Thomas Penn Johnson
The Chisholm was a skinny, pretty boy as black as they come. He was precocious in matters of love: he had good humor, a savvy wit, and a mature cock with an ample bush surrounding. His heart-stopping smile and an innate gift of gab were accoutrements of his winsome personality and contagious charm. Often in conversation with friends he would refer to himself as The Chisholm in order to proclaim personal gravitas and to augment the authority of whatever he was saying. He was fourteen years old and in his first year of high school, but poverty nigh unto destitution along with the grievous hard-knocks that the blackest of black folks customarily endure in the Western Hemisphere combined to foment in Chisholm noble aspirations and wisdom far beyond his years. On the cloudless night when the moon was new in March 1967, Chisholm was walking along Cottage Grove Avenue feeling entertained by the myriad of bright stars seemingly hanging near overhead. He was looking this weekend to end the humdrum desperation of daily surviving in The Grove by finding some cash and then doing some gallivanting with the hot-to-trot and luscious Danette, the prettiest high-yellow teenager living in The Grove and the only Grove teenager known to be a proven nymphomaniac. Being too young to drive or get a real job, Chisholm’s only prospect for cash this weekend, beyond the customary pittance he gets from returning soda bottles, was Patty Turner, the lady who, since her husband’s death in 1965, owned and, with the help of her two daughters Gwendolyn and Cynthia, operated The Cottage Grove Variety Store—the lady Chisholm only recently has called “Moms.”
In the days before 7-Eleven came along, interspersed throughout inner city black neighborhoods were numerous family operated convenience stores, some of which were small grocery stores or cafes or ice cream parlors. In The Chisholm’s time, the inhabitants of the inner city typically referred to these stores by family names, such as the stores to which Chisholm returned bottles for pennies, names such as Beavers’, Wolf’s, Foy’s, Allen’s, Armstrong’s, Holt’s, Scott’s, and old Mrs. Moore’s. And there were others known by the places where they were, like the Triangle News Stand and The Cottage Grove Variety Store. When Chisholm opened the front door of The Cottage Grove Variety Store that spring day, it was past Patty’s quitting time and she already had on her coat. Cynthia was behind the counter at the register.
Chisholm flung his arms around Patty and begged like a little boy, “Give me some sugar, Moms. I got to have some before you go!” He kisses her on the cheek.
Nothing made Patty Turner happier than to watch her favorite children play, the sweeter the child the dearer was he in her affections. She cannot resist looking after this boy-child who showers her with kisses. “If you’ll keep still for a moment I have a message for you, but I’ve had my fill of this store today and I am going home. You stay here with Cynthia, and the answer is no! you cannot be driving my truck—not until you have a driver’s license, and that’s the end of that. Besides Tommy’s going to have the truck most of the weekend. Now your message comes from Mister Lash across the street, you raked some leaves for him back in the fall; well, he needs somebody to go with him to Goshen tomorrow morning. He’ll pay you ten dollars. He asked for you.”
“What does he want me to do for ten dollars?” says Chisholm surprised at so lavish a remuneration.
Patty satisfies him with the explanation: “His mother’s buried in Goshen, he goes to the church cemetery once a year to tend to his mother’s grave, and he doesn’t want to go by himself. Asked for you. Tomorrow at nine.”
Chisholm agreed to do the job, and Patty was out the door. His weekend plans had just gotten a major boost. Chisholm was a boy whose emotions move like sea swells and erupt like volcanoes. He was miffed enough about this Tommy guy that his first words to Cynthia, his best friend and favorite person ever, were bluntly blurted out, he demanded “So who is this Tommy guy; who is he to get to drive the truck and I can’t?”
“You best be friends with Tommy, that’s Mama’s pride and joy, her godson, twenty-five years old, he’s home on break from the seminary, he was the kid next door who all but moved in at Patty Turner’s home long before my Daddy died.” Chisholm did that little instantaneous crouch that he bounces into when he is having an epiphany. He draws near as if privately soliciting her confidence, and says: “Okay, I’ll check him out, but how about you let me drive the truck when you get off?” Instantly Cynthia responds with an emphatic No!
