Sedrick T Robertson (Ty)
In the early 1900’s, a mature Willow tree spoke for the first time after monitoring humans over its life span. The tree only spoke once it was alone. Since the tree observed nature, it knew the hidden wealth and knowledge of the world. The Willow tree sat upon hill on the edge of a plantation in the Louisiana country side. A private mile long road met the white southern plantation house surrounded by fields and old slave quarters. Most nights echoed silence throughout the night. During the tree’s era, it had learned the evil and woes of man, thus growing a conscience of right and wrong. In detest, the tree would not bear offspring during years of experience and never would speak to residents dwelling there. Most of the residents would cringe in discus from the sight of the tree and played no mind to the tree until a new grounds keeper Willey came along.
“Where you at dumb Willey”, screamed the Mr. Resident.
“I’m coming sir.” Willey stumbled with his bum leg.
“Hurry up black ugly mother… I need you to unclog the damn toilet!” steadily screaming the resident.
Willey nodded gimping into the house and continued with his duties without a smart retort. As he approached the restroom, a fragrance of feces roared throughout the hall and became louder in smell as Willey came near. Drip… Drip… Splat! Looking down, Willey sees excrement flooded on the smooth white tiles linoleum floor. The water soaked into warned out-holed boots causing Willey’s feet get wet. A smiled crawled on will face and he went to work.
“And you better clean all that shit up too,” smarted off the Mr. Resident.
Willey tiptoed to the toilet until the wades of toilet paper came into view.
“Boo,” blurted the resident’s son. “How you like my surprise? It’s kinda the same color of you. Don’t you think?”
“Yes sir I’ll take right good care of it,” mumbles Willey.
After finishing his duties in cleaning and unclogging the toilet, Willey went back outside. His nose opened with thankfulness in the clean fresh air. He then began working on taking care the yard. “How are you doing today beautiful green grass?” Brushing and stroking the grass as if it understood feelings of gratitude. Willey grabbed the mower and went to work. What a peculiar man? ... thought the Willow tree. The tree’s eyes began to open and observed the rest of Willey’s day. The rumble of the lawnmower’s engine and blades could be heard the rest of the early evening until the sun set upon the country side.
The next dark morning sluggishly the Willow tree awoke to the vibration and bangs of a tractor. To what surprise did see, but a good old Willey sitting in the seat. A faint limerick song could be heard below engine rumble. The tree also noticed that Willey’s attire was the same he had the other day with the foul smells of restroom duties and lawn work still lingering on him. He must have been so tired that he didn’t have the energy to clean his only clothes… thought the Willow tree. Yet, he is still happy… puzzled in eureka. Later that day, a Model T car came into the driveway. Out steps the lady resident with loose gravel fleeing beneath her feet. The man resident peeks out the screen front door.
“Willey! Willey! Get out here now and help Mrs. with the groceries,” orders Mr. Resident.
“Yes sir,” replies Willey in the distance hobbling from the tractor to the loose gravel pebbled driveway.
“Yeah, sad ass excuse of a man,” scolded the Resident’s wife in the distance.
“Yes ma’am…. Thank you,” without thought Willey replied.
Willey opened the door with care reaching into the rear of the car grabbing bags of white papered meat. As Willey gimps to the doorway, a child like foot sticks out and trips him to the floor.
In the distance of the driveway Mrs. Resident screams in a high pitch voice, “you better not have spilled my meat on the damn floor.”
Laughter erupts from the main room of the living room with footsteps in motion. “Ha ha ha,” laughs the little resident’s son falling and holding his stomach on the floor.
Hurrying to his feel and picking up the groceries and placing them on the counter top, Willey tries to keep from touch anything else and escaping the house.
“Yes Ma’am, I got them on the counter top and thank you for letting me help.” Apologetically Willey looked at Mrs. Resident’s feet.
Willey walks even more limp towards the edge of the property toward the old Willow tree. Once he gets there, he grabs his leg in pain. The Willow tree examines Willey’s clothes and sees a torn pants leg on his bad leg with the smell of fresh iron. Willey had never taken a good look at the Willow tree. The tree’s bark lay rough and flaking with big trunk holes proportioned to the trunk with what looked like the top half of a smiley face.
