He had four vials. He would open the first one here. It was a good night to change the world. The wind was blowing briskly, and would be a willing helper to what Rod had planned.
A child prodigy, Rod entered the university system when he was twelve years old. Once, he was in the fast track towards earning dual degrees in Business and Economics, before his life took an unfortunate turn. It set him on a course that led up to this very moment.
Rod opened the vial and poured its contents out over the side of the building. The building was screened in, to prevent people from jumping to their deaths, but the steel mesh curtain was no barrier to the formula in his vials. Rod systematically walked to the three remaining corners of the building, opening his vials, emptying them out over the city. When he finished, he put the empty containers into his suit pocket and walked back into the building, back to the elevators, and out into the night. He stopped to hail a cab and couldn’t help but note with a rueful shake of his head that taxis without passengers drove by him for almost fifteen minutes. It was no wonder, he mused -- he was a Black man on the streets of New York City.
Finally, a cab drove up to him and stopped.
“Thank you for stopping, it’s been a long night,” Rod said, smiling.
The driver, an Arab man, smiled back at him and asked, “Where to, Brother? In this world, anything not white is a brother to me!”
The taxi driver laughed, pulling out into the traffic once Rod closed his door.
“That’s a good way to look at it," said Rod. "I’m headed to JFK, on my way to Philadelphia.”
“Ahh…the city of brotherly love! As if there is such a thing in America!” the taxi driver said, both of them laughing.
Rod eased back into his seat. He had worked tirelessly for almost ten years, and the formula was absolutely perfect. He had the only antidote. It was perfect, made up not just of a viral component, but it was laced with human DNA that would imprint upon its victims, not simply superficial, but molecular level changes.
He had a long way to go, but he’d bring the United States to its knees before he was done. New York, though, he had wanted to take care of himself. The rest of America would follow, as soon as he got to the airport. Planes left JFK headed for all parts of the nation, even the world. Rod had one more vial he would open when he got there. He had made sure that this virus could survive just about anything, heat, cold, wind, water, even chemicals. He had used the same packaging that was found in hoof and mouth disease, a mostly wind borne virus that affected cattle.
His little concoction was going to make everything even, once and for all. He was going to hit people with something soap and water couldn’t wash off.
The cab pulled up to the airport. Rod paid the driver and headed for the busy airport. He had a good forty-five minutes before his flight left, but he had some plans first. He walked through security, putting his briefcase on the x-ray ramp.
“Sir, can you open your briefcase, please?” the woman on the x-ray machine told him.
Rod sighed. Racial profiling. They really seemed to like stopping Black men in suits coming to the city on business.
Rod opened his briefcase, and watched one of the security men rustle through it. The man then closed the top, motioning for Rod to proceed on his way.
“You can’t be too careful nowadays," drawled the Hispanic security man, rolling his eyes at Rod. They both knew there was no problem.
The x-ray tech was a White woman, and this was her sector of power, her own way at needling every Black man that came through here.
Rod continued on his way, knowing that he had the virus all over his body, having poured it out over the city earlier. She’d be in for quite a shock when she woke up tomorrow. That was the beauty of the virus he made, it did its work while the body was at rest. Everybody had to sleep sometime.
Rod walked through the terminal and soon was on the observation deck upstairs. He could look out over the entire airport, looking at the planes on the tarmac below him. Lufthansa, USAir, Continental, Delta, British Airways -- the list went on and on. Rod hesitated a moment, taking a deep breath. He reached into his coat pocket and felt for the last vials. These were the large ones, the size of a small prescription bottle. He’d release one in Philadelphia and another in Washington, D.C. late that evening. All he had to do was get up someplace high and open the vial. The virus would do the rest.
He walked to the edge of the observation deck and took out a vial, tossing its contents over the side in a wide arc. It was a cool night, and mostly business people were traveling, with it being the middle of the week. They didn’t have time to stop and watch him.
Recapping the vial, he replaced it into his suit pocket with a smile of satisfaction. What did people always say about New York? If you could make it there, you’d make it anywhere...
Rod went back into the terminal to wait for boarding. He was flying in first class. When they called Business First, Rod stood up and went to hand his ticket to the person at the gate.
“Thank you, sir, have a nice flight," the young woman said, already moving on to the next passenger. Just after Rod came a White businessman, whom she spoke with briefly. Rod just shook his head and walked away.
“May I take your coat, sir?” a young flight attendant asked, waiting for an answer.
“No, that’s alright. Thank you anyway,” Rod told him, walking to his seat. He took off his coat after setting his briefcase at his feet. He sat down and put on his seatbelt, watching the flight attendants fawn over the White Business First passengers.
Rod closed his eyes and nodded off, not waking until they were beginning their descent.
He repeated his actions in Philadelphia, this time taking a moment to open his vial right outside the plane as he walked down the stairs. Everyone was so into their conversations that no one noticed his actions. The virus dropped onto the tarmac. Rod looked back just in time to see a luggage truck drive through the puddle he had dumped most of the virus into, making a huge splash before it continued on its way. Rod could almost see his creation leaping up into the air, borne on the wind.
He crossed the tarmac to the terminal, then walked down to the gate to catch his connecting flight. He was soon seated once more, on his way to Washington. Home.
