Big John and John Two are “twins,” identical but for the color of their skin. The bonds of their friendship are tested by “the depth of the hatred some whites feel for blacks — of hatred and guilt held in dark fathoms, a murky, engulfing pain and misery and the bitterness and fear it breeds in equal measures.” A confrontation with a violent racist ultimately leads to death. More
“What do you think when you see a cop? A white cop? As a white man, how do you feel?” Big John Soloman asks his friend and fellow firefighter, known as John Two. “You know what a black man feels when he sees a cop? Scared, man. Fear. Scared of what that white cop might just do because he’s black. Questions like, what are you doing in this neighborhood? Do you live around here, boy? Is this your car, boy? Man, I been put in jail for nothing, ’cept driving while black. That’s something you will never understand, man, never.”
But John Two wants to understand what his friend, and other black men and women, have experienced in a world where racism sometimes seems to have been overcome, yet still haunts our society.
Big John and John Two are like brothers, people say, identical but for the color of their skin, one black, the other white. The bonds of friendship are strong between “The Twins,” as they are called by their fellow firefighters, and these ties become stronger still when tested by “the depth of the hatred some whites feel for blacks — of hatred and guilt held in dark fathoms, a murky, engulfing pain and misery and the bitterness and fear it breeds in equal measures.” Racism surfaces as the two men fight forest and brush fires in the Western US and even as they seek solace deep in a remote desert canyon in the mountains of central Nevada. A chance encounter with a man consumed with a “twisted loathing for people with black skin” leads to a violent confrontation and, ultimately, death.