Before Danny Blue could recognize the red dreadlocks or pale green eyes of Mason Zeller, his co-worker had shook him gently by the shoulder and placed a camcorder in front of his face. A grin of seemingly unbearable pleasure stretched his mouth as he looked in the focus viewer.
“This is great, all these scared-ass people and this old man rappin’ folk history knowledge!” His focus remained on the camera as he turned toward the old man while simultaneously speaking to Danny Blue. “Man what chu doin’ out here walkin’ bro, hurricane George comin’ up here like a dungeon master with a whip and chains, gon make Froggtown scream like a horror movie extra, know what I’m saying D-Boy?”
Mason’s hand remained on Danny Blue’s shoulder while his attention remained on the old man. He got a quick shot of a policeman moving through the crowd.
“Maybe they did something like this back in ancient Rome,” the old man continued,” but I ain’t never heard about it. Maybe they might’a done it in Timbuktu, who am I to say?
"All I know for sure is that they did it in old Bubbaville without no kind‘a shame at all. When they heard the Union soldiers was on their way, the men of Bubbaville went and got the women of Bubbaville. Black and white both. And they lined up the white womens on one side of Champion Boulevard and the black womens on the other side of Champion Boulevard.
“They made the womens turn their bee-hinds to the road and bend over with they dresses up and their bee-hinds showin’. So that way, when the soldiers come into the town they’d be more interested in fornicatin’ than fightin’. So there those womens was: a row of pink and white bottoms on one side of the street and a row of black and brown bottoms on the other side. Now most’a those women was good people, bendin’ over with tears on their faces and cryin’ their hearts out. But the whores among them just kept fussin’ bout who was gon pay them. Glory be to Gawd, where the shame at?! Well this is what happened––”
The Books of Rubin Tyler Mitchell III’s
Daddy and Granddaddy
“Sir!” yelled out Mason, “You mind if I ask what book you got all this information out’a?”
“Book!? Book!? Boy my name is Rubin Tyler Mitchell III and I’m eighty-eight years old. You wanna know what book I learned the truth out’a? I learned it out’a the book of my daddy, Rubin Tyler Mitchell Jr., who was ninety-eight when he died. And I learned out’a the book of my granddaddy, Rubin Tyler Mitchell the first, who was a hundred and two when he died. And I learned it out’a the book of my own eighty-eight years livin’ and breathin’ right to this moment. What I’m tellin’ you right now, is what they called the first story of the first time the frogs come and saved the town that used to be Bubbaville and that in time would become Froggtown. Sure enough, the Union soldiers was comin this way and the men of Bubbaville was usin’ their women’s virtue to try to save their town when something happened that nobody counted on.”
“What? All the soldiers turned out to be gay?”
“Gay? Oh you mean chaps of the enchanted brotherhood. Well I’m sure some of ’em was bein’ soldiers an all but that ain’t what happened. What happened was the frogs came croakin’ out’a the swamp and the road on the outskirts of Bubbaville turned as green and yellow as the heaving sea. One might think, ‘so what?! They just frogs.’ Much more than hundreds. Multitudes of ’em. And not the kind you find in just any old pond on any old day.
“Every single one’a dem frogs had double yellow stripes on their backs and it was death by poison just to touch one. So poisonous they was that Indian warriors used to rub their arrowheads on the frog’s backs if they wanted to make sure an enemy was gonna stay down once they shot him.
"Touching one frog accidentally might make a man real sick for a time and leave him lame or blind. It don’t take much to figure what happened when those frogs covered up the road and the Union soldier horses slipped and the soldiers fell wallowing in that river of living poison. Before they could realize what was happening, half of ‘em was on the ground paralyzed with their mouths open and their swollen tongues stickin’ out like thumbs. They was dead before they knew they was ‘bout to die.”
“Wow! You gettin’ this Danny Blue?”
“What?” The mention of frogs had made him think about the one in his back pack, about what would happen if he ate it.
“The old man. Talkin’ bout how Froggtown got named Froggtown.”
“Valerie told me.”
“Valerie? Oh, yeah, I’m sor–– Oh! Oh! Dude! Check this out, that guy who used to work at the store in the book department was out here looking for you awhile ago. What’s his name, Duke Ellington or something like that?”
“Ellison. His brother’s name was Ellington.”
“No shit!? His brother was Duke Ellington?”
“No. One is Ellington and one is Ellison.”
“Oh yeah? Ellison and Ellington. They twins or somethin’?”
“Used to be.”
“This old man’s really gettin’ off talkin’ bout the South way back when.”
NEXT: The Angel with the Frogs on His Shoulders
zPed Music Player Bonus Story Tracks
© Feb 24, 2016