A SCANDAL AND OTHER THINGS...
by M. Francis Patterson
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...an Excerpt from

A SCANDAL AND OTHER THINGS...


A FEW MINUTES
OF EUPHORIA FOR
MISS MATTIBELLE



Mattibelle loved funerals—rather she loved wakes and the elaborate soul food dinners black folks always held after a good funeral. That was the time to get the best dirt. Folks had a tendency to trot out all the skeletons they could find once a body was dead.

  It also was one of the few times Mattibelle could get a good, stiff shot of bourbon without worrying about people talking. She was a decent, church-going lady and didn’t dare risk being caught going into the corner liquor store at the same time as some deacon—or heaven forbid, the pastor—was tipping in to purchase a taste for “medicinal purposes.”

“Sister Williams,” she could hear that sanctimonious ass Deacon Grey say, “You know strong drink is a mocker. I’d hate to see a good mother of the church being made a fool of by that demon drink.” If she weren’t such a good church-going lady, she’d have just the answer for him.

“Deacon, you can plant your lying lips right here where the sun don’t shine.” And, with that, she’d rub her narrow behind as seductively as possible and give him the biggest shit-eatin’ grin he’d ever seen. That’s what she’d do—if she weren’t such a decent, church-going lady.

Fear of discovery by the congregation prevented her from stepping into the more centrally located Jordan’s Package and Party Store. That and the fact she was cheap. As much as Mattibelle liked a little taste, bourbon always went down smoother when someone else was buying.

So, she was excited to pull her nicest black dress with white polka dots from the hall closet in her two-bedroom shotgun style home, tug on her light beige hose, slide into one of five pairs of

sensible black pumps she owned, prop her white cat glasses with the thick lenses on her glistening Vaseline-polished face, and make her way to Sonny Boy Jackson’s funeral.

Mattibelle knew it was going to be a good one as soon as she walked into Pastor Devlin J. Archibald’s sanctuary at 11th Avenue Baptist Church. Folks were dressed to the nines for the occasion. The first person she saw as she stepped out of the taxi cab was Sonny Boy’s cousin Rullon. He was standing at the church door in a white polyester suit, nicely set off by a red silk shirt and white tie, with gleaming white shoes and white thick-and-thin socks. He set the ensemble off with a white bowler cocked ace deuce on his head. Rullon’s complexion was the color of dusty charcoal, the once natural sheen of his skin now long gone from too many days and nights pouring cheap liquor down his throat. People said he also had the ulcers to go with the neat trick of being a professional alcoholic. Maybe that’s why he acted so sickly, Mattibelle reasoned.

“Lord, yes, this is going to be a real good one,” she thought, anticipating a few extra hits from the flask she knew Rullon had tucked away in the inside breast pocket of his ice-cream suit.

The Rev. Archibald outdid himself that afternoon, preaching Sonny Boy from the brink of hell straight on through the pearly gates. If the man could make a sinner like the departed sound like a redeemable saint, you had to give him credit, she thought.

The family was perfectly reserved at the church, punctuating their well-timed moaning with an occasional drizzle of silent tears. Mattibelle liked it when the bereaved were somewhat subdued at the church—that meant they’d really cut loose later.

The after-funeral festivities were at Sonny Boy’s aunt’s house in Highland Hills. Mattibelle was thrilled with the pretentiousness of it all.

“Highland Hills—like her stuck up behind got some money,” she smiled to herself. “That old bitty need to quit.”

Sonny Boy’s aunt Beulah lived in one of those cheap, one-story brick façade houses built in the 1950s.  The style was popular with black folks who were trying to give the impression of prosperity, even though most of the people who lived in the area were struggling to make a bit more than a modest living working

menial government jobs, sweeping up at the post office or VA hospital. Highland Hills had been built by Negroes anxious to get away from their old neighborhoods, anxious to show they had risen above the usual rabble. Beulah and her late husband Carl had been among the first to infest the cheap development back then. Twenty-five years later, she was still fronting like the Queen of Sheba. Mattibelle couldn’t stand her back then. She still didn’t like the corpulent high yellow woman who always looked like her face was dirty.

