CITY BEAT: Dialogue in Black and White 

"Beautiful day in Memphis, isn't it?"

"Man, it's so humid I feel like I been skin divin' for the Sultana ."

"Not the weather. The Roscoe Dixon trial. Justice prevailed. The feds are cleaning up the town. Surely you heard all about it?"

"Another brother goin' to jail, you wanna throw a parade. Treatin' Roscoe like he's public enemy number one. There's cracker supervisors all over Tennessee and Mississippi with more than $9,500 in county bulldozer blades in their garage."

"Dixon himself said he's going to take some time to see where he went wrong."

"Yeah, like four to six years. Roscoe's all over the map on tapes, on the stand, in front of the damn microphones. Man don't know where he stands at 56 has got a problem."

"Not if he flips on John Ford."

"That'd really make your day, wouldn't it? Who do you think keeps brothers like John and Roscoe in business? Only time you white boys come calling is when you need something. And then we're supposed to be the ones with our hands out."

"Whites and blacks working together can change this city."

"Ain't four white boys in the Memphis FBI could find Roscoe's people or the Hamilton Community Development Center with a GPS. The gap between haves and have-nots in this town is wider than the friggin' Grand Canyon."

"Must you use that sort of language?"

"Put an FBI bug on your ass at the country club for 24 hours, see how you sound."

"What about Roscoe's good friend A C Wharton. He's been awfully quiet since the trial."

"Habits die hard. The man was a defense lawyer for 30 years. And unlike you, he doesn't pile on, especially with friends. Plenty of time to say somethin' later on."

"He better. It's an election year and he hired Roscoe last year as assistant CAO. What happened to the 'skeletons in the closet' question?"

"Friendship? Don't ask, don't tell? Careless? I don't know. But brothers didn't invent it. Anyway, when Roscoe signed on at the county, he was working under a former fed, John Fowlkes, the CAO."

"Surely you aren't suggesting they got a heads up on the Tennessee Waltz?"

"Who knows? Fowlkes ain't a fool. Maybe he had his suspicions but let Roscoe count paper clips for a few months while he collected paychecks. Maybe he even let Tim Willis, the human tape recorder, come by and see if he could help his new friends at the FBI fill out their dance card."

"I still say it was a bad hire."

"That's cuz you're a white boy. Like Roscoe said, everybody got some semi-hustle. Your granddaddy had enough sense to buy his insurance from Boss Crump. These phony E-Cycle dudes weren't playing with public money. It was chips in a casino. You're such a Boy Scout you never threw a dealer a chip at the table? Well, Roscoe was dealin'."

"Dealing in illegality."

"Put another zero or two on that $9,500 and they'd call it investment banking and make him a vice president."

"I prefer to call it public service. At least the fear factor will keep our public officials honest from now on."

"Just more careful. Long as you got guitars and lobbyists in Nashville, you got corruption."

"Perhaps we should pay our lawmakers a full-time salary."

"Like that college president at UT in Knoxville who got canned or the one over here at the medical school with the plasma TVs? The salary ain't ever enough."

"Then maybe we should enlist more rich businessmen like our governor, who has so much money he doesn't need a salary."

"Always with the white boys. Bredesen made his nut in health care and the stock market. Bet he'd a been on Roscoe's speed dial if he been here 15 years ago."

"Goodness, I hope I'm never as cynical as you are. I think I need to take a bath."

"I wish you would. And I hope I'm never as hypocritical as you are."

"So I guess that's it, we're stuck with each other."

"You got a better idea?"

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