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Hell is Hot, and the Promised Land Ain't Far


By Joyce Lott


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"Aw Mama not that anything but that," Jimmy bawled.

"Jimmy Lee Boy I done told you about being down yonder in them woods, you know them weeds is top thick to step over."

Mama poured some alcohol onto a rag. "Now be still boy don't wanna get none a dis in ya eyes," Mama focused hard on the cut to make sure none got in Jimmy Lee's Eye.

The year was 1925 and like any other place Louisiana was having it's share of racism, and segregation. The men were underpaid, and the women the same. Jimmy Lee was only twelve, but he was familiar with what happened when black folks did something the white folks didn't like. It had happened to his uncle, his cousin, and now his daddy.

Daddy was strong, and never backed down when the white folks called him Nigger or boy. He was a tall man six feet or more, with piercing eyes and a jawbone strong as an ax head. Daddy was chestnut brown, with big strong arms, and a smile that came rarely. Daddy had only refused to get off the sidewalk for a white lady carrying a bag of groceries. When she spilled them, two white men nearby said Daddy had made her spill them on purpose. Daddy did not die from the beating he was given; it only seemed to make him stronger, and even more determined than before. 

Miss. Angel was in the back room nursing on daddy with one  of her herbal medicines, and her Bible verses. Not only was she the medicine woman, everybody knew that the old woman was the queen of the blackmagic. She was what they called a "twoheaded" She could tell you things that only you knew about yourself, and she also gave potions to women in the city having marital problems, or whoever wanted to receive them.

Jimmy Lee was afraid of the old Woman, and the way she hummed and talked to herself. She was a witch and he knew to stay away from her. Angel emerged from the back of the house shaking her head. Mama met her in the door.

"What's the matter, Miss. Angel, everything alright?" Mama looked expectant.

"You know child It would do me a bit of good if I could lie to ya---but I can't. I'ma tell you now straight and narrow, them white boys ain't through with Calvin. They's comin' back, soon," She patted mama on the hand and headed for the door.

"Alls I can tell ya is pray child. God is all who can help ya now," She slowly went down the steps. Mama had a worried look on her face, she knew in the past the old woman had never been wrong, and this was one time she prayed she was. 

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