Fleshhandler

Cast Bronze, 2006
10" X 8" X 33"

Old man Sherman waylaid the town of Atlanta and de people was just scattered all over the place doin' every thing they could to survive. It was so terrible a time, I never want to go back to those days-no, no lawd.

Well baby chillruns, I belonged to the Jesse Cooper family and dey was what is knowed as what we called "half way good peoples"-- they only beat us sometimes. Like I was sayin', the times sho' was bad-- the dead and dying were lying all over the city and the smell was so awful dat we had to take to wearing rags over our mouths so not to breath in bad air. All de menfolk wuz gone or kilt somewheres up north. Ole Missy's heart was so stricken with grief, she didn't want to leave her room. I never knowed that she could be so unkempt with herself. All de nigguhs had ran off but me and ol' Cyrus, the teamster. All of us wuz starvin' so that their bones showed through their skins, everyone but Cyrus and me, cuz we knowed a lot about how to find somethin' to eat.

Ooo, dem buzzards was flyin' all over de sky! Sometimes they was so thick, we thought black clouds were goin' to bust out and rain all over us. Now ahmo tell ya about my life durin' those times. I was trusted in handlin' all the food-I don't know why I was chosen, some say cuz I was somehow kin to the family. My main job was killin' animals to feed the family. I don't know, but killin' came easy to me. Mama says when I was little I had no interest in pets or anything like that, but I sho' loved to go huntin' with Daddy when we had to add to our rations to live. I could load, aim and shoot one of those Springfield rifles as fast as any man from around these parts could. Ole massa used to take me to way-off places for shootin' contests. I was always able to bring home prize money, which he took for himself.

Right now, the family is torn all to pieces, just a few of the whites and some of the Blacks that the master sired stayed here, huddling and afraid to go out among the carpetbaggers and scallywags and pore trash that tried to kill us for causin' this here war. During the early morning time I goes out huntin' for meat for the pot. On one trip, I declare, I found pieces of what was left of my peoples way off in the woods. I don't rightly know how they died, but some of them had ropes tied around their necks. I couldn't jus' leave 'em there, so I brought them back to bury them near their cabins. It must have been quite a sight, me carryin' my peoples and all this eatin' meat for the same folks who might be the very ones who's likely tied to their deaths.