his father to a mirror so he can get him to look at his own eyes. If he can only drag him out of the kitchen, and down the hallway where he sees a mirror against a wall, he thinks, maybe, he can save him.

The brown boy is not fearful. He feels the presence of his entire family in his head, as though he’s speaking to them all on the phone, each one of them lying quiet on the line, hoping that he will be able to save his father.

So he holds him, and drags, pulling his father closer to the mirror at the end of the hall. The brown boy thinks if he shows his father his own eyes, he can snap him out of it, get him to get his clothes on, get him to relax, get his cock down and soft so they can head back home.

As he holds him, his father begins to shit. The brown boy knows this is a dream that his own black father is not like this, not crazy, not lacking control of his cock or his shit, but in the dream the brown boy realizes that he has this job to do: he must take care of his father, who is losing it.

In real life, the brown boy remembers this story when they lived in Tennessee:

His father took the family to a barbecue, where the brown boy stared into a field behind the fence at the small white face of an animal he could not name. As he stared, the animal stared back. The brown boy wanted to shoot it. He wanted to kill whatever it was, but when he returned, bb gun ready, to the spot where he first saw the tiny white face, the animal was gone.

He remembers the slow drive back from the barbecue to the small military base where they lived. With his father, drunk, they zigzagged from one side of the road to the next. To the brown boy, his brother and sister, this was all a game. Maybe their father was swerving on purpose, racing back and forth as though between pylons.

When they got home and his father sat on the octagon table made of marble and cherry that he brought home from Japan, and began pissing, the brown boy knew that this wasn’t play, the yellow liquid spreading in one giant sheet from the table’s marble center to the wooden edges, dripping onto the lattice doors, down to the rug.

He remembers his brown mother, angry, and quick with a sponge and bucket, trying to catch some of the flood his black father released, sopping up his drunken freedom.

In his dream, the brown boy holds his black father tight as the shit floods out of him. The brown boy begins to cry, saying sweet father, sweet father, sweet father, holding him as his father lets go.

In bed, when the white man, while meditating, asks the brown boy to lie back between his legs, the brown boy cannot. How could he, after realizing, like this, how much his mother’s love made her willing to absorb what his father could not control? How could he, after realizing how much he was willing to do the same?

Out of the dream, the brown boy sat on the pot. Piss shot between the lid’s gap, cascading outside, down the bowl’s neck. Of course, he caught himself, well before he realized how much he was like his black father as he gobbed the piss at the base with toilet paper, absorbing all of it.

The Brown Boy’s Mother is Wearing Green

As she slipped the army green turtleneck, ribbed and freshly bought from Ross from over her shoulders, she told the brown boy about the senior citizen’s discount that the sales lady almost failed to give her. The brown boy’s mother told him that she asked the girl, Do I look 17?

The brown boy often hisses with the same meanness that insured his mother’s 10% discount off the sweater, which would look perfect under a forest green vest, oversized, which flattered her pants, an almost fluorescent green, straight legged -- perfect for her shift at the convalescent home.

To the home, she never wears white. She always wears bright colors, which match and flash according to her mood. Sometimes she wears purple, a vest dangling down, her hand in its pocket where she keeps candy and keys. Sometimes she wears New Balance tennis shoes, other times Nike, but never the white, punch-out nursing slip-ons the brown boy would wear if he were a nurse and a woman. Anyone can tell from the layers of gold that she keeps around her neck and wrists that his mother is there for her own pleasure, not for her undoing. In the parking lot, she keeps a red Porsche 928 S Fatback with her son’s name on the license, which sets her apart from her co-workers, marking her class (above theirs) and flaunting her familial relationship (full of love).

When the brown boy saw his mother take her shirt off to try on the green sweater, he worried about the slight rolls on her stomach, light skin giving way to time. Until he saw her shoulders, muscular and sharp to the end of each blade, he was worried about her leaving him forever. Until he saw her from the kitchen landing through to the light of the den, where her face was still smooth -- her cheekbones and chin like his -- he was afraid she’d already started to go.

