His accent moved around a lot, a swampy Southern drawl that sped up to nail a point. It was all factual– temperature, weather, numbers, deals notched up on a piece of wood like hunting prizes. If he had talked about bagging a couple of ducks, it wouldn’t have surprised me.
The way he talks makes me wonder if anyone is on the other end. Self talk, tons, clothed in cliched business garb.
Then, he’s staring straight through me, absorbed in his own thoughts. His gaze is steely, purposeful, crushing. Competition and victory are the only things that matter to him.
Soon as she heard Biddy’s crackly voice, Vivian felt trapped.
Biddy folded her hands on the walker, a shocked expression on her face. “Bessie’s nephew’s in the hospital. Top of his head come clean off. Her daughter called last night.” Biddy puckered up her lips like she was eating a lemon straight up, no sugar, no salt, just peeled off the tree. “Like he got scalped.”
Biddy wagged her head. “You going to supper?”
Thrown together for decades, a friendship of convenience, Vivian considered pleading illness. What a gossip. Vivian fervently wished her husband hadn’t gone first. “I guess so.”
Josephine pulled the seams on her polyester pants straight. She thought it wasn’t right to wear dark clothes that said mourning on a warm day that said Texas summer. Fanning her face and damp underarms, she glanced at her daughter while the undertaker spoke. What Josephine really wanted was to go home and shower.
Cirrhosis took Josephine’s husband to an early grave, but not soon enough, she thought. She loved her husband, “Great guy,” she always said. She meant it despite his gambling debts.
Her daughter’s face colored thirty seconds after Josephine asked, “How much does the funeral usually run?”
Mother, apple pie, wrapped in ribbons, red and white and blue.
Mother pie? Did you say you put your mother in the pie? In pieces? Only a madman would do that. Don’t upset your mother. Now try again.
Some things are patriotic. Apple pie, mother, blue and red and white, for example. And Blue Stockings. Because mothers are revolutionary. And so is the white, blue, and red. A proclamation of revolution was the original intent.
What the hell are you saying here? They’re colors. And food. And who wears stockings anymore. You make it too complicated. Light a sparkler. Relax.
A small black woman stands on stage, the sinews of her arms taut against the lectern. Do you hear her?
The call: “Ain’t I a woman?”
The response: “You are a woman.”
God revealed, though even now not everyone has heard, that women are entitled to respect, to equal rights, to the dignity of their person, to freedom. 150 years ago God spoke through this tiny woman who endured hard lessons about society, about the people close to her, most importantly about herself. Do you know the saying, “The truth will set you free?” Be a sojourner. Find the truth.