Thursday, August 19, 2010


...or Kickin-Round Dem Egg-Corns Out Ta Ole Micah's Cabin

a 2010 slave narrative
by "Ole Micah" Dennis Mooney

Udda day, I say ta Miss Vicky, "You know, I be leavin."

Miss Vicky say, "What you believe in? Y'always believin somethin." She laugh.

"No, I be goin down de road. I be leavin dis house. I gotta go fine some udda house to slave in."

"Oh!...My!" She get mo serious.

"Ole Massa, up dere on de third story, he doan want me heah no mo!"


Den I tell er all about it.


I say ta him, "Wassa matter, Ole Massa?"

He say, "Ole Micah, ya GOT ta go. Ya doan know how ta be wid dese peoples no mo. If ya eva did. Heh."

"Micah," he say, "ya bad fo de 'human-relay shuns.' Ya doan know how ta ack."


"Ya know, how ta be-have."

"I ain't bein a hayve?" Miss Elsie come in wid a cuppa tea for me, I say, "Thank ye, Miss."

"Udda day," he say, "one dem young hellcats, damn brat, she try ta punch ya real violent-like, and ya just sit er right down wid one swift grab a her arm."

"Well, Wassa matter dere?" Say I.

"Dat de 'brew-tally tea.' Ya know ya jes suppose ta take it. House Rules. Or duck, step back, somethin. Take a dive. Hell, fake ya own death."

"So, Massa? May I call ya Mista Rafey, suh? If she knock me right out, so I layin in de field wid a bloody face, dat okay wid de rules?"

He doan say nothin. (I known him since he practical a chile, an he a Ralph, so we all call em Rafey.)

"Din't I stop de violins? An end de dis-quiet? I prevent de mayhem. Dat what I do."

Den he say, "Ya gotta go."

"Wait! In dis work, I head up de groups in de fields, Ole Massa, an I been punched in de head 'nough different times I seeing spots still. Doc, he call em 'floaters.' Dat why I grab er arm. I 'de-mobilizen' it fo a quick New Yolk second."

"Cain't dat be in de rules?" I say

"We doan want any dat. No 'man handle.' "

"I been kicked, an in awful tender places. Been ruptcha'd. Had fingas broke. Dis one time Ole Doc hadta puntcha ma finga nail wid a red hot 'caught-yer-eyes-in' needle, ta let de blood out. I din't e'en say ow. I had bones in ma face cracked like a ole plate. 'Swhy I so funny lookin. Bet ya wonder 'bout dat, huh?"

"Never seen such reports," say Massa.

"Ya doan heah hardly nothin. Ya up heah in ya study."

"Been bit," I say, "Got a scar on ma right forearm, look like a shark snack on me. De scar, it white, all tore-up, like hard scrambley egg whites, an it doan tan in de sun. It look sick."

"Me, I jes take it! Get hurt," I say, " Doan even file a report, mose times. I like one dem no'then ice-hockey playas, go right back in de game."

"Tell it ta de judge, Micah," Massa say, "Down ta de courthouse. Maybe ya get a settlement."

"I e'en got a scar on ma behine, Massa, where one em get 'round behine me, as we rasslin em down."

"Go tell it in de courthouse." ..." Please."

"Got dese teeth marks on ma behine dat all purpley nasty--"



He say, "Ahem.." He look out de window an take a breath.

"Miss Clementina," he say, "who run de house real strict, she got de 'in-form mints' everywhere, ya know--"

"Y'ain't joshin dere. Dat Lil Missy Rick, over ta Cabin G in de fields, lil boyish thing, she turn me in ever chance she get, jes ta show she a better man dan me."

" --An Miss Clementina, she say dere's many times y'ain't bein propa an nice."

"I suppose."

"She say one time, some scraggly sleezick stole ya stuff, an ya wasna, ya know, a 'pro-pree-yate' to em."

I say, "Okay. Well, should he be stealin? Huh, Massa? What say ya, suh? "

He ignore ma 'torical-type query.

"Doan I have a right? Say, a right ta re-snatch ma stuff?"

He ignore Ole Micah some mo. He lookin away.

He say, "One time dis supercrazy person try ta clime right inta bed wid anudda just-sleepin person, ya pull her right out, an ya maybe bruise er wrist."

"Den I should be nicer, mo polite, to dem molestas an dem whaddycallits, 'hypersexuals' an freaks? Doan we draw de line nowhere now, suh?"

