CHAPTER FIVE: THE GROOM’S PARTY
My sweet Connie, how I rue the day our life together will come to an end. You and I both know that that day is not too far off, but you still wanted to marry me. Although, initially, I refused you my hand I grew to understand that you were more willing to take the risk of losing me to death than the risk of losing me to someone else. For that, I love you more than anyone. You have stuck by me, asking assistance from friends I had shut out, through it all. You kept my children, our children, from believing that I didn’t love them.
All this time, you loved me more purely than I loved myself. And that love kept me alive. Even after I should’ve already been dead, you kept me going. You refused to let me die. Moreover, you refused to let me continue wallowing in my self-pity and cycle of self-blame. You knew better, and you tried to show me. you did show me.
You fed me when I thought I didn’t want to feed myself. You tended to my every need, only taking breaks to run errands. How did you put up with me? Not even I could stand myself, then. But you stayed.
I only hope that we get to spent a little longer together before
I finally lose my battle. We have so much to do and so little time. I have so much time to make up for, too. I only hope that we can fill the time we have left with as much as we can.
From now on, we are going to live life one day at a time…and live it to the fullest. We are going to do all the things that we were too conservative to do earlier in our relationship. Yes, my love, we are going to go wild. We will have a love to remember.
I only hope that you will be able to move on with your life after I am gone. I am sure, if you try, you will find one of my friends worth your time…and your love. They were far kinder to me than I was to them. They all deserve you more than I. I mean that.
We have known each other long enough to be in love. And we are in love. We just haven’t fully acted upon our feelings, dear. But now we will. I am all yours…until death do us part.
Who better than you, dear Cozy, to be my Connie’s best man. Who better to share the same memories of me. You both know me intimately. But you, Cozy, knew me long before Connie. You knew me as a young woman, before I ever came to Chicago. Yes. We met down in the town where my father was murdered. Of course, your parents died there too, along with all the other parents…and some of the children.
I, in part, am to blame for your losses. Had it not been for my uncles lusting after all that my father had, none of the townspeople would’ve died. The betrayal of my father would’ve never happened, and greed would’ve never destroyed a beautiful community. There would never have been such a need for me to beg your forgiveness for how I treated you in the past. I used you.
You, though, must not see it that way. But how do you see it? Do you love me? I know that you have never hated me. Still, I wonder.
Did you love me back then? When I was a teen? After the massacre? Down in Tulsa, when you’d visit my cathouse? In Akron, when you visited my mother and I? And even now?
Only you know. If you did, and even if you still do, you must move on. Look at Lucretia, my cousin. She is available. She needs you more than I do. Hell. She needs you more than Lazarus needs her. Even more than she needs Lazarus.
Lazarus is getting old. You can tell it. He is tired, too. Age is starting to wear him down. Day by day, he looks older. His hair, though red in my earliest recollections of him, is now white as snow. His skin, once as smooth as alabaster, is now losing its battle with gravity and beginning to look more like a crumpled old road map.
He is old, Cozy, too old to continue looking after Lucretia…or you, for that matter. He needs to stop running and trying to elude those who want him dead. He needs to stand and fight. We all do. If we are to end this nightmare, we must stand and fight. There is no other way.
Together, we shall succeed. Apart, we will fail. We must join forces. You, Lucretia, Lazarus, the girls from Tulsa, me…all of us. If we unite, we can not fail. Its up to us to close the book and end this part of our lives.
Afterward, you and Lucretia should marry. She’ll be good for you. She has a good heart and a gentle hand. She can save you from the demons that haunt you but you must trust her. Take her as far away from here as you can once you are married. Start over somewhere where there are no memories of all this horror.
III. PHILLIP CLINTON
My dear little boy, how I have missed you. I was wrong to shut you out. I should have been a mother to you, but I was too selfabsorbed. I only hope that you can forgive me. I never meant to hurt you. I only wanted to spare you from seeing me in my last hour.
But my last hour hasn’t yet come. So, I have decided-for all our sakes, especially yours—that I will resume my duties as your mother. I only hope that, from now on, you won’t resent me. I will be there, from now on, to dry your tears and to cheer you on. I know it may be a little late, but forgive me.
I had no clue as to how to handle anything. I only believed that it would hurt you when I had to leave that one last time. I didn’t know that I was hurting you by pushing you out of my life. I just didn’t know.
My son, I know it will take you some time to understand this all but, in time, you will. I also know that you miss your daddy, but Connie loves you just as much as any daddy could. Perhaps you already know this, but I thought I would take the time to tell you myself.
Dear one, he cries to sleep over your little picture every night. He worries excessively, like any good father does, over your well being. He is the one who picked out all those Christmas presents for you when I was unable to. He bought all the books for you. He kept you in school supplies, clothes, shoes, hats, coats, and even gloves. He was present at every one of your school events.
Although you are now almost a man, I still see you as my little boy. Please indulge me on that memory, do not ask me to give it up. You may already understand the why’s and the how’s of what happened. You may even understand all that I don’t really think you do. I don’t know.
All I know is that I have never been able to explain my story to you. I have never taken the time. For that, I am deeply sorry. But I made sure that you had a wonderful person to raise you this far. Did you treat her well