My Life in Black and White

My Life in Black and White

by Chris Edmonds

ISBN: 9781477647189

Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Romance/Fantasy, Romance/Gothic, Mystery & Thrillers/Thrillers & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

Bess was born a slave but was emancipated soon after. She grew into a young woman for whom freedom meant choosing how she loved and what gods she believed in. She rejected the more accepted beliefs of the time since they couldn’t be supported by scientific thinking. But, as a result of her fun-loving lifestyle, she became trapped in the old tribal ways with hellish results. Doomed to keep reliving the same mistakes in unending reincarnations, she finally found a way to escape. But had she learned the lessons of past lives well enough to make use of them in the present, to find true freedom?

Sample Chapter

The whole thing started in the deep south in the early eighteen eighties. Slavery had been over for a while but it was taking everybody some time to work out what was going to happen next. The emancipated slaves were free to come and go more or less as they pleased but since there was nowhere really for them to go they stayed right where they’d always been. The plantation bosses had come up with a brilliant plan whereby the freemen still worked for the plantation but only indirectly. Now they traded most of the cotton crop they grew as rent for a piece of dirt to grow it on and what little was left over they were allowed to keep for themselves and sell. This was an arrangement called ‘sharecropping’ hence the old slave compound on the Norwood Plantation was now called a ‘sharecropper’s settlement’ and was home to eighty seven men, women and children.

The eight hundred acre plantation was close to the small market town of Hamilton in Louisiana not far from New Orleans. The place looked pretty much the same as it had before abolition. There was the plantation mansion of course which hadn’t changed at all and a cluster of mean little dwellings built along an avenue in a clearing in the woods on the edge of the cotton fields. These used to be the slave cabins and the newly ‘freedmen’ still lived in them. As time had passed since abolition a few vegetable gardens had sprung up here and there between the cabins along with a pigsty or two and a couple of window boxes did their best to support a few straggly flowers.

The truth was however that even though the bolts were gone from the outsides of the slave cabin doors the flowers couldn’t do much to hide the fact that life here was still so hard it could crush a human heart like a dried walnut.

Still hard but usually a bit less cruel than it used to be - but not on the hot, drizzly, morning of August 23rd at 9:34 in 1882.

The magistrate had made sure the sheriff understood that what they were doing had to appear official and ‘proper’. That’s why he had taken the time to hurriedly throw together a make-shift gallows in the center of the settlement because a noose slung over a tree branch smacked too much of an old style mob-lynching.

Either way Bess was standing, hands tied behind her back, under a noose. Silent colored sharecroppers watched as the rope was pulled roughly over her head and tight around her pretty, black neck. Somewhat oddly, she was wearing a once fine but now torn and soiled, pale blue satin ball gown. The dress was soaking wet which made it virtually transparent and it clung to her hard, young body doing little to hide her perfect breasts from the small crowd of white ruffians who jeered excitedly at her desperate plight.

“Come on, show us her black ass,” they yelled and “yeh, stretch her black neck but let’s fuck her first.”

Then they howled with laughter at their own mindless whit through rotten teeth. The white socialites, including Marilyn Spencer, who were watching from their carriage a discrete distance away did their best to rise above the seedier parts of the proceedings but even they couldn’t completely ignore the first signs of the baby growing in Bess’s belly that the gown failed to hide.

A tattered confederate flag and a drum roll from a scruffy white soldier in a thread-bare uniform lent a guise of formality to what, despite the gallows, really wasn’t much more than a mob lynching anyway. In spite of the predicament she found herself in Bess went on being the generous soul she’d always tried to be. She wanted to ease the pain of those that loved her so from somewhere deep inside she found a soft smile to share with those looking up at her so sadly – until the drum roll stopped.

That was the agreed signal for the trapdoor to open and Bess’s heart had time to beat once more before she dropped. She fell about six feet before the rope snapped taut with a sickening crack like the breaking of an old, dry twig and her feet were left to twitch and kick in a bizarre, mid-air jig.

Normally this part of the show was met with enthusiastic applause and more wise-cracks but today it went down a bit differently. Everybody, even the white ruffians, had to turn their heads away when Bess’s brief, mad dance was over and the remains of what had been the baby in her womb ran down the insides of her thighs to drip pathetically from the soles of her feet.


Exactly twenty two years later on August 23rd, 1904 at 9:34 a.m. Lester Cummings was pacing in his modest little kitchen smoking like a steam locomotive. He was a scrawny, unhealthy looking soul and he was being driven crazy by the screams of his wife who was having a real bad time giving birth down the hallway in the bedroom. Every time she screamed out in pain he took another deep, shaky drag on his Lucky Strike.

Finally the screaming stopped and after a few minutes of uncertain silence Lester crept to the closed bedroom door to see what was going on. He put his ear to it first and when he heard nothing he knocked very quietly – he was terrified any loud noise might make the awful screaming start up again.

“Hello in there,” he said through the door, “is everything alright?”

The silence went on for a bit until the door burst open with a loud whoosh and Lester was confronted by the enormous and bloody-armed mid-wife. She just stood there in the doorway like a guardian at the gates of hell staring at him like he was to blame for something terrible. That made him swallow hard trying to get down a throat-full of something nasty tasting until she announced, “it was a girl.”

She said it like she was telling him the time.

“Was?” he repeated.

“Stillborn,” was all she added by way of explanation and without any sign of regret.

There was no room for grief right away, he was worried about his wife now more than ever and dared to ask, “how’s Margaret doing? Is she alright?”

The mid-wife seemed almost surprised by the concern she heard in his phlegmy voice .

“She’s going to be fine – more or less,” she spat at him, “but you’re headed towards consumption.”

Then she shut the door firmly in his face. He stood there for the longest time trying to digest what he had just been told – until his baby daughter cried out with a gusty lung-full of new-born air sounding very much alive after all.


Excerpted from "My Life in Black and White" by Chris Edmonds. Copyright © 2012 by Chris Edmonds. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Chris Edmonds

Chris Edmonds

After graduating with a degree from Exeter University in England I began a career in education by teaching biology at a high school in Salisbury, Wiltshire. I lived very close to Stonehenge - the most mystical place in the world. From there I went to Queen’s College in the Bahamas to teach biology and play rugby for Beck’s Buccaneers. Three years later I was off to Mexico City to teach biology at Green Gates School and then on to head the science department at the British Embassy School. Two years after that I found myself at the Banda School in Nairobi, Kenya – the most beautiful place in the world. That’s where, after teaching human biology for a while, I tripped over the film business by working for six months on ‘Sheena, Queen of the Jungle’. I’ve been an Assistant Director in film and TV ever since. During that time I’ve worked on some great scripts like ‘Memento’ and ‘American Beauty’ and some not so great ones like - well you can look up my resume on if you really want to. Of course, with over forty productions under my belt, I started writing my own scripts with some encouraging responses - but no checks. When a good producer friend of mine read one of my screenplays he suggested I write it as a novel - so I did. People liked ‘My Life in Black and White’ but, more importantly, I had so much fun doing it I decided to write and publish a second book called ‘Hunting Cat Face’. ‘The Paynes of Heritage’ is my third novel and a sequel to it is in the works. In between working freelance in the entertainment industry and writing I still find time to teach a postgraduate course in Film and TV Production as a part-time faculty member for Columbia College at their campus on the Raleigh Studios lot in Los Angeles.

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