He doan say nothin.

Den... "Sorry... Ya gotta go, Ole Micah."

"What else ya got?" I say. He lookin at "a list from Miss Clem," he call it. An it a long one. Sheesh!

Mista Rafey, he say, "One time dis Ole Lady, she start sluggin at ya, an ya jes standin dere, stead a backin away. Ya shoulda gone back away, dat what we want. Why dis defyin?"

"Well, I musta been tryin ta stand er up straight a somethin. Cain't just drop er, ya know. She a 'gerry hat-trick.' "

"Miss Lawnacre say, no, ya slappin back at er."

"I deflectin! Like in de rules!"

"Miss Lawnacre!" I say. "Damn! She got slappin on de brain! Dat Miss Lawnie, she watchin too much 'Lawn Order, SVU.' "

I say, "She got photographs, de 'ever-dents,' or she think she do. Hell, maybe finga prints! Who know? She want ya ta think dat. She all over de scene. She Miss Lawnie on de spot! She gotta problem! And it ain't me. It HER."

Den I say, "I think she an 'abuse-mint victim,' an she see it in everythin. Fact, I certain."

(My real thinkin, she a Halloween creep, a walkin dead who'd turn yo head white if ya look right at er. She a freakin scary zombie who neva smile, 'cept in de rishun and bitta-ness. Yeck! Ole Lawnie, we call er, she look like she came right up outta de 'ternal lawn at de mouse-leeum.)


Mista Rafey, he say, takin his deep breath, "Now what we have in mine fo ya, Ole Micah, is de re-tire mint."

(He ignore what I jes done sed about Ole Scary Lawnie!)

Ole Colonel Yancy, de field massa, he sittin dere, an he say, "No, it don't make ya breath better, de re-tire mint. Heh, heh." He maybe Yance a lot when he lil. Known him fa-eva. He also dance a lot, prance a lot, nance a lot, fancy shmance a lot, back then. He tone it down some since. He always try ta tetch me on ma knee when we sit an talk at tea. I call dat de "perverser tea."

Mista Rafey, he say, "Ole Micah, ya hearda de 'social secure tea?' "

"I hearda chamomille. I doan get around much any mo."

"Dis special 'gum mint secure tea,' now dis give ya money, a lotta money, fo NOT workin."

"It welfare," he say, "but dignified. Ya know, fo de ole folk, like ya self. It give ya money fo de ressa ya life, Ole Man. Ya 63 now. It still give ya money at 93!"

"Shoot! Sign me up!" I say, "My Momma din't raise no idiots!"

He say, "Ya go down to dat Leo O'Brien Fed'ral Buildin on Broadway in de city. Ya tell em I sent ya."

Yancy, de overseer, say, "Ya go down dere, sign up, an dis whole list from Miss Clemmie, it just go away. Ya heah?"

I say, "Huh?"

He Yancin over ta da sideboard fo some tea. My! I glad we in public, among uddas! Miss Elsie comin in an out, bringin de tea fixins, some cakes, some cream, sugar cubes, spoons, napkins.

Ole Yancy add-in somethin. "Ya try ta hang around heah, try ta keep gettin by on ya looks, an dese complaints from Miss Clementina jes keep on comin, like a infantry chargin suicidal up a hill."

"Whoah!" say I.

He drop-in thee lumps an stuh, real wristy. "De battle's over, Micah," say Ole Yance, "tho no lethal shots been fired-- yet! Ya flag's full a holes, ya position's overrun."

Wow, he musta been a veteran a some kinda war. Well, he do work heah, I say ta ma self.

In my heart, then, I jes surrender, I plum give up.

I take my purchase on de table an push ma self up ta standin. "Mista Rafey, suh, I be headin de crews in dese fields fo 26 yeahs. Dat a long time. I ain't harmful. Ya know dat. I ain't neva done harm."

"Not what it say heah." He tap de list of complaints. He look up at me, dat tired look in his eye.

(Ole Rafey, he ain't got a 'vital function.' He doan know what's doin. An he ain't doin nothin! 'Cept actin like a 'thority figger. Figger head. He good at it, though, figgerin. I think he figgerin he got me where he want.)

