Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

I Can Sing Like That

Michael P. McManus


Here lately Daddy’s been talking ‘bout filling Momma full of holes. Not like he would do it ‘cause he likes talking just to hear them tough words come out his mouth even if they don’t mean anything to anyone but him. But just to be on the safe side I went and hid his shells ‘cause he’s got the double barrel breached open and carrying it round in the yard and muttering strangeness to himself. It’s ‘cause he gets to drink as he pleases a few days since his check came in the mail. And so I got to let him run his course with his whiskey-filled Mason jar ‘cause he can’t run long before he’s gotta stop and rest.

Seems like he’s been resting a long time ever since the ‘Japs’ got his job and the diabetes got his left leg. I seen how them bad veins swells up and such but I ain’t never seen any Japs when he worked as a post-hole digger for Milford’s Landscape Service. They did all the work out at the Pecanland Mall and Daddy used to brag about the holes he dug for them fence posts out back behind Sears in the garden section. ‘Cept we ain’t been to the Mall in all get out and it don’t look too good for us goin’ back soon with this economic crisis and all them people losin’ their jobs. But Daddy don’t seem to mind much ‘cause he says its ‘bout time for the fat cats to start living in the alley, too.

He don’t seem too hard on ever goin’ back to work himself and he seems to only worry ‘bout the strangest things like come February when all the local TV stations got to start going digital and Daddy keeps talkin’ ‘bout how much it’s gonna cost to replace them rabbit ears on top the TV with this satellite box so he won’t miss Deal Or No Deal. And now we got that new President, Daddy says his own dad would roll in his grave if he saw who got elected ‘cept we don’t know where he’s buried ‘cause he never came home from Vietnam and every once in a dark moon daddy will say he’s still alive and livin’ in a bamboo cage and eatin’ Nutria and stayin’ as skinny as a shovel handle.

Just the other day I took Daddy my report card that showed I was well above passin’ in everything and he said my brain ain’t runnin’ off my momma’s blood I’m so smart to be a girl and momma won’t say nuthin’ but ‘I can sing like that’ cause she bought every CD that Christy Lane ever made and all the time ‘cept when she gots to cook or clean she sits in her rocker on the porch with her little CD player at her feet and listens to the Gospel music.

I got this secret now, too. See, I been savin’ the money Daddy don’t take from my Burger King paychecks and so I bought me a Zune from Wal-Mart and I been listening on it to Radiohead and Queens of The Stone Age and The White Stripes. I been thinking ‘bout buying a guitar and seein’ what happens ‘cause I ain’t no where near as country as daddy thinks. And even if he thinks too much which is ‘bout as likely as Jesus growin’ him a new leg I can always tell him where I threw his buckshot shells in the bayou and maybe he’ll get a wild whiskey hair and dive in and swim down ten feet and tangle himself in the roots and realize it ain’t whiskey he’s a swallowin’ and that he shoulda’ been lots nicer to me and Momma while he had the chance.

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Michael P. McManus has published short stories and flash fiction in numerous journals, including 3:AM, Lichen, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Dublin Quarterly, Louisiana Literature, Pennsylvania Review, Contrary Magazine, and Ashe. He received an Artist Fellowship Award from the Louisiana Division of the Arts for poetry. His poems have appeared in Texas Review, Prism International, Rattle, and Raintown Review. He also received the Virginia Award from The Lyric and The Ocean's Prize from Sulphur River Literary Review.  

© Michael P. McManus

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012