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Sparks Plantation (part 2)
Cuffee Joe turned thirteen. I called him Jojo sometimes because that's what his family called him. I used to think he was kind of strange. He was so shy, he had trouble fitting in. For one thing, his teeth were too big. They made him look funny. But he was very nice, so I didn't want to see him get teased.
He'd been over to Mister Sparks' place a few times. He played naked with us boys, and I could tell he liked it because his willy pointed up the whole time. Still, he seemed nervous, maybe scared of getting in trouble, I wasn't sure. Mister Sparks said he worried that Cuffee Joe had snuck over without his mama's permission.
I remembered something Mister Sparks said a while back, when he and I were alone. We were talking about Nathaniel at the time. Nathaniel was fourteen and started liking the girls a little more, even though he still played naked with us boys sometimes. Mister Sparks also predicted Robert's older brother, Reuben, would also be chasing the girls before long, even though he was only twelve. But he didn't expect Cuffee Joe would be chasing the girls any time soon. I asked him why. He said he just got that feeling about some people. This talk was all in private of course. Mister Sparks knew he didn't have to worry about speaking in front of me. But I wondered... was I one of those people he got a feeling about?
Once, I asked him if his friends made fun of him for not having a wife. He answered, "Y'all are my friends." He meant us coloreds . Then he told me about when he was seventeen; he and another white boy was playing with a pistol and he shot himself, way up at the thigh. He had called it a flesh wound but he said there had been a lot of blood. I already knew about that. I'd seen his scar lots of times; any higher, he would have shot his balls off. But the part of the story I didn't know was... he had told his daddy and his friends that his baby-making parts didn't work anymore. It was a lie, of course, but it kept folks off his back, including the ladies.
I said "sly!"
Anyway, about Cuffee Joe... he hadn't been over in a long while. He lived on the far side of the fields. He and his sisters spent most of their time working in the barns, bailing tobacco. Even on Sundays, he stayed home to sit with his old granny while the others went to Sunday meetin', so I hardly ever saw him, except from a distance.
So finally seeing him, up close, these months later, I was surprised at how handsome he'd become so quickly. He was quite a bit taller and his teeth didn't look funny anymore. He'd grown into them somehow. Even his body was shaped different.
At the stable, I watched him brushing the horses for Frederick. No one else was there. He was wearing bibbed overalls but the bib and straps weren't attached, just hanging down in front and his pants were barely hanging on. His butt crack was showing a little, and the front was so low, I could see he had a few small curls of hair growing... this was a new addition to Cuffee Joe.
He finally noticed me standing behind him and almost tripped backwards over an apple crate. We both laughed and said hi.
I asked him, "How did you grow so fast?"
He shrugged and said, "Everyone's been asking me that lately."
He asked me about Mister Sparks and about Winston and Nathaniel. I told him Nathaniel wasn't around as much as he used to be.
The whole time, I was staring at him, up and down, not realizing I was doing it, looking at his face, down to his smooth brown chest, his belly, and down to where the new sprouts of hair had started. From his expression, I got the feeling he liked me staring at him .
"You look different," I told him.
"I do?" he asked me.
"You're handsome now."
He looked lost for words and I immediately regretted saying that.
"Really?" he finally asked.
"I meant... your teeth don't look funny anymore."
He slid his tongue over his teeth, investigating.
I felt stupid. Boys didn't tell other boys they were handsome... except maybe behind their backs, like when I was talking private with Mister Sparks.
He asked me if I still read a lot and if I still had all those old books that Mister Sparks brought over. I told him yes. Mama and Ruthy like for me to read to them in the evenings.
I asked him if he wanted to come over to Mister Sparks' place tomorrow. He looked a little worried and asked me if I was sure ol' Mister Potts wasn't going to be around. Then I recalled that Mister Potts gave him a hard time a while back, and had scared him. I asked if that was why he hadn't been around. He looked away and answered no, but I didn't believe him.
I assured him that he didn't have to worry about Mister Potts. I told him in a loud whisper, "If he's mean to ya, just be polite and do what he says, but later come tell me and I'll ask Mister Sparks to whoop him for ya!"
Cuffee Joe laughed. Then I added, "Well, maybe not whoop him, but ..."
He nodded and said, "Okay," and seemed truly relieved.
Then he looked me over and he asked me how old I was now.
I started to answer, eight, but changed it to "I'll be nine in a couple of months."
He scrunched his eyebrows; I wasn't sure what to make of his expression. "...what?" I finally asked.
"Well, it's just... you seem a lot older. You always did."
