eight, I aimed to steal my first car. Since I was five I hankered
for it, but it took me a while to put a plan together. I was a
much better schemer in third grade. Im not altogether sure
I didnt think about thieving that car even earlier, but
danged if I can remember anything clear before five. David Williams
owned it, and all I knew was, I had wanted it since the first
time I saw it, whenever that was. If my plan fell right, that
car would soon transfer to my little hands. I was going for the
I envied David Williams. Not just for his car, either. He lived
with his mom and dad in the first house on the left on Shellhorse
Road, one street over from me on Arden Road. Mr. Williams was
some kind of deacon or something at the local Baptist church,
and he never drank liquor. They didnt even have it in their
house. When he played church music on their piano, I would be
drawn to his side to watch and listen as his large, clean hands
and long fingers spread across the keys, filling the house and
his end of Shellhorse Road with a little local heaven. He sold
insurance and was the only man in the neighborhood who wore a
suit on times other than Sunday morning. I didnt know what
insurance was, but I figured he musta sold a whole lot of insurances
for him to spruce-up like that. His wife was a second grade teacher
at my school, Elisa M. Pease Elementary. Her dresses always looked
flat, with no wrinkles, and she had a nice smell like baby powder.
car was not a real one, and it was not a toy. It kind of fell
somewhere in the middle. Near-about a foot long and rusty-red,
it was cut from the heart of a cedar tree. There were lines cut
where the doors and hood fit, and the curves, even down to the
round headlights and spoked wheels that moved, were carved out
neat and sanded smooth. Grandpa Williams had made it for Davids
father, and it had been passed on to David when his turn came.
David, who was three years older than me, never played with it
like he should have, and that made my car heist right. He would
just pull it down from the shelf in his room and look at itlook
at it? That didnt mount to much. He would never take
it out and drive it. That just seemed like a waste of good kid-car
to me. One time I asked him about it.
We were playing with our small metal cars in his front yard when
I poked at him some. Why dont you bring out that wood
car in your room so we can play with it?
What? Are you stupid or something? he asked, leaning
into my poking like I hoped he would. I aint gonna
take it out and mess it up and get mud and stuff all over it.
Well, I told him, it aint rained in this
part of Texas in a coons age, so mud aint likely,
and I just dont see what good its doing up there holding
your wall shelf down beside that dopey picture of you in your
baseball uniform, I retorted, cause he showed a better
picture of a baseball player than he was one.
There were a few seconds as he looked at me and didnt say
anything. Then he said slow and deliberate, Its my
car and its my picture, too, and if I wanna leave the car
there forever, or till you finish grade school, which ever comes
first, well, I reckon I can do it if Ive a mind to.
David said it just like I knew he would. Sure. Its
your car. So the car stayed in his room, up high on his
shelf, above us all.
Since the Williams went to church every Sunday night, thatd
be my time to hit the place. Just like the rest of the homes in
the neighborhood, the house would likely be unlocked. They would
be gone for a good hour or so and that would make it easy for
me. Just go in, pick it up and leave.
Moseying around for a good half hour, I cased the target house
from a ways down Shellhorse until the three Williams left in their
car. When they were out of sight, I sort of ambled toward the
house, zigging back and forth and slowly advancing, kicking rocks
in the road and booting the heads off dandelions in the ditches.
In front of their house I stopped and looked around one more time
to be sure. There across the road was Mrs. Johnson on her porch
staring at me like I was about to do something. I kicked rocks
again toward her side of the road and glanced at her a few times,
kind of accidental-like, as she watched me steady. She stood from
her rocking chair and leaned over the porch and spit brown snuff
juice. With a handkerchief she wiped her mouth and then called
out to me.
They done gone, she said, adding, The Williams
wont be back till after church.
Thats right, I thought, then said, Oh, okay. I guess
Ill come back another time, when theyre home and not
in church and all.
would be good, I reckon, she said in a trailing-off voice
as she sat back down in her rockerthen looked up at me again
all hard like I was going to get into something.
Mosey time again, I swung around on Lancaster Road and walked
till I was just past the Williams house and out of sight
of Mrs. Johnson. There was woods behind the house so it was easy
for me to curl around to the back yard unseenor so I thought.
Their mutt, Puddin, a funny-looking crossbreed that looked kind
of like a wienie dog with long hair, saw me and started yipping,
not like a watchdog, but like a lonesome dog that saw his best
play-buddy coming. He was wagging his tail, and doing different
excited barks as he jumped up on me as I got over the fence and
in the yard.
