Written in answer to the question "What would you do if 5 bodybuilders in Ku Klux Klan
robes lit a cross in your front yard?" from that other website
They came around eleven o’clock, that fine Saturday, in a pickup truck, five men in white. At first, they simply drove around, with an eye towards the various small patches of lawn that punctuate our parking lot, before stopping in front of Building D. My house.
I was outside, on the porch, getting my dose of Sun and opening my mail with a small pocket gizmo I’d picked up at a Maker Faire. I was about to ask who they were and what they wanted, when one pulled out a bullhorn and said
“WE ARE THE KU KLUX KLAN, AND WE ARE HERE TO PUT ALL YOU NIGGERS IN YOUR PLACE. FEAR US AND OUR BURNING CROSS!”
Then, almost apologetically, one turned to me and said “Sorry ma’am, but you might want to go back inside.”
I shrugged, and walked inside, and called the cops. “We have a hate crime in progress.” In the foyer, I met Charlie, the Black indie filmmaker on the third floor. “You, um, should probably call in sick.”
Regency Hills, our condo development/apartment block, is what many in the business like to talk about as being “vibrant” and “multicultural”. Meaning, I’m probably the only WASP in the building. We’ve got a couple of Latinx families, including one that’s Jehovah’s Witness, some young singles, some older folks, like the lesbians in the basement, one Bad Family, and a whole lot of wild cards, spread through 22 units, 12 two-bedroom, the rest, one. Everyone helps everyone else out.About all we have in terms of beefs with each other are people playing their music too loud, smoking in the building, dogs (but not cats, birds, or fish) and people leaving beer cans and cigarette butts by the picnic table. Also, Children are Present.
Charlie gave the fellows outside a look. They were unloading several beams, while one started to dig a hole in the spot where a tree used to be. The bullhorn man was now reading off a sheet of paper, punctuated by yelling “Nigger!” and now and again “Spic!” He even worked in “Heeb”, “Immigrant” and “Arab" in case anyone felt left out.
“You go and warn a few more people.” he said, digging into his backpack.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting my field cam. We’ll need evidence.”
I rang Bonnie’s doorbell. She’s tall and smart and about my age. Her sexual orientation and ethnic origin are somewhat up for grabs. Those of her kids are not. Still, this didn’t stop her from being friendly.
“We’ve got a….”
“I saw.” Her windows overlook the front corner. She looked distant, as always, but relaxed.
“What are we going to do?”
“Don’t worry.” she said.
I skipped two doors, and called on Mimi. She’s a visiting nurse, who lives with her brother and sick mom. “That’s outrageous. Have you called the cops?” She looked a bit drunk. “Yo, Billy, the Klan’s in our yard.”
“That ain’t too cool.” He fiddled with a knob on his audio equipment.
“Tell some other folks, I’m just doing this floor.”
“Did you tell D9?” Mimi asked.
“Naw, we’ve been on the outs since they decided to party in the parking lot. And left a lot of trash.”
“That was one hell of a party. Went on until 2.” she said.
“Did they have sound, or what?” Billy looked proud.
Oretha was incredulous, then angry. “They have no right.” At a half head taller and a hundred pounds heavier, she rules her large, often visiting, extended family by yelling at them. Loudly.
That left Tony and Fran (Puerto Rican and Carolina light-skinned, respectively). Tony was glib, as always. “Grab some marshmallows.” he said. “I have a plan.” He always did.
I grabbed a Mason jar of lemonade, and a steel straw, changed into my Antifa
shirt, and selected a Bauta
mask. Then, I slipped out the back door, and went to the picnic table, which was a few yards away from, and a bit higher than the action. Fur would soon be flying.
The would-be Klansmen were having a little trouble getting their cross lit. Apparently, their ghost costumes were getting in the way of actual manual labor, and they moved rather stiffly, at that. Also, fire and robes don’t mix well. After a bit, they got the central post smoking, a bit, just in time for Oretha and her sister to come out, also in white, followed by Bonnie, who was not.
“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING??”
Oretha yelled, in fine form.
“Desecratin’ a cross like that, you should be ashamed of yourselves…”
her sister murmured, holding up a Bible.
“You’re trespassing. And violating the Fire Code.” Bonnie said.
More people came out. Yvette from upstairs, 97 pounds soaking wet, and spitting fire. The Collective from next door, all four burly mixed lot of them. A couple more mothers. Even the timid Latinx (?) family, also with Bibles. And copies of The Watchtower.
Bullhorn responded with some more remarks.
“YOU SEE BEFORE YOU THE SIGN OF A TRUE PATRIOT, THE WHITE MAN NATIVE BORN…THE FIERY CROSS OF OUR FOREFATHERS…WE OPPOSE RACE MIXING AND THE DEGRADED RULE OF THE SOCIALISTS. BEHOLD!”
And with that, they unzipped and whipped off their robes, keeping their pointy hoods on, and began to make bodybuilding poses, like a quintet from a Fascist Chippendale’s
into late Dadaism. For a moment, they stood, grim and statuesque.
Then, coming up from the windows of D9, came the unmistakable strains of the theme to “Looney Tunes
,” as played through a very loud speaker, which was just enough time for me to reflect on the pros and cons of the Body Built.
Though they look really strong, they aren’t, except in some cases, really good fighters, and even less, lovers. They can’t run fast. Which is why Arnie is usually carrying a gun. And these guys are naked.
“WE WILL KILL ALL OF THE MEN, AND RAPE ALL OF THE WOMEN!"
“Can I be first? I haven’t been getting any.”
“WHO SAID THAT?"
“Wasn’t me…” I said. I looked at an unbuffed nail.
Oretha glared at me. “Not in front of the children.” Then made bold to walk down the steps, sneering. “I am not impressed. Get some human clothes on."
“Me neither.” Yvette said, looking significantly at Bullhorn’s Speedos.
By this time, two kids from D9 came out, wearing sheets and pillowcases, screaming “Superman against the Klan!”
The cross smoked on, now and then showing what might be a flame.
While this was going on, one of the others, who had a pronounced case of freckles, had somehow gotten hands on a smartphone. “We are under attack, by a dangerous mob. They just…shoved us. They’ve doused our cross. We are under attack. They’re wearing masks!”
I signed a quick hello, then went back to my drink.
In the parking lot, several cars were moving around. People were coming over from the other three buildings. Charlie's brother had taken down the rest of his equipment and was acting as gaffer, best boy, and several other specialties. The music had changed into a medley of Grandmaster Flash. Billy ambled by, and lit up a cigar of dubious origins. “Like the music? I appreciate the classics.”
“How are you DJ-ing from here?”
“With my smartphone.”
The music changed to “Celebrate” by Kool and the Gang. Some people came out to dance. I contemplated lip-synching to Patti Smith’s “Rock and Roll Nigger”, until someone played a Rap song with the same word.A lot of rubbernecking went on. Tony and his Latino posse had completely blockaded the pickup. The JW family tried to convert them. The kids ran interference between them and the truck, in case they had guns. Someone actually had marshmallows.
By the time the police came by (and the fire department, the local FBI and State Police, not to mention local media), it looked like, as someone said “a Richard Scary wordbook picture”. Of a Soul Picnic, never mind the Stone. Or who was picked.
De-hooded, the would-be Invisible Knights looked like who the Collective said they were, a few college kids from out of state with a bad attitude, frightened, and no longer blustering.
As they were led into custody, and the Fire Department began to take down their cross, I heard one say “I’m glad you showed up. These people are crazy."
I'm back, baby.