Book Excerpt – The Root of All Evil
The Root of All Evil
by Gibran Tariq and Gregory S. Jones
Copyright © 2002 Author Solutions/Gibran Tariq and Gregory S. Jones No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.
It was one thing to be cold, but quite another to be freezing. Not long ago, Paul Madsen, had been warm and safe. At home. Now he was in New York where his mind raced to find a way to rouse up some inner warmth. With nearly everything else having failed, he imagined himself back at home in England and for a while the charade worked. He forgot about how cold and miserable he actually felt, but within a few seconds a harsh wind soured him on the game he was playing.
Yet the blistering cold was not the only difficulty Madsen faced. He was dying, literally falling apart internally at what one doctor had said was an unimaginably quick pace and as recently as two weeks ago, another doctor had whispered that what he was, in essence, was a dead man breathing. So maybe the cold, bitter air was a bargain, Madsen thought. To feel it meant he was still alive, but the all-consuming question was: how much longer?
Paul Madsen tucked his emaciated neck down deeper into the collar of his expensive overcoat, snuggling the downy shawl tighter around his throat. He pushed on. He had seen how nimble death could be so he fought the wind seeking to expand his lead on the Grim Reaper. He had to exploit the promise of the one good deed he hoped would grab God’s attention and cinch for him a sumptuous grant of divine mercy.
He walked even faster.
With so many different directions to go in, Madsen lost his focus momentarily and when the howling North wind warned him that temperatures could fall even more dangerously low, he found this idea quite unattractive. He gazed at the sky. There was even less beauty in the appeal of the darkness of approaching night.
Desperation clutched at all his inner resources and since there was practically nothing left of his weakened lungs when the souped-up cough surged up from out of the depths of his bowels, he indelibly sensed that the end was near. At its peak, the wracking cough would normally only paralyze him until his strength matured enough to stabilize him, but this time he was crippled internally and knocked to his knees. Unquenchable, liquidified, green snot dripped from his dilated nostrils at high speeds while the phlegm that stagnated in his tightly constricted chest exploded into his throat becoming vomit so translucent it sprayed from his gagging mouth like polluted water. Regaining his feet, Madsen rocked to and fro in his exquisitely hand-crafted shoes, sure that death was muscling in on his turf.
Standing in the grim blackness that the night had conjured up, he steered his wobbly legs down a flat street that rolled down a steep hill next to a diner.
"Hey, man", Madsen shouted at a passer-by, "please sir, tell me, where do the niggers live?".
When Madsen burst into another spasm of god-awful coughing, the man frowned in disgust and quickly walked away. He wanted to have nothing to do with anyone that wretchedly ill, especially at a time when no one had money for medicine.
Pulling himself together, Madsen managed to achieve a modicum of respectability and flung himself into the welcoming warmth of the cavernous restaurant, but he was immediately fraught with the panic that the hacking cough would seize him and that the patrons sensing he had tuberculosis would unhestitantly pitch him out into the snow to die. He couldn’t risk that, couldn’t imperil the mission that had brought him so far from home. What real value was there, he scolded himself, in dying incomplete? He would do what he had come to do and driven by this euphoria, aggressively strolled across to the counter at a robust clip.
By the time he reached the counter, Madsen had collected a big piece of inner resolve that seemed insatiable and though he realized his request would raise eyebrows, it wasn’t that outrageous.
"Excuse me, kind sir", Madsen said warmly, "but I can’t seem to find any niggers and I’m in dire need of one. Could you tell me where they live"?
The diner’s owner remained surprisingly calm. "Are you pulling my leg?".
"I daresay not, my good man. The request is quite legitimate. I desire a nigger".
"Ah", the owner nodded knowingly. "I see".
Reading the man’s thoughts, Madsen quickly blurted. "Oh no. Not for that". He blushed. "I’m sorry if I misled you. I’m not a pervert. It’s just that’-".
"It’s none of my business", the owner snapped gruffly, "but just the same we don’t cater to them `round here".