“Oh, Beulah, I’m so sorry for your loss, dear.” Mattibelle felt satisfyingly smug when she stepped into the gaudy living room. The place was filled with overstuffed chairs and ancient end tables covered with scores of tasteless knickknacks.

“Thank you, Mattibelle. Poor Sonny Boy. I just don’t know what I’m going to do now that my baby sister’s boy is gone. He wasn’t but 58. Lawd, it’s such a shame he had to go so young.”

“You know when the Lord call you, it’s your time to go.” Mattibelle almost felt sorry for the big woman, but she was never that generous with folks she considered her enemies. What was the point of wasting even an ounce of pity on them?

Mattibelle scrunched up her mousy face, irritated that Beulah kept standing there, mumbling, “Lawd, Lawd,” blocking her from getting a prime seat in the middle of the festivities yet to come. Finally, she grew impatient.

“Beulah, baby. I think I’m go’n go set down. You know, that funeral sho’ took a lot out of me and my legs been bothering me lately. I don’t know. Might be a touch of rheumatism or something.”

“You go on and sit down, dear. We gone eat as soon as the rest of the folks get here from the cemetery.”

Beulah shuffled out the doorway, her stumpy legs jiggling beneath her ankle length red dress, still mumbling to herself. 

“Ooo wee, this house sho’ is ugly,” Mattibelle thought, scanning the living room walls that were covered with dozens of faded family pictures from way back when. In the few spots where there were no family photos, a too old, nondescript layer of blue paint peeked through. “Ugly, ugly, ugly.” Mattibelle shook her

head in disgust before planting her bony body in a hideous flower print easy chair near the middle of the room.

Sonny Boy’s cousin Rullon—Beulah’s no count son—and one of his cronies from the corner were the only people in the living room. Mattibelle didn’t know the other middle-aged man, but she had seen him before. He was a couple of shades lighter than Rullon, but his complexion was just as dusty from years of unbridled drinking. He was dressed in a slightly soiled orange leisure suit that looked like he had worn it the night before while out carousing.

“Man,” he said, a gold tooth flashing off to the left side of his mouth. “All these years I knowed Sonny Boy, I ain’t never knowed his real name ’til they handed out them programs at the church. What’s his name, Sunarudus, or something like that?”

“Naw, man. Sunarellius Roman Jackson Jr.,” Rullon corrected. “I think they named him after some Caesar or something like that.”

Rullon’s eyes were almost as red as his shirt. He and his friend had obviously started early—probably before they got to the church, thought Mattibelle.

“Damn! No wonder his black ass want to be called Sonny Boy. If I had a name like that, I’d change mine too!”

“Yeah, that boy’s name was to’e up!” Rullon offered. That got a too loud laugh from both of the slightly drunk men.

“Miss Mattibelle. I’m so glad you could come. You know Sonny Boy always had a lot o’ respect for you.” Rullon’s bloodshot eyes were bugging out of his head when he looked in the little woman’s direction. “We sho’ ‘preciate your support in our hour of bereavement.” His eyes went out of focus for a moment as he greeted her.

“Now you know I had to come,” she answered with syrup in her voice. As hateful as she could be to folks, she still liked the attention of men, even if they were incorrigible drunks.

“Can I get you anything, Miss Mattibelle? We gone eat in a little bit.”

“No thank you. I’m fine.”

“Anything?” Drink made Rullon extra friendly and Mattibelle was eating it up, waiting for the fireworks she knew would come

sooner than later. “You don’t drink, do you, Miss Mattibelle. Me and Larry got a little something if you want some.”

“Well, I don’t usually, but I don’t want to be impolite, so I’ll take a little bit of something, if you don’t mind.” Mattibelle’s heart fluttered in anticipation of swallowing some of the liquid fire she knew they always kept close at hand.

“Momma… Momma!”

“Yeah, baby?” His fat, yellow-skinned mother was in the kitchen with a couple of other women preparing to place on the table the huge spread of ham, turkey, fried chicken, green beans, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread, chittlins and pineapple upside-down cake a group of women from the church had been making ready while the family was at the funeral. “What you need?”

“Where the glasses? Miss Mattibelle is thirsty.”

“Just take some of that crystal out the china cabinet in there. We’ll bring some more out when everybody gets here.”

Rullon’s coordination was already beginning to suffer and he almost jerked the door off the hinges of the china cabinet trying to secure one of the tall goblets.

Larry reached down beside the couch where he and Rullon had been sitting and produced a nearly full fifth of bourbon. Mattibelle was pleased they hadn’t gotten much of a head start with this bottle. She was looking forward to getting a good share today.

   “Here you go, Miss Mattibelle,” he said, handing her a double shot of the violent brown liquid.

   “Thank you, Rullon. Like I said, I usually don’t drink, but I’m so shook up about Sonny Boy, I need a little something to steady my nerves. You know, I can’t hardly sleep after somebody die.

“Oooo. That’s sho’ is strong,” she said after taking a first greedy sip and fanning herself with her free hand. “But, it makes me feel a little better. Thank you, gentlemen.”

“It’s our pleasure ma’am.” Larry was about a drink and a half from slurring his words.

Just as Mattibelle raised the glass for a second taste, folks started to filter in from the ride to the cemetery. Beulah was back

at the door in her greeting mode, firmly swallowing the hands of each guest in her large fingers.

“Ya’ll come on in. I sure ‘preciate you coming. If it wasn’t for good friends like ya’ll I just don’t know what I’d do. You know my sister left me to take care of her little boy when she passed away about ten years ago.”

“Chile, you know we here for you.”

“The Lawd don’t want nobody to bear nothin’ like this alone. That’s why he tells us to comfort the sick and the bereaved.”

“Beulah, you know you can count on us. If you need anything, dear, just call us.”

All the women took their time comforting Beulah as they came in. The men folks were polite but quick with their condolences—their “where’s the liquor?” looks betraying them to a watchful eye like Mattibelle’s. Naturally, making them comfortable was up to Rullon.

“Man, Sonny Boy gone. Ya’ll know that’s a cryin’ shame.” The head of the men’s delegation was a rotund brown-skinned man in a dark green suit with fresh haircut and precisely cut razor line that went from front to back. The one button he managed to coax into a hole on the jacket was straining at his ample stomach.

Seven or eight other men mumbled greetings before Rullon invited them to sit down on the male side of the room for some reminiscing and drinking.

“Ya’ll know Miss Mattibelle. She was a good friend of Sonny Boy.” The five beers and two stiff shots of bourbon Rullon had consumed made the lie unrecognizable even to him.

“Yeah, brother. Course we know Miss Mattibelle.”

“You was at my Uncle Jake’s funeral, wasn’t you, miss?”

She recognized the wavy-haired man as Arthur Taylor. He had the same pomade-contoured hairdo as his dead uncle.

“Yes sir, Brother Taylor. Ooo that was a fine funeral. Your Aunt Elizabeth sho’ put him away in good fashion. I remember that beautiful oak casket with all the gold on it. That was over at Rev. Trimble’s.”

“Yes, ma’am. Sho’ was. You got a good memory.”

“Well, the Lord still blessing me I guess at my age.” She was barely in her 60s, but she liked playing the old lady with these

men, even though they were nearly as old as she. The liquor was starting to have its effect and she was ready for some fun.

Rullon refreshed Mattibelle’s glass and started serving his cronies in water glasses that had been set out for the feast.

“Man, how did Sonny Boy die?” one from the now noisy group asked.

“Doctor say something was wrong with his liver,” Rullon answered in his role as the male family authority.

“I heard that Peterson woman did something to him.” It was Arthur Taylor. He was whirling his drink around in its glass, savoring the moment before his first sip.

“Did something to him?” Kenny Barnes spoke up. He had come in a sharp black suit, but had loosened his tie and pulled his starched shirttails out of his pants. That, in combination with his now crooked suspenders made him look like a well-dressed bum.

“Man, you know she one of them geechie women,” Arthur Taylor explained. “You know they be working them roots and all that. I heard she put some o’ her blood in some spaghetti right before he died, ‘cause she heard he was messing with that Jenkins girl again.” He looked a little embarrassed at his mention of the powers of menstrual blood when he realized Mattibelle was firmly rooted in the men’s conversation.

