cyclops is a tool


Chalky: I was born in Elgin, Texas. My daddy taught himself the carpenter trade doing for the black folk there. I tell you anything that man put his hand to - table, chair, wedding chest - he’d make that wood sing. Now one day a man, Mr. Theo Purcell, come around. He a white man. Own his own store, stable, hotel. He say to my daddy, ‘I hears you the finest carpenter in Elgin.'My daddy tell him, 'Well I can’t say one way or the other, but I knows a bit about something.’

So Mr. Theo Purcell take my daddy to this house he was building. Biggest house in town. Then walk in there and say, 'This here gon’ be the library. What you think about that?’ My daddy say, 'Well I thinks you need some bookcases.’ 'Well then that’s what I want you to make me.’ Ten months my daddy worked there. And when he finished he bring me around. 'Mr. Purcell, this here my boy. I’d like to show him what I done.’ 'Well, come on in!’

Through the front door.Just like that.

When we did - when I seen them bookcases all carved and scrolled with flowers, baskets of fruit, little angels floating in the corner - that was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

About a month later another man come round. 'I seen what you did for Theo. Can’t let that old dog top me. You come around my house and I’ll show you what I need.’ My daddy go with him to the edge of town. Wasn’t nothing there but six white men. Twelve foot of rope and the pepper tree they hung him from.

These here are my daddy’s tools.

Grand Cyclops of the KKK: What are you gonna do with them?

Chalky: Well, I ain’t building no bookcase.