A low baritone voice rasps through the holes of the tree, “Why are you so nice to them?”
In surveillance looking around, Willey claws up the tree to his feet. “Who said that?”
“It’s me the Willow tree,” whispers the tree.
Not even responding to pain, Willey ran as fast as his bum leg would take him home to the slave quarters of the plantation. Meditating in furious fashion: Was that a demon? Is it gonna kill me?
Willey’s eyes slipped into darkness with each scenario playing throughout his mind until he awoke the next early morning. I’m going to face this even if it kills me, thought Willey. Birds could be heard in the distance as he paced himself towards the Willow tree. With each step the tree came into focus in the sun’s early twilight. Willey surveys around him while approaching the tree.
“Hello … Are you there,” stuttered Willey.
A fresh deep slumbered voice said, “Yes, I’m here. Why do you let them treat you that way Willey?”
Willey slow to respond think carefully of his words responded, “This is all I have left in this world. I’ve had a bad life, yet I’m happy for what I have.”
This response puzzled the Willow tree even further, “I wanna know what caused you to be this way.” The tree gazed deeply into his character’s description: A black man with the face of a troll lewd acne face and back hunched over with a bum leg; Cheap ripped overalls from the incident from the day before engrossed from time passed.
Falling to branched base of the tree root onto his rear-end, Willey sighed. Finding strength in his beliefs, he starts his story. “My life started by two slaves. While my mother was a Black Feet Indian, my father was an African slave that raped my mother on a dark night in servitude. She kept me up until I was 13 years old. My ugly figure was because she was not only given a child, but decease during the rape. Since she knew nothing about decease, it caused my ugly looks. Once my man hood showed at 13, my mother’s past showed its face, she was terrorized with nightmares and jitters from the sight of me. She died from the decease eating her mind. Ever since then I have been on my own. I work and learned trades by following the other slaves, yet I was born free. No one would give me work since I was ugly. I figured what didn’t kill me make me stronger. I have always tried to stay strong and do whatever job comes to me to survive.”
The Willow tree’s aurora grew brighter and flower buds stretched for the morning’s dawn light. “I have a gift to give you Willey and I think you are disserving of. I have been blessed with knowledge of the land and I want to get you the blessing. I can bestow wealth and beauty, but I only ask you to figure out why I am here and the only tree with a vocal spirit. Willey, there is a creek 30 miles east of here named Turkey Creek. On the banks of the creek, there are two mammoth sized trees bending towards the center of the creek. Go there and eat of its fruit. Then dig at the bank of the creek and you will find gold 4 feet beneath the bank. Once you get these things, come back here to me.”
Mesmerized by all that has happen, Willey thinks carefully. Is this the truth or is this fake? It has to be the truth. What tree can actually talk and why would the first one that could lie to me? I can do this. “Ok Willow tree I’ll do it” looking deep in the wholes of the Willow tree eye wholes.
“It will be a two day trip and on the two days I want you to come back to me on the eve of the 2nd day,” ordered the Willow tree. “Take the sap oozing from my nose and put it on your leg for to heal for the trip.”
Willey put his hand in the nose opening of the tree the gently putting the sticky residue on the open gash. Instantly the gashed closed up with Willey fidgeting for the metamorphosis happening. “Thank you Willow tree you will see me on the eve of the second day,” continuing towards the slave quarter to get his need previsions for the trip.
