The block was hot with gunshots.
Kids and parents scurried like mad, screaming and ducking as the two gang bangers from the rival Mexican gang were shooting their machine guns at 18 year old Bill. Bill fired off an entire clip before his bullet grazed one of his attackers in the leg. He waited until their bullets ran out before he ran into a dark alley. He caught a glimpse of his brown face, with its blinging ear rings and thick wooly beard in a broken mirror that was leaning on a trash can.
“Yeah,” he said to himself as he ignored the smell of sweat and garbage. He reloaded his 9mm and leaned against a cold, sticky brick wall. “Them fools don’t know who they fu----“
Then everything went pitch black.
Bill found himself sitting alone in some kind of cell. At least it felt like a prison. There were no bars, no walls, and really even no furniture except for the metallic bed and chair in this cold, gray area. He had no idea how long he’d been in there and found it odd that he didn’t feel hungry or thirsty. He just sat there; waiting for God knows what, as he played with his doo-rag and scratched his braided hair whenever he felt an itch.
“William,” called a voice from behind him.
Bill spun around. The only thing he saw was a glowing black orb. He spoke to it. “I go by Bill. Only mamma calls me Williams.”
“Bill,” said the orb, flashing each time it communicated. “A nick name.”
The orb explained how it was a fourth dimensional being that was allowed limited contact with creatures in our dimension. It was there to observe and record human behavior for 200 years Earth time, nothing more, nothing less. Any more than that and it ran the risk of angering the Lord of Worlds.
“So you scared of God, huh?”
Bill gave a grunt and shrugged. “I ain’t.”
“I see,” the orb said. “Perhaps that explains your behavior.”
Bill tripped over his sagging pants trying to choke the orb. It moved before he could reach it. He stopped as soon as his pants almost fell completely off his buttocks. Feeling winded, he pulled them up completely before he remembered the Hip Hop trend and let them sag halfway down his rear again.
The orb hovered overhead. “Use your words, Bill, not your hands. I don’t want you to hurt me.”
“Well,” Bill said, “what you call what you doing to me?”
The orb paused. “I’m not hurting you. I’m holding you for questioning.”
Bill folded his arms. “You Five-O?”
The orb grew a little brighter. “I want to ask you about philosophy. I’m particularly interested in the philosophy of racism.”
Bill raised his voice. “Hey man, don’t nothing affect me! ‘Specially not racism! I run my whole block man, don’t nobody tell me what to do!”
“Funny,” the orb said. “I just told you what to do. I told you not to touch me and you didn’t.”
Bill thought for a second before he tried to jump up and grab the orb. Again he was too slow, and way too far down. He cursed it with various combinations of the f-words and n-words and slurs pertaining to mothers.
“You’re right to be upset, Bill. I am confining you. But then again, I’d think that you’d be used to confinement.”
“Why you say that?” Bill said as he sat down in the chair.
“This thing, this philosophy, this racism. It keeps you confined. You’re told where to go, what to be and how to think. You think you run your block, but you don’t. Those drugs that you sell are supplied to you by people who don’t know you, don’t care about you and will blame you for their problems. All the while they make money while you risk your life. Because underneath it all, you hate yourself and anyone who looks like you.”
Bill sucked his teeth loudly as he gave the orb a dismissive wave. “What? Man please, I get paid.”
The orb flew in front of Bill, just outside of his reach. “Have you heard of Neely Fuller Jr.?”
Bill laughed. “What you say? Negro full of tuna?”
“Mr. Fuller said that if you don’t understand racism/white supremacy, everything else will only confuse you. He wrote extensively on the topic in his book.”
Bill frowned. “What book?”
“The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept: A Textbook Workbook for Victims of Racism White Supremacy.”
“Did he make a movie out of it?” Bill said. “A DVD? CD? Can he rhyme or something?”
The orb sounded enthusiastic. “It is possible that a movie one could be made exploring his ideas. I could go examine some of the alternate timelines and make sure. I know he has some recordings of his lectures. Perhaps I’ll ask a human to send you one after my interrogation.”
Bill snickered. “Naw, man. Just let me outta here so I can make my loot.” He eyed the orb suspiciously. “You want a cut or something? Is that why I’m here?”
“No, Bill” the orb said. “I don’t need money. My people and I live on universal energy. You will understand that if you ever become universal man.”