Cynthia had dashed his hope to drive by Danette’s house so she might notice his checking her out. But he was resolute in his pursuit of a weekend sexual encounter, so he quickly adjusted his focus to other pressing matters; he told Cynthia he had “things to do” and needed her to front him a pack of nabs and a couple of loose cigarettes. She may have been Patty’s baby, but she had learned from Patty the rigorous duties of family matrons and she understood in her heart the austere obligations of being somebody’s big sister. Being the sister she was to The Chisholm, she understood that the nabs was likely going to be his dinner, so she handed two packs to him; but knowing her mother would disapprove if she were there, she refused to acknowledge his request for cigarettes—which he took as tacit permission for him to snitch two cigarettes from the box located next to the register. As he scurried towards the door, Cynthia calls out a question to him: “So what are you up to tonight?” He stops, thinks for a moment, and then gives a reply that is not the whole truth but completely satisfies Cynthia: “Going to Morningside Homes to see Duck.”
Morningside Homes was a large segment of a community known as Lincoln Grove. It was one of the hundreds of low-income housing projects built in inner city America in the early nineteen fifties. Morningside Homes was parallel rows of two-story red-brick buildings each housing six townhouse apartments, some with roads and some with courtyards in between. The rows were named after the roads and were called courts. Morningside Homes was two long blocks wide and four blocks long with a fenced-in playground and community center in the center. All the residents were black. For the over fifty years of the existence of the place folks in Lincoln Grove referred to as the projects, the place was always kept clean and in good repair. Typical signs of urban blight were not in evidence: garbage was not strewn about the streets and grounds but placed in numerous large metal dumpsters with heavy metal doors; there was no sour smell in the air, no foul stench of poverty and decay, no intermittent gunfire or street fighting, and except for suppertime gleeful children played on the playground or in the streets and courtyards.
There was no shortage of pretty girls and boys living in Morningside Homes. Grove Boys with hot pants, like Chisholm, understood this and cruised the streets of The Grove with a watchful eye for lurking terrors as well as amorous opportunities. The back way would have been the quickest route to Willow Court where Chisholm’s friend Duck lived, but Chisholm chose to go around to the front and enter by the playground so that he could take the full measure of the traffic around the homes of girls he had an eye for; he passed the courts where they lived and whispered out their names: “Aquila . . . Pamela . . . Ruth Elaine . . . Gloria . . . Beverly . . . Little Bit.” After passing Poteat Court he came to Dunbar Court, the one before Willow, and there he met up with four teenaged boys occupying the front stoop of the corner apartment of the building on the left side of the street. Four young men gathered on stoops or under street lights at intersections was a common site in those days. Since the rise to fame of The Ink Spots, The Mills Brothers, and later a host of Do-Op vocal groups, enjoying the salutary power of song and singing one’s way to fame was a popular and avid pursuit for young men in the projects; as in basketball and baseball, many young men had the talent to make their musical aspirations something real and attainable. But the individuals Chisholm bumped into at the end of the second last building in Dunbar Court were not singers. They were an example of an urban blight that Morningside Homes was not immune to, namely gatherings of idle young men with no particular aspirations who employ themselves only in courting trouble generally and directly causing it for their peers and other selected targets. Chisholm recognized the four boys at a glance. There was Phillip, Beverly’s twin; Chisholm didn’t like him much and saw him as a sad, not-so-bright, good-looking brown boy with wavy hair who surely had the look of gallows in his face. The other three boys were almost as black as Chisholm. There was Ward, the shortest of three brothers who were all short and so they usually hung together the better to enforce their reputation as the toughest bad-ass motherfuckers around. Willie Jones was the only one of the boys there that Chisholm had ever liked or had anything to do with; he and Willie played together on the Morningside Homes little league and pony league teams, and Chisholm agreed with their coach Mister Herring that Willie was the best-looking all-around baseball player on the team—that was before Willie broke his ankle sliding into first base. Since he stopped playing baseball Willie had taken to being a hanger-on like Phillip and Ward, albeit Willie never had much to say to the other guys. Plus, Willie’s little sister had a crush on Chisholm, and Chisholm wasn’t one to discourage a girl as pretty as Willie’s sister. And then there was Murphy, the ringleader who was always at the head of the gang of Grove Boys who behaved like terrorists in and around the projects. Murphy was big and strong and street-hardened, he looked battered and battle-scarred. Murphy had beaten up more kids and newcomers in Lincoln Grove than anyone else and thus had muted all opposition to his authority; he was seventeen years old and a thieving thug who preyed upon those weaker than himself whenever it suited him, and he never once had a care or concern for whose sister or mother he should or should not use as his whores.
