Thursday, February 16, 2012

Flash Fiction: "Upchurch Is A Liar"

As part of my ongoing efforts to rework old material for eventual publication (hopefully), here's a piece I wrote a few years ago, and rewrote recently. Forewarning: It's written in the vernacular of urban youth, but stick with it – I think you'll find its content relevant and worthwhile. Enjoy!


Friend of mine, guy named Devon – calls himself Devo, like that weird band from the eighties – was sittin' with me at lunch the other day, talkin' 'bout some book he'd been readin' lately – like I'd care.

I was just sittin' there pretendin' to be listenin', and he's like, "You know what I'm sayin', man?" And I said, "No, not 'xactly." So he started tellin' me again what he said before when I wasn't listenin' the first time. I was still sort of not listenin' this time, but I sort of was so I wouldn't have to go through it all a third time.

Anyway, Devo started goin' on and on about some guy named Upchurch. Guess he's a writer or somethin', 'cause he wrote this book called The Truth And Nothing But, and Devo was sayin' how all these things that Upchurch was sayin' was, like, gospel truth or somethin'.

But then when he started tellin' me some of the specific things this Upchurch dude had wrote about, I started listenin' a little bit closer, 'cause some of it didn't sound quite right.

Devo said, "According to Upchurch, the biggest threat to America today is the rise of the free-thinkin' black man."

"Dude actually wrote that in a book?" I couldn't believe it.

"Yeah. So?"

"He white?" I asked.

"What you mean is Upchurch white? 'Course he's white. You ever hear of a black man named Upchurch?"

"He's the worst kind of white if you ask me. What's a man doin' writin' junk like that 'bout the black man for, and he white?"

Devo ignored my comment, and continued. "Upchurch says that the longer we allow women to believe they're equal to men in society, the more downhill we'll be goin' as a country."

"Are you kiddin' me, Devo?"

"That's what the man said. I ain't makin' it up."

I gave Devo my best you must be crazy look, and said, "And you agree with that statement?"

"I ain't sayin' I agree with him, but I ain't sayin' I don't neither. Man makes some valid points."

"Ooh, listen to you, Mr. Devo. 'Man makes some valid points.' Shoot, bruh done got intellectual on me here."

"You don't know what you talkin' about, man!" Devo shot back.

"Nah, man. Upchurch is the one who don't know what he's talkin' 'bout," I told him. "You wait till the feminists get wind of that, or any self-respecting womenfolk for that matter. They'll be on him like white on rice. Well...more like rice on white, I guess."

Devo was determined, I'll give him that. Because he went on to share another "Upchurchism" with me. "According to Upchurch, the only thing that can save America from utter ruin is for us all to reject God and live a life devoted to ourselves."

I had to stand up to handle that one. "Now, I'll take issue with that on a personal level, bruh. Maybe I ain't always perfect, and maybe I don't go to church often as I ought to, but one thing I can tell you: When I ain't leanin' on the everlastin' arms, then I'm in bad shape for sure! You know what I'm sayin', Devo?"

"You won't even give the man the point that we almost there already – to livin' a life devoted entirely to ourselves?"

"So what if we are? Does that make it right?" I was spittin' the words out now. "Devo, man, the way I see it, that white dude's sayin' as long as you be good to yourself then everything'll be alright. That ain't the truth, bruh! That ain't even nothin' but!"

Despite the fact that I was losin' my cool, Devo kept at it. "Upchurch says that the best thing we can do, as a nation –"

"The best thing we can do as a nation," I interrupted, "is to tell Upchurch to keep his 'truth' to himself! Dude can babble on and on about what he believes all he wants, and can even find somebody stupid enough to print it, but that don't make him right! Upchurch ain't tellin' you the truth, bruh! Upchurch is a liar! And if you insist on spoutin' off any and every thing that dude says, then you a liar too! I won't have no part of it, and I won't have nothin' to do with you either!"

I think I finally got his attention. Devo kinda looked down and to the side like he didn't wanna look me in the eye, and mumbled, "I guess you're right."

"You dang right I'm right, and don't you forget it!"

Lunch period was just about over now. Devo said "later" and made his way out the door. But just before he disappeared from sight, I saw him reach inside his bookbag, pull out a big book with a white man's face on the cover, and chunk it in the trashcan.

That was the last I heard 'bout Upchurch.

POSTSCRIPT:  I'd love to hear your thoughts or comments on any of my fiction. These pieces are all "works in progress" and anything that you, as readers, think might make them better will certainly be considered. You can find my other posted stories here, here, here, here, and here.

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