“’Scuse me, Miss Mattibelle. I guess we shouldn’t be talking like that,” he said his head slightly bowed.

“Oh no. Don’t mind me. No reason to be ashamed of the truth. That’s what people say, then that’s what people say. A man got to be careful with some of these fast women these days.” Her scrawny body puffed up a bit when she noticed all the men had stopped talking to get her take on Sonny Boy’s fate. “I don’t mean to talk bad about nobody, but I wouldn’t put nothing past that Peterson girl.”

“Man, I told you that woman done hoodooed Sonny Boy and made him sick! That’s why I ain’t never messed with no geechie woman!” said a vindicated Arthur Taylor.

Presently, Beneatha Stevens came out of the dining room to issue the dinner call.

“Everything’s ready. We were trying to wait ‘til Sonny Boy’s daughters got here, but we might as well start. Rullon, your

momma asked you to say grace. We were trying to wait for Rev. Archibald, too, but someone say he got an emergency at the church.”

Rullon led the living room crowd to the large lace-covered table piled with food in the next room. He extended his palms to the side, signifying that everyone should hold hands.

“Let us bow our heads,” he said, mumbling slightly. “Dear Lord, most gracious Lord we are gathered here on this sad occasion to partake of this food as we dine most auspiciously in the passing of our dear beloved brethren Sonny Boy Sunarellius Roman Jackson Jr., our dear departed loved one who has gone on to Thy glory. Oh Lord, we thank you for the good company of family, friends and other loved ones and their company as we come to glorify your name in the passing of our dear loved one.”

Beulah let one eye open and glared at her son, realizing he was already drunk.

“And now, as we give thanks for those who are gathered here on this occasion, we ask you to bless the hands that prepared this food and bless this food we are about to receive for the nourishment of our bodies and for Christ’s sake. Amen.”

There were “amens” all around the circle, as people let go of each other’s hands in relief.

Rullon and his buddies started reaching for the plates.

“You men act like you got some sense and let these ladies eat first!” Beneatha took charge of dinner as she always did at these affairs.

“Shoot! I ain’t mad at nobody. Let’s go get another drink.” It was Larry’s turn again to play makeshift bartender.

Mattibelle followed the line of women around the table, loading food high on their plates. Everything smelled delicious, but what most excited her was that she knew tongues would wag once folks finished stuffing their faces. She piled her plate high, grabbed a handful of napkins and headed back to the living room to sit with her plate on her lap. As she and the rest of the women filtered out of the dining room, Rullon and his friends headed greedily for the food.

About 15 minutes later, the Rev. Archibald finally appeared with Sonny Boy’s daughters Carol and Eunice in tow. Beneatha

greeted them at the door. Beulah, after a bit of coaxing from the other women, had decided to eat and had given up door duties momentarily to General Beneatha.

“Come on in, Reverend, Carol, Eunice. Girls, I’m so sorry for your loss.” She wiped her hands on the red apron she was wearing before embracing Sonny Boy’s two 20-some-year-old daughters in a joint bear hug.

“Thank you, Miss Stevens. We’re going to miss Daddy.” Eunice, the younger of the two, spoke for the bereaved pair.

“Evening, Rev. Archibald.”

“Evening, Sister Stevens.”

Although Mattibelle was always quick to impugn the minister’s motives and reputation, he was as straight up as his angular 6’0” frame. Archibald was among the group of local clergy who frowned on the less savory activities of some of their brothers of the cloth. While he maintained the brotherhood of the robe’s code and restrained from criticizing them in public, his refusal to attend the local Black Ministers United Coalition meetings where his colleagues gathered spoke volumes.

Archibald was well dressed as usual in a smart pinstriped suit, sharply cut, though off the rack. It looked appropriately conservative on his trim frame.

“Want me to fix you a plate, Reverend? Sister Bettis will take care of you girls,” Beneatha added, glancing over at them.

Carol, the oldest, was a spitting image of her father, the same smooth caramel colored skin and slightly red hair. She was pretty, if not exceptionally beautiful, with full, round light brown eyes. She had a quiet grace about her, a toned-down version of her late father’s silver-tongued attributes that had gotten him in serious trouble more than once in his life. Her muted aqua dress fit her curvaceous figure close, but somehow lacked an overt sexual vibe.