Phillip was the first to speak, he slung an accusatory tone right off, saying: “Hey, Chisholm! I hear you been messing around with my twin?” Chisholm stepped right up to Phillip’s face and said, “Well, you done heard wrong.” Actually, Chisholm’s tone was more conciliatory than confrontational because he could never forget that Phillip’s mother had been a childhood friend of his own deceased mother whom he could now barely remember. Immediately he turned away from Phillip to face the others, as though the matter with Phillip was closed. He greeted the others by name, starting with Ward who answered to his name with: “Give me a quarter, I need a quarter.” Chisholm replied “Got nothing!” and then to Willie he says “How you doing, Willie?” “Not bad” turned out to be the only words Chisholm heard Willie say that day. When Chisholm unenthusiastically offered a greeting to Murphy, Murphy responded curtly: “What’s up, punk?” A punk to Murphy was anyone not within his orbit of control, or someone like Chisholm who was just too decent to be intimidated by a lowlife like Murphy.
Ward repeated his demand for money, saying this time, “I’ll take a dime. I know you got a dime, Chisholm.” Murphy sided with Ward, “Give the man his dime, Chisholm.” “Fuck Ward, and fuck you, and fuck the horse you road in on. If I had a dime, you wouldn’t get your nasty hands on it.” Murphy was not about to put up with defiance from an underling, he took a threatening step towards Chisholm, who didn’t flinch and had no intention of cowering before Grove Boys for whom he had little to no respect. Willie Jones had no heart for a fight with Chisholm, so he remained seated on the stoop, but Ward demonstrated his support by stepping up next to Murphy, while wimpy Phillip , too timid to engage even his mother and sister in physical combat, tried to avoid the conflict by diverting Murphy’s attention to a more urgent issue; he pointed out to Murphy: “You know, the one they call Boss and them Whit brothers be coming by here any time on their way home from work, and you know Boss don’t like to see us this close to Willow Court. On account of Miss Myrt, his mama, living at 766.”
“I don’t care nothing about his fucking mama!” Ward asserted. This was not the kind of thing that went over in The Grove, there were some people’s mamas regarded as so venerable that no one, not even the baddest bad ass around, would step this close to badmouthing. All the boys were jolted into a moment of silence which ended when Murphy, acting out of due caution, picked up Phillip’s theme: “I don’t care nothing about nobody’s mama, but I know Boss is maybe packing, the man is trouble and he’s got his next door neighbors, Whit what swims like a fish and big Siler, and they gonna back him up; and then down there at the end of Willow Court you got Boss’s Uncle Jesse who lives with old lady Brooks, he’s probably packing too. Yeah, we need to get away from Willow Court. Let’s go up to Phillip’s house, his mama ain’t home yet.” Summarily dismissing Chisholm with disregard, the idle teenagers followed their leader towards the playground and eventually across it to Dett Court where Phillip lived.
Chisholm was tempted to walk straight across to 766 Willow Court and visit with Ms. Myrt who was a friend of his dead mother and always invited him to come inside and get an apple from the barrel she kept in the pantry just off her kitchen, but he considered it was getting too late to do anything but go see Duck straightaway. He turned to the right and walked diagonally across the courtyard between Dunbar and Willow Courts, arriving shortly just beyond the middle of the last building in the row where he knocked on the door which Duck’s mother usually opened.