“I ain’t going to a university,” Bill said, “unless some professor wants to buy some product.”
“No, Bill, universal, not university. Universal energy is the energy in all. It is what some humans call the Holy Spirit. Others call it Ra. Some worship it, others don’t. Some even use it to heal.”
“Look man, I don’t need no healing and I feel like going upside your head. Now let me outta here.”
The orb moved to Bill’s left and hovered. “I apologize. I see it was a bad idea for me to interfere. Perhaps I’ll pick someone else.”
“Cracker,” Bill whispered.
Bill got louder as he stood up. “Cracker! You must be some tool of the white man. Only white folks think they can grab people like they animals and do whatever they want. Them and aliens.”
“Well,” the orb said. “I’m not white, and I’m not a person. So I guess from your standpoint, I am an alien. I’m just curious, Bill. Could you please be patient and answer one question?”
“Look,” Bill said, “I ain’t sayin’ nothin’ ‘til you promise me two things: pay me for my time and let me go.”
“I can do that,” the orb said.
“Ok, then ask. One question. Then I gotta bounce.”
The orb took what seemed like an eternity to Bill as it processed the data it had collected so far. All of the wars fought in the world, the issues of Slavery in the US, the Jews in Nazi Germany, racial oppression, sexual exploitation and economic turmoils turned in its 4th dimensional processors. It intersected everything it had learned about humanity in general and black people in particular before it realized one thing: all it needed to do was to ask Bill a universal question.
“Here is the question, Bill.”
“What is it? What do you want to know?”
The orb moved until it hovered in front of his face. “Your girlfriend Keisha is pregnant, correct?”
“Yeah, so what.”
“And you are a top drug dealer, correct?”
Bill shrugged his shoulders. “Yeah. And?”
“So ask yourself Bill. Do you want your child to live like this?”
Bill’s jaw dropped and his arms went limp. He sat there, dumbfounded forever, before gave the orb his answer. “No.”
“Thank you,” the orb said. “That’s all I needed to know.”
The orb flew to the top of the room and turned brown as it rotated on is axis. It gave off a high-pitched whine as what appeared to be the grey cell pealed away. Soon Bill was looking through a clear doorway that led back into his bedroom. “Go through the portal and return to your reality,” the orb said. “Don’t worry. I will return you to a safe location.”
“Cool,” Bill said. He took a few steps before he remembered their deal. “Hey, where’s my money?” “I’ll send it by mail.”
“You can do that?”
“Yes. I can do that. There is one human that God allows me to talk to, besides you. I just can’t be seen by too many humans.”
“Why do I have to wait?”
“Because,” the orb said. “It builds patience.”
Bill shrugged. “Yeah, whatever.”
“Bill,” the orb asked. “Do you want to remember this experience?”
“What you mean?” Bill said.
“Do you want to remember this after we are finished? Yes or no? I can erase your memory of me. I can even return you to where you were when I found you so that you don’t wonder why you’re in your room and not on the corner.”
Bill remembered the gun fight. “Uh, could you just drop me off in my room at home?”
The orb laughed. “Yes, that’s right. You were about to die when I found you.”
Bill stomped his foot. “That ain’t funny, man.” He thought for a second. “Put a bag of weed beside me. That'll make me think I was too high to 'member how I got home.”
“Good,” the orb said.
As soon as Bill’s foot touched his bedroom floor, the orb shot him with a beam that took away most of his memory. It did violate their agreement slightly, though. While it made Bill forget about the encounter, it did not let him forget two things.
Bill remembered the statement: “If you don’t understand racism/white supremacy, everything else will only confuse you”.
Bill also remembered the question: “Do you want your child to live like this?”
He sat in his room alone for two days, only coming out to eat and bathe. His mother and girlfriend assumed that he was hiding out as a result of the shooting, and like he said, he chalked up the missing time period to the bag of weed he found at his side.
On the third day, an enveloped arrived. It had two thousand dollars in it, along with three two books. One was a copy of the Bible. Another was The Isis Papers by Dr. Francis Cress-Welsing. The Third was The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept, by Neely Fuller Jr.
For some odd reason, Bill felt compelled to give the money to his mother and take a crack at reading those books. He closed the door, turned off the CD player, sat in a chair and read.