Eunice was a mystery. A rough, brown-skinned young woman, her face looked like it had been carved from a block of granite with a switchblade. Even when her voice took on its usual silky tone, something about her dark grey eyes warned of violence. She had none of her sister’s pleasant looks, but she attracted more than her fair share of men—usually the type who sought trouble and found it in spades.

“No thank you, Sister Stevens. I just stopped by to pay my respects to Sister Beulah and drop off Brother Jackson’s daughters.” Like most folks, he didn’t use Beulah’s last name because she preferred it that way. “The limousine picked them up this morning on the way from the funeral and they said they didn’t want to go all the way back home to get a car. I guess their mother didn’t want to come to the funeral.”

Carol and Eunice were universally recognized as the result of Sonny Boy’s periodic trysts with Sarah Peterson. He had never married and had hooked up with a number of women through the years, but it was Sarah he always ended up with against the family’s wishes. Like her daughter Eunice, there was something unattractive, almost ugly, about Sarah Peterson. But, even without papers on him, she had Sonny Boy hooked. Numerous times he left her and her vile attitude alone in her little two-bedroom house over on the east side, but he would always go back—especially after she had tracked him down and embarrassed him in the streets by talking about his lack of backbone and less than stellar financial support for his two daughters.

The irony was that Sonny Boy wasn’t her only man. She had a number of suitors she would shuffle in and out her life like jacks in a deck of cards. All of them seemed to wither before her. A lot of folks said she was one of those women who had that special thing she could do to a man in bed that sapped his will and made him a mindless puppet. Others said she was a root woman who practiced forbidden arts to give her power over paramours.

Those gathered at the house were glad she didn’t show at the funeral, perhaps fearing her evil stare. They were overjoyed she hadn’t showed up post interment to make trouble.

Carol and Eunice headed for the women’s side of the living room which was now crowded with folding chairs to accommodate the growing number of guests. A couple of women promptly entered with full plates for them. Rev. Archibald made his way over to where Beulah was trying to talk while she simultaneously was battling with a leg of fried chicken she had nearly stripped to the bone.

Mattibelle watched with disdain as Rev. Archibald bent over to console the woman of the house, hoping he would leave soon.

People wouldn’t gossip in front of him and that would ruin her evening. Fortunately for her, he made a hasty exit, not wanting to be caught up in the middle of what he knew would soon disintegrate into an orgy of drunkenness and backbiting. As soon as the good reverend was out the door, Mattibelle was rewarded with a bit of what she craved.

Beulah had led her nieces into the kitchen to pay their respects to the women who had prepared the feast, when Londa Davis started talking, her mouth loosened by her full belly.

“Ya’ll know that youngest girl ain’t even his,” she whispered.

“Say what?” someone asked.

“Chile, no. Everybody know that no-count-behind Peterson girl couldn’t keep herself to no one man. Every time Sonny Boy turn his back, she out there fooling around with somebody else.”

“Somebody say that’s Luther Matthews’ child,” a woman in a plaid outfit offered.

“She look just like that ol’ ugly cutthroat man,” another added.

Mattibelle was as close to heaven as she could imagine she’d be until she passed on from this world. Rullon and his cohorts had been attentive in their efforts to keep her “medicine” flowing and she was feeling pretty good.

“Is that right?” she asked, making sure the subject didn’t drop before she got her fill of it.

Londa Davis obliged.

“Well, see, I heard different. Everybody know she was fooling with that Matthews boy, but somebody tell me that baby is Timore Brown’s.”

“That ol’ red devil?” The woman in the plaid outfit was skeptical, but just as interested in Londa Davis’ take on the matter as the other women.

“Ya’ll remember when Sonny Boy was in the hospital for two weeks after back surgery. He was supposed to be with that Peterson woman, but Beulah said he was all broken up because that girl only showed up about two or three days to visit him in the hospital. He was all worried wondering if she was all right. Wasn’t no reason for him to worry ’cause people see Timore Brown sneaking his devilish behind over there almost every day Sonny Boy was in the hospital. Then that youngest girl come about

nine months later. If ya’ll don’t believe me, ask that Gideon girl. She live right next door and seen that ol’ red lookin’ man over there and heard a whole lot more than she wanted. He even told his friends that was his baby.”

