A Journey to Hell and Back: The Flip Side is the third text in author Charlotte Russell Johnson’s series of motivational books. Ms. Johnson true to form has developed a surprisingly unique book. The two major characters alternate narration of the story. This literary technique serves to mesmerize and hold the reader spellbound. Two separate individuals on parallel descents into hell collide violently, the force of which serves as a catalyst to accelerate their demise. Then just as all visible signs of hope evaporate, in a surprising plot twist surpassing Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, the text evolves into a completely different direction.
Over the years, we saw celebrities visit the American Legion, B. B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, and Etta James, etc. Around the first of each month, the club would be packed to capacity. There were players, pimps, and prostitutes working to perfect their games. The robbers and burglars were also hard at work. Everybody was looking to fatten their pockets. The people frequenting the club had to park their cars several streets away. This made them easy prey for the criminals waiting for an easy target.
The Flip Side expands on Ms. Johnson’s previous text, A Journey to Hell and Back, an autobiographical account of the author’s life. The Flip Side further explores the author’s life, while also giving the parallel and sometimes contrasting account of Ms. Johnson’s husband, Henry. The text begins with the lives of two separate individuals in preparation for their first encounter and then chronicles their following union. This book is appealing to a wide and varied audience, including those preparing for marriage, divorce, raising a family, or a part of a family, involved in or getting out of a relationship, recovering from past mistakes, parenting, or in contact with any of these groups. This book humorously pokes fun at life’s everyday problems. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson provide unique and sometimes competing perspectives of their life together. The text provides an insightfully honest portrait of the differing perspectives of a married couple. The varying interpretations of major events serve to keep the reader enchanted with the text. After reading this text the reader will wonder how often they have misunderstood the intention of others. The Johnson’s invite you to decide what is the actual truth. They say there are two versions of every story and then there’s the truth.
During the summers, I had a chance to follow the older kids. This gave me an opportunity to observe all the madness. We were allowed to stay out until 11 or 12:00 at night. However, we had to remain on our street, Spenola Street. The American Legion was in this range. It was right up the street from our house. This was appealing to young children looking for excitement. I was looking for excitement.
The club had an old beer cooler on the outside that was being disposed of. We used it as a platform. It elevated us to a height that allowed us to peer through the window of the club easily. From our position, we could observe everything happening inside. Sometimes, we watched our relatives as they socialized inside the club. If we became overly engrossed in what was happening on the other side of the window, we forgot about the club’s security. Occasionally, the security guard would patrol the grounds, making sure the vehicles were secure. If he discovered us, he ran us away. As soon as he completed his rounds, we returned to our box office seat.
There is one memory that still stands out in my mind. A lady lived down the street from our house. She loved to drink alcohol. I guess you can say she was an alcoholic. Sometimes, she drank more than her share. One night, we were looking into the window of the club. B. B. King was onstage performing with his band. Mrs. Edwards and her husband startled us. He was trying to persuade her to come home. She had other plans and she was determined to carry them out. She was going to leave her husband and follow B. B. King. The show was almost over. Mrs. Edwards had jumped on the bus with his driver and the security guards.
Mr. Edwards pleaded, “Please come home and leave these people alone.”