Imagine a King: Trenee Seward
Since it is the King holiday, I thought I’d share an appropriate short story. This particular short titled, “Imagine a King” was featured in my Master’s thesis and won honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s “Family Matters” writing competition a few years ago. I will admit that I never share my own writing here, but I do consider myself a fiction writer.
As previously mentioned on this blog, I’ve always been fascinated by the media’s presentation of who Martin Luther King was versus the real King. When I prepared for my Master’s thesis, I had an idea for a short story and went crazy researching various biographies. I ended up not going with my original plot, but I did get what I came for as far as finding out what I wanted to know. Anyway, read my previous posts on Getting to Know King and Alternative Perspectives: Martin Luther THE King, Jr. to learn more about that.
In the meantime, please enjoy my short story selection, “Imagine a King”:
My parents were of average intelligence, until Jeopardy came on. As a boy, I often sat between them on the couch in my cartoon-adorned underoos. For thirty minutes I listened to them battle it out over the show’s most difficult answers. Mama never presented herself as a real challenge to Daddy, but the older and better I became, the more universal remote controls Daddy destroyed. We stocked a couple of spares with these sudden final minutes of the show outbursts in mind. Jeopardy was the only show the three of us watched together on a daily basis. If we weren’t yelling at Alex Trebek and his contestants, we were watching or reading something to help us prepare for the next episode.
“My, my, my…you see this, Louis?” Daddy said as he leaned forward in his leather recliner. In an effort to help Mama out with at least one chore, I’d decided to setup Daddy’s wood TV tray. After living with my parents for over thirty years, we rarely had any real conversations or serious talks anywhere except in front of our big screen television. Daddy just wasn’t as much fun or as talkative any other place. Everything I’d learned about my parents had been right here in this living room and they were still full of surprises. If a commercial or show came on that reminded them of a story from their past, Daddy especially, then those details became more important than whatever else was going on. But in social situations, my parents, Thurmond and Eloise, were the types to sit in the back corner at most events, unheard and unnoticed. To see them at their liveliest required an eating utensil in one hand and a remote control in the other.
Before I could properly adjust Daddy’s tray, he nudged me in my ribs with the television remote and motioned for me to move out of his way. I tapped his arm with a playful karate move and turned just in time to see what he had adjusted his eyeglasses for.Imagine a King
“How’d we even get on this channel?” I questioned as I scratched at my unkempt beard.
“Your mama use to look like that.” Daddy licked his lips and scratched at the tight curls beneath his white tank top. “Yup. She would dance around just like that—a Soul Train regular, I’m trying to tell you.” Listening to Daddy tell stories was always like playing the game Two Lies and a Truth. Even as a daily player, I still couldn’t figure out which parts were true—everything seemed possible.
Daddy and I stared at the three women jiggling their rumps and kicking up their stilettos to a bass-dropping beat in high-definition. They had the kind of bodily shapes and curves that I fantasized about at night in my twin-sized bed in the back room. The one that still had the same Houston Astros sheets Mama bought twenty years ago on it. It seemed appropriate for a room that I’d lived in all life. I’m not ashamed to admit that I never left home—not even for college. I knew more about what I didn’t want than anything else. My parents seemed cool about that. There was no need for a nice car, my bus pass did me fine. No need for a video-girl type chick that would only criticize my interests and thrifty style of dress. Without a car, place, or woman, what else really mattered? My parents provided everything I could possibly imagine, including my entertainment, without complaint.
“They look good, don’t they?” Good enough to be out of my league. “What’s that they’re singing about?” I shrugged a response. “Remind me of this group I used to like when I was growing up—The Terrell Sisters, except they ain’t never make it big— they were big girls though.” Daddy chuckled. “They were the only women that ever sang ‘Amazing Grace’ on stage while gnawing on fried chicken bones.”
“If they weren’t so busy eating up everything, maybe they would have had more time for their performances.” Mama interrupted. Wearing an African-inspired moo moo, furry slippers, and a hot pink stocking cap, we couldn’t help but focus our attention on her.
“You didn’t even know those girls, Eloise.” A spasm of irritation crossed Daddy’s face as Mama winked a sleepy-eye at me. She’d ruined yet another one of his stories. “You hush your mouth, woman.” Mama touched Daddy’s shoulder and placed a plate of pot roast, mashed potatoes, and green beans before him. With his eyes focused on the television, he instructed her not to add any ice or sugar to his sweet tea, like she didn’t know his ridiculous preferences by now.
Read more: Imagine a King
Thanks for reading, y’all!