I come up the steps and I was too tired to be bothered. I needed me a bath. The humidity had done come on like a trifling thief and I had come to feeling just as nasty. Wasn’t no shade out there by the road and ditch. I just wanted to sit down and calm my nerves awhile. But I knew Brantley, Mr. No Good, as Livonia and me had come to calling him, wasn’t going to let me do this. He was sitting here rocking, almost like I’m rocking now, like he had already bought me out, like I had already given in. I looked at the briefcase sitting here at his feet. Ain’t that something! I didn’t pay him no never mind though. I had already had my little bag of no’s ready. I wasn’t budging!
“Don’t know if it should’ve been the horse or that boy,” he said the moment I was standing here on the porch. But I didn’t pay him no never mind, like I say. I went on there in the house, crossed the living room, got there in the kitchen and fixed me a glass of water.
After I fixed my glass of water I took me a seat there at the table. Can’t do no thinking about Mr. No Good, I told myself. It was my friend I was thinking about. It was my friend I come to seeing, getting in the truck with Jesse and Waylon, still in her morning’s housedress, no undergarments, barefoot, muddied and wet—then it was my standing there with Regina I come to seeing, wanting to speak, wanting to tell Livonia how sorry I was, wanting to tell her not to leave from here, that I was already feeling that something wasn’t right within it all, but I couldn’t find the words. Never could find the words on a day like that.
“Say it was supposed to be Waylon.”
Such cold ignorance he spoke the moment I took my seat here and it made me, it did, think back to that car, its tumbling and tumbling like that. And in this thinking back, seeing that car, that horse and Waylon, the way folks was out, I remember seeing him out there, leaning against his car, posing like one of them men on a cigarette poster, arms folded, chewing on what looked like a long piece of weed grass, not putting his hands to an ounce of helping.
I didn’t pay him any mind though. Folks come to say the saddest things in times of storms. And he wasn’t doing nothing but his usual out-the-side-of his-neck talking, his usual ain’t-got-a-clue meddling.
“Awful shame. Got the horse instead.”
I didn’t say a word, I didn’t. Just kept to my own rocking. I knew what it was he was doing. Had done told him the first time that dogs fetch bones and since I didn’t have a lick of dog in me, hadn’t ever had my mouth set and fixed on money like that, wasn’t no use in trying to fool me with his money talk. [End Page 891]
Then he go to playing meek and mild, not saying anything, which I had so come to expect. Waiting to see what I was going to say. But I kept to my quiet. Then I come to hearing how them children of Tandy Lawrence was out there laughing and playing in the yard, seeing how they was jumping rope, shooting their water guns and carrying on and something in me started wishing I could go to that little happy place children are able to go to in times of storms. Let the world be so mean and ugly around them, beat the britches near clean off them, while they laugh and play like nothing ever happened. Life ain’t like that though. We all got to leave childish things.
Out of my seeing Tandy’s children out there playing, I could still see earlier—the way Waylon and...