"Where I come from, wey don like your kind" she said to me looking into my deep brown eyes, like I was a demon or something. "What are you doing, in my office then" I exclaimed. "Comin to see the pretty black boy, that's what". While she demolished a leaf of my pretty plant, it's green leaf, getting lines,and juice coming out,of it, in between her fingers. I had paid a dollar, for that nice plant, but looked steadily at her hands ruining it. "At fourty dollars an hour" I asked, in shock, of her answer, of my question, about what she wanted of me. Wondering why she was here, if she didn't like me already, but secretly flattered, by the pretty boy comment. My grandmother, had always called me pretty too.
"My boyfriend picks with you, in the summer, she said to me. " Oh, I replied. " This is what I do, for a living, here in the office, I pick rocks with Jed, yes I do, but this what I'm trained for, helping people with their problems". "Help me like yer kind" she said. " I certainly will" I said, beseeching her eyes, that would not meet mine again. Her face was red and so was mine. Embarrassed to understand my own mind at that time. Yes, my first year in " Hicksville".
I was arrested almost, for standing in front the grocery store. Waiting for my checkered taxi cab, to pick me up. The "Good Good Mart" manager said he didn't know if I stole anything or not,he told the beat policeman, right in front of me. The police that came to question me, looked at me, then at the owner, then back at me, like we were both idiots. Not just the belligerent owner. My first week in "Hicksville". Was I mad?! Was I mad crazy, for moving here, or just mad angry? I paid my good money, for my produce, I purchased. Money I earned, from picking rocks, for the farmers in the fields, paid for my food. This I did as a supplement to my income, as I couldn't afford much, on my councillors wage. Since people,didn't seem to like black people around this small back woods town. Maybe these hillbillies, would get the best of me? I wanted to use my mind, in my career, I wanted to help people. I didn't realize then, that I needed help in " Hicksville too. The town taught me appreciation in the end.
I was a handsome black man,and many people accepted me, for my good looks. Many didn't. I wanted to see, what it would be like to be white, but my grandmother taught me to hold my head up high. " Be proud of who you are, and where you come from my son" she would say, hugging me goodbye, for the thousandth time in my life. She was a good grandmother, and a jem, straight out of Africa. She wore all traditional clothing, I didn't. She looked great in it. I wanted to dress American style, to blend in.
This new town, was hostile. They would avoid my eyes, and hurry by. One little girl said " hi mister, what colour is your blood" I laughed at this question. Out of the mouths of babes. I guess she thought my black ebony skin, had a different colour of blood. I was raised to believe, we all have the blood of Christ, and the little ones comment, was a laugh only I understood. Her mother grabbed her arm, and drug her away from me, as fast as she could. I told my grandmother, of the conversation with the girl, she laughed the whole time, I told her of it. " Son your a card, no one else can draw", she would say to me, on our weekly phone calls that occurred, since I had moved to "Hicksville".
Our second visit, was better than the first one. " Don like your kind" girl was softening up to me. She turned every session into a question period about my life. I told her what I ate, where I went to school, college and all about my grandmother. She finally said one day to me at the end of our session, ," I was raised racist, but yer just a human". I laughed at her, as hard as I laughed, at the little girl,with the blood colour. " Yes, I replied, I" I'm only human like you." She looked me in the eye now, and finally told me that she couldn't find a job that she could keep, and wondered why. The barrage of questions about me, had ceased. we were onto her problems. I calculated, about a hundred and sixty dollars later, that after she got to know I was just a normal guy. Now, she started telling me her own problems.
I was getting busier and busier in my practice. I stopped going to the fields, with the white guys, to pick rocks, for the farmers. They all said goodbye when I quit and had a big lunch for my goodbye. With roasted bison, and something called boiled stinging nettle, and boiled new baby potatoes straight from the garden. I told them, that if I slowed down at my office, I would come back and help them save their combine bottom, oil pans from the rocks. I would miss my weekend workouts, on the farms with them. Their wives were always generous, and kind to me.
I was in need of a receptionist now. I was busier, than I had ever been, in my old home town. It was like many of them came in, to talk about me. I always shifted the conversation around to them, and they left feeling like I cared about their dillemmas. I really did, and many people on the street, said hello to me now. I was getting to be a respected member of Hicksville, as I called it.
The young woman, who couldn't keep a job,asked me one day if I would hire her. I agreed, and told her to start on Monday. She warmed up to me, and put whole new perspective on this town. She taught me, that the Town Fair in the summer, was a big deal. Her ma's prize winning bread, was a big deal. First prize every year, it won. She taught me that the owner of " Good Good Mart" was a small minded jerk. He had fired her, after, he had pinched her butt everyday, for two weeks. I now shopped, at her cousins grocery store, "Fresh Foods". She taught me, that, the people just wanted to know someone different, and that if you were the same inside, they would love you. If you loved their kindness, they loved you. The free food that the town brought me, ducks, they hunted every year, and cleaned themselves, garden vegetables, bison, moose sausage, fresh peaches and cream corn in the husk. She liked my kind now, and I stopped calling it "Hicksville". Im in my sixties now, and my receptionist has been with me, for thirty years. She kept her job. I learned what community meant. She learned, that we are all people. My practise, is booked solid. I am a well respected, only black man, in town and, very happy with my life. Raven, is not "Hicksville" anymore it's my home. The people taught that they are just people too. The people in "Hicksville" turned it into "Raven", my home forever.