"Still, you must’".
The owner stared coldly at Madsen. "I don’t know where you’re from, but in this country we’re not obsessed with those people. You a foreign correspondent of some sort?".
Madsen shook his head. The incessant demand to cough was tumbling round and about in his lungs and he predicted that it wouldn’t be long before he was swallowed up in an avalanche of fitful retching. His bowels were already starting to swell with noxious gases. "Please", he begged.
His skepticism heated by Madsen’s pleading, the owner spoke cheaply. "If you’re not a fag or a commie news reporter, just what would you do in coon-town?".
"Knock on any door … ." Madsen stopped. He would burst the man’s bubble, would leave. "I am sorry. I have come to the wrong place". He hobbled towards the front door, the need to cough reinvigorated by the dragging down of all the moisture in his mouth. "I bid you farewell".
Madsen stopped, but kept his back to the man. "Are you talking too me?".
"Go into the kitchen, through that door there. Bernie is back there"
Madsen turned slowly. "Bernie?".
"Yeah, Bernie", the owner rasped. "A real-live nigger". * * *
Madsen pushed hurriedly through the swinging doors, roughly dispelling the air bagged in his throbbing chest. He was doubled over by the force of the impact and now adding to his woes was a ragged fever.
Straightening himself up, Madsen spied an elegant-looking black man in a chef’s hat and apron, eyeing him cautiously, but when Madsen smiled and stuck out his hand, the black man took two steps backwards. Madsen grinned, knowing that the aura of doom that surrounded him could not have been inviting. "You may not believe it, Bernie, but today is the luckiest day of your life". Then he collapsed to the floor.
It came as no surprise to Madsen when he came to that the black man was nursing him, had loosened his shirt, and was wiping his forehead with a cold, damp cloth.
"Thanks", Madsen offered weakly. He reached into his coat pocket. "It seems as if you have already earned this". He shoved an envelope into Bernie’s hand. "Take this", he commanded softly, "there isn’t much time".
"Who are you?", Bernie asked suspiciously. He glared at the envelope with even greater concern. "And what is this?".
Summoning the last of his renown iron will, Madsen tried to stand, but found it difficult so he insisted that Bernie help him to his feet. "Is there anywhere we can have a bit of privacy? I need’".
"This way". Bernie led Madsen to a table.
Once seated, Madsen understood there was a basically only two ways this could go and best of all, both options offered unlimited possibilities, but there was one catch: he didn’t have a lot of time. He coughed, glad it was just a mid-tempo roar and composing himself, he pointed to the envelope. "War bonds. Also some stock certificates". He stared at the black man. "They’re yours."
Madsen ignored the question. "As bearer of these bonds and certificates, whenever you’re ready to start living like a king, all you have to do is to redeem them. That’s all it takes. Everything is endorsed’-".
When Madsen stopped coughing, he spoke wearily, "You’re rich, Bernie. You’re the fucking richest black man the world has ever seen". When Bernie fell back clutching his chest, Madsen grinned triumphantly. "You do understand, then".
"I know about war bonds", Bernie admitted.
"There’s nothing you really need to know. I have taken care of everything. You’re filthy rich, Bernie, just like I was". Madsen winced. "Easy come, easy go".
A tear rolled from the black man’s eyes. "May the Lord’".
"Yeah, yeah", Madsen grumbled, "my sentiments exactly. I’ve been a very mean person … ." After the coughing subsided, Madsen shrugged. "Trouble is, I’ve enjoyed the dickens out of being me, the infamous Paul "Mad-dog" Madsen". For a while as he spoke, Madsen felt positively giddy, but his depressed lungs were a magnet for pain and pretty soon he was wheezing and coughing again. Turning increasingly morose, he stuffed his hand into another pocket of his coat. "The stocks and bonds were for you. Do you have any children?".
Bernie nodded. "Well this is for your children’s children’s children". Madsen handed Bernie a simple, unadorned jewelry box.
