Scared To Death

by Trish Loucas

It was an event that I’m sure played out many days in the segregated South, during the 1960’s. That day started not like all the days. It was a day where Mama, my grandmother, told me that morning that my brother and I would be accompanying her and Daddy, my grandfather downtown. The reason being was that they had to see someone for business reasons. I’m sure she probably explained to me exactly what for, as she had a tendency to share with me, although only a child of maybe six or seven, any and almost all things that was going on in our lives. But I can’t recall this time what she told me it was about.

She cleaned us up; which involved washing us down with Ivory soap, combing and plaiting my hair, which Lord only knows, would never stay plaited more than a few hours at best. We were then dressed up in out best clothes, maybe our Sunday Church clothes, or our best summer sets. I can’t remember how we were dressed and I don’t think it was very important.

We arrived downtown in what was our two or three traffic light town.

Daddy parked the car and Mama told my brother and me exactly how they expected us to behave while we waited in the car for them to return. We were to stay in the car, not to get out for any reason, and not to talk to anyone, especially strangers. And so off they went telling us that they would return in minutes.

After entertaining each other with silly car games and visual play for what seemed liked hours my brother and me grew weary of each other’s company and sort of faded off into our own existence or our worlds.

Suddenly, there was a startling knock on one of the side windows. Since we were both occupying the rear seats we both scooted to the side where we saw a child peering in with an ominous stare. I couldn’t decide if the child was a boy or a girl because of its hairstyle. The hair was long in the front with a raggedy bang that half hid its eyes, and short in the back, so we assumed it was a boy. But upon looking it up and down, the little boy appeared to be wearing a skirt. This in itself caused us both great concern. The little boy with the skirt on motioned to us to roll down the back window. And since it was the segregated South Carolina during the early 60’s, we timidly, fearfully, and obediently rolled downed the back window.

He looked in the front seat and even made a gesture to look on the floor of the front seat; he looked on the floor of the back seat, and was satisfied that there was no one else in the car except my brother and me. He then looked at me and my brother, and asked, “You Niggers in here by yourself?” Which we obediently nodded yes, and knowing that his use of the “N” word could only mean that there was something scary, and foreboding was about to occur. Then the little boy in the little girl’s clothing asked, “Is Your Mama, and Daddy around”? Again terror struck at this point, we could barely speak, and only could manage a terror stricken nod of our heads. And then our faces transfixed on his pale skin, ash light hair, and ruby red lips which was a result from the bubblegum he obviously chewed, he announced very slowly, very matter of fact. “Well, I’m going to get my shotgun, and come back and kill you both.” And with that he calmly walked away, down the side street and out of sight.

Well needless to say my brother and I were terror stricken, looked at each other and then simultaneously started crying and screaming hysterically for Mama and Daddy. We screamed and yelled for Mama and Daddy for what seemed like hours and hours. We rolled up the windows in the car, locked the doors, and on cue we would both scream at the top of our lungs for Mama and Daddy to please come and save us because this boy in a girl’s skirt was going to return and kill us. After what seemed like an hour, either I or my brother or the both of us wet our pants. After what seemed like another hour, our grandparents finally showed up. They calmed us down, admonished us for being so foolish, and especially for wetting our pants, and we drove home.

Scared To Death by Trish Loucas

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