Henry stared at the boy’s dark brown eyes and shuddered. They scared him. He shifted his gaze from the boy, but everywhere he looked, he saw them. He saw hundreds of eyes staring straight at him, looking into his very being.
Henry clutched his father’s hand in fear as one of them stood on the auction block. His hair, a mass of brown curls resting on his head. His cheeks hollow, eyes gaunt. His hands slender, his nails carved like a claw. The boy was lean, maybe a bit too thin. Henry could see the boy’s ribs. His skin was dry and saggy like that of an old man. But he wasn’t old. Henry could see it in his eyes. His father said eyes never lied.
He heard the loud booming voice of a man with a large belly, dressed in a black coat.
“Five hundred dollars for the boy.”
He heard people murmuring amongst themselves. Their voices sounded like that of bees buzzing around in a hive. He tightened his grip on his father’s hand and watched as some men went up to the boy on the block. He watched them open the boy’s mouth, look at his teeth, turn his head, and even slap him.
The boy just stood still, shackled in his chains, his body tense as he was poked and prodded.
“Father what are they doing?” Henry asked.
His father looked at him for a brief moment before turning his gaze to the boy on the block. “They’re inspecting it.”
“Why? Who is he?” He tugged his father’s sleeve.
“It’s a Negro. That’s why they’re inspecting it.”
“What’s a Negro?”
“An animal, with a coat as black as dirt and eyes brown like mud; it’s the creature standing there.” He pointed to the boy.
“What are they going to do with him?”
“They’re going to buy it.”
“What will they do with him?”
“Stop asking questions Henry.”
By now the place was quiet. The boy still stood on the block. Despite what was going on around him, there was something about him that intrigued Henry. Maybe it was the way the boy stood? Maybe it was the way he held his head high?
Henry removed his hand from his father’s and tried to imitate the boy’s posture; then the brown eyes made contact with his green eyes. Their eyes locked together for a moment. They gazed into each other’s eyes. Eyes never lied, and Henry knew that. His father said they were a gateway to the depths of a man’s soul.