Johnnie Kitchen is finally living her dream, attending college and writing a column for the local paper. She adores her husband Dale and chocolate Labrador Brother Dog, and they reside in a comfortable home in the small town of Portion in North Texas. Their three children are thriving and nearly grown. But Johnnie is rattled when her youngest boy Cade goes to fight in Afghanistan. The less frequent his emails, the more she frets for his safety. On the home front, Johnnie learns that Portion is not the forward-thinking town she believed. A boy Cade's age, inflamed by a liberal bumper sticker and the sight of Johnnie's black friend Whit, attacks them with the N-word and a beer bottle. After Johnnie writes about the incident in her column, a man named Roosevelt reaches out with shameful stories from Portion's untold history. More tears and triumphs will follow, as Johnnie's eyes are opened to man's capacity for hate and the power of love and forgiveness. The sequel to Johnnie Come Lately.
|Publisher:||Epicenter Press, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)|
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Through the open passenger window, they caught sight of a teenage boy wearing a straw cowboy hat and a dirty white T with the sleeves cut off at the shoulders, emphasizing his ropy sun-burnt arms. His eyes were hidden behind sunglasses.
The kid flashed a toothy grin then peeled out down the street.
"He reminds me of Cade," Johnnie joked, "in a country-boy kind of way."
The pickup didn't get far before it whipped a U-turn in the middle of the block, tires squealing, and headed back toward them.
Johnnie heard Whit catch her breath. "I don't hear any music, do you?"
As Johnnie strained to listen, Whit grabbed her by the arm like she was afraid.
The truck veered sharply to the left, crossed the centerline, and barreled straight toward Granny's car.
Clinging to each other, Johnnie and Whit stumbled back, trying to get out of the way.
At the last second, the driver swerved to the right, barely missing the Lincoln.
"Nigger lover!" he screamed and flung a beer bottle out the window.
As the ugly slur crackled around them, the bottle torpedoed through the air and exploded at the base of the war memorial, sending brown glass and yeasty foam flying.
Time slowed as Johnnie stared at the kid, his creepy grin reminding her of a jack-o'-lantern. "You stupid jerk!" she bellowed, trying to read the kid's license plate, but the truck sped away too quickly.
Like shock waves, the racial slur reverberated in her ears, and Johnnie went numb when she turned to find Whit standing rigid in the middle of the sidewalk, breathing through her nose. Tears ran down both sides of her cheeks. She sniffed and closed her eyes, as if she couldn't believe what had happened.
"That stupid kid's probably just pissed off because a black man's in the White House. He saw Granny's bumper sticker and--"
"That beer bottle was meant for me," Whit croaked, looking taller and more regal than ever.
"It was meant for all of us." Mama leaned against the war memorial, seeming not to notice her blood-splattered culottes or the blood dripping down one leg.
"Oh my God, Mama, you're bleeding." Johnnie rushed to her side, glass crunching under her shoes.
"It don't matter," Mama said, digging through her purse for what Johnnie thought was a cigarette. Mama pulled out a wad of paper napkins and hobbled over to Whit. "Sorry I don't have any tissues, sugar. These'll have to do."
Whit took the napkins and dabbed at her wet cheeks. "After all this time," she sniffed, her voice choked with tears, "there's still so much hate in this country."
Mama nodded then put her arm around Whit. "And so many ignoramuses like that fool."
Staring up at the bronze soldier, Johnnie vowed to get even. She wanted justice.
"That white kid in his pick 'em up truck isn't the only one in Portion who knows how to turn words into weapons, is he, Mr. Statue Man?"