Treatment

Ladbroke Grove Underground Station, Eastbound platform, approximately 11am. In the shadows stands a woman, a black woman. I can tell she’s black in spite of her almost white skin because of her Negroid features. She’s not fooling me; she’s not fooling anyone. Her hair has been faded by some medical process, which has attempted to negate her nigrescent melanation; it hasn’t quite worked, but even if it had, even if she had become tundra white, she would not have fooled me, nor anyone else. She is...nigger. Be she white as virgin snow she is, would still be...pure nigger.

The train pulls in, the doors open, passengers alight and make for the stairs. I wait until she boards then step into the next carriage up. I try to erase her face from my mind, but I can’t. Those piercing, almost haunted eyes, those thick, ugly lips, that slick, sick leer on her cadaverous face. I feel physically ill.

Perhaps she is a freak, I tell myself. A sport. A mutant. An albino. But no, she is none of these things: she has had...the Treatment. I’ve heard about it, read about it, but this is the first (and hopefully the last) time I’ve seen it. How could she? How could anyone? Does she think it changes anything?

I arrive at Baker Street; as I walk up platform 5, Marshall greets me in his loud bass voice and slaps me on the back. I stare into his dark, brown handsome face, eye his fine black moustache, his black though slightly greying hair.

“Hi Granddad!” I say. He’s well under fifty and looks it, but I always take the piss out of his age on account of his always calling me “Boy”.

The train pulls out; she, it, is gone. I hope I never see such an abomination again. Ever.

“Black is beautiful” I say under my breath, almost unconsciously. Or if it isn’t, it was never that ugly.

“You want some tea, Boy?” asks Marshall, “I just made some.”

“Yeah, Granddad. I’ll see you in the mess room. Just have to splash my boots.” (Either that or throw up).

He nods, returns to the mess room. I walk towards the staff toilet, and as I reach the end of the platform the station stating signal changes from red to green.

[The above was written originally as a poem in the 1980s or early 90s about an incident circa 1976].


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