Get down, Puddin. Not now, boy. Get on, dang it, I
scolded him in a muffled voice. He must not have understood commands
in a low tone cause he kept on like I never said nothing.
Git on now. I done told you! I yelled. He hunkered
down and looked plum wounded. Thats all right, boy.
You just gotta settle down some, I said in an easy voice
that he seemed to like as he started wagging his tail again. Then
I looked around to see if ol friendly Puddin had ruined
my planning. All appeared okay.
At the back screen door, I paused; I thought about knocking; I
thought about turning around; I thought about that car. There
were windows in the top half of the door. I was just tall enough
to look through the lowest pane. My eyes had to adjust as I looked
through my own reflection to see inside. Puddin started pawing
on the back of my legs, like he was pulling on me. I thought about
that car. A fine car like that should go to the one best able
to play with it right and take care of it good. For what seemed
like a minute or two, I waited and thought, and thought and thought.
Pulling open the back screen door, I wrapped my hand around the
door handle of the big door and turned slowly. I felt the door
pull in and heard a clunk as the latch released.
It was so quiet I could only hear the tick . . . tock . . . tick
. . . of the grandfather clock in the living room. The door hinges
squeaked, so I eased the door in no more than needed for me to
scrunch through the opening. I was entering in the kichen/dining
room and I could catch the aroma of fried chicken that still hung
in the air. Puddin must have got a noseful too as he jumped up
and slammed the door shut where there was some slack where the
screen door meets the wood. I could not have jumped more had there
been a twelve gauge go off over my head. Dagnabit dog, get
on, will you!
Her kitchen always smelled good to me. I ran my fingers along
the top of the dining table and remembered. The first time I stayed
all night with David I was surprised at breakfast to see what
I called Mrs. Williams two-part-eggs, since
there was just the runny yellow part and the white soft part.
All I had ever known was three-part-eggs, with the
hard yellow in the middle, chewy white surrounding, all ringed
by the black krinklyee-crispy edge. To me the black part was what
you crunched through to get to the white and then the yellow.
All I knew was that thick-cut salt bacon, next to the buttered
biscuits with home grown, canned peach preserves, held right perfect
next to Mrs. Williams wonderful two-part-eggs.
It was the best breakfast I ever had. Lord, it seemed like another
part of heaven right there for the discovering. And I was standing
where Mrs. Williams stood that Saturday morning when she was smiling
and asking, Do you want a couple of more eggs, honey? You
might as well finish off the carton.
Oh no maam, I mumbled through a mouthful of
biscuit, These six I had ought to do me. A couple
of more would have been mighty good, but I had to watch my manners
I tiptoed and stepped lightly, making sure of each creaking step
on the hardwood floors. No one was home, but I was still careful.
Going down the hall, I looked at the hanging, framed pictures.
There were shots of Mr. and Mrs. Williams on their wedding day,
she in her veiled white wedding dress, he in his Army Air Corps
uniform. Etched in a flat spot on the frame was Our wedding,
September 4, 1942. Everyone smiles in wedding photos, I
thought, but they looked giddy, like the photographer had just
told them the best joke he knew. Also on the Williams history
wall were pictures of David, from the time he was a little bitty
squirrel being held board-upright on his grinning fathers
lap, to another copy of him in this years baseball uniform,
with him down on one knee with his Rawlings glove over the upper
knee and a bat standing straight up and in his grip. His hat was
pulled low and he had a mean look on his face, like hed
scare the lacing out of the ball. I had seen him swing and field,
and I thought it wouldnt hurt none for him to look a little
All the rest of the wall people smiled at me. One picture stopped
me still. There was an old man standing behind a sitting Mr.Williams,
and David, a little tyke then, standing at his dads knee.
In both hands David held out a wooden car like he was showing
it for the camera. It was the car. All three of them had the same
lean face and dark eyes, and all with the same smile, slightly
higher raised on the right. Many times I had gone down this hallway
and never really looked at the pictures. I was sure I had not
seen this one before.
To my right I could see in Davids room. At the highest point
of his wall shelves was the car. As I stood between the picture
and the room, I saw the car on the shelf was turned toward me,
like the car in the picture faced toward me. For a moment I felt
caught, like they both watched for my next move. My legs felt
heavy and I wondered for a moment if I could walk in either direction.
The next I knew I was beneath the real car, looking up in adoration.
David had always taken it down before; he wouldnt allow
me, like it was some kind of privilege. He could barely reach
it on his tiptoes and he was a bunch taller than me.
