Trouble Down South Art Challenge
Painting No. 22
A Corrupt Mississippi Officer–1920
My next paintings will deal with characters and scenes from my Bootlegger Haze (Books One and Two) for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge with Leslie Saeta. The Hankering, a colored 1920’s juke joint or barrelhouse, was subject to be raided on a regular basis by a corrupt white Mississippi Sheriff and his Deputy henchmen. They would shake down the barrelhouse owners, demanding a cut of their take to keep from hauling all of their customers down to the jail and running them out of business. Hawk was determined to end this practice once and for all. Read more below.
Before anyone could make a move, the front door of the joint came crashing down, two burly, white officers rushing in with rifles pointed at all the patrons. Within seconds of the invasion, the back door was caved in, two more white officers racing in with rifles and pistols aimed at the startled crowd.
“Oh, shit,” Ton Stone said. “Just what we needed.”
“Everybody to the wall!” Deputy Avery shouted. “Get your face to the wall, I said, dammit. Right now!”
Intoxicated men and women jumped up and pressed their sweat-soaked, fully inebriated bodies against the wall, some using the wall as a respite from their intoxication, and for others, their highs blown by the invasion into the one place they felt was their own.
Buford Tee and Ton Stone followed suit, not wanting any trouble, particularly Ton Stone, who was one day from leaving this hell hole called the South.
The ex-husband, who had been raided on a regular basis, had grown tired of the shake downs from the corrupt officers. He had paid a pretty penny to them to keep them at bay, but it seemed only to fuel the fire, their demanding more money each time they raided his establishment and their exerting more control over him with each unwanted visit.
“What the hell is this?” he shouted.
“Now, Hawk, you know the drill,” Deputy Avery said. “Cough it up, or your patrons going down to the jailhouse.”
Hawk shook his head, gritting his teeth and cursing the lead officer under his breath, and then he headed to the bar where he had stashed the evening’s till, pulling out a wad of cash and giving it to Deputy Avery, who didn’t even count it.
“Two hundred. Hum. Good work, Hawk. Next week, make it three,” he said, pointing to the newest officer. “Got another one on the payroll, you know.”
The officers started backing out of the joint, their guns still pointed at the patrons, and particularly at Hawk. Deputy Avery was the last to depart, eyeing Miss Carmelia, who had just entered the joint, her face red and bruised on the left side. “I see you can’t control that temper of yours again, Hawk,” Deputy Avery mocked.
Hawk turned to see Miss Carmelia standing at the counter.
“Such a pretty face. Too bad she’s a colored whore,” he added.
With that last comment, Hawk pulled a knife from his back pocket, flicked it open, and tossed it with magnified force at the Deputy who had, simultaneously, lifted his shotgun and fired, the bullet tearing into Hawk’s chest, the force of which propelled him backward into the bar, knocking it over and pinning Miss Carmelia under it. The bouncer pulled his gun to shoot the Deputy, but it was unneeded, the knife slicing into his right eye, paralyzing his body, which seemed to take a moment to collapse. The other officers rushed back inside to see what had happened, the bouncer throwing his gun under a table.
“What the hell happened here?” one of the officers yelled.
“Deputy Avery shot Hawk,” the bouncer said. “And Hawk killed him dead.”
Like chickens with their heads wrung off, the Deputies ran around the joint trying to act tough, harassing the patrons who, repeatedly, said the same statements, “I ain’t seen nothing, Sir. My face was in the wall.”
Frustrated, the Deputies left the colored patrons to tend to Hawk’s body. Two of the officers dragged Deputy Avery’s body out of the joint and placed it in the squad car.
Prints are available for purchase of the painting “A Corrupt Mississippi Officer-1920.” Prints are available in sizes 8 x 10, 11 x 14, and 16 x 20 inches (unframed). Email Katrina Williams at stepartdesigns at hotmail dot com for prices.
Check out the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge with Leslie Saeta–http://www.lesliesaeta.blogspot.com/.
I am an artist and an author of southern and historical fiction and short stories. View all my artwork on my artist page at Daily Paintworks.
Check out more of my artwork at my Art Blog–KPWms Art Studio.