Part 25: My Friend the Devil
Reno, the Biggest Little Mississippi in the World! A few months after I arrived in Reno, Nevada, the bastion of conservative America, headquarters of the Reagan Revolution, the devil would appear, but let me lay the groundwork for the devil’s appearance. I came to Reno looking for work and there was plenty work, help wanted signs were everywhere, especially in the hotels and casinos. After no luck in that area I sought out work at the University of Nevada and got a part time job lecturing in English, then was hired to teach Technical Writing at Nevada Community College, then was hired at UNR in the Upward Bound program. But I still needed more money so I contacted the two people I recommend every one should know when they enter a town: the banker and the preacher. The banker is good to know because if he becomes your friend you might be able to be overdrawn and still withdraw money—ask the Wall Street robber barons about their banker friends, and the preacher is the man to know because he knows everyone. The preacher directed me to a full time job as a community planner with Cloyd Phillips at his Community Services Agency. I wrote proposals for grant funding. The job taught me about details in life. Details will kill you. I remember when my sister Debbie had a bar-b-que but forgot one thing: toothpicks. Details. As a planner, I was forced to deal with details. Actually it helped my writing skills.
But when I first arrived it was a joy being with my dad and brother, since it had been quite a few years since we’d been together, my brother so often in and out of prison since his teenage years when he began visits to the California Youth Authority, then graduated to the Department of Corrections. Not long ago I was rapping with my homeboy from Fresno, Willie Sundiata Tate about my brother, Ollie. He said the last time he saw Ollie was San Quentin, 1968. Wille Tate is one of the San Quentin Six.
Anyway, Ollie was doing his thing pimping white girls in Reno. He had an apartment and briefly dad and I moved in with him until we found a room and later an apartment. Dad had come looking for work as well, but in reality dad came to do his favorite pastime, gambling, mainly playing that old folk’s game, KENO. Dad would stay up all night, sometimes in the bathroom going over KENO tickets.
My brother did nothing all day while his white girl worked two or three jobs. Eventually Ollie got a job out of boredom, although he would often be found at the Casino playing Poker. Gambling did not interest me, especially after losing a few rounds at the blackjack table, partly due to the free drinks and the dealers changing every thirty minutes. I knew I had to stay out of the casinos before I caused a riot after losing and realizing I was a sucker.
At the University I was one of three blacks and most of my students where white except for the Upward Bound students. My white students treated me royally and since I had a class full of young white girls, it wasn’t long before I began dating one, after all these girls used to sit on the front row with their legs gapped so I could not avoid seeing their panties or private parts if and when they failed to wear panties. How could I concentrate on teaching English under such adverse conditions? And I could tell they were upper class as they came to class in silk blouses and adorned with gold chains. One student would soon become an intern for Senator Laxalt, Ronald Reagan’s best friend.
The girl that was “assigned” to me was Mary whom I called Mary 2 since that was on her car license plate. When I invited Mary 2 to my brother’s apartment, he was shocked that I was cohabiting with a white girl since he knew me as a Black Muslim who called white girls the devil and the skunk of the planet earth. But I saw that Mary 2 was fighting the racism of her family—her father was a professor at UNR and her mother taught her “niggers are bad news.”
Mary and her girlfriends had discovered quite the contrary: they found the black athletes were very good news and so she was fighting to overcome her addiction to white supremacy. She informed me how the black athletes were treated at UNR. She said she saw them being given plates of cocaine and other gifts by the friends of the UNR, in particular older white women, under instructions of their white brothers. I had one of the star black basketball players in my class who was totally illiterate but instructors were ordered to pass them since they were a source of income for the university, in short, they were slaves. This goes all in all American colleges and universities: athletes, especially blacks, are a major source of funding for the universities, with coaches paid millions as opposed to the poor righteous teachers.
I moved into my own apartment with dad— but he soon returned to California at the first snow, also because I was shacking which he opposed, believing in the old school marriage.
Before I started shacking with a sister, Mary 2 used to come over. I soon discovered her cooking skills were abysmally lacking, along with her skills at giving head. The poor girl couldn’t boil water without burning the pot! But let’s not be racist about girls and their cooking skills. That summer my children came to visit and they met all my “women.” I had a black sister who came over to visit and every time I asked her to cook would burn shit up and set off the fire alarm. I don’t know what was wrong with Ifetayo, except totally insane yet trying to helpful.
My oldest daughter, Nefertiti, who was seven or eight at the time cried, “Dad, please don’t let Ifetayo cook, she burns up everything.” Nefertiti also commented on my licentious lifestyle, “Dad, you take one and bring another!” And when she saw Bernice from the Upward Bound program, Nefertiti said, “Dad, she’s just a baby!” although she was eighteen. But Bernice was a another basket case, traumatized as the result of being raped by her father and brother in law. When we tried to have sex her body went into contractions. I had moved her in with me briefly, teddy bears and all. She soon returned home but called me in the middle of the night to come get her because she was about to commit suicide. I drove over a hundred miles to pick her up.
When I was finally visited by Eldridge Cleaver, first thing he said was, “Marvin, you have picked all the lilies in the field.” As a present, I gave him Mary 2, since she lacked the skills I loved, but I told Eldridge she had a hot head, since I knew he loved head. He had told me that Elaine Brown had the hottest head in the world, that she had served him on every continent. You know how players play! And if you don’t know, as they say in Houston, Texas, “You better ax somebody!”