"I-I don’t understand".
"And you probably never will, but listen carefully. What’s inside this box is highly valuable and to be quite honest, people would kill to get their hands on those documents".
Bernie gulped. "Documents?".
"Don’t fear. As long as you keep them in your family, passing the box along from generation to generation, all will be well". Madsen gripped Bernie’s arm tightly. "No one outside your family must ever know about this box, understand?".
"Good, because it is very, very important that you understand this". Madsen lowered his voice. "To say anything to anyone about the contents of this box would … ."He paused. "It would bring about the immediate destruction of your entire family".
"Your government", Madsen croaked. "Your president". Madsen released his grip. "You have been warned. I can do nothing more".
"These documents", Bernie whispered fearfully, "wh-what are they?".
"Enough to destroy this country". Madsen felt stronger. "There is a duplicate copy of what you have in that box stashed away in a private Swiss bank account, but international bankers and an assortment of other rogues may sniff it out".
"What happens then?", Bernie inquired timidly.
Madsen sighed. "If that happens, then everything will go to your descendants".
"Then what?", Madsen laughed happily, "they’ll own the whole damn country, that’s what!"
Book Two, Chapter 3, Pages 205 – 207
’It wouldn’t be pretty. This is perhaps the biggest threat white America has ever faced and I shudder at the thought of what they would do with their immediate future in jeopardy.’ Petersen remembered Rosewood, the incident at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, and in his mind’s eye could vividly see dark, black bodies swaying from southern trees. ’It wouldn’t be pretty,’ he repeated sadly.
’But if Jamal went to the Supreme Court and put his case before them, wouldn’t they have to honor ——-?’
Petersen laughed loudly. ’I pity the fool who convinces himself that this will translate into anything other than bloodshed.’
’The law ——’
’Law?’ Petersen muttered. ’Infringing the law is nothing new to this country. Besides this is too dangerous to be handled under any assumed protections of the law.’ For a long moment Petersen gave the impression he was inwardly grieving. ’I venture they’ll kill us.’ He sighed ’Niggers have never been one of this country’s hallowed institutions and if we yield to the temptation of trying to compel white folks to concede to Paul Madsen’s plan, they’ll pick us off like fish in a barrel.’
Jamal’s throat grew dry. ’I know they would want to kill my family, and we have lived with this fear all our lives, but why would they kill all black people?’
’To dramatize their deep ’ rooted obsession for getting down to the nitty ’ gritty. Eliminating all of us would be a calculated risk they would take before they let us stake ownership to one acre of this country. Here I am locking horns over reparations and they won’t budge an inch. Can you imagine what would result if I told them that we no longer were satisfied with reparations, that we now wanted … … … everything? Oh my Lord,’ Petersen groaned, ’any concession bigger than a window with a view is overdoing it.’ He rubbed his head, groaning pitifully. ’This is Apolcalypse.’
’I’m not sure I understand,’ Jamal confessed.
’What’s not to understand son? It’s as plain as the nose on my niece’s face. While I commend you and your family for recognizing the gravity of this matter, what sort of restraint do you think we can expect from the others come October when the certificates are disbursed? Suppose some poor, dirt farmer down in Mississippi got one say awarding him ownership of a big tobacco company; do you think he is going to consider anything except his good luck? It would be like lightning striking the poor house and nothing or no one would be able to stop black folks from staking their claims. Almost overnight, you’re going to have niggers, who just yesterday, didn’t have a boot to piss in suddenly finding themselves CEOs and captains of industry.’ Petersen stared at his young guests. ’And do either of you think white America is just going to accept that. Right now I feel that our best chance of riding this out is to pray that the documents in the Swiss bank accounts are discovered.’
’But that ——’ Venus began.
’I know. I know,’ Petersen remonstrated, waving away the question. ’This will put all the pressure on your boyfriend and his family, but it would be a whole lot easier to hide and protect one family than it would be to hide and protect every black man, woman and child in the country.’