The Fear Within
The most harmful thing about fear is fear itself.
In fright, men tend to lose insight because the
fear blinds them to possible options. Defeat is
what no one wants...but if defeat is the only option,
still, a plan should exist to, at least, keep life
going, for without life, there is, indeed, nothing...
Major was in his midthirties. He had lived in Los
Angeles for the latter part of his life. He was
born in a small rural town in Alabama. When he left
there, he had sworn that he would never come back.
However, something had happened which drove him back
to the Dixie. After living in Los Angeles for
about fifteen years, all of a sudden he longed to
be back home. Life was going so fast in L.A. that
he thought his little hometown would give him enough
time to slow down. Major desired peace, and his
sentiment was that rural Alabama would be a place
It only took a short while for him to realize that
his move from the West Coast to Alabama would be
more bothersome. All the landmarks were the same,
but the mood and the character of the people had
changed. Many of his childhood buddies were gone,
and there was a brand new breed; most of them were
young gangsters all strung out on something- drugs,
thievery, murder, you name it.
Soon, he began to feel displaced. This was not the
place he had known. He should have not expected
things to be the same, only because change is always
constant...He was sitting at the neighborhood boot-
legger's house. All the drunkards were sitting around
drinking moonshine and smoking pot. Big Joe, the
neighborhood joker was talking. There was a lot of
laughter and gaity in the air. Everybody was in-
toxicated, and most of them came to the bootlegger's
house to 'jank' and joke with Big Joe.
"Who knows what picnic really means?" Big Joe asked
as he sipped out of his cup of moonshine.
Reb, the local preacher, said- "Tell us what picnic
"It means picking niggers," Big Joe said.
Everybody laughed, except Major. He did not find
Big Joe's comment amusing.
"What's yur problem, boy?" Big Joe asked.
"I don't have a problem," Major replied.
"Yes, I'm sure," answered Major.
"You been gone too long," Big Joe said.
"Maybe, I've been down south too long," Major coun-
"What do dat suppose to mean?"
"It doesn't mean anything," Major said.
"Listen to him," Big Joe said. "He's so proper."
Everybody in the room laughed.
"What's wrong with you, boy?" Big Joe asked. "You
think you better than us. I remember when I would
spank your little black ass."
"You don't have anything else to do?" asked Major.
"Look, boy," Big Joe said. "I'm just trying to have
a good time. What's your problem?"
"You," Major answered.
They were all having a good time just to pass the
time away. It was Major who had the choice; no
one dragged him to the bootlegger's house.
"Young nigger," Big Joe said. "I used to change
"Wait one minute!" Major said. "Don't call me nigger."
"What?" Big Joe exclaimed. The room became very
quiet. Everyone was taken aback, and they all wanted
to see what would happen next.
"Brothers! Brothers!" the Reb said. "We're just
having a good time. Let's not spoil it for every-
"But, Reb," Big Joe said. "Dis lil nigger is trying
ta be uppity. We need to put'em in his place."
"Don't call me nigger," Major repeated.
"What's wrong, young brother? He's only janking
with you," Reb said.
"That's the problem with you people," Major said.
"All you do is jank with people."
"Look," Reb said. "All we are doing is just having
a good time. That's all."
"Sure," Major countered. "I'll tell you what. Y'all
just have your good time. But, I'm getting the hell
out of here." He stood up and left the room and
started for the door...He carried a burden. It had
nothing to do with Big Joe and the others. It had
something to do with himself, and what he'd done in
L.A...There was no escape...not from himself...
He walked down the dark dirt road which led to his
house. Thoughts of the past haunted him. It was
cold on that night as he walked in the darkness.
This was a familiar road; for he'd known it since
his youth. All the sounds were familiar- whistling
birds, barking dogs, and the sound of the train
passing nearby. Then! Suddenly! Three youths jumped
out of the darkness. One yelled- "Let's get'em!"
Immediately, Major stood in defense ready to deal
in hand to hand combat. A fight was to ensue. Major
had studied martial arts, but he looked at the three
thugs. One of them was swinging a baseball bat, the
other had a long silver knife, and the other was so
big, black,and ugly that his ugly could offer a
death blow! Major took flight! He ran down the
dark road like a bat out of hell! When he looked back,
all he could see was dust. Soon he was at his small
framed house. He pulled the keys from his pocket
and opened the door. He locked it behind him. "Damn!"
He whispered. He was breathing heavily, and he could
taste his salty sweat as it dripped down his face.
He knew that sometimes retreat can defy defeat.
There would be another time; next time he would be
ready, because, then, he decided to carry his little
.25 at all times.