Ten hours after gimping his way to Turkey Creek he finally came into the view of the creek with two gigantic trees bearing fruit. The creek had slimed due to droughts showing its brown silk bottom. The banks were lustrous with green Ivey plants. The creek exhaled smells of ripe crawfish with every blowing wind, Willey looks up at the tree and predicting it long and hard climb up. He rested a while to gather his strength and starts in on the climb. The next thing before he knew it he was face to face with the bright pear like fruit. Being modest, he took one and slid down the tree back to the base of the tree. How delicious, thought Willey breathing heavily, yet thinking this won’t work. Biting deep into the fruit until nothing left, Willey waited for the results. Not feeling any results he walked to the bank of the creek. In an instant what felt like thousands of needles piercing every inch of his body collapsed him and sent Willey rolling down the banks slopes. His skin boiled and so did his bones braking then rejuvenating in perfect order. Willey’s screams could be heard echoing across the watered plains. Passing out then waking up minutes later, Willey looks in the creek’s vital water at his reflection and couldn’t believe his eyes. Rebirth contemplated Willey. Willey shot up the bank to grab his picket and shovel at the base of the tree feeling the strength of several men. After picking and shoveling for hours, a ping and resulting vibration could be felt pick’s handle. Willey ran down the bank to the creek to get water and back. Brushing the water onto the rock until the gold gleaming in its yellow luster, “Yes, Yes, Yes,” in amazement shouted Willey. Grabbing the wheelbarrow filing it with gold rocks to 50 pound then coving it with his sleep tarp, Willey ran straight to the closest bank he could find.
The door swings open. Dinging sound from a bell announced an arrival in the bank.
“Can I help you boy?” questioned the bank manager.
“Yes sir I’m here to make a deposit and to buy some land,” answered Willey enthusiastically.
The bank manager put his glasses on to get a better look at the man. He noticed the man had long lustrous black silky waved hair, very strong physique, black perfect skin, but dirty and nasty country clothes. “With what money Boy?” the Bank manager smarted.
Willey throws open the tarp revealing the gold hidden in deep wheelbarrow. “This money, Sir,” snapped Willey.
“Yes Sir, what property?” the banker patted Willey’s back.
During that moment in time on plantation, the tree watches as new conflicts come to past.
“That tree is a horrible sight,” as the resident’s wife looked out the screen of the front door. “We should get rid of that old thang. The yard would look so much better.”
Not wanting to argue Mr. Resident agrees, “Yes ma’am. I’ll burn it down in two days and have Willey take care of it.”
“Where is that good for nothing black fucker at anyways?” Puzzled in Willey’s disappearance, Mrs. Resident scratched her head.
“I figured he be down a few days after busting his leg, but that’s all he gets.” Mr. Resident grabbed the news paper looking deep into the sale advertisements.
On the eve of the second late evening after being Willey been gone, a brand new car pulls into the driveway. Out steps a black man with brand new clothes on from rear driver’s side door. Willey showed up a full top suit in the colors black and white envelope with the moon light. He walks to the Willow tree not missing a step.
“Hello Willow tree, it me Willey,” smiled Willey presently.
“Are you ready for your end of the bargain?” The Willow tree replied.
“Yes… let’s get started.” Willey went back to the car to get the digging tools from the trunk.
Willey dug into the late night until the early morning with the chirps of crickets. Knock! “I found something Willow tree! It’s a wooden rectangle crate.” Willey dusted off the box and pries it open. Inside lies the body of a dried out slave in ragged clothes suffering from a bullet wound to the head. Further examining the body, the Willow tree’s root wormed its way into the box germinating in the slave’s skull.
“Willow Tree your spirit has been entangled with the slave’s soul” grieved Willey.
“Willey, I must ask you for one favor to save my soul and you will be rewarded for it in the future. I have a seed at the base of me take it and plant it on your property. This is my last request.”
Willey took the seed and placed it in the awaiting car. After dusting himself off, he walked to the front door of the plantation and knocked. The door swung open revealing the end of the shot gun.
“What you want Nigger?”
“It’s me Willey!”
“Ha ha you’re a funny niggrah. Get off my property before I put a whole in your ass! Willey is an ugly mother fukka.” Click Chick went the gun. “Get off my property!”
Willey ran to his car as fast as his legs him and the car pulled to the edge of the property. In the distance a fiery glimmer could be seen with screams of pain across the land soaked with smoke and Willey knew it was the tree. He looks down at the seed in the seat next to him and smiled.