30 November 2011

Water Knot (as told by Ashley, again)

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

Preston sat down, that fool Preston. He had such a big head, and I ain't talking full of himself, either. He had a big head, and I wouldn't have been surprised if he had to go and get the necks of his shirts enlarged just to get them over that big old head of his. Sometimes I thought something was wrong with him, if you know what I mean. Didn't that one lady from the health department show us all those pictures of the people, it was in Africa I think, that had big old heads? Maybe it was their stomachs that were big, or their feet, but I thought it was their heads...I don't know, I ain't sure. But anyhow there was something not right about those folks, and I always kinda' felt deep down that maybe Preston was kind of the same. There was something just not right about him and his big old head...but the big old head was just the start of it.

So he sat down, and folks stared at him and that big old head of his, but those folk who got distracted got distracted by something pretty bad – it was something else and it sure as hell wasn't his head. He was holding that thing, right there in his hand, and he was smiling at it. And you just know that when Preston smiled, he smiled big. That smile stretched right across that big old face of his, and his face seemed even bigger than his head, if that's possible – I know it ain't, but it just seemed that way when he smiled.

So he sat down there and was lookin' at it layin' in his hand – only a little bloody, and when folks drew nearer to look at it, well, like I said, they kinda' stopped payin' so much attention to his head and they started lookin' at it lyin there in his hand. Again, like I said, it was only a little bloody, and folks thought it either woulda' been bloodier or maybe they thought that Preston that fool just might have washed it off a little bit, but it wasn't really wet or nothin' either. It looked like it might still be warm.

That one guy who works at the garage in Cotton City was there that day, and he had enough guts to say “Preston you fool, where'd you get that?” like Preston was gonna' just answer and tell him where he done got it. We all figured he cut it off of someone, but no one was sayin' a thing, 'cause we didn't know whose it was, and well, if you cut it off someone then she'd probably hafta' not be doin' so good and maybe even dead. 'Course we didn't want to say that, but it was what everyone was thinking. So the guy from the garage just said it and made it sound like Preston just found it lyin' around somewhere – like you find those things just lyin' around. 'Cause hell, you don't just go findin' things likje that lyin' around, you know what I mean? The way you find spare change or maybe a cigarette butt that still's got some smokin' in it.

My brother Evan found a bottle with what he thought was whiskey in it, and that's what his friends told him, but when he tried drinking it, well, it turned out someone had pissed in the bottle and Evan got sick.

There was that time that someone found what looked like a dried up eyeball over in Pole Creek near the septic tank outside of the rendering plant, but it turned out just to be some kind of tiny fruit that was just lyin' around. We didn't know.


So Preston just sat there and kept on smilin' at it and holdin' it, and we all kind of kept quiet until the sheriff showed up and helped Preston and his big old head into the patrol car and drove him away. Preston was back at work the next day, and he never said much about it, but he was always a little funny anyway, big head and all. The one lady at the dry-goods store – that would be Danny Lyman's mother's step-sister's friend – she walked with a limp and wore a heavy coat for the next few months and even in the heat of summer, so we all kind of wondered, but we never did ask and no one ever did offer. When she stopped limpin' and took the coat off and was normal and everything, some got to wonderin' about it again, but most just forgot about it.


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