Chisholm didn’t try to hide his surprise when Ruth Elaine opened the door, but an instant and fulsome grin gave evidence of how genuinely pleased he was to see her. Of all of the pretty girls in Lincoln Grove that he liked, he liked Ruth Elaine the most. He thought she was the prettiest girl he knew and the nicest person. She was in the dance group at school, and she was the only fancy dancer Chisholm had ever had the courage to dance with at the rainy-day lunchtime dances held at school. The only reason he hadn’t yet made a move on her was that Duck had told him a year ago that he liked her, though he had never seen her at his house before.
“Duck’s been asking for you. He’s upstairs, you should go on up, his mother is down at my house talking to my mother; she’ll be back in a few minutes. Me and Pam and Little Bit , we’re giving a little party for Duck on Sunday afternoon over at the Oldhams’ place, Everett Court, Donald’s got a hi fi we can use. Just a few people: you and me, the Oldhams, Gloria and Willie, Little Bit and her oldest brothers J.C. and James Henry—you know, people Duck likes. His mother said it’s all right. But don’t tell Duck before Sunday. Anyway, Duck’s waiting on you, I was helping him with the crossword puzzle in The Daily News because the boy is bound and determined to win that one thousand dollars, but he keeps asking for you like something’s not right unless it’s you helping him. There’s something on his mind, but you know how he is, no one’s going to find out nothing before you. Go on up, and don’t forget about the party, three o’clock Sunday.”
As he started up the stairs to the second floor, Chisholm chuckled to himself over being beaten out by Duck, he was thrilled and not even a little envious. With Duck there was plenty to be envious about: Duck was jet black with chiseled features, piercing eyes, and a tender heart like a young Orpheus from Cuba or Haiti, and virtually every pretty girl who lived in Morningside Homes wanted to gobble him up. In the previous six months everyone in Morningside Homes had heard the report that Duck was diagnosed with leukemia, a terminal illness. He didn’t start the current semester in school, and once a week he goes down to Duke University for special treatments. Duck was beautiful and sick, young and dying, mournful and gay: this made him unenviable and yet at the same time beloved. He was the only terminally ill boy in Morningside Homes, and everybody was pulling for him to survive; everyone, especially the youths, felt as though Duck somehow belonged to everybody’s care. It was a duty, as though the spiritual Beauty that Duck was conferred a duty on its beholders to preserve it. That’s certainly how his classmate The Chisholm felt and why he visited his anemic friend regularly to play cards, watch TV together, and work on the Sunday crossword puzzles.
“It’s The Chisholm!” shouted Duck as soon as Chisholm reached the top of the stairs and each could see the other. Chisholm walked down the hallway and into the bedroom where Duck, wearing only pajama bottoms, was sitting on his bed hovering over a section of The Daily News. The friends since seventh grade smiled when they caught sight of each other and their eyes hooked up, a bond had sprung up between them the first time they played baseball together. Months before Duck’s diagnosis the two friends had discovered that they could find solace together, that they could be honest with each other. And they started hanging out together and the reality of their feelings had become that their friendship had become precious to them in a way that only a pair of lonely long-suffering adolescents could rightly understand.
Making himself completely at home Chisholm literally plopped himself down in the easy-chair next to the bed, threw his head back, and closed his eyes. Duck studied a little more on the crossword puzzle and then in exasperation he flung his pencil on the bed and turned to Chisholm with a question: “So, what kind of birds flock together? The clue is ‘birds of a [blank] flock together.’ First letter has to be F. ‘Family’ doesn’t work, I need seven letters, not six.”
With eyes still closed Chisholm pondered aloud: “Birds of a blank flock together? Birds of a . . . sounds like something I’ve heard before. Birds of a . . . blank. Hmm. Birds of a . . . I know, our English teacher, Ms. Totten, you know, who made us read the story about Scrooge last term and now she says we need to read Great Expectations. She’s a really good teacher, and she liked you, said you were a real ‘pip’. Right there in class she called you that. Yeah, she liked you, boy! Ms. Totten says that all the time, you know, ‘birds of a . . . something, birds of a . . . something . . . birds of . . . of a . . . ? A feather! ‘Birds of a feather flock together’—that’s what she says. Try feather.”
“That’s it! The Chisholm is the man!” said Duck as he wrote in feather. Immediately after writing the word Duck put the newspaper and pencil aside and leaned back against the headboard to rest himself. Chisholm recognized this chronic fatigue that burdened his friend in body and spirit, especially at the end of a day. Chisholm figured he would make his visit brief and let Duck get some rest, but Duck said to his friend: “I am not telling anybody else, except for maybe Ruth Elaine on Sunday night, but I want to tell you now. They took some tests and we got the results today. When I go down to Duke next week, probably Monday, they are going to keep me down there. And I was wondering, if you could ride with my mother on some Saturday and come see me? I was wondering.”
Duck and Chisholm both started to crumble into tears, but Chisholm’s ready hand on Duck’s shoulder buttressed them up enough to bring their tears to a halt, despite their now knowing that Duck’s leukemia was not chronic but acute. They understand that when Duck leaves on Monday he will not come back. They understand that Duck may have only weeks to live. They remain quiet for a few moments and they can’t help contemplating how the bond they are now bound into is ineradicable. They talk a little but they realize they don’t have much need for words; they work a little more on the crossword puzzle, and then they say goodnight with a promise to see each other on Sunday.
The next day Mister Lash and Chisholm finished up at the Goshen church cemetery early enough for them to return home before noon, so with an unprecedented ten dollars in his pocket Chisholm had Mister Lash drop him off near downtown so that he could go to Belks or Sears and buy the Jockey briefs he always wanted but never had because Fruit of the Looms were so much cheaper. He wanted to look his best for his anticipated weekend assignation, and those dazzling white Jockey briefs with ribbed pouch were comfortable and form-flattering. He purchased one pair of Jockeys at Sears, and then walked the two city blocks to catch the city bus that would carry him the full length of Gorrell Street and then over on Benbow Road to McConnell Road and then all the way to Lincoln Grove.
Gorrell Street and McConnell Road were parallel thoroughfares leading from Benbow Road in the central city to Lincoln Grove on the eastern border of the city, and the two streets converged into a V intersection in the dead center of Lincoln Grove where a North-South street also converged, McConnell Road being the only street continuing on through the intersection—an intersection referred to locally as the triangle, or more commonly “the block”. Of the four stops a passenger on the McConnell Road bus could take to enter Morningside Homes, only the first two provided direct access to entryways into the projects. The first stop was at Gillespie Street which bordered Morningside Homes on the west side, and the second stop, the one Chisholm took always, was the triangle stop where one exited the bus on McConnell Road at the back-doors of Holt’s Grocery whose front faced Gorrell Street. The passenger would cross McConnell and walk the path through the mostly barren field in-between-and-behind Shep’s Eat-A-Bite & Club and Paradise Drive-In, a car hop next door. That path led to the main entrance to Morningside Homes where the office was located. Across Gorrell Street from the front entrance of Holt’s Grocery there were two memorable, if not venerable, social institutions. There were a couple of really big trees—sturdy, ancient oaks—whose exposed roots and expansive canopy of limbs and branches provided the staging area for winos, the under-employed, and the homeless to commence and carry on their daily drinking-and-surviving rituals while also openly enjoying the company of similarly situated citizens. Sometimes there were domestic disputes, fights or stabbings, or a liquored-up loudmouth fool would get his head kicked in.
Next to the two trees was an empty lot next to which stood a brick and masonry building with a ground floor and a basement floor. Upstairs on the ground floor was a duplex with a radio and TV repair shop on one side and Zeke’s Bar and Grill on the other. Chisholm wanted to get a haircut at the Poinsettia Barbershop which was located on the basement floor of this building where to enter one descended one of the flights of stairs on either side of the duplex. He walked down the cement stairs to the front door of The Poinsettia and entered to find the two regular barbers, Slack and the proprietor Mister Herring, each working on a patron sitting in his chair.
