Over in that corn field, you just might see a small, rusted tin can that my daddy used to use for spittin' the tobacco juice into. I tossed it there, and I suppose it's probably still there, lyin' right where I threw it. It wasn't litterin', I wouldn't say – it was just kind of a getting' rid of something that I didn't want lyin' around, that's all. Every now and again we have to get rid of things that we don't want lyin' around, and sometimes those things get thrown into a dumpster or into a garbage can, and sometimes they get tossed into a corn field.
The corn field has been there for a long time. 'Long as I can remember, leastaways, even though that ain't particularly long when you compare it to a lot of other things. It's longer than the can been lyin' there, of course, as the can got thrown into it. It's been around at least as long as my daddy had been around, and since his daddy before him, so I know it's at least that old. Sometimes old ain't as important as big, and sometimes big ain't as important as smart, so sometimes smart gets out ahead of old. But that corn field, I guess in a way it's both old and smart.
There was a time, I have to imagine, that there wasn't a corn field over there. My teachers had said that the white man (that would be us) had done took away the land from the red man (that would be the folk who were here before us), and that we went about the business of puttin' in corn fields and houses and out-buildings and such. So I guess that would make the corn field not nearly as old as the creek running out alongside the hog containment facility, 'cause I think that creek's been there a lot longer than everything. The corn fields only go so far as they go up to the edge of the creek, and that corn field hasn't got a straight edge where it runs up to the creek – it just follows the turns that old creek makes, good and patient and slow.
That's the way creeks go, and corn fields do some learnin' from them.
So if you look over there you might see that rusted tin can. It was a can of Butternut coffee, a long time ago. That was when the coffee still came in tin cans and you had to use a can opener to get to the coffee. Mr. Donahue at the store said it had something to do with a little kid in the big city cuttin' his finger off with an old-style can lid so that the coffee companies went and changed everything. Piley Watson heard that as we was standin' around listenin' to Mr. Donahue tell about it, and Piley said “hell, I wonder what they woulda' done had the kid cut off his willy?” Mr. Donahue walked over, grabbed Piley and shook him and told him not to use language like that in his store, but we could see Mr. Donahue smilin' and tryin' not to laugh as he shook Piley, so we knew it wasn't so bad. Hell, who ever heard of a kid cuttin' off his willy with a coffee can lid, anyway? Pure nonsense. Mr. Donahue went back to straightening shelves, and we all shuffled out of the store, tryin' to imagine some kid in the big city runnin' around with one less finger.
So if you look in that field, like I said, you might see that old, rusty tin can lyin' there; that old, rusty tin can that used to be full of Butternut coffee and that my daddy used for spittin' tobacco juice into. You'd see it, I'm pretty sure. I don't know if you'd see the earlobe, though. Daddy cut off one of his own earlobes on a dare for twenty dollars when he was drunk as hell one night, and he put the earlobe in that can when he got home. He started beating momma with a poker, and when I saw him start reaching for her earlobe with a knife in his hand, I used the shotgun from behind the door that he used on coons.
The next day I had to get rid of that can. And if it could have been my earlobe in there instead of his, I would have felt a whole lot better about things. Every now and again we have to get rid of things that we don't want lyin' around, and sometimes those things get thrown into a dumpster or into a garbage can, and sometimes they get tossed into a corn field.