Just before landing, he took his last vial, and went to the restroom, closing and locking the door. He then opened the toilet, and emptied the vial into it, flushing it as they began their descent. That would spread it out over the area, overnight. There was a strong headwind, which would make his job that much easier. “Fly babies, fly.” Rod whispered, putting the vial back into his suit jacket, and then washing his hands. He went back to his seat, fastening his seatbelt, as the plane inched ever lower, swaying in the wind.
Rod was one of the first people off the plane, and went through the terminal quickly, going to the parking garage, and climbing into his car. He drove an old Porsche boxer, and it had gotten him pulled over several times, for no reason. He restored the car himself, it was one of his baby’s! He drove to the exit gate, handing his ticket, and a credit card to the attendant, who took both of them, with a slight shrug.
“Sorry sir, it’s declined.” She sniffed, tossing her blonde hair for emphasis.
“Run it again, it’s an American Express card, platinum doesn’t get declined.” Rod told her, waiting for her to rerun the card. It went through the second time, and he took it and the receipt, commenting,
“Hope you enjoyed touchin’ it, baby, it’s about as close as you’ll get to having one.” The girl was trash, and STILL thought she was better than him, cause her skin was White! Man! He hated that shit! She glared at him, about to reply, but he rolled the window up, driving out as the bar raised in front of his car. He was home in half an hour. He pulled into his garage, after opening it with his garage door opener, and quickly turned the car off, getting out. It took just a few moments to put down the garage, and then he went inside, putting his briefcase down by the door.
Rod lived in the Maryland suburbs, in a town named Mitchellville. It was the up and coming address for the Black Bourgeoisie, with several people building huge estate type homes in the area. Several different enclaves existed, and many of the communities were gated.
Rod hadn’t moved into a gated community, he simply lived in his parents home. His parents. All they had wanted was a better life for him. All they had wanted, was for him to be judged just like all the little White kids. But even with all they wanted, he was never good enough, and neither were they.
A traffic stop by a Prince Georges County cop, had ruined everything. The young black men they had pulled over had put up a struggle, and one of them ran into the traffic on Route 50, when his Mother and Father had been returning from a shopping trip to Annapolis. There were no exclusive stores in the County they lived in, which led the nation in the number of young Black people in the upper portion of per capita income as minorities. But you still had to drive to another County to find a Saks or Lord and Taylor.
His Father had been driving, and a car in front of them had swerved to avoid hitting the boy. His Father didn’t react in time, and the boy came through their windshield, instantly killing his parents, and the driver. The boys had panicked, because of the reputation of the County officers. Four Black youths driving in a Mercedes were an easy target. They later found out, the car belonged to one of the boys’ parents. The boy that had panicked had been a friend he had met in an all-met basketball tournament, who was wanted in DC for an assault warrant. He had panicked, and tried to get away, resulting in the accident. Others were hurt, but only the young man, and Rod’s parents, were killed.
His Aunt came up from South Carolina to take care of him. She had died two years ago, of breast cancer. Now Rod was alone. Alone, except for his babies. His viruses. He loved the human genome. It had only been completely broken down near the end of 1999, and it had yielded him a great deal of material to do research with.
Rod yawned, tossing his keys on the kitchen counter, before he walked upstairs to go to bed. He turned on his television, and checked to make sure the videotape was ready once more, before he quickly undressed, and got into bed. He went to sleep with a smile on his face. It was the first time that had happened, since his parents’ death.
She woke up this morning feeling congested, as though she had the flu. The phone rang on her nightstand and she reached for it, putting it to her ear absently.
“Hello, Ma?” Janey’s voice came over the line.
Rosemary sighed. To think that her daughter had married a Black man. While Rosemary had never called him the ‘N’ word to his face, she stopped referring to him that way out of fear that it would slip out and she wouldn’t be able to see her grandchildren anymore. Poor things, they couldn’t help it if their parents were fools.
“Yes, Janey, what is it?” Rosemary said.
“Ma! Have you seen the news?”
“No, I just now woke up, what’s wrong with you?” Rosemary replied, taking the portable phone with her to the bathroom.
“Ma! Have you looked at yourself this morning? It’s happening all over the city! Have you looked in the mirror?”
“No, I haven’t! Stop being so cryptic!” Rosemary snapped at her, as she turned on the bathroom light. She lifted her head to look in the mirror, and screamed in shock.
The person in the mirror wasn’t her. She dropped the phone, screaming over and over.
"It won't come off!" Rosemary wailed.
Rosemary snatched up a towel and started wiping her face, her screams echoing off of the tile in the bathroom.
“Ah... yeah..." said Janey. "I’m pretty sure it did.” She hung up the telephone and stroked her arms gently, marveling at how smooth and brown they looked now. They were just a little lighter than Al’s jet black skin.
“Honey, I’m black now, ain’t I?” Janey asked, a slow smile coming over her face.
Big Al smirked, nodding his head. He took a long drink of his coffee.
“Yeah, you plenty black now!" Al said.
“Well... I don’t know who did this, but I like it," Janey said, smiling. "Now my Ma, that’s another matter!”
He set his cup down and stood up, unbuttoning his shirt slowly. He was calling in sick today. With a grin he swept her into his arms and carried her to the bedroom.
Janey couldn’t believe what had happened, and in her man's arms, she couldn't believe how happy she was -- she was Black. And the way it looked right now, so was most of New York City.
About The Author
Story © Trisha A. Lindsey, 1998
Story and pictures by Ms. Lindsey.
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