“Hey, it’s The Chisholm! Come on in, take a load off, you’re next,” said Mister Herring who had known Chisholm’s mother long before Chisholm was born and who thought Chisholm was a really good kid with very good manners. Chisholm could see that Slack was just finishing up the haircut of Mister Oldham, a resident of Morningside Homes well-known to everybody in Lincoln Grove as the man to talk to if you needed false teeth. He could make them for you as good as you could buy from a dentist and he would charge you next to nothing. After he took a seat in one of the chairs for waiting patrons, Chisholm first nodded and said “Good afternoon!” to Mister Oldham. Chisholm had for Mister Oldham the additional respect a boy would naturally give to the father of one of the prettiest and nicest girls around. The young man in Mister Herring’s chair was a complete stranger to Chisholm. There was no talking in the barbershop while Mister Oldham was paying and exiting, but as soon as he was gone, Mister Herring, in a jovial manner, said to Slack: “Slack, you know what this boy told me when I asked him what he wants to be when he grows up? You won’t believe what he said. Tell him, Chisholm. Tell Slack what you want to be when you grow up.” Slack sat down in his own chair and urged on the tease, saying: “Yeah, so what does The Chisholm want to be when he grows up?” “I want to be a millionaire,” Chisholm said proudly. “A millionaire!” the others said simultaneously, followed by some hearty approving laughter. Mister Herring emphatically pronounced: “I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. More young folks ought to think that way.” The stranger in Mr. Herring’s chair, now turned so as to enable the young man to look straight at Chisholm, gently offered his opinion: “I think a man needs to do what he thinks is important.”
“That’s right!” agreed Mister Herring, who then asked: “Do you know this boy, Reverend?” Turning to Chisholm he asked the same: “Do you know who this is?”
“I have heard a lot about The Chisholm,” answered the young man. After an awkward moment of silence, he added: “My name is Tommy Hunt. Moms told me all about you. And Cynthia, too.” The look of befuddlement on Chisholm’s face instantly turned into a look of amazement which quickly dissolved into the brightest smile one can imagine, human or angelic. So much happiness was infused into the room that all three men reacted with broad smiles of their own. The Chisholm charm was on full display; in an instant his true heart and that peerless smile had touched Tommy Hunt’s heart and made him want to be the boy’s friend and do him some good. He spoke again to the boy: “So let me ask you this, Brother Chisholm: how important is it to The Chisholm to be a millionaire? Is there anything else you would like to do; anything more important that you wish you could do?”
Chisholm himself was not aware of how intoxicating and addictive intellectual conversation was for him. He enjoyed literary analysis and puzzles of all kinds, but as a rule Grove Boys were too underprivileged and absorbed in the struggle to survive to fancy themselves scholars or intellectuals, leisure pursuits at best. Chisholm, however, was naturally engaged by a question he had no ready answer for; he told Tommy he had to think for a minute, which he did, and then he said: “If I could find a way to make my friend Duck get well, that would be the most important thing for me to do.”
“Good answer!” declared Slack. “Damn good answer!” proclaimed Mister Herring.
The Chisholm and Tommy left the Poinsettia together and spent another hour together talking and eating hot dogs at the counter in Shep’s Eat-A-Bite. Chisholm had never known any young black person like Tommy who went to school with white people, consorted with them, and even counted some as friends. He was stupefied by Tommy’s stories that revealed the ignorance and wrongheadedness of white students’ beliefs about black people. Nor had Chisholm ever before had intimacy with anyone who was a trained theologian and philosopher. Both he and Tommy were so enervated by their talk that they obviously were reluctant to terminate their first meeting, but each had other pressing plans for the day and so they had to part: Tommy needed to work on his sermon for his hometown church the next day, Chisholm had an assignation to plan. Since Tommy was returning to seminary on Monday he knew his friendship with Chisholm would have to be nurtured thenceforth by letters, which he promised Chisholm he would write.
