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Description of Trouble Down South and Other Stories:
The short stories take the reader on a journey to the past through a collection of interestingly crafted pieces of flawed humanness, social injustice, and redemption, and even humor. The short story collection of historical fiction chronicles events spanning more than 150 years and addresses a wide range of experiences from African-American perspectives. The stories are set in the South amid a changing landscape in which the characters are forced to wrestle with the social issues surrounding Native Americans, slavery, racism, Prohibition, the Korean War, Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, health, religion, mental illness, and education.
By Larry B. Gray
Trouble Down South and Other Stories by Katrina Parker Williams is a collection of short stories dealing with slavery, racism and civil rights in the south. Written as historical fiction each story deals with a different period of time in our history and captures the struggle of human dignity and life in a segregated south.
The author captures the reality of life by vividly painting an accurate depiction of the everyday trials of the average black person trying to survive. She accomplishes this by writing in a real life style and using period colloquialism that reflect the actual life of her characters. She weaves a detailed tapestry with words of the life stories of her characters.
Having grown up is this region of the country during the latter part of segregation, the sounds and events of that time came flooding back to me. I was reminded of the disrespect, humiliation and cruelty that a whole section of our population was subjected to.
I highly recommend Trouble Down South and Other Stories as a must read. It is an excellent example of historical fiction, accurately depicting a period of our history that should not be forgotten.
Amazon Reader Reviews:
Trouble Down South and Other Stories currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4 stars from 10 reviews. Read the reviews here!
Trouble Down South and Other Stories is available for purchase at:
An excerpt from Trouble Down South and Other Stories:
“The House Down the Dirt Lane”
Katrina Parker Williams
(From the Short Story Collection Trouble Down South and Other Stories)
The first time I knew I needed to be scared of Furvis was the summer of 1960 in the early afternoon when he came down the dirt lane wielding a shotgun and shouting into the air. It was in the middle of July in the hottest part of the day, the temperature a scorching ninety-eight degrees. We had just finished hanging a barn of tobacco that morning and had stopped for lunch. Papa was fixing on his John Deere tractor while we were playing hopscotch and shooting marbles in the white sand of our front yard.
Papa noticed Furvis first, seeing him from a distance, his figure distorted by the hazy summer rays as he headed toward our house.
“Y’all chillen, git up and go in the house,” Papa warned in a non-histrionic voice, trying not to alarm us.
“Why, Papa?” we asked, not having seen Furvis and not wanting to disrupt our game-playing. I was winning, so I definitely didn’t want to go inside before claiming victory.
“Go on in the house, I said,” he ordered with more emphasis on his words this time.
We didn’t understand why he was interrupting our play and ordering us into the house, but we didn’t question him a second time. We knew procrastinating when he told us to do something in that voice meant the next time he would have to say something to us, we’d get the belt taken to our hides.
We got up and headed toward the house, and before we got inside, Papa was calling for Mama to come to the door.
“Get my shotgun,” he told Mama, who started to question him but saw Furvis moving closer to our home.
Concerned, she hurried us inside and returned to the back door in a rush to give Papa his shotgun, used only to kill hogs and to hunt cottontails and deer in the fall of the year.
“Get dem kids in the house and keep ‘em there,” he cautioned her, knowing we were the types to be warned of danger and still go running headlong right into it.
She pushed us into the kitchen and told us to get over in the corner while she stood guard at the kitchen window, watching worriedly as Furvis made his way into our backyard.
“Furvis, what you comin’ up in my yard with that gun fo’?” Papa asked sternly, cocking his shotgun and aiming it toward Furvis.
Furvis slowed his gait but still waved his shotgun wildly, shouting aimlessly toward the sky.
“Furvis!” Papa shouted, lifting his shotgun and aiming it directly at Furvis.
Mama had made her way to the back door by now, turning back one last time to shush us and demanding we stay quiet. And hidden. She didn’t want to take any chances with Furvis, so she picked up Papa’s other shotgun, kept in the corner behind the washing machine, the one she vowed never to touch. Guns scared Mama, but at the moment, all that fear had rushed out of her, and she stood at the back door, the screened door propped open, with the shotgun cocked and aimed at Furvis. She had never touched a gun before let alone shot one, but she was as determined as any soldier in a war to defend her home front.
