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Down in Dixie

The flag whipped gaily in the breeze, fluttering and popping in the dying light of evening. Thunderheads roiled menacingly on the horizon, moving shoreward from the distant Gulf Stream.

On the ground beneath the wooden flagstaff, a crowd of young men gathered around a huddled figure.

"C'mon boy. We saw you out there, dancing with that nigger last night," spat the leader.

The victim drew his legs in closer to his body, shivering in pain and fear. At eye level he saw the well-polished, steel-toed boots of his tormentor. The right one was covered with blood. . .his own blood. The memory of the last kick throbbed in his broken mouth.

"Git up, Jeremy! Fuckin' traitor. Traitor to your race! Traitor to your brothers! Git up 'n take what's comin' to ya!"

The others surged closer, dressed identically in steel-toed Doc Martens, Levis, and leather suspenders over white t-shirts. "Kick his nigger-lovin' ass, Billy Ray!" they cheered. "Fuck him up!"

Jeremy struggled to decide whether he should try to stand and fight, or cover as best he could on the ground. Tentatively, he reached a hand to push himself up. Billy Ray's boot flashed and thudded into his chest. The force of the blow rolled him onto his back and left him gasping for air, choking on the blood that poured from his gums. He saw Billy Ray drawing back to kick him again. He drew his knees up just in time to catch the blow aimed at his midsection. He heard the crack of his shin bone, but his tortured body did not register the pain.

He and Billy Ray had been close once. As close as two people could ever be. Better than brothers. But things had changed. Their perspectives drew apart. It wasn't so much the racist dogma to which Billy Ray and the others had been drawn. It was more the simple differences of commitment. Billy Ray was a zealot. Jeremy was just hanging out. Until now, the racial hatred had been mere talk. Adolescent bluster. The guys were harmless enough.

They were going to kill him. The pack frenzy was on them now, and the blood lust was rising. And it was his blood driving them on.

"Let's string him up on a cross, and burn his ass!" came a call from the crowd. "Fucking traitor! Show him what he gets for mixing his white seed with the mud-people!"

That would be Joshua, Jeremy thought. A real fire-brand, but not the brightest bulb. It was Joshua who came up with the idea for the flag. . .the confederate stars and bars against a rainbow background. He'd also suggested the robes, rainbow tye-died sheets. Since the real KKK wouldn't have anything to do with this group, they needed to define their own identity.

It's hard to establish yourself, though, when you're a motley gang of gay white-supremacists. And could homosexuals really "mix" their "seed"? There may have been an irony here that Jeremy would have found hilarious once. This whole gang was a bad joke. The KKGay. But it's hard to laugh with a mouthful of blood and broken teeth.

Billy Ray had circled around him, still taunting. "I hope that nigger dick was good to ya, Jeremy!"

From the corner of his eye, Jeremy caught the flash of black leather as the boot came flying again. The pain crashed in his skull as the steel toe caught him just above the ear. In a blur, he could see the rest of the gang moving in now, like hounds on a dead coon. Their jackboots rose in near unison, and the cleated soles were coming down.

wpl 11/05/99