"Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone."
Playboy vol. 14, no. 2. February 1967. p. 123, 174-176.

This story is another example of Fariņa's preoccupation with militant racism and violence, as seen also in his essay "Monterey Fair" and in such songs as "Bold Marauder" and "Michael, Andrew and James." In fact, the story could be regarded as a prose counterpart to the latter song (Mimi's notes to the story state that Fariņa wrote it in 1964 or 1965--around the same time he wrote "Michael, Andrew and James"). It is a first-person narrative by a Ku Klux Klan member who is planning to assassinate a civil rights activist named Nicreamus Loam. Loam is described only as a lawyer who gives speeches, works with CORE and UNESCO, was a lieutenant in the airforce and is a father of three. The narrator imagines himself to be an avenging angel inspired by God. He has obsessive-compulsive tendencies, washing his hands 50 times a day, and is obsessed by the smell of chicken fat, which he associates with blacks.

A puzzling detail in this story is the activist's last name, Loam. The word appears also in "Michael, Andrew and James" in the line, "Cold were his loins against the loam." Loam is an archaic word for soil, referring in the song to the fact that the Klansmen buried Michael, Andrew and James in a ditch after they killed them to hide the evidence. Thus Loam's name foreshadows his death and profane burial at the hands of the twisted narrator.

The story was accompanied by painting (uncredited), which effectively captures the narrator's chaotic state of mind:

"Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone" was also printed in the anthology, Ethnic American Short Stories in 1975.

Home