In the kitchen again I started to get a dining room chair when
I saw the piano in the living room. That piano bench seemed a
better choice. It was heavy but I knew I could tote it to Davids
room, even if I had to stop half way for a second. Turning to
leave, I stopped and stared at the hymnal on the piano. I remembered
the time we were building a car from a crate and we had chalked
the front wheel with the book when we were hammering on the back,
causing the wheel to crush the edge. David had put it back on
the piano as if nothing had happened. Later that day I was there
when Mr. Williams sat at the piano, and without saying a word,
he picked up the book and examined it. He looked at the crushed
spine and ran his fingers over it, then he looked at David and
then me and then the book again. Reaching in his back pocket,
he pulled out his handkerchief and rubbed the book.
a low tone he seemed to be speaking to himself. Itll
still play the same. Then louder to us he asked, You
boys finish that car you were building? as he continued
rubbing the book.
Yes sir. Well, nearly, anyway, David said and then
he got up and headed to the front door and signaled to me with
his hand to move also. We were two houses down Shellhorse before
we dared say a word. After talking about it, we still could not
figure out how he knew.
In the hallway I set the bench down, sat on a corner and studied
the picture. Was that the day Mr. Williams had given it to David,
I wondered. Then I thought No, probably not. It was
best if I didnt think that way, cause it would make
me feel like I was doing something wrong. Taking a thing from
somebody because you know how to use the thing better, well, that
wasnt wrong. That was just fair.
I put the bench in front of the shelves, climbed up on it and
very gingerly pulled down the car. Since it was now mine, I determined,
I had to be extra easy with it. Holding at eye level, I turned
it around and upside down and examined it all over as if this
were the first time I had seen it. It felt heavier than I had
Suddenly a clap of thunder cracked and made me jump and juggle
the car, but I held on. I heard rain pelting the window, slowly
at first then drumming down hard on the roof.
With a finger I spun each of its wheels. Then I poked my finger
in the drivers window and rubbed the drivers head
and felt the pointy nose. I used the palm of my hand and fingers
to rub the roof and sides, which had been worn smooth by three
generations of admiration. Making my best V-8 rumbling sound,
I drove the car a little up and down through the air roads in
front of me, then stopped it quick with my squeaky brakes. The
car felt solid and strong; it made me feel solid and strong.
Gently I set the car down. When I hefted the bench, I noticed
it too felt heavier this trip. I got it back to the hallway before
I had to set it down. Not wanting to look at the picture just
meant Id look sure. Just as I figured, their eyes were square
on me. The smiles now looked mean and accusing. I knew every time
I passed the picture in the future, the three people would gawk
at me like I had done something wrong. No time for thinking like
thatI had to move on. Struggling with the benchs weight
and awkwardness, I managed to get it to the piano and slide it
It was dark when I had the car cradled against my body to protect
it from the pounding rain as I used my other hand to pull the
back door closed easy. Puddin was on me again jumping and yipping
and scratching at my legs with now-muddy paws. I talked to him
softly as I made my way to the back fence. As far as I could reach
over the fence I dangled the car and then let it drop so I could
have both hands to get across. There was a splat sound as it landed.
Once on the other side I pulled back the wet grass, felt around,
and found the car had landed nose-first in the mud and tipped
over on its side. I could see no more than the shape of the car
in my hand. The moonless night, overcast sky and canopy of trees
shut out even the starlight. I wiped it off the best I could on
my blue jeans.
Into the woods a ways I heard a scraping sound in the brush behind
me. Although I was never one to be afraid of the dark, I felt
the heebie-jeebies when I looked around and saw the close-set
red eyes of some animal. No more thinking now, I was up and running
at full speed though I could see nothing. The only sounds were
my pounding steps on crunching branches and brush and the swishing
of limbs I pushed through. The increasing rain stung my face.
Suddenly the ground gave way as my left leg sunk half up to my
knee. My momentum flung me forward hard on my arms and belly.
The car had bounced loose from my hand as I made my crash through
the brush. Panic was twisting me. What was I doing there, how
ridiculous was I, belly-down in the mud, leg aching and forearms
stinging, groping in the blackness for the object I coveted? I
reminded myself about my right to take the car, and how I knew
how to handle the car and David didnt. Then I wondered how
many minutes had I owned it before I dunked it in the mud, lost
it, and busted myself up in the process?