I shrugged and gave the same answer he gave me. "Everyone's been telling me that lately."
The way Cuffee Joe was looking at me, down into my eyes, made my willy tingle, but I wasn't sure why. "Well, see ya tomorrow then Jojo."
I think he liked that I remembered to call him Jojo instead of Cuffee Joe, judging by his smile. "Bye Amos."
Then, without planning to... like someone else was moving my body... I stepped up on top of the apple crate and quickly kissed him on the lips, and then I ran away. Now I didn't feel older at all. Instead, I felt like a silly little boy.
Later I saw Mister Sparks, walking on the cut-cross... the path that crosses the fields. A couple of burlap sacks were slung over his shoulder. I started to walk towards him.
I liked being with him outside the cabin, or in town, especially when white folks were around... the way him and me act in public, so normal, but all the while, in my head, I thought of what we do when we're alone. Sometimes, when a lot of other folks were around, he would sneak a wink at me while they were looking the other way. No one ever saw, and even if they did, they wouldn't know what it really meant. There was something exciting about our secret when other folks were around. But I didn't really know why it was exciting.
A couple of months back, we were hunting for mushrooms in the woods. It was a popular spot. A white lady, daughter of old Mister Gamble who runs the Buy-and-Trade in town, was also hunting mushrooms nearby with help from two younger girls, some-or-other relation. Not having much luck after an hour or so, Mister Sparks and me sat on a big log to rest. I noticed he kept looking over to where the lady was searching.
I whispered, "She has a big butt."
Mister Sparks turned to me, saying nothing. I immediately felt guilty.
Then a sly look came over his face. "You only said that because you saw me lookin' over there."
"Nosa," I answered him.
"Ahh..." he whispered. "I think you did... you just don't know it."
I thought for a bit, realizing he might be right. It was both funny and embarrassing.
A minute later, she stopped in front of us and asked Mister Sparks if he remembered any good spots from last time he was out here. He pointed to an area over a small hill. As they looked where he was pointing, he winked at me. This almost made me laugh out loud.
"Toward the thick over there?" the woman asked, pointing.
"Yes, but to the side, near that clump of elms."
As she and the girls were looking where Mister Sparks was pointing, I slowly slid my hand over his leg and into his lap and felt his lump. He flinched. One of the girls started to turn around so I quickly pulled my hand back.
"Thank you, Mister Sparks," the woman said as the three of them started to walk toward the little hill.
"You're welcome Miss Gamble," He nodded politely, tipping his hat.
As they got a bit farther away, I slid my hand into his lap again. He caught it with his hand and gave me a crazy smile with wide eyes, pushing my hand away. "Little imp..." he said through his teeth. One the the girls turned and looked back our way for a second. Mister Sparks smiled at her politely. Then she continued on.
I waited until there was more distance between us and the girls and then once again slid my hand over his leg, into his lap. This time, he didn't stop me, but he was still keeping a nervous eye on them. His lump was a lot bigger this time. I squeezed it and moved it around in his pants. In no time at all, it grew into a pole down the inside of his leg. I slid my hand up and down. I whispered, "I bet I can make the cream come out."
We never got to find out; one of the girls ran back after the pail she'd forgotten. Mister Sparks calmly put his hat in his lap. I pretended to be interested in the small branch I'd snatched from the bush behind me, twisting and pulling at the leaves.
After she was gone again, Mister Sparks stood and adjusted his pants then we got back to the serious business of hunting for mushrooms.
That had been two or three months earlier.
Now, today, I was joining him as he walked on the cut-cross, headed back toward his place.
"Amos, my boy!" he greeted me as I got closer.
I asked him if I could help him carry something. He said thank you and handed me the smallest sack.
I told him that I saw Cuffee Joe (but I didn't mention that I kissed him) and I told him, "He's taller now and looks a lot different."
He cocked his head. "How can that be? I just saw him not long ago... didn't I?"
"He's been bailing tobacco with his sisters every day," I explained. "It's been a few months since I talked to him... 'til today I mean."
"You don't see him on Sundays?" Mister Sparks asked.
"Naw, he looks after his granny while we're at the meetin'."
Mister Sparks said, "I guess you're right; it's been a while." He sighed, sounding a little sad. "The folks here, I've known all my life... but I hardly see some of them nowadays."
I said, "Maybe you need to have someone else take care of all those papers you work on."
He only mumbled some answer I didn't understand.
Then I told him what Cuffee Joe had said, that I 'seem older'.
