Don't Tell Me What To Do: A Spiritual Memoir
Just kill me now, LORD! I'd rather be dead than alive, because nothing I predicted is going to happen. – Jonah 4:3

Interment - 1981-1986

This is a preview to the chapter Interment - 1981-1986 from the book Don't Tell Me What To Do: A Spiritual Memoir by Ron Alexander.
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I was sitting at Mama's kitchen table savoring dodging a bullet. I hadn’t been arrested for stealing another car, but I had been disgraced and kicked out of school. Sitting at the table with us was my cousin, Ruth, a compulsive talker. Today was no different.

“I knew your father!”
Mama's mouth dropped to the floor. She gave me a look that was both questioning and knowing. I looked across the table at Ruth, not fully understanding what she had just said.

“You knew my father . . .?”

“Yeah, I knew Johnny when he was dating your mother. He was in the military, you know, a good-looking man. Your mother was crazy about him.”

Mama didn't say a word. She looked away from me in the direction of Ruth, who kept on talking. “He’s from Baltimore. That’s where the rest of his people are. I know them all.”

Baltimore was an hour’s drive from Philly. I was shocked to learn that for all of the years I’ve wanted to find him, the guy lived so nearby that I could have walked to his house.

Ruth continued talking. “I can give you a telephone number and address.” I wrote down the information and left. I couldn't put my finger on it, Why Ruth was so willing to talk about John Duffy when no one else would?

* * *

I rented a small apartment in a hurry and I was now flat broke I needed to find a job to feed myself and pay next month's rent. The only marketable skill I believed myself to have was writing. Writing a few newspaper articles was the only real job I ever had. I wasn't sure whether I was good enough to make a living at it, but I had nothing to lose by trying.

I walked over to a hall closet where my typewriter was still packed in a box. I lifted up the typewriter. Pulling a chair up to the table, I sat down and placed a blank sheet of paper into the typewriter. I sat there, begging and grasping for an idea. I dialed the Philadelphia Tribune, the area's black-owned newspaper. Reaching the editor, I proposed to do a story on Grover Washington Jr., whose album, Mister Magic, was a huge hit. I blurted out my idea for an article without any forethought of how I would pull it off, later discovering, to my astonishment, that Grover had recently moved to Philly, which subsequently became the angle for my story. All was left for me to do was to find out where the guy lived.

I called directory assistance and bingo, the number and address was listed. Calling Grover directly might result in an instant no for an interview. I decided to show up on his doorstep. That was the only way I knew how to get this done.

Just show up.
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