“You mean Sonny Boy didn’t know?” asked a woman with a carefully sculpted Mahalia Jackson wave on the top of her tiny head.

“Chile, when one of them geechie women done put something on a man, you can’t tell him nothin’,” chimed in another.

“That’s right, and if you try to tell Sonny Boy anything about that trampy Peterson girl, he subject to go off on you. Shoot, ain’t nobody told him nothing because he ain’t want to hear it.”

Mattibelle was feeling a tingle in her loins unlike anything a man could do for her. Scandalous gossip moved her like nothing else. The liquor and the talk were making her heart race.

“Speaking of sneaking around, ya’ll heard Lydia done left her husband.” The woman in plaid, not to be outdone, decided to drop her own bombshell information on the group.

“Chile, you got to be kidding.”

“How you find that out?”

“Her mother’s cousin told me when we was at Miss Mae’s wake last week. Say she put all her husband’s clothes in a garbage can and called him at work and told him he’d better come pick them up before the trash man got them.”

“Ooo wee. Some folks ain’t got no home training.” It was Londa Davis’ turn to be impressed.

Over on the other side of the room, Rullon and his friends were getting loud. The liquor was talking in full voice now. A few of them reverted to their street language as they talked about some “ignorant-ass nigga” they knew who had lost his job in the steel mill showing up drunk for the fourth time.

“Dumb-ass nigga need to lose his job,” bellowed the man in the too-tight green suit. “Ain’t shit keeping a job over at the mill. All yo’ dumb ass got to do is show up halfway straight and keep your damn mouth shut!”

Everybody in the group of men cosigned with a chorus of amens.

Mattibelle was getting excited. There was mess brewing all over the room now as the food and liquor made people lose their inhibitions. Yes, this was going to be a real good one. Her mouth actually began to water.

Senobia Payton was just about to open another juicy can of gossip—about a local preacher’s wife finding out about his three outside children up in Detroit, when the men’s side of the room exploded.

The talk had turned from the goings and comings of fellas out in the street to women. Deucy Collins had been running down a list of the best pieces of tail he had run across in his many years as a cock’s man when he started talking about one particularly thick, light skinned woman whom he said “made your stuff feel like it was dipped in a jar of hot honey.

“Yeah, that was some good stuff that woman had. Wish I could find some more snap like that,” he said guffawing.

“You said she was a big ugly, yellow woman? Man, where you find her?” asked one of the gang.

“Down at Big Boy’s Pool Hall. You know ain’t no women really allowed in there. Big Boy let her in to use the phone to call a cab. Shit, I was feeling kinda strong that day, if you know what I mean, so I cut into her, asking her if she wanted to save herself a few dollars. Told her I’d take her home. Drove her over on the east side and when we got there, that big-ass thing ask me if I want to come in for a drink. Shit, what the hell. I wasn’t gone refuse no drink. So she pulled out a bottle of scotch and before too long, I was ridin’ that ass like there was no tomorrow. Shocked the hell outta me, ‘cause that was the best shit I ever had.”

“Man, what make you even look at something like that?” asked Larry.

“Well, I really wasn’t out trying to do nothing from the jump. I thought it was Miss Beulah at first and was just gone ask what she was doing over there by Fat Boy’s.”

It only took a split second for Rullon to recognize his mother’s name in the middle of the sordid tale before he hit Deucy square in his eye. The blow knocked the loud-talking little man off his feet, over the coffee table and out of one of his white loafers.

“Nigga, don’t be talking about my momma like that. I’ll kill yo’ ass up in here!” Rullon was enraged and out for blood. Men and women began to scatter for cover in the cramped living room.

“Hey, man! What’s wrong with you? I ain’t said nothing about you momma. I just said that woman kinda reminded me of her.”

Deucy was still too dazed by the attack to be scared and that was a mistake. Before he could utter another word, Rullon picked up the coffee table, spilling the few trinkets still left on it, and smashed it square across the fallen man’s head. Duecy’s eyes rolled back as Larry and the man in the green suit grabbed Rullon before he slammed the table down again.

