J.D. 2
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11 C hickens are selfish and mean-always trying to be firstpecking and fussing at their best friends just to get as close to the feed as they can. You can’t walk without stepping in their mess. I never did like feeding those nasty chickens! I was sure glad when J. D. came along wanting to know if Daddy had any work to do. So Daddy took him on. Mother brought out some cold biscuits left over from breakfast and some bologna and gravy. He sat on the back steps and dunked biscuits and smacked and licked till there wasn’t anything left. He lived in a little room behind the smokehouse. There was a cot, a wood cook stove, a rickety old rocker, and a rag rug. He liked feeding all the chickens and didn’t seem to mind their fidgeting and fussing. In fact, he kinda cackled like they did when he called them. His fingers looked like spider legs scooping up the feed J.D.2 12 Tails on the Hill and flinging it out-scooping and scattering and cackling and pecking and fussing. He didn’t pay any attention to all that nasty chicken mess. J. D. was black, but not really; he was more of a light chocolate brown except for big yellow teeth and big yellow eyes. His head hung down between his shoulders. His faded shirt and pants fluttered and his big old feet flapped when he walked. The chickens got more talk from J. D. than we ever did. One morning while he was feeding them, he just stopped and stood real still, listened, then turned and looked down the road. I couldn’t hear anything but J. D. did! Sure enough, in a few seconds a dog came over the lip of our hill and spotted J. D. He went through the gate and stood there wagging his tail and grinning like they were long lost friends. The chickens clucked and clattered but they got out of his way. There they were, standing in the middle of the chicken yard-almost twins. That dog was the same light chocolate reddish brown that J. D. was. He even had yellow eyes and long yellow teeth and his hide stretched over his bones just like J. D. From that day on, I never saw one without the other being close by. So I named him J. D. 2-say it real fast and it sounds okay-“Jadeytoo.’’ J. D. never got excited about anything: J. D. 2 didn’t either, except about food. He’d plow into his dog pan with his floppy jaws, slurping the dried food like it was mush-smacking and sucking sounds like you never heard-looking up every so often as if to say “This is so-o good!” then dipping right down to slurp some more. Other than meal time, J. D. 2 was always trotting right behind J. D., taking every step he did. J. D. acted like he 13 J. D. 2 didn’t care, but I know he did. J. D. 2 slept with him and I’d hear them talking to each other. I was glad J. D. had somebody to talk to besides those chickens! Lots of times they got tired of J. D. 2 getting in their way at meal time and they’d all tear into him. He’d get between J. D.’s legs and stare them down. I wondered if J. D. noticed that J. D. 2 wasn’t real brave. He’d watch a snake slither by him without so much as a growl, and when coyotes yelled at night he’d just roll his eyes at J. D. to make sure he was still close by, recross his legs, and play like he was sleepy. J. D. got so sick that Daddy took him to the doctor. Several days later J. D. told Daddy he wanted to go back home. Home was somewhere in East Texas. He said he didn’t believe he’d be coming back, but if Daddy’d take him to the bus station, he’d be “much obliged.” The morning he left he fed the chickens like he always did; then he squatted down and rubbed J. D. 2 behind the ears­ , telling him to take care of himself. He crawled into the pickup with Daddy. J. D. 2 watched them go down the Hill, turn on to the old Throckmorton...


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