The years of wanting the car and not having it now faded to a
much worse feeling; it was owning the car and having it jerked
from me. At that moment I searched harder and faster, crawling
through one muddy spot, then another, sweeping with my outreached
hands and forearms, feeling with my knees and feet. Feeling more
frantic, I lunged out wildly like an animal, my arms swinging
out, my outstretched fingers raking the ground in all directions.
My right hand hit a tree, scraping my knuckles. As I instinctively
drew my hand back, I dragged it across something smooth. It was
the underside of the car. I pounced on it, like it would roll
away from me. With it held tightly with both hands to my chest,
I got to my feet and headed out in a quick walk.
greeted me with as much excitement as ever. I was able to work
my way through his jumping on me and barking until I was standing
before the back door again. My wet, muddy clothes dripped puddles
of water around my wet, muddy shoes. It became clear to me I could
not drip water and drop mud all over the house. I took off everything
but my underwear and put them in a pile on the back porch. Inside,
I saw the bathroom light, unnoticed before, lit the hallway. As
I passed the picture I saw my own mud-face-reflection that startled
me. I looked different, older, like I was short guy pushing ten
After I cleaned the car in their bathroom sink with water and
my fingers, I cleaned the mud off the sink, poking the last of
it down the drain. Then I put the car down on the floor in Davids
room, and returned to the piano and pulled out the bench for the
trip back, yet again. The hard rain had stopped and all was quiet.
I heard my own breathing as I struggled with the bench as I turned
down the hall. It was then I heard the crunch of the gravel under
their tires as the Williams pulled in their driveway.
Never before had I felt the flooding sensation of terror. Setting
the bench down, I felt the thumping in my chest and a ringing
in my ears. My life would be destroyed in the next ten seconds.
A few feet from the piano, I grabbed the bench and waggled it
over and slid it under. Then I flew down the hall to Davids
room. It was not until I had picked up the car that I remembered
I could not reach to put it back. I heard talking and cars doors
closing. Halfway back down the hall, I stopped when I heard the
front door open and David speaking.
Yeah, I know, but since church let out early, caint
I watch Milton Berle tonight. I never get to see him, he
You can ask your daddy. Maybe hell let you,
Mrs. Williams explained.
I eased my foot down and tried to control my shaking, which made
the wheels on the car in my hand rattle. Any second David would
come bopping round the corner square into me, eyeball to
eyeball in my mud-caked face, and hed see this wild thing
in underwear holding his car and we would both let loose ear-busting,
simultaneous death-screams and collapse in piles. I remember feeling
light-headed and foggy as my feet pulled me to the only cover
availableDavids closetwhere I pushed through
the hanging clothes and stood in the corner to one side. I could
just reach out and get the doorknob and pull the door nearly closed
as I heard Davids footsteps in his room.
With my outstretched arm I steadied the swinging clothes so I
made no sounds. Something spongy was under my feet but it was
dark and I dared not make a move or any noise to rearrange my
position. Davids closet had shelves in the top half and
hanging clothes in the lower half. Bent at the neck, my head was
getting creased by the clothes-hanging pipe. I couldnt see
anything for the dark, but I did feel the car still in my hand.
Not only would I be caught in Davids closet, but I would
be nabbed red-handed with the goods. Being in my skivvies in his
closet would take some explaining too. How much time would I have
to spend in kid-jail for first time car theft, I wondered. Worse
yet, I would be labeled in the neighborhood as the car thief I
was. If kids ever did play with me again, they would count their
army men before I left and act like they always counted them when
I knew they didnt. Under the smells of mothballs and gym
shoes and the draining heat, I was afraid I was going to be sick,
but I held it.
It was not long before the pain in my neck became unbearable.
To ease it, I ever so slowly bent my knees and lowered myself
so I could staighten my neck. After a few minutes, my knees quivered
so much I was afraid I would make too much noise. There was no
room to squat. So I slowly straightened my knees and bent my neck
again. And so it went, switching from one pain to another.
David was playing with his army men judging by his sounds of artillery
and small arms fire.
From the living room I heard the piano bench being pulled out.
Dear, Mr. Williams said to his wife. Did you
put this bench back backwards? I always have it turned so the
lid swings toward the piano. Now its opposite.
Mrs. Williams answered. It wasnt me. I know how you
like your bench.
David! Mr. Williams called.
It wasnt me, Dad, he said. I havent
been around the piano.
To no one in particular Mr. Williams said in a low tone, but loud
enough so everyone could hear it, Well, this is strange,
adding, I guess this ol bench just did a round-about
on its own then.
