She sat without answering. She sat that way for almost a full minute, and then she did something which shocked me as badly as my sudden flow of tears must have shocked her. She reached out and shoved everything off the table with one wide sweep of her arm — plates, glasses, cups, silverware, the he bowl of collards, the bowl of squash, the platter with the carved ham on it, the milk, the pitcher of cold tea. All off the table and onto the floor, ker-smash.
"Holy shit!" Dean cried, rocking back from the table so hard he damned near went over on his back.
Janice ignored him. It was Brutal and me she was looking at, mostly me. "Do you mean to kill him, you cowards?" she asked. "Do you mean to kill the man who saved Melinda Moores"s life, who tried to save those little girls, lives? Well, at least there will be one less black man in the world, won"t there? You can console yourselves with that. One less nigger."
She got up, looked at her chair, and kicked it into the wall. It rebounded and fell into the spilled squash. I took her wrist and she yanked it free.
"Don"t touch me", she said. "Next week this time you"ll be a murderer, no better than that man Wharton, so don"t touch me."
She went out onto the back stoop, put her apron up to her face, and began to sob into it. The four of us looked at each other. After a little bit I got on my feet and set about cleaning up the mess. Brutal joined me first, then Harry and Dean. When the place looked more or less shipshape again, they left. None of us said a word the whole time. There was really nothing left to say.