I was thinking that since we both got this stupid name, that there’s a good chance that me and him are related. That he might, you know, be the uncle I’m looking for.
Teenaged Yarbray Myers (known as “Little Yarbray” throughout) has accompanied his mother, father, and little sister to Washington, D.C. for the Brigham Family Reunion. Little Yarbray’s grandmother and the family matriarch Nannah Brigham Myers, organizes these reunions semi-annually, so they have become routine affairs for the somewhat reluctant attendees, especially young Yarbray. The Brighams are a middle class African-American family, and relatives from all over have come to D.C. for the reunion. One living relative however, is not in attendance— Nannah’s brother, who also has the name Yarbray. His mysterious casting out of the family has never been dealt with honestly.
During the reunion picnic, Little Yarbray manages to sneak some alcohol and gets drunk. He has been “acting out” for quite some time, giving his parents all sorts of trouble at home. As punishment, and a last resort effort to help her troubled grandson, Nannah suggests that Little Yarbray stay with her in Washington for the rest of the summer. While under the quiet guidance of his grandmother, Yarbray gets a job, gets closer to Nannah and starts discovering more and more about his family history, especially his great uncle Yarbray, who, unbeknownst to all, is living as a homeless man on the streets in Washington.
A chance encounter leads Little Yarbray to his great uncle Yarbray. He hopes finding him will help to unravel all the mystery about uncle Yarbray’s life, but their meeting turns out to be a big disappointment. It also results in teenaged Yarbray getting into a life threatening accident, which causes his father and grandmother to question the wisdom of their punishment. Uncle Yarbray witnesses the accident, but doesn’t know the result. Despite not knowing Little Yarbray, he feels a connection with his estranged family and sets out to find out what happened. He discovers that he has an appreciation that he is a part of this family, which, while flawed in many ways, is still the only connection to his identity that he has.
Setting: Contemporary, Washington, D.C.
Length: 104 pages