He played a few songs on the piano, and when he went into a snappy
version of I Saw the Light, I couldnt help moving
my big toe up and down to the time. What the heck am I doing?
Thumping good time to the music while Im wedged in this
closet like a pickle in a jar and about to be found out and arrested
and dragged in chains to kid-jail for fifty years sure?
Mr. Williams finished the song and said, Well that ought
to do me.
From the kitchen area I heard Mrs. Williams say, Good playing,
Daddy. You still get me to dancing with my broom.
Mr.Williams laughed a little and said, Thank you, Mother.
Its good to know I can still stir you some. Then I
heard him push the bench in. Okay, son. Its time for
Listening close, for one thing to keep my mind off my pain and
for another there wasnt much else to do, I determined they
were all going to watch TV. They would have to sit together on
the couch and face away from the hallway. Mrs. Williams was the
last to join them. It took all my courage to slowly push the closet
door open. I waited, still, listening for any sound other than
the TV show. Very slowly I moved forward. There was a slight swish
of the clothes as I pushed them aside to get out. Free of my cell,
I unwound into full height and stretched even beyond and felt
extra good in the doing. I was not sure what I was going to do
with the car that was still held tightly in my hand.
I had to tiptoe softly and slowly to spread out the squeaks. At
Davids bedroom door I eased my head out enough for one eye
to see down the hallway. Mr. Williams was sitting nearest the
hall. I could see his arm on the arm rest of the couch. There
was no way I could get to the back door.
Plan two came to me. Very slowly I inched down the hall to pick
up the phone and bring it back ever so easy to Davids room.
There was just enough phone cord to make it under his door that
I pushed almost closed. Laying flat out on the floor I called
my buddy T-Bones number, praying that he would answer. To
cut down on the sound, I had to turn the dial slowly and hold
back on it some as it returned. The phone rang four times before
Mr. Green answered. Greens Celestial Retreat.
Then I heard Mrs. Green in the background getting on him. Will
you hush up that foolishness.
Mr. Green, I whispered. Could I speak to Gerald
Whats the matter, son? he asked. I can
barely hear you.
Two words rolled from my mouth, Sore throat. Then
I asked again, Can I speak to Gerald, please?
I heard the Williams laugh in the other room. At the same time
over the phone, I could hear Mrs. Green and Gerald and his sister
Jeanene laugh. In my Watkins stuff I got a good treatment,
Mr. Green said. You want me to get Gerald to carry some
to y'alls house now? Itll make you feel better.
No, no, dont do that. And in my excitement I
almost got too loud. Mothers got me full of stuff
now. Can Gerald talk a minute? I whispered getting near
Sure, he said. Ill get him. Then
there was a pause . . . until Mr. Green added, Something
else thats good for a sore throat is hot salt water, hot
as you can stand it on that throat? You ever tried that?
No sir, but I will, right after I talk to Gerald.
Hold on and Ill get him, he said. And
you best not talk too much either. That dont help it none.
Yes sir, I said, Im trying not to.
get him. Then I heard him say aloud, For you, Toots.
It seemed an eternity until T-Bone came to the phone. Greens
Mule Barn, he said. I heard Mrs. Green scolding him. Just
like your daddy. You make us sound like hicks. Answer the phone
right or dont answer it.
T-Bone, I need help. I caint talk now but you gotta
think of something like Im spending the night with you or
something. Talk to my mother and cover me. If you have everything
set up, leave that plant on your front porch like it normally
is. If you caint get things set up, then turn that plant
on its side. If everything is set, just have me a pallet set up
on the floor. You got it, T-Bone?
There was a pause of a few seconds before he said, Do what?
Help me out and Ill explain later. Bye. Then
I set the receiver down gently.
Back at the area where the phone sat, I was trying to coil the
cord underneath like I found it, when I hear David say, Tell
me what happens. I gotta run to the bathroom. The sound
of the words made me jump. I let the cord drop loose and I took
giant tippy-toe steps to his room and just made it before he entered
the bathroom there off the hallway. There was no way for me to
go but back to the cave, hunkered over in the rack and again standing
on something mushy.
It must have been another hour before I heard them turn off the
TV and start their evening getting-ready-for-bed-ritual. David
was messing around in his room and talking to himself, and me
it turned out, though he didnt know that part. His mother
told him to lay out some clothes for tomorrow and not forget to
put his dirty clothes in the hamper. The closet was pulled open
and I saw Davids hands, not a foot away from my face, moving
through the hung up clothes. As he scooted shirts along the rod
I saw that if he slid three more, he be grabbing my nose
next. I was afraid to breathe. He spoke loudly to his mother who
was in the other room, I got jeans but theres nothing
but Sunday shirts left. Then he shut the closet.
