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Written by Timothy Sexton
Willie is 20 years old, black, an aspiring poet and lives in the slums. Those living arrangements are bad enough on their own, but then there’s the fact that his slum smacks right up against Linden Hills—the finest African-American neighborhood in the city. Willie is committed to the ideals of a poet needing to be among the people he intends to write for and about in order to truly understand how to write for and about those people. In order to get money to live his dream of being a poet of the people, Willie snags some holiday work over in Linden Hills. While there, he learns the horrifying lessons of exploitation that is required of those wishing to move on up to the east side dreams of Linden Hills.
Lester is Willie’s best friend, also 20 years old, also a poet and not a big fan of institutional education. He shares the very first house in Linden Hills with his mother and sister and the emotional tenor of that domicile is not one of perfect harmony. Lester’s acceptance of the material pleasures that come with living in Linden Hills creates a conflict in his friend, especially since Lester assumes a scornful attitude to that which he blithely accepts.
The Nedeed legacy runs strongly throughout the history of the town, but most of her predecessors have been pale of skin, whereas the latest addition to the lineage proudly struts her brown complexion. Even so, the latest Mrs. Nedeed is only kept around for the fulfillment of a singular purpose which lies at the heart of the darkness that is life in Linden Hills. Of course, when you give the devil his child and that devil rejects it and kills, that can cause all sorts of emotional transformations.
The devil himself. Maybe. Probably. All that is really known for sure by the denizens of Linden Hills is that Luther has grown rich as the result of being a fifth-generation mortician in a town where morticians are in fairly big demand. All his forefathers were also named Luther and—strangely enough—seem to look just exactly alike as well. Perhaps Luther is more than the devil; perhaps Luther is the God of Linden Hills. Everything related to death and much that is related to life—that child that Mrs. Nedeed was born to bear—seems to trail a path right through Luther’s Tupelo Realty Corp. which is in charge of leasing out property in Linden Hills on some very strange and strict terms.
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