When the brown boy’s mother goes to look for him in the house, he is at the computer in his father’s office, hiding from the junk food, the chips, the chocolate kisses, the tiny peanut butter cups, and the pie that his mother keeps around to keep her kids fixed and “fatting around the house.” When they were little and round, and the brown boy’s mother would come home from a fifteen mile run, she would say this if she returned to them sitting around, watching television, the dishes stained with ketchup and grease: STOP FATTING AROUND THE HOUSE!

Even though he said he was not going to do anything but drink water, the brown boy devoured the 3D Doritos as though they, themselves, were water. Just as he is eating one, trying to write, his mother pulls out of her pocket a roll of twenties and slips it in his hand. The brown boy loves his mother. He doesn’t tell her this. He only says Thanks mom, as casually as he can. He doesn’t say: That’s too much, or act like he doesn’t need it. He thinks, Rent. Or Flight. Or he doesn’t think at all, just realizes how much freedom he will have in not having to work where his mother already had.

As long as she is alive, the brown boy knows that she will save him. Imprinted in his memory is her hand shooting across the passenger seat, even after he had grown to twice her size, stopping him from flying forward when she hit the brakes. Or when she pulled over, and jumped out of the car with her tennis racket, raising it, like an ax at the black girls on their own porch, who yelled out to her children something she never told them. Or when he watched her out of a window, and later on Super 8 film, pretend to be a child, putting on his brother’s snow cap, mask, and gloves to attack the boys who had attacked her sons, snowballing the helpless kids -- her filmic-kicking down their fort, and beating them down, where her children failed.

The Brown Boy, the White Man and the Snow

The brown boy, looking out into the snow, did not think of his own depression. He only thought of the white man’s as he washed down the left over layers of rice that marinated in the water and oil from the evening’s Garlic Chicken and Pad Thai. As he finished the dishes, the brown boy’s interpretation of the white man’s sadness in winter was fueled by his focus on the bluebird that bounced on the snow outside his window, flitting around for food on the covered trash cans.

Instead of thinking something like, What a beautiful bird, the brown boy remembered what the white man said, once, about birds just before he was about to eat a handful of newly fallen snow: Birds shit on that -- you’d better not eat it.

Some of what he said was to spare the brown boy, but most of it was the hatred of winter speaking. It was his hate for the way the snow froze the air and sucked the life out of the crisp limbs that fought to hold their shape in winter. It was the weight of the grey light around the electrical cylinders against the opaque sky. It was the eternal snow, itself, its fat mutations, chunks that sat, latched to everything.

The Brown Boy Imagines the White Man’s Death

How sad it will be the moment, one day, when the white man dies.

Though since the white man is good, he will grow old cheerily, not greedily with cankers loading up in his ass or on his balls from years of hate and selfishness.

But even though he lives right, his stomach boils like a dead sea and hurts.

The white man has even taken to acupuncture and herbs, which may be working, but the brown boy can never get the answer that he wants. It’s the same tiring story of pain -- my stomach’s fucked up -- that recycles and pushes itself out of the white man’s face as he shaves in one hundred directions to appear as smooth and soft and as good as he his.

Or maybe the brown boy will die first, drop dead after running, shocked, flat on his back, after not stopping to jog in place at the end of a run. Not because the brown boy is trying to be good, but because he hates fat, he runs on the beach, hard, thinking of his own exhaustion as he pushes through it. Billy Blanks speaks, in his head, as he pounds into the sand, kicking it up behind him: those machines they’re not gonna give you what you want … you keep doin’ this … you’re gonna get everything you want ... EVERYTHING YOU WANT! ... I like the word conquerer ... I want you to be a conquerer … NOW GIMME SOME!

The brown boy will run thirty minutes in, thirty out, pushing through the sand, his treat coming at the end, where he will dive into the sea, releasing himself past plankton and sea-weed, above one or two hermit crabs that scurry across the sand below the water.

What he remembers is his white man’s comfort, watching the tiny crabs struggle to hide below the sand clouds in the clear stretch of coast that spreads out under the sun. In the shallows, the brown boy pretends to be a shark, swimming in the sea, under the white waves, going in for the kill. Though he always gets caught before he’s able to grab his white man’s legs underwater, the brown boy is after his white body, half of it above the surface, sunned to a light, red-brown, the hair on his chest, lazered off, so only the grey ones grow near his shoulders -- his skin, sheening.