Mister Sparks said, "You been caught! He sees through your disguise... the little man who pretends to be a boy!"
Then Mister Sparks asked me about The Three Rs... reading, writing and 'rithmetic, and asked me how I've been doing with Aunty Rose. I told him fine, and I reminded him that writing starts with W.
He said, "I know that. I'm not as dumb as I look."
He poked me with his finger.
I laughed. "I didn't mean it that way." I continued explaining, "Anyway, that's called irony . It's kind of funny... The Three Rs is for ' learning', but they spelled it wrong! Writing doesn't start with an R .... that's irony."
"Irony," I repeated.
He said, "Amos my boy, I have no clue what you're talking about. Did you learn this from Aunty Rose?"
"I learned it from one of the books you gave me."
He winked at me and said, "There ya go." Then he asked, "What about arithmetic?"
"Arithmetic starts with A," I answered.
"Imp!" he said, and poked me again. "I meant, how are you doing in arithmetic?"
"Oh! Doin' fine, I guess."
"I hear you been doing more than fine." he said, "Arithmetic is my specialty, let me ask you an arithmetic question..."
"But I don't have my copybook..." I tried to explain but he wasn't listening.
"Okay, pay attention now... let's say you have twenty-five cents in your pocket. Then you spend twelve cents for a slate, and five cents for a copybook. But on your way home, you find two cents in the road and you put it in your pocket. How much do you have in your pocket when you get back home?"
I answered, "Probably none." I poked my finger through the hole in my pocket and wiggled it.
Mister Sparks laughed and said, "The other pocket then."
"I'd have ten cents," I answered.
"There ya go!" He said. He stopped, set the sack down, looked around, and picked up an old marker stick. Then he said, "Alright, my boy, let's just skip way ahead of the class. Pay close attention... what's the difference between forty-nine thousand, five hundred twenty-eight ... and sixteen thousand, four hundred nineteen?"
I crouched down so I could write in the dirt.
"No," he said, "figure it in your head."
I started to argue, "I can't..."
He repeated the numbers again. I closed my eyes and wrote in the air with my finger, imagining myself doing the take-away problem in my copybook with Aunty Rose.
Finally, I answered, "Thirty-three thousand, one hundred and nine... I believe."
I watched him scratch in the dirt with the stick, working out the take-away problem. It was messy because a number had to be carried over. When he was done, the numbers were the same. I was correct.
"Amos, I don't know any other boy your age that can do that in his head."
I grinned, feeling proud. "You can do it in your head even faster, I'd bet... arithmetic is your specialty."
"I don't believe so," he answered, "...not a take-away problem, and not with that many numbers." He went on. "Amos, you might be one of those... you know, those real smart people ... I can't remember the word." His eyes were squinted, concentrating.
I looked up at him confused.
"...genius!" he finally said. "That's the word. You might be one of those geniuses."
"Me? A genius? You really think so?"
He stopped for a moment then said "Well, naw, forget I said that, I don't want you gettin' a big head." He poked me again with his finger.
For a second there, I was afraid he'd been funnin' me that whole time. I felt a little bit giddy, with too many thoughts in my head all at the same time.
"And don't you go saying anything too genius in front of white folk... I don't want some rich bastard snatchin' you away from your mama... and from me." Then he half-mumbled, "...my daddy would sell his soul if the price was right."
"I won't." The thought of being snatched away gave me a chill.
He stopped walking again. "You're somethin' special alright, Amos." He looked down at me. I saw the familiar look in his eyes. I knew what he wanted. I arched my eyebrows, making my sly naughty-boy face. He laughed.
A couple of minutes later, we were in the cabin. He dropped the sacks on the floor, locked the door, immediately picked me up in his arms and covered my face and mouth with kisses. I wrapped my arms around his neck. He was randy because I was smart. That seemed crazy. And now I was randy because he was randy. I suddenly felt guilty about kissing Cuffee Joe, but I kept it to myself.
Mister Sparks carried me over to the big table and stood me up on top of it then he pulled my pants down, and then my underpants, and dropped them onto the floor. I stood on the table naked, in front of him. He kissed my belly and my thighs. He slid his hands around me and rubbed my butt. Then finally, he kissed my willy, leaning in and sliding his tongue over all my parts, kissing, licking and sucking. I touched his face. He finally sucked just my willy into his mouth. His face pushed against me hard, making me want to push hard against his mouth. Then I started moving in and out.
Before long, I was hunched over his head, humping fast, my hands and arms holding him, desperate to hump him. I felt like a rabbit. His hands were on my butt holding up most of my weight. For a moment, I wished I could wrap my legs and my whole body around him.
