Home
Editor's Page
YM Artists' Page
"Skeeter", the Official YM Mascot
YM Guidelines
Contact Us & Links to Other Sites
Factoids
The Beetlemeyer Exhaltation_Fiction by Steve Carr
A Farmer's Tale-Fiction by James Kompany
Date with Yellow Mama-Fiction by Tom Barker
Sweet Spot-Fiction by Gary Clifton
Singers and Sinners-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Sleeping with Sharks!-Fiction by Pamela Ebel
The Long Shot-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Suds in the Bucket-Fiction by Elizabeth Zelvin
The Easy Job-Fiction by K. A. Williams
Think Tank-Fiction by Bruce Costello
Three Little Pigs-Fiction by Andrew Davie
Out of Time-Fiction by Steve Prusky
Hope-Flash Fiction by D. J. Tyrer
So Long, Sonny-Flash Fiction by Joe Surkiewicz
Katnip-Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Twenty-Two-Flash Fiction by Wayne F. Burke
I May Be on My Way to Becoming a COVID Statistic-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Night Poem-Poem by Christopher Hivner
jury's out on a motorcycle-Poem by Meg Baird
The Mauler-Poem by Harris Coverley
The Mob-Poem by Harris Coverley
Pandemic Noir on the Desolate Highway to Nowhere-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Pandemic Noir Inside an Otherworldly Oceanic Dream-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Illness Kills My Soul but Poetry Comes to Save My Mind-Poem by Bradford Middleton
Your Television Sucks-Poem by Bradford Middleton
50 Quid Down the Drain, or a Night of Delinquent Savagery-Poem by Bradford Middleton
Blue-Poem by Thomas Zimmerman
Fighting Off the Wise-Poem by Thomas Zimmerman
Horses in the Dark-Poem by Thomas Zimmerman
Contents of the Attic Trunk-Poem by John Grey
The Dead Man to His Heirs-Poem by John Grey
Holding Out for a Rainbow-Poem by John Grey
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Tom Barker: Date with Yellow Mama

ym_91_datewithyellowmama_nrichardson.jpg
Art by Noelle Richardson 2022

Date With Yellow Mama

 

Tom Barker

 

           On the drive to Kilby Prison for my last visit with Jim, until we meet in Hell, the years cascaded back like bad scenes in a horror movie. We lived the life of badge packers who take no shit from anybody. Now, Jim lives in the devils' waiting room preparing for his dance with Yellow Mama—Alabama’s electric chair. Bad dreams pop up at night, like shooting range targets. I’ve counted the time in years, months, weeks, and days; now his time is down to hours. Jim's subscription to life ran out. Tomorrow Jim will be on the wrong side of the dirt.  At Midnight Jim rides the lightning.   

Thank god for a blasting hangover, or I would be riding the electric bolt to hell with him. I was off sick when he murdered Jazzy Red, the slick-talking black drug dealer. Jim said Jazzy argued with him and showed contempt. A trigger pull settled the argument. Jim shot the bastard and threw down a knife. It was just another misdemeanor murder where a cop kills a black dirtbag, and nobody gives a shit. No media coverage. Black dirtbags get killed all the time. WRONG.

In the last eight months, this killing, the fifth of a young black man by a Magic City cop stuck a stick in a hornet's nest. The scared shitless rookie working in my place told the shooting team what really happened. That fact hit the papers, and the civil rights protesters hit the streets. The NAACP called for a boycott. Now the big mules that owned the downtown businesses demanded action. Action came fast. The chief said Jim was a rotten apple. Magic City cops don't do that. The new Mayor and a crusading DA said they would hammer the rogue cop. They did.

A year later, I sat in the back row, the only uniformed cop in the courtroom. Jim Miller, a disgraced ten-year veteran of the Magic City Police Department, stood before the solemn judge who gave his sentence,  “The jury has found you guilty of first-degree murder during the commission of a felony. You have disgraced yourself and the police profession. Therefore, I sentence you to the prescribed penalty. You will be taken to Kilby Prison and put to death at a time designated by the Department of Corrections. May God have mercy on your soul.” That was it. 10-4 over and out. 

Three days later, I stood in the shadows with Leroy, a jail trustee who helped bring the inmates to the train platform. Leroy said that Boss Man Harry, the chief deputy, let trustees watch when relatives or friends caught the Midnight train. He showed me where to stand where we could not be seen.   

As Leroy explained, every Friday at Midnight, a black prison train backs into the dead-end siding and receives its load of souls bound for retribution and revenge. Unlike the hustle and bustle of passenger trains no one gets off until the Midnight Train vomits its human cargo inside the high thick walls of the state's prison. No one stands in queues at booking stations waiting to purchase tickets. No one waves at loved ones as the train and its solitary caged car leaves the station. 

An enforced eerie cemetery silence lay like a funeral shroud over the platform as I looked down the track. A lone flickering three-bulb metal light fixture dangled from the roof and cast a dim light on the surreal scene. Nine shackled and chained men and two boys sat with Jim on a concrete bench in the open-sided gunmetal platform staring down the tracks. I caught a whiff of the sour smell of sweaty and unwashed men mixed with the odor of feces and urine. Jim and another man wore red-scarlet jumpsuits.

"Leroy, what's with the red jumpsuits?"

“Boss Man Harry says they are Dead Men Walking. Them men gonna ride the lightning. He says they got a date with Yellow Mama,” Mister Boss Man.

Holy Shit, my thoughts shot back to our visit to Kilby and Yellow Mama.

Jim and I decided to attend one execution to watch the success of our war on crime. We got the grand tour escorted by a guard compliments of the warden.

We entered the chamber of death with a tall powerful guard with a broad chest, long arms, wide shoulders, short legs, buzz haircut, and a gravely smokers voice. I remember Jim saying, "I bet that SOB could drag a fighting inmate into the death chamber."  I can't remember his name, but he was proud of his job, and he had antifreeze for blood. He bounced around like he was amped on Meth and gave us a history lesson in a voice three clicks above loud.

          "There it is, " he said, pointing at the wooden garish yellow electric chair. "That's Yellow Mama. Alabama’s efficient killing machine. This is the most efficient, reliable way of killing evil sons-of- bitches known to man, You guys are welcome to go sit in her lap,” he said with a used car salesman's.

          We both declined.

          “The first degenerate asshole was electrocuted in 1927, I was told," he

blasted out at us.  “Since that date until now, there have been at least 153 men and women that have ridden the lightning to hell sitting in Yellow Mama's lap."

He paused, smiled, and continued. "I have only seen about twenty executions, and one of them was a mean black bitch from Magic City, where you guys are from.  Mildred Cato, you guys know her?"  He didn't wait for an answer. "She cried and shit all over herself as I dragged her in here and strapped her in?"

          "Damn, man. Do they all do that?" Jim asked.

          “What shit on themselves or have to be drug in?" He didn't wait for an

answer before roaring. "Well, they all shit and piss when the electricity hits them.  This place smells awful when that shit smell is mixed with the fried smell of flesh and organs.”

          I grabbed my mouth as the bile came up. The jerk wasn't finished.

          "We make them guys on death row come in here and clean up the mess.  What do you think of that?” He said and loudly laughed.

            I still had my hand over my mouth, and Jim stood silent as white as a ghost. Jim and I decided that we had seen and heard enough, so we headed back to Magic  City. We didn't want to see an execution.

My thoughts were dragged back to the platform when I heard the tall, powerful guard with a broad chest, long arms, wide shoulders, short legs, and buzz haircut roar. 

 "All right, you shit heads stand up and get in a line. No talking," he yelled as he racked one in the chamber of his shotgun. The sad tune of shuffling feet and the jiggling tinkling of metal ankle chains echoed on the dimly lit platform.   

       "Tighten the line up. Dick to assholes," the guard roared and laughed as if he had told a private joke. Jim’s heavy chains slid along the platform as he closed in on the man in front of him. My lower lip trembled with the wailing sound of the Midnight Train entering the terminal.  



Tom Barker is a well-published national and international expert on police misconduct and crime. His publications include scholarly books, textbooks, nonfiction books, fiction short stories and novels. One of his short stories, “Foul, Evil, Deeds” is a fictionalized account of the horrific 1963 Bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. His recent books—2020 publication date- include Aggressors in BlueExposing Police Sexual Misconduct—Palgrave-- and Law Enforcement Perpetrated Homicide—Accident to Murder. His short stories are based on real events. 

The story “Date With Yellow Mama” depicts not only the method, but the attitude behind Yellow Mama. 


Noelle Richardson comes from a relatively large family and has been illustrating and painting for about twelve years. She writes a little on the side, plays a couple of instruments and dabbles in tattoo design.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022