((A Shannon O’Day Story) (1955))
Otis Wilder Mather, had taken the $500-dollars Shannon O’Day had given him, back in the early 40s, invested it in Ozark. Alabama, livestock, and became rich, obliged to no man. Not that he didn’t owe a much obliged to someone. This was years later of course, Many a hard and wet and snowy and grey winter had come and gone in Minnesota, left between his visits to see Shannon O’Day, his truly one and only friend up in Minnesota. He even drove his brand new 1955 Ford sports car, Thunderbird; and owned his own meat market on Jackson Street and two more in Ozark, and one in Shanty Town, seven miles outside of Ozark.
He no longer wore patched cotton overalls, rather tailored ones. They called him in Minnesota, ‘The rich nigger from Ozark.’
He’d walk the snowy streets in gray misty afternoons, passing over the Wabasha Bridge, looking down onto the Mississippi River, saying out loud to the Lord, “Eyes in a hurry Lord, cuz black folk dont even have a barn to live in nowadays, against the cold weather up yonder here,” and folks saw he had very warm boots with fur on them, and a long coat, with fur on the lapels, and he’d hear them badmouthing him under their breaths, cussing him as he walked by, saying ‘nigger go home’ in the stormy winters, breathing in the cold mist, like them. They said these things, not because he was rich, became James Hill, who owned a railroad and lived on Summit Hill nearby, was rich, but because he was a negro, for his black skin being inside those warm garments, warmer than theirs, and their skin was white, and because Otis Wilder Mather was more devoted to work, and beef and cattle, and cows and calves and butcher shops than to humans, even though he took care of his family well. They couldn’t believe a black man could obtain such wealth, cursing the fact that he did; his vengeance to the white raced his revenge one could say was success.
But learned something from his one time accuser of wrong, Gus O’Day, that in slow incriminations over a long period of time, converted into wealth, that something’s were somewhat controllable and somewhat predictable, one being the love the white race had for beef. In addition to that, the love human males had for the cow, its milk and beef and the long subsequent years of their gestation of his products. This success was the only justice available to him for the wrongs man had done him in Minnesota, when they tired to convict him in 1950 for the burning of Gus O’Day’s cornfields, when it remained a mystery to the truth.
That was it. Prolongation-never stopping or hoping never giving in, hope no longer was deferred, he saw it in the white man’s eyes, ‘outrage!’ now the blow fell upon those who cursed and cussed him. The one who gave him the five-hundred dollars, he had dreamed when given that money, dreamt the imaginary purchase of a cow, and here he bought twelve-cows, and fed them a winter, then sold them plump, and for twice as much, and bough twenty-four cows and fed them another winter, for near fifteen years he did that, now he owned four meat markets, in Ozark, St. Paul, and Shanty Town, a few miles outside of Ozark, where the poor black lived.
No: 405 xx