The King of Colored Town

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9781592641819: The King of Colored Town

"White blossoms to frame a black man. I straightened abruptly from the casket. Even in mortis Joe Billy seemed to threaten mobility. A laugh. A curse. Nobody could predict what Joseph William King would do in life. Nor even, apparently, in death."

There are good people and bad on both sides of the tracks that divide Laureate from 'Colored Town'. Our instruction in that hard truth comes as we follow two African-American teens, Cilla Handsom and Joe Billy King, as they endure the backlash resulting from the integration of their segregated school with the all-white school run by Lafayette County's all-white school board. The issue of the education of Laureate's children will expose hatreds on both sides of the color divide. Cilla will emerge from her ordeal carrying scars and grace to become a widely traveled classical musician. Joe Billy will be found hanging from the bars of his cell in a Florida penitentiary. Their moving, intertwined dramas put courage, cowardice, loyalty and betrayal side by side in an eloquent, evocative narrative where the demons and angels of a time and place are portrayed in black and white.

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About the Author:

Darryl Wimberley is an author and screenwriter who resides with his family in Austin, Texas. He is the author of the Barrett Raines mysteries, "A Rock and a Hard Place" and "Dead Man's Bay", and of a seperate literary work "A Tinker's Damn."

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The similarity between a woman's body and a guitar's anatomy struck Joe Billy, so he told me, just about the time of his first erections. But he was a little older, fifteen or so, when, stealing a sample of acrylic paints and lacquers from the high school's auto shop, he retreated with his Gibson to a closet-sized bedroom for his other purpose. It was here that Joe Billy found his true expression. In something less than a week he had conformed the surface of his inherited guitar into the image of a voluptuous woman.

She was lying on her side, this female, a nude torso stretched along the axis of the guitar's leering neck and exposed in bold, primary colors on the surface of the guitar's polished body. The soundhole situated her navel. Raven hair played in damascene tangles over the naked round of the guitar's shoulder to display a sensual hip. A kind of bracelet fell in linked motes of turquoise or jade from her wasp's waist in a shallow arc toward the pubis lasciviously suggested below, a G-string dimly realized from visions of Biblical whores, Aholah and Aholibah, say. Or Jezebel.

One evening Joe Billy took his guitar to Tully's Lounge, hoping to jam. Tully's Lounge was never as successful as, say, the Red Bird Café, but was still, locals insisted, a venue for serious artists. The Adderley Brothers, Cannonball and Nat, were said to have played at Red Tully's place. B.B. King was claimed to have jammed with the boys' quintet on one occasion. This was all in the late forties, fifties, maybe. By Joe Billy's time the club was barely scraping by. The veteran players only occasionally returned. Sometimes they'd let Joe Billy sit in, and he'd be keeping rhythm behind men with sobriquets like Blind John Davis or Pinetop Perkins. Nobody paid any attention to the kid on backup. But the night Joe Billy went behind that stage and unpacked his painted Gibson he acquired an instant audience--outraged, amused, intrigued--depending on the concupiscence of the beholder.

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