The Cockroach Shuffle

"Here is something yeh can't understand. How I could jest kill a man."

"No. I can't. Explain it to me."

Luce shrugged nonchalantly, leaned closer to the reporter, and languidly rested her elbows on the unyielding, rotten, wooden table. She had brushed her hair today, put it up all pretty like on the top of her head. After all, she wanted to make an impression on the good citizens of New Orleans.

"Lilibeth is getting on 13 now, ain't she?"

Luce giggled loudly forcing her voice to cascade off the walls, "Yes, my Lilibeth is growin' up quick like. Yeh know she comes ta visit me evree Sunday. Gosh, dat chilled jest got da perttiest green eyes. Jest like her Papa. An' ken she run! Lawd she run faster dan dose boys.

"She says ta me 'Mama, I want to be a Math-a-mati-shan.' An' I says ta her 'Iffen da good Lawd intended dat, den dat's what ye'll be.' An' no kiddin' she looks me straight in da eye like and says 'Mama, the good Lord intended it.'"

The reporter smiled to appease her. An awkward silence settled then in the room. It filled the infinitesimal cracks in the plaster wall and amplified the volume of the Cockroach Shuffle, a new dance practised by the vermin in the prison. Luce smiled on the inside, putting a beat to the natural music.

Abruptly she rose from the ugly plastic chair and began dancing, slowly at first, then gathering speed, flinging herself around the room, skipping, jumping, and shuffling to the music. In her mind her crude grey shoes became bright red slippers and her thin, practical, grey dress a sparkling, long, crimson one.

She no longer needed to imagine the music as it suddenly surrounded her, engulfed her. Snarling angry trumpets and blaring boisterous trombones meshed to create something as smooth as country mash and as rhythmic as the sewing needle.

The reporter watched, watched her body move as if possessed by one of those voodoo demons, "Ms. Freniere!"

She stopped abruptly and gazed at him, as if she had just noticed his presence. She shuffled to the chair and plopped down, "Terribly sorry. Have ye eva wanted ta dance? Jest drop evreethang an' dance?"

"Ms. Freniere, what can I tell the citizens of New Orleans? Tell me what happened!"

Her swampy brown eyes flicked in his direction and a sudden seriousness settled on her features, "He violated me. So I killed him."

As the reporter stared incredulously at her the matron sidled by and announced sharply, "Visitin' hours are over! Back ta yer cells!"

The reporter rose, gathering his unused equipment, and looked down on her, "Why not use that as your defense? Plead not guilty?"

Her eyes widened in horror, "Well, it ain't right ta lie. I am a murderer."