I was watering my garden the other day when I heard some rustling behind the homemade trellis where my green beans grow. I immediately aimed my spray of water to the area expecting to chase out a cat or squirrel.
"Hey, man, stop that," said a high-pitched voice. Out stepped a dripping Mulenga Harangua, my old pal and a conspiracy theorist worthy of inclusion in a pantheon with the birthers, who claim President Obama wasn't born in the United States and is therefore ineligible to be president. Harangua makes Conspiracy Brother from the movie Undercover Brother seem a rank amateur.
"Mulenga, why are you back here trampling on my parsley?"
"Shih," he said, looking suspiciously behind my garage. "Don't say my name too loud. They're after me."
"Who's after you?"
"Dave Bing has his secret police after me. It's a special force of suburban whites who hide in the shadows and keep the real Detroiters away from him. You know, brothers from the street. Bing can't stand that I'm on to him and his illegal occupation of the mayor's office." He pulled some wet papers from his pocket and waved them at me. "I've got proof that Dave Bing was not born in Detroit. He is not one of us and ineligible to be mayor."
"Mulenga, my brother, you don't have to be born in Detroit to be mayor."
"You should be. We don't want any outsiders to come in and take over. This is the blackest city in America and you have to be born here to appreciate that. I think this city charter commission should address that too. Only natural-born Detroiters get to be mayor. I'd speak to the leading commission candidates to get them to add that to the charter, but the last time I went to Freman Hendrix's office he had his thugs throw me out. Anyway, Bing ain't nothing but a carpetbagger who moved in to the city just to run for mayor. He didn't think it was a good enough place to live until the media anointed him king."
I couldn't argue with that.
Harangua peered closely into the branches of a nearby tree. "You never know where they're hiding ready to get me."
Seeking his opinion on the recent primary for City Council members, I asked, "So what do you think of Charles Pugh getting the most votes in the election? He could beat Ken Cockrel to be president of city council. That would be pretty amazing for a newcomer to take down an incumbent City Council president."
Mulenga's eyes rolled back into his head as he turned his face to the sky. "What a travesty. This beautiful black warrior who's been fighting for us all this time getting passed over."
"But I thought you were mad at him for trying to give Cobo Center away to the regional authority."
"That was when he was mayor. Now I'm mad at Bing. I like Cockrel as president of City Council. You've got to give a brother a second chance. Besides, you know Pugh's one of them," Harangua flopped his hand around like he was slapping at one of the many flying insects buzzing around us.
"Them? I thought he was one of us. He was born and raised right here in Motown."
"You know what I mean," his voice dropped low and he shifted uneasily. "He's one of those nasty gays. There wouldn't be any black gays if it wasn't for them Europeans secretly infecting us in their slave-mentality schools."
"His political focus is what counts. I don't see how his sexual orientation is going to make any difference."
"Look at this," Harangua waved a piece of Pugh campaign literature in my face and pointed at a line on the back that read "Make Detroit Proud Again."
"But I thought you were proud to be a Detroiter."
"Don't be stupid, man. That's gay code talk. He's talking about gay pride. Now that we've chased all them unnatural weirdoes out to Ferndale, he wants to let them back in. He wants to give them Palmer Park and the whole area around it. Kwame Kilpatrick didn't go for that stuff. It was the gays that helped take him down."
"I thought it was the lying under oath during the whistleblower trial."
"Don't fall for that trickery, man. You see Kwame was getting with all those women. He had the juice. The gays couldn't stand that. Good thing we have vigilant Christian ministers around here. They'll get people to see straight about Pugh."
"Uh, he was endorsed by the Council of Baptist Pastors and he's a member of the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church."
"I don't care. He'll never be as good as Monica Conyers and Martha Reeves. They got done wrong. Martha is a worldwide ambassador for the city. Didn't you see she was on tour in England, trying to put out some good publicity at the same time they were badmouthing Conyers here. Martha didn't want to have nothing to do with that. They want to point their fingers at Conyers, but it's just like Sam Riddle said. If they want to go after somebody they should go after these big companies that are doing the bribing."
"I'm with you on that one."
"I mean, after a while, it's hard to say no when they keep waving a stack of money in your face. They keep tempting you. Of course, I'm too strong to fall for that. I ain't never took a bribe or compromised my principles."
"I don't think anyone is trying to bribe you."
"And another thing: I'm glad that white she-devil is getting off council. Between Sheila Cockrel and Maryann Mahaffey, they've been diluting the black power of City Council for years. I'm glad to see them gone. And keep your eye on that Saunteel Jenkins. She used to work for Mahaffey. She might be brain-infected."
Mulenga eyed a helicopter flying by and covered his face with his hand. "I think they have a surveillance camera on that. I need to get out of here."
"OK, see you later."
He pulled a big plastic bag out of his pocket. "Hey, can I get some of these greens?"
"Knock yourself out, man."
Larry Gabriel is a writer, musician and former editor of Metro Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gates again: I just spent some time with my brother-in-law, who was a military police officer for 20 years, and my nephew, who is a detective in Elkhart, Ind. When the Henry Louis Gates arrest came up, they agreed on this point: No matter what's going on, police believe they have to win every situation — every one. That's why Gates got arrested and police Sgt. James Crowley says he will never apologize to him.