Billy Went a' Courtin'
Paul H. Yarbrough
Billy was gettin’ up to around forty-eight or thereabouts, so he decided it was time for him to get a permanent keep-at-the-house woman. What they used to call a wife.
About half the Saturday nights he was staying at home now, and since he was gettin’ to be such a homebody he needed to start lookin’ in the direction of a family life.
He had had his eye on Shelia Dobble for some time. She was gettin’ to be an old maid, having been done with high school for more’n two years and still working down at the Piggly Wiggly as an assistant butcher. She was a fat little gal, but according to Billy she was sweeter than a can of ant poison, and she had enormous breasts, which was a feature that had attracted Billy to begin with. And she did have some other very good qualities. She didn’t hardly cuss, though one time the manager at the store had to call her down when she got to thrashin’ about with some wild and crude language after she chopped off a piece of her thumb with a meat cleaver.
She hadn’t got tattooed with any of them flashing and vulgar tattooes so many of the girls had these days. Instead, she chose to have a nice picture of the local Dairy Queen tattooed between her shoulder blades, ‘bout half the size of your hand. I thought that was thoughtful of her to have a local monument of her hometown carried on her for life, bless her heart.
Billy said he didn’t know how gooda cook she would make, but she dern sure ought to be able to pick the good choices of meat, what with her slaughtering experience and everything. And her momma had told someone she could cook squirrel more’n a dozen different ways.
She also was as good a hunter as any fellow in the county. Course a big heifer like her tended to pick up more’n her share of ticks, seeing as how them little critters could recognize a feast when they saw one. But Billy said it’d be kinda a aphrodisiac picking ‘em off her. I wasn’t just real sure what he had meant by that, but…
Since Billy was my third or fourth cousin, depending on who his daddy was, for sure, I thought I’d give him some man-to-man talk and advice. I told him that marriage was a serious business and that it was fine to settle down, but I had not been so careful myself about my selection of brides--and I just wanted him to be sure that Shelia was the woman for him. My first wife had run off with some Yankee foot powder salesman; my second was bit by a water moccasin when we were swimming in the river. She panicked and drowned. I think she would have survived the snake bite since it had just bit her in the ass, far from any vital body elements. My present wife, Della, was still with me, though she was in a coma down at the trailer park. She was out on my Harley one night drunker than a skunk when she ran into one of them old Volkswagen vans driven by some sixty-year-old hippies, who were a bit greased themselves by the way-- tore that rascal up. However, the Harley held up pretty good--better’n Della did, anyways.
But, back to Billy. He went over to the Piggly Wiggly and asked Shelia for a date on Friday. He said they could go over to Eagle Lake and set out some trot lines, then go over to Red’s Store and drink beer and play some dominoes. She, of course accepted, as it would’ve been difficult for any gal to turn down such an invitation. Billy wasn’t gonna spare no expense on Shelia.
But, alas, when they got to datin’ around at Red’s after they’d set out the trot lines, Shelia got to arm wrestlin’ with Bubba Stewball, and between him squeezing her hand, and vice versa, she just got onto a natural taking for Bubba, and Billy was left in the dust. Shelia told Billy she was sorry but her infatuation for Bubba was too much. She told Billy he could have her share of the trot line pickings, but it was goodbye elsewise. Her heart was now Bubba’s.
Billy got back home the next day and decided he probably was not really ready for the home life, anyway. He had a few Saturday nights left in him. And tonight was Saturday.
Paul H. Yarbrough was born and reared in Mississippi and presently lives in Houston, Texas. He has published in Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Dew on the Kudzu, Oxford So &So, as well as Muscadine Lines. He has written two novels, his most recent: Mississippi Cotton from Wido Publishing.
Paul H. Yarbrough