05 October 2011

Humble Access (as told by Jeb)

(Excerpted from The Pultenham County Sketchbook, by Tom Andrews)

Patience don't know what Patience can't see. Patience had to spend near almost every minute of the day just wishin' she were closed up in her room, didn't she? Yessir, now, she did. Patience tried to ruin that poor Switchback boy and the whole county knew it, but the whole county knew, oddly enough, how good that Switchback boy was. And is. And probably always going to be.

They was in high school, if I recall. Peter was a good-lookin', smart and athletic boy and involved in the DeMolays – only a handfull of boys were, if I remember correctly. Very unpopular group.  Peter spent a lot of his free time organizing things, too. Food drives, nursing home visits in Cotton City – that sort of thing. He really had no time for messing around and that was what got Patience's goat, I believe.

That Switchback boy had turned down her advances a number of times, for she was a dark child, something not right and something not all together clean about her. She wore clothing that was just on the verge of revealing too much and she wore thick, dark makeup to school. Some said that she had a tattoo that she had placed somewhere on her that the modest eye would not see – a tattoo she got on a trip to Cotton City - a trip taken with an older man who drove a fast car and liked to drink whiskey. Patience had more than whiskey and tattoos that she was keeping a secret, I can only imagine.

She wanted Peter Switchback. She wanted to possess that boy and she had nothing but carnal desire for him. A girl of 17. Such tragedy. Such shame. She chased him, in a manner of speaking, for months, and the whole thing came to a head and popped like a ripe pimple on an afternoon in early spring. Popped just like a ripe pimple when that girl came cryin' and huffin' and puffin' and walkin' out of the annex of the public school after hours on a half day of school, walking into the teachers' meeting room, walking in half barefoot and with a torn dress revealing her left breast, a scrape on her one knee and crying out to the half-dozen educators present and claiming that Peter Switchback had got a hold of her and done unspeakable things to her and he was a monster and that someone should call Sheriff Morgan and how it was that she was so forsaken as to now be defiled and that Peter Switchback must suffer and pay for this. For she had seen Peter alone in the library and knew he would not have an alibi and would be unable to answer her charges.

Poor Patience. But Patience don't know what Patience can't see, and it was poor Patience who had torn her own dress and scraped her own knee and kicked off one shoe and raised her own ruckus in order to vilify that fine young man who was on that very afternoon actually taking a timed exam for some national academic merit society. As truth bore out, Peter had completed the exam in record time with a near-perfect score and immediately gone out for a peach phosphate with Mr. Withers the biology teacher and track coach. Peter was blissfully unaware of the things being said about him while he and Mr. Withers discussed his chances for a bright future at a state university.

I saw Patience just the other day, working at the discount store in Cotton City. I believe she is with child again, although she still ain't married as far as I know and as far as folk tell me. I couldn't bring myself to ask her face to face, as I just don't know her that well. Some folk turn down every chance for good to do that which is most likely to bring them pain, while others just seek out pain to avoid doing good. But you know what they say. Patience don't know what Patience can't see.

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