Pat Jones a.k.a. P.J. Edghill
FICTION & CORPORATE
I can write (produce and direct) for many different audiences and in many different voices. It all comes down to a simple point: STORY. The story has to be there in order to get the message across and entertain.
CORPORATE: I've written presentations, video scripts and vignettes for companies such as McDonalds and Eli Lilly; and presentations given to Reebok, General Motors and Home Depot.
Let's talk about what you're trying to say.
"Patty's very social" is a true statement from my kindergarten report card. As an adult it translates into a fascination with people and what makes them tick. Throw in a spiritual thirst, a fascination with angels and the afterlife plus my own life experience and you have the basis of my writers's voice.
Below is my short story Ophelia & Crawler, which I wrote to commemorate the year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It was published on AOL BLACK VOICES.
OPHELIA & CRAWLER
© 2006 AOL BLACK VOICES
Used with Permission
I'm about 99% sure I'm dead. I think that one percent is holding me back from passing. That and the fact they've not found my body. I'm lodged somewhere under some debris on the outskirts of town. That’s where the water left me as it receded. The flies should be a dead giveaway but the “rescuers” haven’t reached me yet... and when they do there's no guarantee they'll properly identify me.
That water was coming up so fast that I could just grab my dog, Crawler, and wade out the front door. Damn well forgot my purse. Hell, I didn't grab a thing. Me and Crawler had been living on the bridge for a few days. It was the highest thing I could find; we had some fresh water and food I’d picked up from the market as I waded past it. A bunch of folks were in there taking what they could to survive. I got close enough to grab some good, wrapped stuff as it floated by. I was darn sure--in fact I would have bet my life on it--that help would have arrived before the food ran out; I mean this is the United States of America. I may be poor and black, but I am still--or was--an American. From far away, I saw some photographer take my picture and was sure after that someone would come for me, but they never did. The last thing I remember was Crawler whining ‘cause he was hungry and the flies were biting him and me...I was bone tired, weak and hungry, so I laid down.
I woke up feeling a hell of a lot better, and Crawler looked better, too...and we just started walking. Nothing hurt no more; we glided or flew over the water, and that’s when it hit me: I was probably dead. I started seeing other people who looked better but a little confused. We’d talk about the change in us. Everyone was the same as me: about 99% sure they were dead but couldn’t figure out why we hadn’t passed on, cause there ain’t no way this is heaven. So we all just wander the streets of New Orleans.
I saw my picture on the cover of the New York Times. Me feeding crawler what was left of our water. Then a few days later I saw me again, again on the cover but this time floating down the river. All swollen and ass up in the air, like a big ol’ water raft. That’s when I knew and said to myself “Phelie – It’s short for Ophelia, that’s my name. I said Phelie, honey, you are dead, but you ain’t passed. You some where in limbo, we got to figure out how to get going up to heaven”. After that I started traveling. I started thinking of places and then I'd be there. I went to the White House because I had a few words for the president and thought it would be real fun to haunt his ass. But it was crowded. Seems I wasn’t the only dead black person who hadn't crossed yet who had the idea to haunt the president. Crawlers correcting me because now that I’m dead I ain’t black he’s telling me I’m universal and the truth is it wasn’t just black folk trying to haunt the president. It was kinda like they always show the United Nations in movies. All these people of different nationalities and dress and then a lot of dead soldiers too, just standing or perched around the Presidents bedroom. There may have been a dozen different languages being spoken but in this state you can understand what everyone is saying. I’ll tell you, you couldn't hear yourself think cause of all the people. I was surprised he could sleep through the racket of all of them mad dead people. But he seemed to be resting rather peacefully. When it looked like he and the wife were going to kiss you ain’t never seen people disappear so quickly. No one wanted to see where that was going. Some people headed to see if they could haunt the Vice President, but not me I went home, back to New Orleans. Crawler and I just wanted to be someplace familiar.
Crawler can talk to me now, which is real nice. Being a dog he’s not actually being held back he told me. He said he could pass at anytime but he didn’t want to leave me in this state. This dead, un-dead place. Since he seemed to know so much I said “Crawler! What’s I got to do to get to heaven?”
“Well Miss Ophelia,” Crawler was kind of a proper dog, “You can’t pass until you let go and forgive everyone”.
“Everyone, Miss Ophelia, including your sister, yourself, the president and Mr. Tucker.”
Now the bookends of Crawlers statement – My sister and Tucker, that ain’t too much work cause I kind’a forgave them a long time ago but was just too lazy to tell them. I thought, you know, let them stew in their own guilt. See we was all in junior college together and study buddies, and I had a crush on Tucker - a big handsome man - and she knew it. Well the next thing I know they’re proclaiming undying love ,and leaving me out of the picture. I was mad. I refused to go to their wedding which is real sad cause I’m really the only family she’s got. It would have been nice. But I was young and headstrong and was all mad like a wet cat. None of that much matters now. I just hope they’re safe you know? They got kids and all. They live up in Atlanta so I’m sure they’re fine. Sure as hell wish I could say how sorry I am about it all. I tell Crawler and he says, “Well, Jesus knows you’re sorry and you’ve forgiven them. Once you pass you can go visit them whenever you like”. I feel better. I noticed my clothes are brighter and I feel lighter. Crawler said, “Miss Ophelia, you’re real close to heaven. All that’s left is the president”.
So I go back to the White House and this time the President is getting dressed and ready for the day. He’s in the bathroom and has just finished brushing his teeth. I think he’s about to use the facilities or something cause he’s heading for the drawstring of his pajama bottoms and before he can drop his drawers I say real loud, real quickly: “George W. Bush you son-of-a” He jumped and that’s when I realized he could hear me. Crawler tells me I’m not sounding too forgiving. So I start again. I say: “George W. Bush, now I know in your heart you think you doing some good, so because of that and I know that Jesus loves you…I forgive you”. He catches a glimpse of me standing in the mirror behind him and I get so tickled, because damn if he don’t look like a scared little boy. He keeps looking around and then says “Laura?” And I fall out laughing and it feels good. In that instant my heart feels lighter and my clothes are looking brighter. In a blink of an eye I’m back in New Orleans but not for long. I feel a strong wind both push and pull me and there is only white light around me and that’s when I knew I’m passing. Up ahead I see my Mom, my Daddy, Crawler and Jesus. Everyone is just grinning. Behind Jesus is a big jazz band playing “When the Saints Come Marching Home” and Jesus says, “Ophelia, welcome home honey” and gives me a big ol’ hug.
"Ophelia & Crawler"
This photograph, which appeared in newspapers across the world in the days after Hurricane Katrina, was in part the inspiration for writer P.J.Edghill's Katrina story.