Adok is talking to his brother Hans. Adok recalls the day he sees Nazi Colonel Otto Strauss awaken from the dead weeks after WWII ends.
“Did you see the colonel awaken?” Hans asked.
Adok walked up to the window and stood beside Hans.
“Yes, eleven years ago. It was two days after we saw Kapp and his wife on the military ship. It was on Sunday, at sunset. I entered our cabin out of breath. You asked me what was wrong and where I had been. I told you I just finished my tennis lesson and rushed to change for dinner–not true. I completed the session an hour earlier. I was just strolling about on deck bouncing my tennis ball on top of my racket when an eerie feeling came over me, compelling me to walk to the edge of the ship and peer out at the ocean. As my eyes scanned the curling waves, a house gradually came into focus. Suddenly, I was peering through the open window on the second-floor of your uncle’s cottage. Inside sat the colonel in the black leather chair still wrapped in barbed wire. Due to decay, the barbed wire hung loosely off his bony, emaciated body. The vision was so real I even imagined smelling his rotting flesh, and I placed my hand over my nose to lessen the stench. I wanted to run away, but my feet were like blocks of concrete. I couldn’t move. So I watched shivering and scared.”
“I watched as the colonel’s body twitched, a little at first, and then a lot, until finally, his sunken eyes, surrounded by thick black circles, popped open. Slowly, he rose from the chair, straightening his legs more and more. Higher and higher, his body ascended until the joints in his knees snapped, and he was standing straight up. The silver wire slid to the floor as the top of his head bumped against the ceiling. The colonel was a giant, taller than seven feet. He bent down low, stepped from the wire, and turned to leave. As he walked out the door, the vision slowly disappeared. Finally, able to move, I ran as fast as I could to our room.”
Nola Richardson who passes for white. She interviews Rosa Parks.
Nola: Wow! That’s impressive. Now tell me about your experience riding the bus before the incident last year. Did you ever pay your fare and then get left by the bus driver?”
Rosa: Yes, James Blake, the bus driver that radioed the police was also the same driver that left me several years ago standing in the rain after I paid. There’s probably not a Negro who rides the bus that hasn’t been left behind at least once. Although there was only one white passenger on the bus when this occurred years ago, I had to exit the bus after paying and re-enter in the rear. If no white riders are on board, we can walk directly down the aisle to the designated Colored Section.
Nola: But last December, you decided not to sit in the rear in the Colored Section, and you took a front- row seat.
Rosa: No, I was sitting in the Colored Section that day.
A crease appeared on Nola’s forehead as she shook her head.
Nola: Then, why did the driver ask you to vacate your seat?
Rosa: Where the Colored Section begins depends on how many white people are on board. As the bus fills up with white passengers, the sign is moved back further and further to make room for them. Whites get to sit, no matter what. That day, the Colored Section started five rows back. The entire bus was full, which meant, if I gave up my seat, I had to ride the rest of the way standing.
Nola: Did you ever have to ride standing before? Rosa: Yes, often.
Nola: So, what made that day in December of last year different? What made you not want to comply?
Were you tired that day?
Rosa: That’s what many people believe. But that’s not true. I was not tired physically, no more tired than I usually was when a working day ended. The only tired I was, was tired of giving in. I was tired of being treated like a second-class citizen and giving in to segregation laws designed to humiliate Negroes, strip us of our dignity, and make us lesser human beings. Growing up in Pine Level, Alabama, school bus transportation was unavailable to us. I remember the school bus picking up the white kids to go to their new school while all the Colored kids had to walk. I’d see the bus pass every day… but that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept that as the custom. The segregated bus system was how I realized there was a black world and a white world. But there’s only so much injustice a person can take before they either go insane or fight back. And the more we gave in, the more we complied with that treatment, the more oppressive it became. I didn’t want to go to jail. But I didn’t want to be deprived of a seat I had paid for either. I guess it was the accumulation of years of mistreatment endured by my people that led me to refuse to give up my seat that evening. Earlier that year in Mississippi, two white men brutally murdered 14-year-old Emmett Till for supposedly flirting with a white woman. Emmett’s killers abducted him from his great uncle’s house at night and beat and mutilated him before shooting him in the head; then, they tossed his body in the Tallahatchie River. Can you imagine how terrified that child was? How he must have screamed and hollered and cried for his mother? I was thinking of Emmett Till that day, and how that could have been my son.
African American Fiction