Mission of Vengeance
Fraser Island, Australia
When we walked into the locals’ huge canvas tent, there were three of them. I knocked the overhanging gas light to the side as my eyes adjusted in on The Fat Slob. He was relaxing in an aluminum chair, like he hadn’t gotten up to move in over a century. His stomach was so large from overeating and drinking that it spilled out from underneath his holey plaid shirt like white mud. The curly hair on his stomach reminded me of a black stain running down the middle of it, and by the looks of his tan shorts they were on too tight. He was balding as well and hadn’t shaved in a few days, his cruddy black beard hiding whatever bugs that lived in there. With his rather bummy appearance I knew that he didn’t smell like a spring chicken either.
He sat there drinking a can of Hahn Ice, staring at it like it was his woman. Perhaps he just got finished telling it something intimate? His blue bug eyes looked in my direction and when he saw me, a smirk of recognition came upon his face.
The Short Guy was cooking the burgers. He was dressed just like The Fat Slob, except he was below average height. He looked like a total redneck, his worn-out 4X hat blocking his eyes as he stared down on his burgers, broiling on the charcoal grill. He seemed to be saying something to the Fat Slob as we walked in. He did a glance at me, then a double-take, and looked very confused.
The third one, I’ll call him Pinhead, was a bit tall and thin. He looked like he was related to the Fat Guy, possibly a younger brother. He had a long, elongated head, shaped like a peanut.
Looking just as sloppy as the others, he was humming a song playing on a small radio on the floor behind him. He was sharpening a huge knife to fillet a freshly caught fish on a folding lunch table. There were bloodstains on his T-shirt and jeans, admitting not that he was a serial killer, but that he had filleted up a few other fish earlier in the night. A look of shock came on his face as soon as I entered his airspace. The sharpening of his knife slowly ground to a halt. Now, I had been getting these looks all down Australia thus far. I mean, there were a lot of people I had met in Oz by that time who had never met a Black American before, let alone a Black American from the Bronx. My skin and looks by that time were quite a show; Aussies all over wanted to chat me up, and were genuinely curious as to what life was like for me back in The States. So I wasn’t alarmed about their reactions to me.
But I should have been about these three.
Victor started up. “Hey everyone, how’s it going? So we’re here for some cold beer, yeah? We brought some as well, though they aren’t as cold as the ones you have in your refrigerator.”
The Fat Slob leaned back in his chair, a smile exposing his stained brown teeth. “Oy, no worries mate. Help yourself to the beer in the fridge outside, they’re heaps.” He rose from his chair, and I immediately had the thought that it would stick to his ass like what I used to see on the Benny Hill Show. But it didn’t.
He waddled over to us, belly leading the way, introducing himself to us individually. When he got to Lisa, we all watched his wandering eyes turn into X-ray mode, scanning her up and down as she stood there with a bright smile on her face. With her big boobs spilling out of the one-piece swimsuit she wore, we could see his mind running a nasty fantasy of violating her every which way for a few moments. Lisa didn’t care though. I think she liked the attention! She just stood there, greeting him as if he were harmless.
Then this harmless humanoid came to me.
He extended his hand, smile on his face. “What’s your name – nigger???”
That totally caught me off-guard. What did he just call me?
“What did you just say?”
His smile was even brighter than before. “What’s your name?” Everyone’s head turned towards me just then. Pinhead and the Short Guy just stood there, big smirks on their faces. Soon they started giggling under their shirts.
“It’s Mo… and it’s definitely not nigger!” Not even shaking his hand, I turned around and stormed out of their tent. My mind was reeling. I felt like I had just been hit in the stomach. How the hell did this chump just come out with that? I quickly went back into the tent, motioning Raider and Victor to follow me out, while the others stayed inside.
“Dude, did you just hear what he just called me?”
“Yeah Mo, I’m sorry.” Vic said. “That’s really fucked up. Maybe we should go in there and attack them?”
“No, let’s not do that,” I said. “These dudes must have knives. Did you see the size of the fillet knife that guy had in the tent? If one of us gets stabbed we’ll more than likely bleed to death. Knowing my luck, it will be me. The next ferry to Fraser doesn’t come until tomorrow anyway.”
“So what are you going to do?” Vic said. I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t going to be meek about this. “You have to do something, man. You just can’t let someone get away with that by saying that to you.”
I was really flabbergasted for a few moments. To say that to a Black American man in the States meant death. I didn’t care for the fact that black people call themselves that when using street slang. Controversial as it may sound, it’s used as a form of appreciation. But I never used the word. The fact that it was a word made by slave masters to identify us was reason enough for me never to use it at all.
Now, I could’ve been a peacemaker and walked back in, explaining why he shouldn’t have called me that. But I didn’t feel like it. Besides, why did he call me that name for anyway? C’mon, they couldn’t be THAT dumb not to know I wouldn’t be offended. Those were fighting words.
Everyone knows that Aussies are world travelers. They are so aware of what goes on around them – especially in the USA. They kept on surprising me every time I met them down the coast of Australia by then. They always knew some black history to throw back at me, which I found shocking. Proving to me once more that as Americans, we ought to be ashamed of the fact that the rest of the world is so aware of us – yet we’re not so aware of them. So I thought for a minute. If most of the Aussies knew some Black American history, even a fragment, then these dudes may know what was just said to me. And by their reactions, they seemed to know exactly what it meant.
Hmph. To be honest, I just didn’t feel like being a peacemaker. They wanted a fight. Okay, I would give them one. But in a sly way.
Read Part 4