Just as I started to tickle, the words were on my tongue: I love you. But I always waited for him to say it first, so I wouldn't feel so silly. I felt my willy twitch and throb in his mouth. My hips moved, rolled and ground against him. Then the tickle finally ended.
He picked me up from the table and hugged me tight then carried me over to the big rug on the floor and laid me down, and then he laid himself down next to me. He closed his eyes and rubbed his hands over my chest and belly.
After a bit of silence, my mind wandered back to Cuffee Joe, and how ol' Mister Potts had scared him. Finally I said out loud, "Does Mister Potts know what we do... here in the cabin?"
He answered quietly, "Mister Potts only knows what I tell him. And even if he did know, he wouldn't cause trouble. He wouldn't risk the best paying job he ever had."
I thought a while then I asked him, "How are able you pay him so much? Now that you took over for your daddy, you have some of the kids learning to read with Aunty Rose instead of carryin' water or workin' in the fields, and some of us boys are keeping you company instead of bailin' tobacco, and..." I stopped, realizing I was asking a lot of questions. "Sorry." I slapped my head. "I'm too nosy. Mama is always after me about that."
He got hold of me and pulled me up until I was lying on top of him, my face resting on his chest, my legs dangling over each side. He didn't talk for a minute, just rubbed my back. Finally he said, "Well, it is your business, fact of matter. And it's your mama's business. It's all our business... but I can't be saying that in front of other folks."
I didn't know what he was getting at.
He kept talking. "My Daddy made a lot of money in tobacco... a lot of money... more than folks know, more than the banks know, even more than my sisters know. It's more money than he knows what to do with. You and your kin made him that money. And he didn't pay your daddy one cent, God rest his soul. That's why it's your business. Or it should be."
I had more questions, but I stayed quiet and listened.
He went on, "But now he's soft in the head, my daddy is, and so I'm in charge. And someday... someday Amos... after he's dead and buried, or maybe even before that... I'm going to find a way to move us all North... the whole bunch of us."
I looked at him, amazed by what he was saying. "All us coloreds?"
"Yes," he answered "...well, all the coloreds here at Sparks."
"When?" I asked him.
"I don't know. It will be a while, but I heard of a spread up north someone is lookin' to sell, and I'm checkin' into it... and I am checkin' into the legal papers I'll need to move y'all north with me. On the other side of the Mason Dixon line, coloreds can come and go as they please, or so I've heard. And they don't have to work for free, they work for pay, just like white folks." He added, "Hell, who knows, maybe someday it will be me working for y'all."
That seemed crazy. My head was spinning with questions and ideas. What was north like? What were the people like?
He continued, "But we have to do it the right way, legally, so that no one has cause to send someone after us.
I asked him, "Is there snow up there?"
"I suppose there is, in the winter."
"I've never seen snow before." I said, trying to imagine walking in it.
"That makes two of us."
I felt the warmth of his chest on my face. My own chest also felt warm, but in a different way, warm and achy, like when you miss your mama or your best friend. I recognized this as love.
Then he added, "If anyone were to find out about this..."
"I don't tell our secrets."
"I know. And I trust you more than I trust my own big mouth. But some things are so secret, they're dangerous."
I slid myself up his chest until we were face to face, and said, "I swear!" ...then I kissed his lips. He wrapped me in his arms and we kissed more. Then I moved back down and slid off him and started to unbutton his pants.
He said, "Naw, that's alright Amos. I'll have my turn next time."
But I didn't stop. I kept unbuttoning; he had only said naw because I already had my tickle and he knew I wouldn't feel randy again for a while. But this was different... nothing to do with feeling randy. I loved him, I felt it, and I was determined to make him feel good and determined to relieve his heavy balls of all that cream.
He wasn't wearing underpants, or shoes. I slid his pants down. He laughed and lifted his butt as I stripped them all the way off. Then I crawled up and unbuttoned his shirt. He pulled it the rest of the way off. I half-expected him to already smell like he'd been working in the sun, but he didn't, which meant he'd already been in the creek this morning.
Now he was as naked as I was. He had a smooth chest, not hairy like my own daddy's had been. He had a thick head of hair, but didn't have much anywhere else, except the usual patch above his willy, a little under each arm, and a few straggly ones around his nipples.
I wrapped my hand around his willy. It grew bigger almost instantly. I slowly slid it up and down. He made a mm-noise, letting me know it felt good.
