Michael Jackson wore one glove and the kids all thought one glove man that’s crazy, I’m going to do my thing too so they tied bandanas on their wrists and wore them to school or put on a jacket inside out.
So there Michael Jackson was, at the top of the charts with his one sequined glove hiding himself, ashamed in his mottling skin.
Too scared to dare let his voice speak for itself, to be the baddest dancer on the planet, UH! Up on those toes putting it in your face and grabbing it just in case you still needed some help getting with the program. Not a chance man, better to improve the disguise and make his whole thing be about a sequined glove. All glove man, white and sparkling to hide that creeping blemish.
One day though, he took that glove off and walked around his old neighborhood. He stopped at a Deli on 23rd Ave and bought a knish, potato. Nobody recognized him, although one elderly neighbor asked, ain’t you that kid? Michael braced for the recognition, but then- who pulled that dog out of the lake last Christmas?
Man, that was all right. Good for you kid.
Michael wished he pulled that dog out of the lake, but he hadn’t been around the old district for a long, long time.
Two and a half blocks away at 24th and Monroe, catty-cornered from the spot where Michael stood regretting he was not the boy for which he’d been mistaken, Black June shooed gnats on her stoop waiting for her ride. She remembered Michael as a boy, although they were not friends. Two and a half blocks is a vast distance, too far to be considered neighbors in 1968 Gary, Indiana. Black June and Michael played 4-square once, when they both happened to wander into the borderlands of backyard clotheslines and familiar faces from the schoolbus. Black June lifted a towering waterfall into Michael’s square. With an un-speckled fist he smashed at the red rubber ball, failing to make good contact. The ball shanked out of bounds and Black June called, “OUT!” Michael knew it was out yet in embarrassment he argued the ball fell in-bounds. Black June called him a liar and the other kids took geographically-considered positions on the matter. Michael’s commitment to his lie earned him a do-over in which he fake-bombed causing June to step back as he flicked it to the center. The ball fell for the second bounce and he avoided June’s stare. During dinner later that night his mother asked him, “What’s wrong with you son?” “I am a liar” thought Michael, but he said, “I don’t know.” Before bedtime, as he soaked in a cooling tub, he silently cried– gritting his teeth and frowning against the shame. Years later, when he was the planet’s biggest, most beloved star Black June was eating breakfast when her sister mentioned the sequined glove. Black June saw his small black fist hit the ball out-of-bounds, and imagined it shanking off of soft cotton and a crinkle of sequins. Her sister raised an eyebrow for a response, but Black June just shrugged and looked down at her Cheerios.