Monday, July 26, 2010

Scythe Summer

“My inclinations pose no further pursuit beyond the facts that have made themselves evident in my standings. While one might suggest a further insight into events ensued, know that I need no approbation from you, Mr. Evans.” With that last part the sheriff shot Evans a square look.

“You see that?” I whispered. “He told him.”

“What?” Jacob Barnes came back rather louder than I would have liked and I hushed him. “Well, what’d he tell him?”

Truth was I didn’t rightly understand a single word the sheriff had said. “I reckon he told him he can go to hell.” I said nodding with my eyes exclaiming that matter-of-fact look. As much, I had deduced from the sheriff’s piercing eye, and I was sure to relate it to young Jakey with a superior air of knowledge and wisdom, as I was 12 and he was merely 9, turning 10 that summer, the summer it all happened. The summer the church was burned to the ground, Pap beat my mama for the last time, I tasted my first strawberry soda pop, Dorothy Pengleton kissed me, and I killed a man.

Course I didn’t know all this was gonna happen at the time, right then when me and Jakey were playin hooky and hidin behind the water barrels outside the sheriff’s office. I didn’t know, of course, save for the part that had already happened, that is, Pap beatin Mama for the last time, which had just come to pass three nights before. Apparently, after he had concluded an entire bottle of the whiskey, he thought it prudent to find himself knee-deep in the waters of Ebb’s Bend, frog-giggin with a scythe. How it happened, I ain’t rightly sure. Maybe he slipped, tripped on a rock, maybe he just passed out right there in the creek, but he dang near scythed his head clean off. Evans found him that morning and word spread quick as wildfire and me and Jakey came to see the discourse between the sheriff and Evans. Evans hated me, as he was good buddies with Pap, drinking and gambling were how they spent their time, and he had, in fact, heard me threaten to kill Pap many times, which concluded his visit with the sheriff. To proclaim loudly it could be no accident so long as breath was in my lungs. As he put it, after all, who went frog-gigging with a scythe? Under normal circumstances, I could understand completely, but my pap, after all, was not the sharpest scythe in the shed, and a drunk to boot.

Evans’ lip curved upward in a snarl. Brown, tobacco-drenched saliva gathered at the corner of his mouth. He turned and left without a word.

I reckon Sheriff knew we were there the whole time, as he strided in a sure manner over to the open window, popped out and gave me a little smack on the head. “So you’ve heard eh?” He must’ve hoped I’d had heard in a correct manner, and from one of considerable status making a clean delivery, rather than one of the local drunk hoopleheads. I lowered my eyes as if it were a difficult thing to bear. “Yea.” I muttered looking for some pity. “I know he wasn’t the greatest father,” Sheriff said, “But kin is kin. Here, take this dime and run on over to the mercantile and get you and little Jakey a soda-pop.”

I wasn’t sure what made me happier, the right depressing departure of the worst father this side of the mason-dixon line, or my first soda pop! Pap always made sure I had none of that, and given the circumstances I’d say it was a perfect mixture of both marking the beginning of a long, long summer.

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