A Speculative Flash Fiction by Greg Tate

    Emma Lazarus was born Edward Petry. Emma completed her transsexual  transformation at the age of 35. Myra Lazarus was born Mary Macafee, converted to Judaism at the age of 49 and  marries Emma Lazarus.The rest is mystery. Family history.

   I’m a private eye, a purveyor of dirty little secrets, but its not my case, my family ties notwithstanding.

    It’s family business and it could have easily become my case except for one thing: I always make it a point to stay out of my family’s business.

     Course they’d like to make it my business. Fish gotta swim, bullshit gotta fly.

     And yeah maybe somebody in the family circle should find out why my cousin’s mother up and married a woman who used to be a man.

Somebody like my cousin who needs to know for her own peace of mind though she’s incapable of understanding anything thats not Bible approved. 

  A problem compounded by the fact that everything she knew from the Bible had come from her mother’s lips.

  You cant explain shit like that really. 

I know that because I know people as they are, not as we’d like to proslyetize them to be.

   People are, by definition, strange, restless, mysteriously, ultimately unknowable creatures.

    Creatures possessed of often immutable if not inscrutable drives,

man around these parts. 

     After a awhile we like to think we know what makes everybody tick because most of us do the same dumb shit time after time , year after year. 

   Everybody over the age of 30 tends to have a rhythm. 

You can follow it like clockwork. 

Set your metronome by it. 

    Then somebody like Aunt Mary comes along, deviates from the program. Jumps ship, resigns from the God squad.


Because love is stranger than God and stronger than dirt. 

     Point being the person who was Mary Macafee had always loved the person who was once Eddie  Petry regardless of her God or her beloveds gender disposition.

     Her daughter wanted to blame the devil or find out some kind of cult programming was at work.  Wanted me to get to the bottom of things. 

I told her my dishonorable profession was best put to work tracking down deadbeat dads, parent kidnappers, cheating spouses, the occasional lowlife blackmailer–but decidedly not lapsed Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

That was half the truth of course. 

The other half was I thought my cousin was better off with her own skewed suspicion of brainwashing. 

    Because I knew that In this instance the truth would not be setting her free. 

If only the truth worked like that when your whole being is wrapped around a reductive notion of human nature. 

    If only the truth could liberated you from fear, prejudice, blind obedience to abridged scripture. 

    But I knew that Aunt Mary’s daughter would not be liberated by the truth of her mother’s genuine love for a man turned woman. 

     Because the thing about Aunt Mary was that though she worshipped a pretty frightful idea of God she was nothing but the face of love herself. 

This is one of the strange things about people and faith.

 It comforts the weak and the strong, the good and the evil, the terrorist and the terrorized, the unforgiving and the impossibly generous alike.  

    So that inside of some ridIclulosuly medieval, repressive scenario like the Witnessess you do find people like Aunt Mary.

   People  who cant deny the power of love because at the core all they are made of is love. And whatever  drove them to the faith was that and not the potential for state-approved lunacy that had attracted so many others. 

     And every so often pious people like that are gonna flip.  after a life of self-sacrifice and  choose to let  love rule over the misinterpreted and misapplied  teachings of the good book. 

    I wanted no part of spying on her, invading the privacy of her new life. 

Maybe I was also enjoying the bitter irony of it all, given her high and mighty holy family. 

     As things turned out I should have taken the case. Taken my own self-righteous snobbery off the table and helped my family set things right between mother and daughter. 

    It turned out to just not be in the cards.



     She then came back four years later and murdered my uncle, her ex.  Somebody should try to find out why….. 

Author: Enter My Cipher

Author/musician/cultural provocateur who thrives in Harlem, Howard U Bison Nation rep-at-large, co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition, leader of the Conducted Improv big band Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber since 1999, Rivers On Mars collaborator, That Dude whose books include Flyboy In The Buttermilk, Flyboy 2 The Greg Tate Reader, Midnight Lightning:Jimi Hendrix and The Black Experience, Everything But The Burden--What White People Are Taking From Black Culture and the forthcoming Beast Mode:Iconic Gods and Monsters of the Black Atlantic (FS&G,2020)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: