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The African Gentleman

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

A Novel by Fred Beauford

Chapters 8-11


I had invited Gladys over to my rather large, tastefully furnished apartment in The Village. Well, it wasn’t quite The Village, but it was large, and close enough for me to tell everyone that I lived in The Village.

Of course, my friends, and people I barely knew, but had met in bars, chose to believe me, because everyone wanted a friend who lived in The Village.

It took me many calls, and several weeks to set up this dinner. She either didn’t pick up, or if she did, always had something better to do, even though I assured her I was a great cook.

Again I wondered how she could possibly be a novelist. She obviously was very popular; the kind of wonderful, talented woman everyone in The City falls instantly in love with. How did she find the private space to write when everyone in town she met just wanted to hang with her and enjoy her company?

I learned, to my great surprise, that she lived across The River near where I worked, and that she had her own little private transportation mode, and could avoid the dreaded trains and buses.

My apartment was a mess. I had tried my best to straighten things up before Gladys arrived. The writer/artist/professor Liz Gant, who Essence magazine once called, “an extraordinary, brilliant, woman of color,” lived here with me for almost six years, and her elegant, and highly refined fingerprints and DNA were still all over the place. She knew art directing far better than I.

Sometimes in the morning I almost half expected her to pop out of the bathroom, or come half-naked down the long hall leading from the bedroom to the living room, heading for the coffee pot. The early morning hours showed her age, her sagging light brown face didn’t quite snap back into place, but her small, firm, beautiful, and sexy body was still a work of art.

I am a music buff and am especially attached to the music of the last century. Aretha Franklin, a remarkable African American singer that I deeply admire, has a crystal clear voice and can harness both emotion and control with uncommon ease, almost as little playthings, like a great actor.

She was playing softly in the background.


“My ex and I moved in here together. She left a year ago,” I said to Gladys.

I watched as the novelist in her took over; she seemed to take in detail after detail, as her highly alert eyes darted around the living room.

“Was that the college professor?”

“Well, she was more than that. But yes, she left, and now I am stuck with this outrageous rent.”


How much?”

“$4,500 a month.”

“Wow! Know how much I pay?”

“I don’t think I want to know.”


“A month?”

“A month.”

I quickly calculated in my mind that if she moved in with me, and we shared the expenses, her rent would increase by $2,150 a month; and if I moved in with her, my rent would decrease by $4,200.

Hmmm. I am not noted for being someone who ponders much, but this was really something worth pondering.

“Well, at least it looks good. If you’re going to be paying that kind of money you may as well live in style,” she answered, as she carefully scoured the living room, not even bothering to hide her acute curiosity.

I know she recognized the great skill Liz Gant had put into making this space really extraordinary.

“How long were you together?” she asked.

“Six, seven, maybe eight years.”

Gladys suddenly looked bemused. She smiled slightly, and took a small sip of her drink. “Jamison, you mean to tell me you don’t know how long you guys were together?”

“OK, seven; yes, seven…or maybe seven and a half. Perhaps six. Yes, six.”

All at once she put down the glass of white wine I had immediately placed in her hands the moment she walked in, and stared at me in a funny way.

“You know,” she said finally, “This place just doesn’t look like you. For some reason, you look out of place here, like you don’t quite belong.”

Hmmm. What does that mean?

“Are you being a novelist?” I asked.

Gladys laughed softly. “Well, in this apartment you do look like someone named Jamison Omak who carelessly wandered in from someone else’s novel.”

I howled loudly, uninhibitedly, at the clever observation.

I guess the place was a little frilly, a little too lady-like, with its dainty little lamps sitting on covered, draped tables and little art pieces throughout the place.

It was all Liz Gant’s doing, which is why I still half expected her to come down the hallway sleepily asking, “Who are you talking to?”

But the truth is, I actually found Liz’s art direction quite charming, which was why it was still in place a year after she left, despite the occasional mess left by me.


But enough about me! It was now Gladys’ turn to either match my dark tale of woe, or, heaven forbid, top it.

“I don’t know if I should tell you this story.”

“Why not? I told you my story.”

“People read too much into it. If I don’t want to do something, I see them going, hmmm, it’s because of what happened to her. If I want to do something, I see the same hmmm, it’s because of what happened to her.”

I listened to her with great sympathy, wanting more than ever to know what her story was.

“Listen, I won’t put you on the couch,” I said, to reassure her.

“Okay, I’ll tell you the story, but don’t try and read too much into it,” she said, the reluctance still in her voice.

“Okay, I promise. Unburden yourself.“

”I was raped.”

“Oh my God, really?”

“Yes, Jamison, at eighteen. I was still a virgin.”

I don’t know what surprised me most by her comment, the rape, or the fact that she was still a virgin at eighteen.

“What happened?”

“You know, Jamison, I sometimes think about it. Sometimes I don’t know what really happened. He worked at a store I frequented. We stuck up a conversation. He was a black man, very, very dark. I was immediately struck by him. He was beautiful. The most beautiful human I had ever seen in my life. I didn’t waste a chance to stop by his store just to see him.”

“A black man?”

“Yes. A real black man.”

I wondered what she meant by a “real” black man; but didn’t ask, although by her very, very dark comment, I think I knew.

She continued: “As we talked over the weeks, he learned that I was really into music. He invited me to a concert. I met him at the store the night of our date. He asked me if I wanted to stop by his pad first, and smoke a little grass, and like a little fool, I said, why not?”

“Things quickly got out of hand when he pulled out a knife and threatened to kill me unless I did what he asked. But before he sexually abused me, he said I was evil, I was responsible for all the wrong in the world and that I, being white, was responsible for making his people suffer. I could see the hate in his eyes.”

“I wondered, as scared as I was, how could someone, who hated my white skin so much, want to have sex with me. The hatred coming from him was profound. It was if I was standing in for every white person who had ever abused a black.”

“After he had his way with me, he finally let me go.”

She told her story in short, direct sentences, statements almost, with none of the artistic flourishes one would expect from such a widely renowned creative writer. 

“Did you press charges?” I asked.

‘No. I never wanted to see him again.”


At this point I should inform you, if you hadn’t already guessed, that I am a black man. In fact, I am as black as the ace of spades, as someone once said about me.

My saintly mother once suggested to me, in her off handed sort of way, that the reason she never had another child was because my father thought I came out too dark.

I was more perplexed than hurt.

“But why would he marry someone as dark as he? What did he expect, an African American?” I asked.

“Well, you know your father. Who knows what goes on inside that head.”

So, I am the blackest, black man you will ever meet. In fact, I sound just like that “very, very” guy she just told me about. I hoped she didn’t expect me to pull a knife on her.

Gladys had been right; this was a story I didn’t want to hear. They have long since stopped hanging people as black as me for even looking at a white woman, but stories like this one only help bring scary ghosts back to the surface.


I walked her to her car, and gave her a warm, friendly, non-sexual hug. Before she came over, I had had high hopes of showing off my fading bedroom skills; but after her story, which she recounted in a cool, almost clinical manner, I wasn’t about to make a pass at her.

She would have had to throw her legs wide open and start yelling, “Take me! Take me! For God’s sake,” before I would have made any move toward her that evening.

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