By Christopher Ryan and Alex Simmons
There are only two cars on the street. One is running. A driver sits behind the wheel and another man is standing outside.
They are talking. All around them the streets are deserted. All the stores are closed up in this very well-maintained ghost town.
“You have to stay, Charles,“ the man on the street insisted. “We both know this town needs the bank to survive.“
“There is no town,“ Charles argued. “It died when they all snuck off.”
“We’ll bring new folk, start again,” the other said. “We can’t let them win. But we need your bank.”
“I don’t own the bank, I just run it for the money men. And now they want me running some other bank in some other town. You should get out too, there’s no one left to sell real estate to. You need to get to some other town, this one’s dead.”
With that the banker drove off.
The realtor was left in the empty town waiting on a car coming down from a distance. When it arrived he saw that the luxury vehicle was long and sleek, a limousine. It stopped near him and one of the back doors opened. A proper lady stepped out, shocking the realtor when he realized she was black.
“You never told me you were a Negro,“ the realtor said.
“From my research you are in no position for it to matter,“ she replied.
She took a check from her pocketbook, held it up. “The full amount, as we negotiated, as per the contract signed by both of us. For all the properties and businesses, as we discussed. Now either you want to take this check and salvage something of your career, or you can stay here alone and enjoy poverty.“
“I don’t like it, no, I don’t like it at all. Give that check to me,“ The realtor demanded.
“I’ll be reviewing the portfolio of deeds, and a rather large ring of keys before this check leaves my hands.“
“Not if I just knock you to the ground and take it myself,“ the realtor threatened, moving towards her.
The limo’s other rear door opened and a giant of a man emerged, huge Colt revolvers strapped on each hip.
“I would think carefully before breaking state and federal law if I was you,” Arron “Blackjack” Day growled. “You entered into a signed contract. While it may be comfortable behavior for you, reverting to crime now, well, that will prove to be a problem.”
The realtor’s quivering eyes traveled up and down the black man’s muscular physique. He outweighed the white business leader by at least 100 pounds of pure power and clearly carried at least four weapons; the Colts, what appeared to be a shotgun slung over his shoulder, and a very large knife sheathed in his boot. Defeated, the business man handed over his attaché case for inspection. “You’ll find it’s all in there,“ he said. “Review until you’re satisfied.”
The woman was thorough. She kept the realtor waiting until she was absolutely sure every document was included, signed, and in proper order, and then she checked the large key ring to ensure she now has access to every store and house, as well as the bank and the realtor’s own office. She even had a key to a small police station. When she was satisfied, she handed him the check.
“Pleasure doing business with you.”
The grumbling realtor climbed into the only other vehicle in town and sped off with one final glare.
The two impressive human beings stood in the center of town and took it all in. Finally Arron Day turned the woman and asked, “Are you sure this is going to work, sis?“
“Not everything is solved with bullets, brother,” Mary Day said. “When cousin Jenna called about what was going on around here between the crooked business deals and the Klan, I knew calling you in guns blazing would just make things worse.“
“Thank you so much for your faith in me,“ Arron joked, “But I agree with your assessment. Guns would have only brought more guns. Your plan, however, seemed pretty extreme.”
“All the black people in town were being victimized constantly. It was second nature to most of their white neighbors. That isn’t freedom, that’s elaborately disguised torture, and ultimately, just another form of slavery. And they were financing it because white people controlled everything.”
“Not a unique situation.”
“True, but Jenna and her neighbors had a solution I believed we should support. They just wanted control of their own lives rather than start a war.”
“Not easy to achieve.”
“It only took a few months of them moving out to live with relatives for this town to fold. Without black folks spending money in those white businesses where they were abused and overcharged, each and every one of them went broke.“
The siblings looked to the south. In the distance a line of cars and trucks were approaching in a kind of caravan.
“This is my favorite part of the plan,” Mary said. “Now they come back, buy back their homes at a fair price from Jen, who’s going to act as the realtor. We have Mr. Wilson, who is a whiz with numbers and money. He is going to run the bank. Mr. John’s going to run the hardware store and Abe’s going to operate the grocery. Black owned businesses supported by black townsfolk, who work and help run the town. This is an opportunity.”
Arron scanned the horizon, searching for signs of trouble. “And when the Klan arrive?”
“They will discover that this town is protected by a big and strong black fully deputized fb police force made up of all those veterans who came back from the war and couldn’t get a job and now will have a career, a piece of the dream they will fight for.”
“And why are you and I, of all people, doing this?“
“Because we can help them while all this gets established.”
“You mean I can shoot a bunch of racists when they ride into town with guns and torches.”
“Little brother, please let this be a lesson for you,“ she said. “When the social contract isn’t being upheld by one side, the other side has to find a way to become the leaders they are looking for.“
“I’ll believe it when I see it,“ the infamous Blackjack said.
“You’ll believe it when these people prove that no matter what others say about them or us, we all have a right to a piece of the American Dream. How we use it can make all the difference.“
Aaron Day hugged his sister and then straightened his shoulders and walked toward the realtor’s office. “Let’s get to work.”