Diane Payne

The Delta Walk

"I'm telling you, man, church is where it's at."

"I've had enough of your church talk, Bo."

"Let me finish, TJ. The women are out to get Jesus. You should see
the dresses those sweet ladies wear when they come to church. They
don't look nothin' like on Saturday night, and they look mighty fine
then, don't get me wrong, but on Sunday morning when they walk in that
church with those finely-tuned dresses, Jesus is feelin' good. When it
comes to women, Jesus and me are soul brothers. I'm trying to be more
like him in other ways too, but it's those Sunday morning babes that
make me feel the most connected to Jesus. I can hear Jesus yelling at
me to look at those beautiful women His father created just for men, and
I mean it when I say thank you Jesus and Amen all hour long, cuz God has
been good to me."

"That why you go to church, Bo?"

"Don't get me wrong, TJ. I go so Mama ain't hurt, and it ain't right
not to go. Sometimes the preacher tells me things that make me think.
Last week he was talking about men doing it with barn animals! That's
nasty. That's really sick. No wonder God has those ladies dressing so
fine when they come to church. We don't need to be sticking it up no
horse's behind when we got those fine creatures sitting next to us on
the pew. Preacher says that's why God gave us AIDS."

"Wait a minute. That don't make no sense, Bo. Men have been screwin'
goats since before Jesus was born. Why'd he wait til now to give us

"I don't know. Guess he's sick of us abusing animals that way. Maybe
there weren't enough women in the old days."

"You don't know shit. Doing it with animals is the one way we won't
get AIDS. You really believe God gave us AIDS to stop us from poking
the neighbor's dog?"

"I don't know. That's why you need to come to church, so you can ask
the preacher yourself. You got the brains. I got the feelings. And I
got a feeling you'll like church when you see those women. Remember how
we used to go? Steal a little money from the offering and share it at
the store?"

"I ain't doing it with dogs and my conscience is clear. I don't need
to go to church seeking forgiveness. That preacher must know who is
doing it with rabbits or he wouldn't have preached that sermon. Maybe
he's doing it with a goat. I'm about to go back on that damn barge and
I ain't gonna spend my free time in church. I get to come home every
thirty days and I want to feel free."

"You don't know what you're missing, man."

"I miss land. I miss those ugly cotton fields. I miss the social
club. I miss women. But I don't miss those pews. I'm tired of being
stuck with people all night and day."

"You'd like sitting on a crowded pew with those babes. You ain't
giving up on women, are you? You need to come to church."

"Since when you become an evangelist pushing church on me?"

"Jesus loves you, man, and so do those women. That's two good things.
And remember, we's brothers. I love you, too."

"I ain't feeling right no more. Thirty days on that damn barge is
killin me, Bo."

"Quit. There's some construction going on in Greenville. Maybe you
can work the casinos?"

"Need to save money so I can get out of here."

"You serious bout leaving us, ain't you?"


"Yo mama ain't gonna be happy. She hates it when you on that damn
barge. Worries you gonna turn bad spending so much time with those

"Who ain't been in prison round here?"

"I ain't."

"You're a wuss, Bo!"

"Fuck you, TJ. You ain't been behind bars either."

"Ain't gonna be. Thought I'd get Mama used to me being gone working on
the barge, but whenever I come home, she cries. Keep tellin her I'm
saving money so I can get out. I ain't never seen mountains, never see
Pacific Ocean, never been to New York. At least working on the barge I
get to see other places.

"Ain't no place I'd rather be than right here. Where else can you walk
up and down the street and know everyone?"

"No one really knows me. I don't even know me."

"You sounding crazy. What are you doing at work?"


"Too much thinkin' ain't good. Come to church with me tomorrow. Think
about those beautiful legs. Think about those curves. You straying too
far from the church, from the women, from family."

"You may be right, Bo. You may be right. But until I know the
difference, I ain't staying."

"Hey, TJ, we don't only talk about screwin' farm animals at church."

"Yeah, I know what else they talk about. See you round. I need to
take a walk. My legs miss these dusty roads."

"You just take your legs on a long walk through the Delta, and you
remember, this is your home, TJ."


Kathie George 7.jpg (84169 bytes)

(photo by Kathie George)