Pull out that green short-sleeve-stripe-shirt. You can wear
that. That was the one stuck in my face. I had been using
it to wipe the sweat off my brow.
Its not in here, he said, not looking. Ill
just have to wear the same shirt I wore today.
Oh no you wont, Mrs. Williams said, and I could
hear her footsteps coming down the hallway. I moved the green
shirt to centermost, and scooted the others away so it stood by
itself. In a few seconds I heard Mrs. Williams in Davids
room. I know that green shirt is in there. The light
flooded in as she opened the closet. See. There it is, right
there in plain sight.
It wasnt there a minute ago, David mumbled.
As this conversation was going on I thought I was going to faint
away, but I thought about how that would go over when they heard
the thump, opened the door and saw a wadded-up, half-naked kid
in the bottom of the closet.
It seemed like days passed after I heard the last sound and I
started my escape. Even after I believed everyone was asleep,
it took time to get my courage up. During all that time I studied
about what I was going to do with the car. I never wanted to get
shed of something so much as that car, that night. Creeping out,
I set the car on its nose near the shelves, as if it had rolled
off the shelves on its own. Not likely maybe, but it was all I
had. With a tiny steps and stretched-out creaks, I was able to
make it to the back door. I pulled the big door open softly and
eased the screen door out when Puddin hit, doing that excited
play-with-me-yipping. It was all I could do to pull the kitchen
door shut and softly touch down the screen door.
My clothes were gone! Dang that Puddin. I ran around the yard
picking up the dragged-around, chewed-up clothes amid the other
dog toys. Puddin yipped and joined in the play. With clothes in
hand, I headed for the back fence with Puddin jumping on me and
yipping all the way. As I climbed up on the cyclone fence and
rolled over, a jeans leg hung. I jerked and tore the jeans loose.
Once in the woods I dressed and noticed the hole in the jeans.
I didnt stop running until I was standing on Arden Road
between my house and T-Bones. Stooped over with my hands
on my knees, I was sure my breathing was so loud I would wake
someone. My house was dark and quiet, as was T-Bones. I
could see the house plant position showing everything was okay.
Through his garage I entered the door which led to his single
bed on the other side of the wall. Beside his bed was a pillow
and a sheet, my pallet, and it looked fine to me. I was wet, muddy,
skinned, scratched and sore, and I couldnt straighten up
all the way for the crick in my neck. I stepped back in the garage,
undressed and dropped my muddy clothes in a splat on the floor.
The last I remember I laid on half the sheet and pulled the other
half over me. I adjusted my pillow once and was asleep.
A few days later my wounds had healed, if not my dogged sense
of guilt. I even dreamed about being trapped in a closet, unable
to move because of a car parked in the doorway. The only momento
from that night was my torn jeans that my mother patched up. Wearing
the jeans reminded me and made me feel bad, but I had to wear
them some as they were one of three I owned. I happened to be
wearing them a few weeks later when I was over at Davids
house. Mr. Williams was driving David and me to the movies one
afternoon with us in the front seat and David in the middle. David
still had his Sunday school shoes on. It looked like his black
wingtips had been smashed on the toe and then pushed back out
again. What happened to your shoes, Davey-Boy? I asked.
Its good these were my second pair of Sunday shoes,
but I wore them sometimes, he said. I dont know
what happened. Just pulled em out of my closet one day and
they were squashed flat as a flitter.
I felt the flush run to my head as I looked out the car window.
Sure is a pretty day, aint it, I said. Wanna
play ball later?
David kept right in stride, Dad says theyre not worn
out on the bottom so they can still be everyday-shoes.
Thats how life is, boys, Mr. Williams said.
Everything takes a beating some time, he continued,
but some things are better for the wear. Then he leaned
up and looked at me as he said. Just like that patch on
your leg there. It just makes those blue jeans stronger.
Yes sir, I replied. I sure hope theres
some good left in em.
O. Jones' works have appeared in various print and online
venues, including Perceptions 2005, 2006; Southern Humorists.com;
and Southern Hum. He is also published in Muscadine
Lines: A Southern Anthology. Neil, his wife Diane, and their
menagerie of dogs and horses, reside in the country in Columbia,
Neil O. Jones