"Ole Massa," I say, "I so gentle, slow and easy goin, de ducks doan skit away when I go by de pond. Dey think I maybe a tree, barely movin, but somehow closer. I say, 'Mornin Duckses,' dey say 'Whack,' an dey doan stir a'tall, 'cepta dry dey feathers. I like dat willer tree dere, out de window. I big, rooted, swayin weary-like in de winds and breezes."

I neva done say 'nother word ta Massa-- I jes go, take ma leave, close de door.

An dat my farewell, it my "valid diction."

Like in de big story by Mista Chas Dickens dat Miss Susan done read to us in de evenins by de campfire at harvest.

(Ole Missy Elsie, lookin extry-fetchin, she comin in an bringin Massa a Ole Grandad julep, an it comfort Rafey, when he sittin on he arse all day an lookin out de window a his compute-uh. He dreamin a de Carib-bein, where he wish he a bein.)

Yance say, "Now, like dat willer, ya sho could use a haircut, so ya look less, uh, shady. Heh heh heh."

De overseer, he walkin out aside me, ole Yancy-ass. We all call him Nancy, 'hine his back. He an ole faggot with yella-dyed hair, lookin like he think he Gen'ral Custa.

He proud a his "rapey-er wit," an he "wheeled it" like a soljah.

An I exit stage right, I "purse-sued" by de over-bear-er. Jes like dat Tale a Shakespeare dat Miss Sue read ta us also. (She stop an explain de words a lot. She hasta. Or it hardly make sense.)


So, Miss Vicky, she heah dis whole story a mine. She say, "Can ya get by, Ole Micah, on de 'social secure tea?' "

I say, "No, not truly, Miss Victoria, 'less I real careful an buy everythin at de Dollar Store, or Save-A-Lot, or A.J. Wright! Or dat Wally Mart bullshit! Plus I gotta young son who want ta go ta school. Tho he ain't nothin but a chucklehead. And school cost plenty."

She say, "What ya gonna do, Micah?"

"I'se a type who doan need much. I doan e'en listen ta de radio, I just hum. I amuse ma self, say, jes sittin on a bench, kickin de 'egg-corns' around while 'scussin de world's prob-ems, or smilin at de sun dat shine on de muddy waters where de river bend. I jes go fo walks an stop an visit wid who eva turn up. I doan need no Mercedes, nor e'en a bike. Jes a ole fishin pole." She smile at Ole Micah, she so kindly-like.

Den I say, "What I need from ya, Miss 'Toria, an all dem udda house slaves an field slaves on dis heah god-fo'saken fuckin plantation, an Lord knows dere's a whole big passel of em, I need a letter from ya's recommendin me to some udda house. Maybe some place where dey ain't so over-strict like heah, wid Miss Clementina."

"She a right crazy sour bitch," I say. "Course, I doan know er. Thought I did."


An I go on, 'susual:

"In de letter, Miss, ya should talk about me bein real nice, tho we all know I got my 'limitations,' as Miss Mariah says. (Her 'rizon's endless, tho, cuz she work like de devil hisself to get us in de hot water. Always cookin somethin up-- an it us!)"

"Ya should talk about me bein real energetic, a real go-getta, tho I may a slow down a step a two in de 'motivatin' department of late."

("Missy Nicky, she say, 'He only really do what he want.' Well, what she know anyhow? She wet behine de ear. Practical boan yestaday.")

"Ya should say I'm real organized, efficient-like, e'en downright fussy, if ya must say so ya self."

"An I could bring one a two 'fine assets' to some propa well-set-up-type 'organ-eyes zay-shun,' not like dis here."

"I'm a get-er-done kinda fella, tell em dat, Miss."

"I gotta supplement dem special secure tea monies wid some under de table cash a some kind. Some kinda hustle!"


Dat what I say, an Miss Tory, she so sweet, she smile. "My! Oh, Micah!" she say, "The way you go on!"


Disclaimer: All the actors in this pantomime are caucasian, suburban, managerial types. It is a memorandum of my being persuaded to retire in 2010 after 26 years of service in a psychiatric hospital. (No black workers of the psych facility are portrayed in this writing, nor black patients.) This is a story of organizational politics, of managers pushing a worker out of slavery-- of course he doesn't want to go!-- and into the freedom of "de re-tire mint." After writing this I realize, Good God Almighty! I am free at last! ~MDM


Reactions to Michael Dennis Mooney's new story...