Coy and Eel Dream

The brown boy is with his father in a living room watching a black eel in a tank. The eel is also a coy that has a wire and paper bread tie, pierced into the back of its orange tail. The coy is also fat and white. The eel is large and black, with the face of a cat. It stares out at the brown boy and his black father from inside the tank, hissing and showing its teeth.

The brown boy remembers seeing his father’s hands and arms covered past his elbows with white surgeon’s gloves, and that he is about to remove the bread twist barely holding onto the coy’s tail. It falls away, as though rotted, and floats to the bottom of the tank, even though his father was prepared to remove it.

When the brown boy tells his therapist about the dream, she doesn’t bother unpacking it because he offers his own theory about how it is connected to his work. It sits out there like a slippery animal swimming around in a glass box, changing, warping from fish to fish. His work is a slippery animal that can be hindered by even a wire and paper bread twist. What he wants to think about is not what binds one thought to the next, but his father’s dark and strong forearms sealed up in the white polyeurethane gloves, their sterile, powdery smell sticking to his father’s want -- to save him from the threat of even the most innocuous, sinking object.

Serena Williams, Whiteness and the Act of Writing

The brown boy is afraid, because he can’t tell, exactly, what his work is. He identifies with Serena Williams, the gorgeous black tennis star who was booed at Indian Wells. The rumor is that her father, Richard, fixed an earlier match in the tournament where she was to play her sister, Venus, who pulled out with tendenitis in her knees seconds before they were about to begin. The theory is that he rigged this meeting, just as he did their first All-Williams Wimbledon Semi-final, where Serena is rumored to have thrown the contest.

In his apartment in Brooklyn, the brown boy has dozens of photos of both sisters which plaster the walls above his computer. In the one where they are standing next to one another at Wimbledon, Serena is crying. Venus’ consoling arm is around her sister’s shoulder. This photo is next to cut up shots of two old men with fat cocks, a collage he made and covered with a sheet of paper that reads: travelogue. Behind this cover, one man is bald and his eyes are glazed shut, the other is all crotch, grainy black and white hands, fat fingers and thigh.

When he thinks of the connection between his sad sisters and his turned on old men strangers caught sucking and being sucked, and covered, he feels that his mind is one confused object that pulses about unknowing, wound up, a note towards itself with no answers but the need to cut, suspend, look. Paste, cover and tape.

Next to one another, each piece locks up to the next, making sense only in his own mind. Somehow he thinks if he could bring these shots together, things would start to make sense, the whole of them becoming more like a finished puzzle.

What would it have been like? If when the brown boy was small playing tennis with his mother at Cabrillo park, he could have imagined being Serena instead of Tracy Austin?

He liked Tracy because of her size, the small pink perse of her mouth, her tough little pony tails, Pony tennis shoes and short triangular one piece dresses. He loved what the announcers called her moon balling, the way she hit the ball high and over the net, back and forth looping it deep against an opponent like Andrea Jaeger or Chris Everett Lloyd. Though the brown boy’s father taught him a one handed backhand for better reach and cleaner volleys, the brown boy switched to two because of the power he felt he could have stroking the ball, double fisted. It was as though he had no choice but to hit with two hands, to forget what his father taught him and to rear back and try to stroke the ball with the whole of Amelia Island, Tracy’s home town, behind him.

What would have happened to his small dreaming brown frame of body, if it did not pudge out into the impossible desire to be white, small and a girl like Tracy Austin? What if he could have seen Serena then, imagined invading her body, becoming her muscled frame, pounding the ball back into oblivion? What if he could have seen her powerful torque, unleashing and winning against all that booing at Indian Wells?

Still, he finds himself, while swimming, shaking his head forward and to the left, his fingers brushing aside an imagined blonde slick of chlorine water-logged hair, stuck then freed from in front of his eyes.

But he also remembers when he was six that his hair was straight; and even when dry, it lay flat on his head. There is a photo of him, his face covered by the gaping bottom of an RC paper cup stuck around his mouth. His hair, then, is straight and light brown, bleached by the sun, flat and just lying there. The quiet of this picture and the smoothed down curls that he palms down to his grown up head remind him, again, of who he is, and who he is not.












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