22 March 2013

Stabat Mater, You Might Say

Nev'th'less, she stood there. All hangedy-outy like she was. You know how she was.” Folly Martin sucked a bit of barbecue out of his teeth and spat after he said this. “Damby, but'n if she wasn't a fool sometimes. Know what I mean, Tiller?”

Tiller just kept quiet and kicked at the dust. Lots of dust in Crawford County, there is. That's what my uncle John always used to say.

Lots of dust here in the county,” he'd say.

Can't blame a man for just saying what's true. You know what I mean.

Anyhow, Folly spit some barbecue out of his teeth again and Tiller kicked the dust. “I think she knew it was the end,” he said, “and she didn't care too much. And I don't rightly mean she was hangedy-outy in that she was anything other than likin' to hang out with folks. Know what I mean?”

The question was again met with silence and a kick of the dust. Tiller pushed his baseball cap back off his forehead and cleared his throat.

She never said anything, until I said something that I didn't think I was gonna' say.” said Folly. “Somethin' pretty bad. Not 'bout her or anything, just 'bout me. She knew it and I knew it, and she just made a noise so's there was no way I could miss what she meant by it. It was like a cry. A cry, I tell you. A cry. Anyone ever do anything like that for you? Do something without sayin' a word so's that you know exactly what they mean?”

Tiller scratched the center of his chest and coughed. He spit again into the dirt, and then pulled his cap down again over his eyes.

So we all knew. She knew anyway. I think ever' damned person knew,” said Folly. “I just had to get over it and not say it again. You hear?”

Tiller looked off at the dry pea fields. “Who wouldn't cry?” he asked in a voice. A voice like bitter anguish.

We've all got a voice like that somewhere, I'd guess.

And in that harsh southern sun another patch of Crawford County dust got hard baked like a stone of stumbling.

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