welcome home

We sat on opposite sides of the 4-lane highway waiting for the red light to change. I sat in my air-conditioned white rental car with my left turn signal blinking green on the dashboard. I was on my way back to my North Carolina family home, where I had been secluding myself to write my book. I had just spent the last couple of hours staring at a theater screen, a break from staring at my computer screen all the hours before. He sat shirtless in a black pickup truck that sat high off the ground. His hair was long and brown and stringy like that of the woman sitting in the passenger seat. A black metal frame rose from just behind the cab to meet in the center to raise one pole like a church steeple. From that pole in a breeze that didn’t make the air feel any cooler billowed a confederate flag back and forth as if it was waving to me.

When the light flicked from red to green I inched forward and waited to make my left turn as the shirtless man in the black pickup truck began to drive straight across the intersection. My eyes squinted from the yellow sun high in the Carolina blue sky.

“Yeeee-hahhh!” I heard a male voice shout through my closed window as our cars met. Out the corner of my eye I could see his left fist punching the sky just beyond his window in a silent cheer. I didn’t turn my head more to make eye contact and see in his eyes the Southern pride that suddenly came upon him the moment he saw my brown face. My instinct was to keep still while the reckless, blaming, ignorant, entitled one implying that I was the nigger passed me by.