“What has happened to my home? What has happened to my children? What has happened to my people? What has happened to the world?!” Rip wailed, thrashing at his vestments.
This sudden outburst gave fright to the crowd, who took a step back from the blubbering old white devil. This was followed by an animated debate in some unintelligible pidgin that Rip realized was likewise the tongue of his son (n***** this, f*** that, etcetera).
Given Rip’s curious survival into old age—and in no small part due to rising suspicion that Rip was some sort of wizard capable of untold witchcraft—it was determined that they would take him back to the factory rather than put him immediately to pasture.
They stripped him of his fancy outfit with all of its ostentatious buttons and buckles and snaps, covering him instead with a simple, soiled robe. Immediately, a fight broke out over his erstwhile garments, and they were quickly reduced to shreds as the quarreling factions tore them asunder. This ignited a fresh round of arguments, which grew ever more violent until, finally, edged weapons were drawn and bludgeons wielded.
Rip was not privy to the outcome of the battle over his clothing as he was whisked away, like a beast of burden, with a rope around his neck, being led by a gaggle of guffawing buffoons, and, of course, the self-important white man.
As they led him through the seemingly never-ending slum, crowds formed around him, jeering at him, throwing rocks and other such debris at him, some smearing him with mud and feces, others kicking at him or slapping his face. Rip was extremely confused as to the reason for such unprovoked hostility, and not just a little apprehensive about his fate.
In due time, the “factory” appeared—a monstrous brick building in advanced stages of decay, with not a single unshattered window, a crumbling edifice, and a collapsed roof. Behind it stood the remnants of smokestacks, reduced now to their very bases. Rip immediately recognized this place as the old Central Hudson power plant at which his father had worked his entire adult life. But it was obviously non-operational in this state; what on earth could they possibly be doing here?
Pulling aside a torn blue tarp which Rip presumed constituted a “door”, some men kicked his backside and barked at him to enter. Obligingly, Rip ducked his head and entered the dusty, fetid air of the factory.
To be continued…