Furvis hadn’t given Papa any problems in the years he had lived in the house down the dirt lane from us. Well, you really can’t call what he lived in a house. It was a worn down, dilapidated shell of a house. It should have been condemned years ago, but when Furvis came around a few years after the Korean War looking for work, Papa helped him out, giving him a job as a farm hand and allowing him to live in the house if he was willing to do the handy work on it. Furvis agreed, but no handy work had ever been done on the house in all the years he lived there.
Furvis lived alone, and apparently wanted it that way. We never saw anyone go down the lane to visit him. And if you walked past his house, you could see him sitting on the porch in the shadows rocking slowly, back and forth, in his chipped metal slider, holding his shotgun on his lap. Papa had to tell Furvis on many occasions to put that shotgun up when we had to go down the lane past his house to crop tobacco.
“If one of my chillen git hurt ‘cause of that gun, I’m gone kill ya,” Papa told him the first time my brother came running home scared shitless. And I mean shitless. He had shitted in his pants because he believed Furvis was going to shoot him. We thought it was really funny, but Papa didn’t. Papa knew Furvis wasn’t all right in the head. And he was subject to go off on a shooting rampage at any given time, provoked by almost anything. So Papa warned him as long as he lived on his property, none of his kids had better get hurt because of his shotgun.
Apparently, Furvis believed Papa would kill him. If he didn’t, we certainly did. Although we could never imagine Papa shooting anybody. I believed he would have shot Furvis if something were to happen to any of his kids.
“Furvis, I ain’t tellin’ you agin; git outta my yard with dat gun. I ain’t got no beef with you,” Papa warned again, still holding the shotgun aimed at Furvis. By now Papa had eased behind his tractor for protection, in case Furvis got foolish.
Furvis paused, searching the sky for something. He stared fiercely to the East and then turned the shotgun up toward the air, and in a flash, a shot went off, startling Papa who had his shotgun cocked and was prepared to fire at Furvis.
Stunned, Furvis dropped to the ground and scurried toward the barn, pressing his back against the cool metal siding, shouting, “In-coming! Lock and load!”
Papa didn’t know what had happened at first. He didn’t see Furvis fire his shotgun. And he knew he didn’t fire his own. Then he turned back to see Mama standing in the back door with the screened door propped open and the shotgun in her hands, cocked again and ready to be fired again if it was called for.
Surprised at Mama, and a little impressed, Papa allowed an impish grin to ease across his face. Knowing she was pulling up the ranks, Papa steadied his shotgun back on Furvis in case he tried to fire at him. Or Mama.
Furvis sat on the ground, clutching his shotgun like it would somehow shield him from his enemy, his faced draped in fear and his body shaking uncontrollably.
“Furvis, throw yo’ shotgun o’er here,” Papa shouted. “I ain’t givin’ you but one warnin’.”
“You see ‘em? They comin’ fo’ us! They up dar. They comin’ fo’ us! You see ‘em?” Furvis shouted, pointing up towards the sky.
“Naw, I don’t see nothin’, Furvis. Ain’t nothin’ up dar. Ain’t nothin’ up dar, Furvis!” Papa shouted.
Furvis seemed disoriented, like he didn’t know where he was or how he had gotten there. Papa said Furvis got like that sometimes. Thinking he was still in the War and seeing those fighter planes flying overhead.
Furvis started to mumble to himself, “One thousand eight days, four hours and forty-three minutes. One thousand eight days, four hours and forty-three minutes.” Repeating the length of his stint in the War several times before he slid the shotgun across the ground toward Papa.
Papa made his way around the tractor, picking up the shotgun, and standing before Furvis.
“You need to git on back home,” Papa said calmly, yet firmly. “I won’t need you fo’ the rest of the day.”
Furvis didn’t seem to hear Papa, but he got up slowly, still mumbling, “One thousand eight days, four hours and forty-three minutes,” and stammering back down the dirt lane toward his house.
Papa, a little shaken, but nonetheless relieved, turned to see Mama still pointing the shotgun at the vacant space where Furvis once stood, making sure he did not return. When she saw him halfway down the dirt lane to his house, she lowered the shotgun and breathed a sigh of relief.
“I didn’t know you knew how to shoot that thang,” Papa teased, walking toward Mama, knowing she had never touched any of his shotguns before.
“Here, take this thang. Ugh!” Mama said passing the shotgun to Papa and wringing her hands as if some kind of poison had rubbed off on them.
Papa chuckled as Mama turned and headed into the house to check on us—we were still huddled in the corner.
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