“Man, what the hell wrong with you? Is you gone crazy? You gone kill him!” Larry was trying to pry the table out of Rullon’s hands while the man in green and a couple others held him around the waist.

“Ya’ll heard what that muthafucka said about my momma! Ya’ll know I don’t play that shit!”

“Naw, man, come on,” said Larry, trying desperately to squelch his friend’s rage. “Man, he ain’t mean it that way. That’s that liquor talking in both you fools!”

“So, now I’m a fool. Man, I’ll fuck you up too, nigga! I thought you was my friend. You ain’t shit!”

Amid the pandemonium, several of the women were trying to get to the kitchen to get Beulah to intervene. Mattibelle, however, sat clapping her hands and giggling like a mad little girl.

“Ooo wee! Ooo wee!” she squealed. Her heart was skipping beats. She felt like she was about to have a violent but satisfying orgasm.

“Ooo wee! Ooo wee!” she kept screaming as she clapped her wrinkled hands almost faster than was humanly possible.

“Ooo wee! Ooo wee!”

Her insane outburst suddenly brought the action in the room to a standstill. Rullon let go of his grip on the coffee table still above his head and let Larry set it gently back on the floor. Even Deucy started to regain his senses looking up at the crazed woman in the white cat glasses.

“What the hell wrong with her?” asked Rullon, suddenly forgetting what had enraged him in the first place.

Beulah had been dragged from the kitchen, but wasn’t prepared for what she saw. Everyone was still except for the frantically clapping Mattibelle.

“Mattibelle, what’s wrong?” Beulah cautiously made her way over to the flower print easy chair and bent over to look Mattibelle squarely in her face.

“Damn,” said the man in the green suit. “She done lost her mind!”

Everyone in the room eased toward Mattibelle, being careful not to get too close in case she went further over the edge.

“Ooo wee! Ooo wee! Ooo wee!” she continued to scream until the pain hit her in the chest like a ton of bricks.

Mattibelle felt a strange euphoria as her heart began to seize and her breaths started to come harder and harder.

Her voice began to fade as she closed her eyes and reached up to clutch her chest.

Just as her voice started to disappear into silence, her eyes popped open.

“Ya’ll about the most ignorant fools I ever seen in my life,” she nearly shouted, smiling. “But, ya’ll sho’ know how to put somebody in the ground.”

She closed her eyes again. Then she was gone.

 

If you enjoyed Patterson's "A Few Minutes of Euphoria with Miss Mattibelle," you'll love the other 14 stories in A Scandal and Other Things...

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About the Author

M. Francis Patterson (aka Michael F. Patterson) works as a writer in a variety of media. In addition to cranking out works of fiction, for years he has served as managing editor for Frost Illustrated, a weekly black newspaper that has been published in Fort Wayne, Ind., for 45 years. He also has written and read a bit of poetry that has been spotlighted at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art during Brooklyn, N.Y., painter Charlotta Janssen’s acclaimed Freedom Riders exhibit in 2012 and as a featured poet welcoming the legendary Dr. Haki Madhubuti to the Three Rivers Institute of Afrikan Arts& Culture in 2013.

He’s also written and arranged songs for former Motown and Malaco staff writer Frank-o Johnson’s Phat Sounds Productions and played on a number of the company’s internationally released recordings, including Ernie Johnson’s “Squeeze It” and Joyce Lawson’s “Chapter III” as well as the Frank-o Johnson-produced “Animals Get The Blues Too,” by animal rights advocate and blues guitarist and singer Roger “Rozzy” Osborne.

Patterson is currently collaborating as a musician with renowned poet, author and musician Omowale-Ketu Oladuwa and graphic artist, musician and producer Tyrone Cato on a serious of Oladuwa’s biographical and historical works called “Blues Dahlia.” Previously, the three collaborated with nationally recognized surrealist poet George Kalamaras on a dual work by Kalamaras and Oladuwa entitled “A Thousand Thousand fireflies never equal zero.”

Patterson credits Cato with inspiring the designation of “Neonegro Folklore” as the primary genre of his fiction writing.