Peanut and Momma's Escape

Cast Bronze, 2004
30" x 15" x 28"

I must admit momma was a big woman, high yella, thick head o' hair, and strong as a bull. She knew everything there was to know about white peoples. You see, she tended to all their inside-house needs, like fixin' de vittles, washin' clothes and throwin' out the filth.

It was a known fact that ol' massa had de gamblin' sickness. One time while gamblin' wit dis gun totin' Ken-tuck river man he took out da wrong card and lost his entire fortune, I mean everything, niggas and all. His main job now was to raise as much money as he could in a very short 'mount o' time.

Well, momma learnt dat I, her young son Peanut, was to be sold to a cotton planter deep south, and you knows what dat means, it means the meanest, hardest life ever, and you usually end up workin' yosef to death. Momma got up what little she can and she and I headed into the swamplands. The big house was surrounded by a dangerous swamp sorta like de moats roun' de big ol' castles in Englan' li'l miss read me 'bout. We could only travel by night cause de slave catchers were always pertrollin'. We didn't make much headway at first, but soon we noticed the change in de lan' and began to feel as if we wuz gettin' somewheres. The onlyest thing dat bothered us both was the screamin' lady-like sounds of the many panthers dat wuz all around these swamps. I b'lieve they was forever followin' us, jes' waitin' for a chance to pounce and have their fill of brown meat. We jes' kept right on goin' further and further toward the beautiful North Star, which was our only guide.

Then came the cries and yelping of the blood dogs, these were fila dogs, don't ya know, the kind that are breeded between mastiffs and bloodhounds and carefully trained to catch and eat up niggas—lawd have mercy. Dese dogs were mostly brought in from South America where people spoke Spanish, but soon they was breeded with bloods and bulldogs to make them meaner than a snake mixed with a lion, and dey wuz big and loose-skinned so's nothing couldn't hold on to dem and hurt dere innards.

Soon dey catched our smell, and we really had to lay down some tracks. Momma, as big as she was, outran me for a little ways, but she soon began to breathe kinda hard-like. Up ahead we saw a deep wide creek, and we walk the edge till we found a crossing—it was a large tree that had fallen from one side to the other. The creek look so mean and dark, it move like heavy molasses. When we got halfway 'cross de fallen tree, something that looked like a rotten log suddenly come to life and sprang up toward us and showed us a mouth full o' sawteeth guided by slitted green eyes following our movements. The thrashin' and splashin' sounds of the moss-slimed creek increased our fears and we both almost fell in de water.

The dogs were far ahead of their evil owners and gainin' on us. Momma slipped and almos' fell in. I hollered at her, "Come on Momma, you can do it, I'll help you"--and I did, too. I didn't know I was so strong a boy!

The dogs still had de straps tied round dey necks when dey tried to cross de river. Dey jes' stopped at the bank and dey straps went into de water where one of the big bull gators grabbed de strap and started his death spin, you know, like dey do when tearin' meat from a dead horse carcass. Well, before you knowed it, both dogs ended up in de jaws of de gators, it was as if Gawd himself planned the whole thing. I guess the gator preferred dog meat over slave meat.

Within a week's time we had reached de abolition folks and began to live like real peoples, sorta. Now that I am grown and have my own fambly, I tells dem dis story over and over agin till dey mine jes' can't hold it no mo'. Dey 'cites it back to me word for word, and I makes dem promise me dey will pass it on for many generations to come.