She releases today an excerpt from “Idle Delilah,” a chapter named after one of her album songs. The fable involves slavery and is set in the deep South. However, Banks made clear the book is equipped with 16 chapters, an intro and a prelude, and is not entirely a story about slavery.
“The who[le] fable is not about slavery!” exclaimed Banks over Twitter. “The whole fable has 16 chapters, an intro and a prelude ! Just wait and seeeeeeeee.”
“IDLE DELILAH” (Snippet)
Delilah was a curious girl much to the dismay of her mother.
Like other little girls she had a fondness of all things feminine and had a special affinity for her mother’s fancy vanity. She spent several hours at the gold-trimmed victorian mirrors applying scented face powders, and red lipstick under the care of her mammy Ms. Maisley. She was the youngest of the Lynch children. Her next sibling, John John, 7 years her senior spent his time playing with the Bush boys leaving Delilah all alone. John John’s summers were full of days playing catch, trapping unfamiliar insects, and fishing near Broken Black river. While Delilah spent most of her days sitting on her family’s front porch idling away, playing with imaginary friends, her Jacks, and the collection of dolls she amassed from her father’s travels; she longed to travel into the fields to make friends with some of the Negro children.
Maisley was one of the Lynch family’s eldest and wisest servants, and spent her life raising several generations of Lynch children, including Delilah’s father. Much to Maisley’s surprise, as repayment for her years of loyalty and care, her own son would lose his life to one of the children she spent her lifetime caring for. When Delilah’s father was just becoming a man, barely old enough to herd cattle or control his own horse, he beat and murdered Maisley’s son for accidentally tipping and spilling a bail of cotton. It had been 23 years since Maisley gathered her son’s body from the bottom of the Artubus tree, or spoke her last word. Nowadays, she sat quietly, responding gently to requests made of her, and watching little Delilah when Mrs. Lynch was away from the plantation, or otherwise occupied.
Ms. Maisley heard everything and saw even more.
Delilah’s mother, Lilith; was a compassionate but suspicious woman. Her family was one of the most affluent southern families of the time. They were descendants of the royal crown and since their arrival in the Americas, built a fortune trading cotton, tobacco, and slaves for a living. While most madams of similar stature, were full of pride, basking in the glory of their good fortune and prosperity, Lilith remained uneasy and lived with a gnawing fear. Instead of hosting lavish tea and dinner parties to posture for other wealthy families, she kept watch over Delilah; making sure she never wandered off the porch into the fields with their Negro slaves.
Lilith knew that people despised her husband just as much as they admired him.
She knew the stories of her family’s wealth, and the torture many slaves endured at the hands of her husband, “Luther Luciferian Lynch,” traveled far and wide across the south… patronizing the fears of slaves, while antagonizing the wealth and egos of other plantation owners, who’s fortunes paled in comparison to the Lynch family’s riches.
Luther Luciferian Lynch was as famous as he was rich. He was a famous writer and speaker who gave spirited instruction to other slave owners who aspired to be as wealthy as he, and who wanted to control unruly slaves.
Luther was as smart as he was destructive, but had no idea that the instruction his letters provided, would survive for thousands of years, lending direction long after he and his children’s children returned to the earth, on how to mangle and control the minds of countless generations of his slaves.
Although Luther was a cruel man, he adored Delilah. He loved her more than any of his other children, and Delilah loved him dearly. “Idle Delilah” is what he called her, because whenever he returned from business trips, he would find Delilah sitting absolutely still, waiting for him on the family’s porch. Upon return from his business trips, Luther looked forward to the first glimpses of Delilah’s two red bows, round face, peachy cheeks, and trusting eyes when she stood up, after hearing his carriage approaching the plantation’s pebbled dirt road. Delilah knew whenever “poppa” would return from a trip, he would bring new toys, exciting stories, and other treats just for her.
It was only when Lilith recognized Luther’s blistery, red, sweaty skin… which had been permanently burned from his long carriage trips under the hot southern sun and his signature ivory-white suit, would she relax her watch over Delilah and permit her to run down the porch steps to greet him.
“Poppa!” Delilah would delightfully greet Luther. And in his southern redneck drawl, Luther would return Delilah’s warm greeting with a big hug and “What has my Idle Delilah been up to since I’ve been gone?” and immediately present his precious little girl with a new gift he picked out especially for her. As he carried his Delilah back to the house, the trail of affectionate chatter between Luther and his “Idle Delilah” would stir a sense of resentment in the Negros toiling in the fields. Too afraid to show signs of their loathing, each slave would quietly bow their heads and return their focus to picking, plowing, digging, and slowly dying in the Lynch fields. Despite their efforts to conceal their feelings, Lilith knew the Negros hated Luther just as much as they feared him. And as much as she enjoyed the comfort and luxuries that their sacrifices granted, she felt dreadful about their suffering; but was very afraid that her husband’s bestial nature would turn on her, if she ever said a word. So as routine would have it, she quietly sympathized, bowed her head and gracefully moved into the interior of the great house.
Lilith knew that Delilah was curious. Little Delilah possessed a curiosity that transcended all reason, fear, and furtive warnings from her about the dangers of journeying off, and mingling with the Negroes who she knew loathed Luther. Ignoring her mother’s warning, it was a daily occurrence, that Lilith would find Delilah behind the Negro quarters playing Jacks with“Aurelia,” a small Negro girl who befriended Delilah, and Delilah’s only friend.
Despite Aurelia’s mother’s warnings about the dangers of playing with Delilah, Aurelia would sneak off behind her shack to play with Delilah before she would be caught by Mrs. Lynch.
One day Aurelia’s luck had run out when she was caught playing with little Delilah by Mr. Lynch instead of the Mrs. Lynch. After chasing Aurelia into the fields and around the Arbutus tree that stood watch over the plantation, Mr. Lynch cornered Aurelia against the Arbutus, and began delivering powerful kicks, punches, and lashes to her frail adolescent body, as her mother stood by crippled with fear, too afraid to make a sound, or any attempt to help her suffering daughter. Aurelia’s mother knew that if she moved or made a sound, Mr. Lynch’s wrath would instantly turn on her, or force the life out of Aurelia’s bleeding body.
Aurelia’s mother remained absolutely still starring past her little girl into the dense vegetation that surrounded the arbutus tree, feeling ashamed and defeated, until she heard the door slam to Mr. Lynch’s home, before quickly moving in to lift Aurelia’s body from the bottom of the Arbutus tree.
As much as Luther Luciferian Lynch knew that he was admired, he knew he was hated.
And as much as Lilith missed Luther when he was traveling, she loved it when he was home. And as cruel as he was arrogant, Luther lived without fear. Luther knew he had built up quite a dangerous reputation and never worried about being disobeyed by anyone, lest they suffer the violent consequences. It was Luther’s careless arrogance, and Lilith’s excitement to have him home after his recent travels, which left them both distracted one summer afternoon. It was late in the afternoon after all the slaves had left the fields and the house for the day, and Lilith and Luther retired to their bedroom with a bottle of gin Luther purchased during his trip. As the sun began its descent and the darkness of night began falling on the the Lynch family plantation, Delilah quickly and eagerly moved past the kitchen and out the back door without a trace. Maisley spotted Delilah as she hastily moved past her cabin and then the Arbutus tree, but said nothing. Maisley watched Delilah continue until the back of her frilly powder white dress disappeared into the dense dark forrest behind the Lynch property.