Trading Places #WOW555

The theme for this week, fittingly, is oppression. Authors would be given brownie points and a better ranking if they included a reference to The Reverend Dr. King. This week, my alternative history issues kicked in. What if…just what if, instead of white people oppressing black people in the 60’s, black people were the majority ethnic group and they were oppressing white people. How would historical figures, including The Reverend Dr. King, react in such a situation. I have taken one liberty with the actual historical timeline, reversing the ages of the two characters in the story. I also had Rev. King change professions. That being said, it’s fiction and I think it helped make my point, so I did it! So, here’s this week’s entry in the #WOW555 contest at Wendy’s place.

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“Havin’ fun in there, honkie?”

In years past, those would have been fighting words. But fighting didn’t do any good. In fact, I had stopped the rebellion thing and was trying hard to stay out of trouble. Still white kids were always getting into trouble. “No sir,” I replied respectfully, keeping my eyes down. The jailers didn’t like it when you looked them in the eye.

Many who knew me were surprised that I had given in to the oppression. I hadn’t really given in, though, I just chose my battles more carefully. I knew that I wasn’t here for jaywalking, nor for “resisting arrest.”

“Hey boy!” the jailer called.

“Yes sir?” I answered trying to appear deferential. They had beaten Mikey up last week when he sounded a bit sarcastic in response to the jailers.

“Your lawyer’s here.”

“I don’t want no lawyer,” I said. I turned back towards the wall. I couldn’t afford to pay no lawyer. Seems like you just paid white lawyers to lose, anyways.

“Mr. Connor, I’m here to represent you. You can tell me ‘no,’ of course, but give me a chance.”

I stopped. That was no honky speaking. I turned and saw a black man in a suit holding out his hand. He sensed my hesitation. “Go ahead. This isn’t a trap.”

I shook it, then, I looked around nervously waiting for the worst.

The lawyer laughed as he realized my discomfiture. “You’re safe with me, Mr. Connor.”

There he went again. If the jailers heard this lawyer call me “Mr.” I might have even more trouble.

“And why are you here?” I asked trying hard to sound deferential.

“I’m here to represent you, sir.” He said .

“But why? Why me?”

“Your story made it to Atlanta. It seems that this sheriff doesn’t like you because you’re white and he’s spent a lot of time going after you.”

I laughed. “You could say that.”

“I’ve studied the records and I can’t see why? You’re in jail for crimes that should be fines. Do you have any ideas why the sheriff hates you so?”

I tried my innocent look first. “No idea, sir.” Then I shrugged. “Unless the sheriff doesn’t like the idea of me holding hands with his daughter.”

The lawyer laughed. “You have guts, son, no doubt about that. If only the sheriff would judge you by the content of your character and not the color of your skin.”

Those words rang true to me. Still, I argued. “Content of my character? I’m just an uppity honky.”

The lawyer laughed again. “Perhaps, but injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Can I represent you?”

Something about this man elevated me. I could almost begin to believe that I was equal to any other man just being in his presence. “If you’re crazy enough to have me as a client, I guess I’d be crazy not to accept your help. It’s a deal Mr. … I don’t even know your name.”

“Mr. King. My friends call me Martin,” he said elevating me with his words.

I smiled, for the first time ever in this jail. “Well, my friends call me Bull”

It’s a bit edgier story line than I would normally do. I’ll be interested in seeing the reactions.

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2 thoughts on “Trading Places #WOW555

  1. Well, I would assume if black people were the majority and oppressing white people than Dr. King might not have been a piece of the puzzle required in this environment and historical alternate.
    That being said- Maybe the oppressed white people would have had JFK as their equivalent to Dr King….
    Both were almost naturally born to lead and they both were powerful leaders during the same time. Both were assassinated

  2. Thanks for your comment and insight! One of the things I like about Alternative History is the number of different ways that you can take it. The parameters of the contest didn’t allow for a lot of elaboration. Were this longer, I could put a lot of others in the story, like JFK. Why did I put Dr. King in the position I put him? It is to show my belief that his character was such that he would have worked for justice on either side of the fence. Then again, having a young Bull Connor as the man influenced by Dr. King, I brought in the whole “Nature vs. Nurture” debate. In short, we naturally love each other – but we have to be taught to hate. (Yes, I’m recalling South Pacific there!)

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