I crawled in between his legs, leaned over him, pulled the skin the rest of the way back and touched the tip of his willy with my tongue. He was watching me close, as he always did. I slid my lips over the big round knob until it was all the way in my mouth, and sucked on it. Then I sucked in more until my lips were partway down the pole. I held onto his balls as my mouth moved up and down, up and down. He reached down and touched my face, as he always did.
After a bit I let him slip from my mouth and used my hand again. "Is it getting closer?" I asked him.
It took longer for me to make him tickle than the other way around. He was an expert and could make me and the other boys tickle in no time at all.
He sat up and took hold of me and moved me over until I was sitting on my butt, and my back was leaning against the big stuffed ottoman. Up on his knees, he straddled me, his stiff willy was now an inch from my face. He moved the tip back and forth over my lips. Finally, he slid it into my mouth and I closed my lips around it. He pet my face and slowly humped me. I liked the way his extra skin felt. It was loose and so soft. And I liked the way his big knob glided in and out of the tube of skin, in and out over my lips and into my mouth. The feeling made me randy again and I slid my hands under his big fuzzy balls.
After a minute, he pulled away from my mouth and used his hand, pumping it fast. I still hung onto one of his balls. If I could have sucked on it, I would have, but I had tried that once before and it was too big.
He stopped, his face beet-red, looking at me, sliding the angry purple cock-head over my lips again, making them even wetter with the slippery drips that leaked out. I opened my mouth but he didn't slide it in. He just slowly moved and pumped it a few more times and I understood what he wanted; he liked nothing better than to watch me drink his cream. Crazier yet, he liked seeing it pour into my mouth, seeing it flow over my lips and tongue. I sort of understood why he liked seeing that... the feeling of being very naughty... and very nasty. I got that feeling sometimes just when I was about to tickle. But he liked watching it as much as he liked doing it. And really, I didn't mind doing any of it. Fact of matter, I loved doing things that gave him a thrill.
He kept pumping very slowly, sliding the tip over my open lips and my tongue. His eyes were dreamy and his mouth was hanging slack. His body twitched a little and he said, "I love you Amos." Then his cream poured between my lips.
I licked the tip as it flowed against my tongue, "I love you too," I answered him. He watched me closely as I drank from the tip. Some of it dripped onto my belly. I didn't care. More pumped out and he slid it further into my mouth and I closed my lips around it, helping him pump it with my hand as I drank the rest. Now I felt like the expert; none of the other boys knew exactly what Mister Sparks wanted, or how to do it... not like I did.
Finally, his shoulders slumped and I let his willy fall from my mouth. He looked down at me and panted. "We made a mess."
I snickered and said, "I think you did it on purpose," and slid my arm across my chin.
"You know me so well," he answered. He held my face between his hands and said sweetly, "Thank you Amos; that felt wonderful." He gently kissed my nose and rubbed my head then fell onto the rug again, his legs and arms spread open and his eyes closed. Finally he mumbled, "Where's my Amos?"
I crawled over and lay beside him.
That night, back at home in my own bed that I share with Henry, I had a scary dream about ol' Mister Potts, and the cotton plantation a little ways south of here.
Frederick had told us about the cotton plantation a while back. He had went there once with Mister Potts to swap some supplies they had traded. Frederick told me it was scary, the way the coloreds were treated. He said there must have been three hundred colored folks, maybe more, working in the cotton fields, and doing other work. He said the horses were treated better than them. Women pulled plows in the hot sun, instead of the horses. If they didn't work hard enough, they got hit, or if they were lucky, just hollered at. He said most of the younger kids were naked, but also working. He said they all looked so miserable he had to look away a couple of times because he couldn't stand to see their faces. Mister Potts laughed and told Frederick that we coloreds at the Spark Plantation had it too easy. Then he had made a joke about leaving Frederick there.
Frederick had scared me with this story. Thoughts of the cotton plantation had stayed in my head for days.
And now, in my dream, I was in a place I didn't recognize. I think I knew I was dreaming, sort of, but I was afraid that if I looked around too much, I would discover I was at the cotton plantation. Then, somehow, in my dream, I was holding a hoe and pulling it through the dirt, and my mama was also there and she was also pulling a hoe, along with some white folks who were watching us work. Then, out of nowhere, one of them grabbed my shirt collar. I started to cry and reached for my mama. But when I looked up, it wasn't my mama I'd reached for, it was ol' Mister Potts.
I sat up straight in bed. It was dark. I saw Henry's familiar shape, sound asleep. Relieved, I hugged up against him and drifted off again.