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NOVEL

The African Gentleman


…and The Plot to Re-establish The New World Order


A Novel by Fred Beauford


Chapters 30-31


30

When you have a girlfriend as smart as Gladys, you start feeling grateful, while slightly intimated. Knowing her these past few months has turned out well, because it has greatly improved, and made my life much more interesting, not to mention the hot sex and heady, provocative reading. One thing, however, I quickly learned about her was that she was not very talkative. Lucky for me I have the African DNA of yakety yak. Only the mighty Irish come close to us.

I could have been a mean rapper if I had been born 40 years ago; or Othello, if I had been born 400 years before that.

Gladys once gave me a hint as to why she kept whatever it was that was percolating inside of that highly fertile mind so close to her inner self.

I had praised her, something I loved doing because she reacted so well to compliments, especially concerning her work as a novelist.

In the spirit of full disclosure, when I made my carefully placed compliment, I was looking forward to another hot night in bed with her, and felt that this was a far better way to get her in the mood than several bottles of white wine and a fat joint.

“Man, I wish I had a mind like yours. Ideas just seem to pop off with ease.”

She smiled a thin little smile and let out a small, barely discernable sigh. “That’s nice of you to say, but it is not with ease, as you say. Not with ease. You have to hold tight to those little devils until they pop, as you say. It’s the holding on tight that’s the problem.”

As always, part of what she had to say offered more questions than it answered.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked.

“Well, just that.”

That was all I was able to get from her, but all at once I thought I understood. Talking too much allowed ideas to escape into the world, half-baked, never to be able to be used again and developed to their full potential. Rather stay tight-lipped, hold them close, and allow them to build to such an intensity that they just pop onto the page.

Yes, I got it. I understood. Maybe that is also why such a good looking, warm, sexual person had spent so much of her life without a real companion, and why sometimes when we slept together, she would hold on to me so tightly that I felt that she was afraid that I would get up and leave her, and never return.

What that also meant was that I was going to be the one to have to carry the verbal burden, with her answering with short, often insightful little bursts of conversation.

31

Other than me, her elderly father and Morris, the cat that thinks he’s her husband, there was one other important man in Gladys’ life: Eric, her editor and publisher. She had introduced me to him at a rather swanky cocktail party in The Village that he hosted.

I noticed him immediately as soon as we entered his large, well-furnished, art-filled living room within walking distance of my place. This was a brilliantly realized living space, far better than anything I could afford; or even if I could, be able to pull off with such dash and aplomb.

Even artsy, creative Liz Gant would be hard pressed to top this!

Eric was standing in a crowd of four, all women, and all very much shorter than him. He was well dressed in the 20th Century style of striped shirts with white collars, fancy, solid colored, bold looking ties, and of all things, matching pants and jacket that they once called suits.

As old fashioned as it was, I still I liked the look, and it looked especially good on him. However, I still stuck stubbornly to my geek style that replaced the suits and ties so many years ago.

It was clear that Gladys’ stylish friend held sway over the women as they seemed to dote on his every pronouncement. I watched as he threw back his head in a loud laugh, while the women all smiled upwardly at his witty observation, whatever it was.

“I see Eric’s holding court again,” Gladys observed.

“Which one? Let me guess? That one? The tall, handsome African American, with the huge fan club?”

I pointed over to where Eric was standing.

Gladys just laughed. “Well, he does know how to take over a room, that’s for sure.”

“It also doesn’t hurt that he owns the room,” I added.

I had been hearing about Eric almost from the time we met, but had yet to meet him. He called her often. Each time she would excuse herself from me and go off with her private phone and spend many minutes talking to him.

Eric looked over and spotted us. I watched as he skillfully extricated himself from the women who had entrapped him in their circle of admiration, and made his way over.

He gave Gladys a big hug, wrapping his long arms around her and pulling her to him tightly. “Well, well, my favorite writer finally decided to be social for a change.”

I could tell right away that he was a real African American. He had fair, mocha colored brown skin, and light brown eyes. A large mustache covered his upper lip, and when he spoke to Gladys, his light brown eyes twinkled playfully, and his quick smile charmed her even more.

***

I knew so few African Americans. There are plenty of black people like me in the city, but I am not really an African American. My mother came from Trinidad. She met my father in The City. He was from coastal West Africa.

Liz Gant also had a similar background, except both of her parents were from the Islands. Her father was as mixed race as most African Americans and Hispanics, at least the ones I had met. Her mother came from an area in West Africa, further inland from my parents’ ethnic group. Her father was from the Bronx, who came to her island for a vacation, and never left until he had found his long sought after black bride.

“You are my second white girlfriend,” I once teased her, although she hardly looked white, but rather medium brown.

She looked at me as if I was somewhat daffy. I could hear her thinking: “As black as you are, I guess everyone looks white.”

Still, in the end, Liz Gant and I were the vast majority in the city, as far as black people were concerned.

The African Americans have all but disappeared, or are so highly placed, that they are harder to meet than someone from the North Pole. I have also met few so-called WASPs like Gladys, and my beloved Angel.

Angel once vigorously objected to my calling her a WASP.

“I am a Scan,” she replied coldly, making one of those sudden changes she was well practiced in, often scaring me half to death, while swearing silently that I would never go out with another actor.

“What’s a Scan?”

“My people are from Norway and Sweden. WASPS are from England. There is a difference. For one, we are real blonds, not that store bought shit. The problem is people like you think that everyone with white skin is a WASP. Next thing you know, you will be calling Jews WASPS!”     

*** 

I often imagined what it would be like for her and Liz Gant to meet one day, and compare notes about a vain former actor. They both knew how--with a few well-chosen words, or with merely a small glance--to question my very existence.

Thank God I have such a strong ego, imparted mainly by my beloved parents, who loved the country from the moment they stepped foot on its sacred soil, and told me to love and protect it; and, they always told me that I was a prince of a fellow, and I believed them, God rest their souls.

Because of that, I believe that I am still a “damn good” actor, and I once again will have my moments on stage.

***

Gladys had no such objections to be being called a WASP. She told me her family on both sides had lived in Southern California since the 1850s.

“My Grandmother Giselle used to always tell me about her Grandmother Vickie. They called her “The Queen of Oranges.”

“So, you come from royalty?”

“Well, if you call being descended from one of the largest independent orange growers in Southern California, royalty, then that’s me. I often wonder what it was like for Vickie back then. It must have been kind of neat living off the land like that.”

Both WASPS and African Americans intrigued me, perhaps because they could tell me stories like that. Stories that took them and me far back into New World history. A lot has been written and talked about on the chat shows about the first generation of immigrants, but little about people like me.

We weren’t as grateful and wide-eyed as our parents. What were we to make of the New World, and where did we fit in? As I looked at Eric I could see from his features and skin tone that he had a rich history to tell of slaves and slave masters sneaking around in the dead of the night in some hot, steamy, lonely patch of land somewhere north, south, east and west, making a new breed of human being.

Perhaps this is why people like Gladys and Eric seem to me to be the only true New World people. And, I should also confess, I get a real kick out of watching Gladys’ pasty white body, and my dark black body, intertwined as we make love.

A fetish of sorts for both of us, I suppose.



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