As part of the A to Z Challenge, through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: X for Xenophobics, please use the Trans-species urinals
Kirpal, they’d named him, or Kind. According to his grandparents, a Sikh could have had no better name.
Kirpal Singh would head the prayers for the first time today, so he’d washed his long white hair, combed it clean, tied it in a knot with shaky hands, covered it with his pale blue turban. His Kara shone bright, the steel bangle on his wrist reminding him of the continuity of life.
Today he wore the Kirpan, a sword, not the usual dagger– but the Guru’s sword, meant to protect others from harm, defend the weak. He felt its weight as it hung from his shoulder, strapped across his chest.
In a few minutes, he would step out, they would bow before the holy Book, the Granth Sahib. The air would fill with holy song and pryer and incense. The Gurudwara shone today, the white marble floor, the photos of all the gurus on the walls, covered in garlands of marigold.
Xenophobics, please use the Trans-species urinals, Michael’s grandpa used to say, and there are none in Wisconsin, and none in my cafe! He loved them all at his corner cafe, whites, blacks, Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Koreans, the lot.
They all like my coffee and my coffee it’s the same color, he said, and the money they pay is green. What do I care?
But Michael cared, he cared now, ever since those turbaned bastards walked into the cafe and shot his grandpa, blew his poor bald head off, splattered his blood and brains on the brown tiles and the coffee machine. They didn’t care he brought Michael up, that he ran a soup kitchen on weekends, or that he’d fostered a dozen other kids. They saw a white man, and they fired. You don’t fire at a white man in America, not if you value your skin. Michael would show them.
That morning at the Gurudwara, as Kirpal walked slow steps towards his first prayer as head priest, Michael slammed the door of his pickup, patted the handguns under his overcoat, and strode up the steps, without bothering to take his shoes off like the faithful, or washing his feet. Muslims were all alike, washing their feet before prayer, but shooting poor old men at work. What his brother said about Sikhs not being Muslims? Bullshit. They all wore the same clothes, Arabs, every last one of them.
When he was done, and lay gurgling on the marble floor, all he remembered was the old, bearded grandfather running at him. The man had a sword raised against his bullets, shoving the women and children behind him, running at him despite each red splatter on his white clothes, his blue turban. Just the way his own grandpa would have done.
He heard the wail of the sirens, the cries of the wounded, and his ears rang with the shot that felled him. A white officer behind him. He would get that one, as soon as he could stand up. The marble floor before his eyes looked slick with blood. His blood, and the old man’s, both thick and red, slow flowing down the gentle slope towards the gully through which ran the water for the faithful to wash their feet.
Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt?