"Thanks!" I said gratefully, taking the umbrella from him and heading for the bus stop.
"I'm parked this way," he told me, heading in the opposite direction. Silently I turned to follow him, and when we reached his car, he held the passenger's side open for me before getting in himself.
"I saw what you done back there," he said softly as we rode along.
"Well, he had no proof that she took it," I replied. "I knew he was accusin' her just because..."
"You act different from other white folks," he said thoughtfully.
"How so?" I asked.
He shrugged. "I dunno. Just different."
Finally we arrived at my home. I thanked him once again before I got out of the car and dashed into the house. He waved silently and drove away.
Andre and I saw a lot of one another after that. Bruce made a few more snide remarks, and my Ma cluck-clucked disapprovingly, but after awhile they gave up and stopped.
One day Andre and I were walking along when we came to two side-by-side water fountains, identical except that one was labeled 'white' and the other was labeled 'colored.' Suddenly feeling mischievous, I skipped to the fountain labeled 'colored' and took a sip from it. Right behind me, Andre took a sip from the fountain labeled 'white.' Then we both walked away giggling like a couple of school kids who'd just gotten away with a silly prank. Then he turned to me and kissed my lips for the first time.
It was in church the following Sunday morning when things came to a head once again. The preacher had been ranting about Elvis Presley and the obscene way he gyrated his hips on stage and how it was just another sign that God was turning His back on our nation, paving the way for the Communists to take over, when he launched into a new subject. "And as for those of y'all who think it's all right to mix with the coloreds, to marry them and have babies, I'm tellin' y'all right now, it's a sin and a disgrace! God don't intend for that to happen; they got their place, and we got ours! They don't belong in our schools, and they sure don't belong in our houses! I'm tellin' ya right now, judgement's comin' soon if we don't repent and change our ways!"
My face was burning, and I could feel every pair of eyes in the church boring into me. I wanted to sink through the floor.
"That there was some mighty good preachin'," my father remarked on the way home.
"That's right," Mama agreed. "And certain members of this family would do well to pay heed to it."
Bruce snickered meanly. I glared at him.
When we got home, I threw myself across the bed and cried until no more tears would come.
"What kinds of things do they talk about at your church, Andre?" I asked him the next time I saw him.
He looked surprised. "Well, just that God's our heavenly Father and that He loves us and wants us to be happy. That He's ready and willin' to give us all we need, and all we have to do is ask. That it's important to help those in heed, since Jesus said, 'As you have done to the least of these little ones, so have you done to me.'"
"Is that all?"
"Well, our minister also likes to tell the story of how Moses led the children of Israel out of slavery, about how we should never take our freedom for granted, that we should always remember what our ancestors had to go through and be grateful to folks like Abraham Lincoln. And how even though things might be rough right now, brighter days are comin' where justice will prevail."
"He never says anything about how God made the races to be separate and how everybody should stick with their own kind?"
"No." He frowned. "What is it, Lindy? Did something happen at your church?"
I shook my head quickly, unable to speak because of the lump in my throat. A moment later, I felt him gently touch my cheek and looked up at him.
"Hey, Lindy, have you ever heard zydeco music?"
"I don't think so. What is it?"
He grinned. "Aw, Lindy, you don't know what you've been missin'! It's played on accordion at places like the fais do-do I told you about. My dad's real good at it, and he taught me how to play it, too. Maybe someday you can come over and I'll play it for you."