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• Chapter Fourteen Baseball Epiphanies Sunday, August 24, 1969 Sissy woke up to whomp-whomp-whomp as her dad beat up the pancake batter on Sunday morning, smiled, turned over and went back to sleep. She looked forward to her dad’s breakfast, even without the ­ usual chili since her mom wouldn’t have had time to prepare it the night before , but not to the ass chewing she knew she had coming for not keeping the house cleaned up. When she staggered downstairs at eleven o’clock, sticky eyed and dry mouthed, the kitchen floor had been swept and mopped, the clutter was cleared from the countertops and the table, the range gleamed, and her mother stood at the sink, up to her elbows in soapy dishwater. “Come here, sweetie and give me a hug,” Lily said, blowing at a stray strand of hair that kept flopping in her face. Sissy hugged her hard, smelling the sweat on the back of her mother’s neck mingled with lavender. “I missed you so much,” Sissy said. “Honey, I had a good time but just a little too much of it this time.” Lawrence came in from the living room, barefoot and in his bib overalls, a newspaper crushed in one hand. “Well, god damn it, Sis,” he started, but Lily cut him off, waving a soapy finger. “No, Lawrence. No. Sissy will never be much of a housekeeper, but she’s got other good points. Let her alone.” “Yes, ma’am,” Lawrence said. “Come here, Sissy. I missed you, little girl.” He hugged her, crushing the newspaper against her back. “Sit down, let me get you some coffee,” he offered. “There’s no milk for it,” Sissy said. “The last we had went over and I forget to buy more.” “Figured that,” Lily said. “We bought some at the gas station coming in last night.” 152 Chapter Fourteen Sissysippedthehotbrew—halfmilk—gratefully,thinkingthataclean coffeepot probably made as big a difference in the taste as the milk did. “Tell us all the stuff that’s been happening while we were gone,” Lawrence said. “How was the harvest? You having a good time playing music?” Sissy told them everything that had happened while they were gone. They were shocked and dismayed by the accident with the Ferris wheel at the Allen Pow Wow, but glad there were so few injuries; they clucked their tongues at Sonny’s indiscretions with Zooey and considered him lucky that Pete didn’t catch him and kill him. By the time Sissy had backtracked to the part about Speedy, about the FBI agent who kept pestering her about the death of Buffalo Ames, Lily had washed and dried all the dishes and put them away and was folding the wet dishtowel to hang over the lower sink cabinet door. She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table with Lawrence and Sissy. “I’ve loved Speedy like a daughter, but she’s never had good judgment ,” Lily said. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make her think. What is she going to do? You think she’ll keep the baby, or give it up for adoption?” “She doesn’t know. Her parents want her to go out to her sister’s in Montana to have it and give it up for adoption. I think that might be for the best. I just don’t think Speedy is up for motherhood, at least not yet,” Sissy said. Lawrence hadn’t said much. He was old-fashioned; pregnancy and women’s trouble embarrassed him, but he spoke up now, “Does she even know who the father is?” “Lawrence!” Lily exclaimed, slapping him lightly on the shoulder. “It’s a fair question, Mom. Speedy has always been a little too free with her favors. She isn’t a bad woman; she just wants to make people happy, especially men. It doesn’t occur to her that she could make them just as happy if she didn’t sleep with them all. She thinks it’s Sonny’s. That’s what she keeps saying. But there was a guy on the harvest crew that I know about and I don’t know—maybe some local guys, too.” “She’d better make up her mind pretty soon because that baby is going to come no matter what, and she needs a plan,” Lawrence said, his face slightly red beneath his generally dark complexion. “How far...


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