The Grove Boys had a highly compartmentalized approach to romantic seduction. A boy’s first step was to get her phone number so that he and the girl could make plans and set up logistics together. In this game a boy wanted a home run, so to speak, but at each turn at bat he would settle for the most he could get—particularly when he got to meet privately with the girl. Sometimes a goodnight kiss was the best that could be achieved, at other times a boy might get really lucky and achieve the vaunted prize of “getting his fingers wet” with juices to sniff at later on. Sexual intercourse was rarely practicable, everybody understood that sexual intercourse required more privacy and intimacy than was usually available to adolescents. Chisholm had already made it to first base in that he had Danette’s phone number. She gave it to him in the school cafeteria, she walked right up to him and gave it to him and told him to call her on Saturday between five and six. Shortly after saying goodbye to his new friend Tommy, exactly at 5:30, Chisholm stepped inside the phone booth in the club area of Shep’s Eat-A-Bite and called Danette’s number; he was thinking if he could arrange an invitation to her house then a goodnight kiss would be assured. He was somewhat taken aback at how easily it came about. Danette invited him over right away. She said that her mother permitted her to take company in their living-room on Saturdays between six and seven-thirty, and that Chisholm could come over at six. The Chisholm was excited at the prospect of a goodnight kiss, and so he used Shep’s bathroom to wash up and put on his new underwear. Right after 6 P.M. he knocked on the door at Danette’s house.
Danette’s mother answered the door and to Chisholm’s surprise the lady received him graciously, led him to a tastefully appointed and well-vacuumed living-room, and then called down a hallway to inform Danette that she had a guest. Danette joined them in the living-room, and her mother immediately retired to the next room and closed the door behind her. This was the first time any parent had left Chisholm alone with a teenaged daughter at home. He and Danette sat on the couch. Danette, by all accounts a very pretty girl and very smart in school, was more vixen than the average teenager would ordinarily encounter. Almost immediately she offered to kiss Chisholm on the lips; and despite Chisholm being very nervous and fearful of her mother’s return, he found himself and his partner very quickly involved in some heavy petting. After about ten minutes of kissing and feeling each other up through their clothing, Danette whispered sweetly into Chisholm’s ear: “If you let me put my hand down in your underpants, I’ll let you put your hand down in my panties.” By the time she finished speaking she had unbuckled Chisholm’s belt and unbuttoned his pants.
Chisholm could sense the inherent danger of being so vulnerable to discovery, but his society’s fancy for prizing “getting his fingers wet” influenced him to more-or-less go-for-it. But when Danette’s descending hand reached Chisholm’s ample bush, it was like she suddenly turned into a wild animal—panting and moaning. She forcefully grabbed Chisholm’s shoulder with her free hand and demanded, “How about an injection?” And when the panicked Chisholm failed to respond, she stated flat out: “I want you to give me an injection! Right now! Please!” At this point with her one hand she grabbed hold of Chisholm’s hard cock. This whole sexual encounter had become a horror. Chisholm was sane enough to recognize that sexual intercourse under those circumstances would be courting disaster, and that only a nut would ask for it or attempt it. He had no intentions of losing his head over a piece of tail. Chisholm abruptly stood up, buttoned his pants, and quickly walked to the front door and let himself out.
On Sunday evening Chisholm and Tommy managed to spend another grand hour together when haply they rendezvoused at The Cottage Grove Variety Store. On Monday Tommy left for the seminary and Duck left for Duke. Tommy wrote a letter to The Chisholm and he wrote one to Tommy, but after that they never saw each other nor heard from each other again. Morningside Homes, Duck, The Chisholm--they all belong to the world of childhood, they were destined to pass away as youth passes away, but in our hearts and minds they will always be what they were. They will always be beautiful.
Thomas Penn Johnson: "I was born on August 22nd, 1943 in Greensboro, North Carolina where also in 1961 I graduated from James B. Dudley High School. In 1966 I received a B.A. in Classical Studies from then-Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne, Indiana; in 1968 I received an M.A. in English from UNC-G, and I continued graduate studies in English literature and history at Syracuse and Wake Forest Universities. In 2009 I retired from then-Edison State College in Fort Myers, Florida after serving for 26 years as an instructor of English and humanities."