Bob was one of Major's idols when they were growing
up. But, the events of time had placed Bob in a
wheel chair. He had been hit by a train which left
him paralyzed from the waist down. Bob was 'bad'
in his day. All the young boys in the 'hood' once
admired and respected him. Bob was the only one
anybody in this little town who could get pot or any
other illegal drugs. Major remembered when he would
spend hours, day after day, at Bob's house...The
next day he visited Bob...
"What's wrong with these little hoods down here?"
"Crazy man. They all crazy." Bob said.
"Three of them tried to jump me last night."
"What did you do?" laughed Bob.
"I ran like hell."
"Oh, you was scared of them."
"I was outnumbered."
"Looks like you're just a scared punk," Bob smiled.
"You really think so?" asked Major.
"I know so."
"I see." Major was, indeed, scared when those
three thugs tried to jump him. But, fear is part
of survival. Without it there would be a lot of
dead men dying over triviality. They say cowards
die many lives, while the brave dies only once. Huh.
Buncombe. If one dies many deaths,he must have many
ives...Major found this out when he was a hit man
for one of the gangs in L.A. He was a paid assassin.
That's something he couldn't talk about in this little
rural town in Alabama.
"I was just kidding," Bob said. "I jest wanted to
get next to you. That's all an invalid like me can
do these days. I remember you being a hell of a
dude. I guess if I had legs to run with, I would
have ran my own self."
"Stop knocking yourself."
"Bob don't knock hisself. I'm knocking you," he
"Well, have your fun."
"Man, what have you been doin' with yourself? You
look like a movie star. You shor took care of your-
self. What's your secret? Women?"
"Definitely not women." Major didn't know that this
would be the last time he would see Bob alive. Bob
was all that he had to bridge the gap between where
he had come and where he had been...
Only a few days passed when Major decided to visit
Bob again. As he approached the little framed house,
he saw three youths run out of Bob's house. They
were the same ones who jumped him on the dirt road!
Major pulled out his gun and rushed toward the house.
He found Bob lying in a pool of blood. He was dead;
he'd been bludgeoned and stabbed to death! The thugs
had ransacked the house. A useless and merciless
killing. Of course, he knew the feeling of taking
a life; he had killed many, but his victims never
had to suffer. Their deaths were always instant
and precise. A bullet to the head was all it took
to put an average hood to rest. But, this was not
justifiable...Major ran out of the house; he had
enough troubles of his own. He walked up and down
the country roads. This time if those three thugs
made a move on him, it would be their last move on
Now, he was definitely alone, because this little
town had changed. All he had to deal with was him-
self, and time. He needed the time; there was no-
where else to reside. He realized that here is
where he would have to reflect...He continued to
walk on this cold winter evening until the sun began
to disappear into the darkness. As the sun lost its
light for the night, Major could see the full moon
illuminating the dark paths which he had chosen to
follow. He knew the roads, and he knew where they
led. Although the same frame houses were still in
place, the residents were from a different lot which
made him a stranger in his own hometown. There was
nowhere else to go, except to the bootlegger's house.
Major chose a dark corner to sit in at the bootlegger's
house. He had bought his drink , and he sat quietly.
Big Joe and Reb were not there yet, but he was sure
both would arrive soon. Major sipped out of his cup while
his thoughts were in L.A. His last hit, that was what
he was thinking about. He shot the man he was after,
but a little child got in the way. Major fired one shot
while his victim was holding his baby. He missed the
victim on the first shot, but the second shot was on
target. The first shot killed the child!
The three hoodlums who had killed Bob walked into
the bootlegger's house. They were smoking pot blunts
and they were laughing and joking about something.
Major saw them as he sat in the darkness. They were
too high to notice Major. He watched them. He de-
cided that it was time "to get it on." Not at the boot-
legger's house, it would have to be in the darkness
where there would be no witnesses. Major waited
for them to leave. He followed them.
They were still laughing and joking as Major followed
them down the dirt road. Major began to walk faster
in order for them to notice him. He had to allow
enough time to get in an area which was deserted
"Hey, you!" one of them shouted.
Major stopped while holding his gun to his side. He
asked- "You talking to me, punk?"
"What?" one of them said. "Let's kick his ass!"
The three thugs charged toward Major!
With the light of the full moon, he saw them all. Major
raised his gun and fired three times! All three of them
fell to the ground. Major rushed over to check their
bodies. Two of the boys were dead, but the big, black
ugly one was crying and moaning. Major rushed over
"Bitch!" spatted the big ugly one.
Major shot him in the head and kept walking.
Copyright © 2000 Musau