"You done lost yo beautiful mine!" ~Dean Lee-Ron Squabell, St. Augustine Community College, dept. of lawn maintenance technology : "Yo mine done 'sploded all over de four walls a Uncle Tom's Cabin, which use been starin at too long! To take a leaf from Rhett Butler, baby, I doan give a freakin flyin f-stop if use re-tired. You ain't cool. An I'se disinvitin ya ta go raftin on de Missisip! It's too late ta 'pologize! Nah, doan say ta me, Sure, Lee-Ron. I tole ya doan call me Shirley-Ron! I doan like it! Cain't y' eva be jes a lil bit nice? Would it kill ya ta be nice?"

"Somehow your writing has become more distinctly offensive than usual." ~Pamela Natnyra Hottentot, adjunct in anal-explosive expressionsism, Russell Sage College. "If this is literature, well, then I'm a Hottentot."

"Is it lit? Is it not lit? These ain't no questions for lit crit! Of course, it's lit, 'slong as it's AHN FIAH! ~Mackey D. Maroney, founder, The Blind Art Critics Association.

~Bee Du Pre of Keeseville Central High School (condemned): "I like how you used everyone's real names to 'protect the innocent.' "

"Typical. Blame the victim." ~Bruce B., recently freed northern slave.

~Zack De Clerk, hospital disinfotech services: "Look, sport, keep your whining out of my in-box, 'kay, and, hey, no thanks for the night shift OT duty I had to pull in deleting this garbage from 400 other in-boxes before Clem got to work in the a.m. I'm glad you're retiring. And don't bother to respond, your e-mail privileges are cancelled..."

"Let me know if you are going to need bail. We don't want Mom to worry." ~Mark Mooney

~Drew Kurtin, Central Florida Univ., dept. of logical positivism and tree surgery: "Whatta they gonna do?! Fire ya?!"

~Ms. Jewely Jules Shining Eyes Great Girl, Sioux Reservation Charter School, Bismark, S.D.: "My sixth grade class plans to do this as a Parent's Day drama skit, 'SUBJUGATION IN THE FIELDS, THE STORY OF AMERICA.' But we want to take out the reference to 'Law And Order, SVU' if you'll permit. (We don't approve of postmodern pastiche in our presentations, as it confuses the young.) We're also thinking of cutting 'welfare,' 'hypersexuals,' --of course, 'bitch,' also the f-bomb-- plus the confusing reference to 'dat Wally Mart b.s.,' etc. You know, call me, because I feel sure I have a children's publisher that will make this into a play script for the schools. Residuals! Who knows, maybe income for life...?"

"Mike, we can't have you come into the building any more. Just turn in your keys and ID to the safety officer at the front desk, mail in your time sheets. Use up your vacation leave, and we'll send the paychecks to your place." ~Ellen Bernier, human services.

~Dr. Fairleigh Kronik: "Michael, I got this e-mail address from your ex-therapist, Gene. I think we could help you with a little prozac, some tranquilizers, and impulse regulators, maybe a lot of the latter at first, to, you know, cool your jets. I know you're used to seeing Pepe Alarcon, but we feel you'll need a stronger guiding hand. You could go for a 28-day stay at the place in Vermont you like, with the clay courts, the fireplace in the reading room. Brattleboro. Soon it'll be peak season! (For leaves, I mean, not mania). And your insurance covers."

"You people's crazier than, I don't know, wolverines or something. Damn!" ~Thompson "Machine-Gun" Mitchey, emeritus of the advanced studies colloquy, Institute for the (Very, Very) Nervous and Inadequate (INI).

Friday, August 13, 2010

On An Internet Scam

In the city of Lagos, Nigeria
Finance is just way superior!
There they have the rarest of banks
(For which we must give our thanks)
That will wire you a nifty eight mil
You simply follow their drill
Give them your bank account number
Remain cool as a cucumber
Awaiting further instructions
Authorizing wee smallish deductions
To cover the interest, you know,
On your lovely eight million to go
There'll be collect phone calls and faxes
More deductions to cover the taxes
Wait! If you do this you're noggin's number
Than the two guys from Dumb and Dumber

On August 12, 2010, NYTIMES.COM weblogger and op-ed columnist
Ben Schott gave us a peek into a criminal gang of Nigerians who account
for much of the phishing and scamming e-mails on the net. I wrote this piece
for Mr. Schott and sent it to him.

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