It wasn’t a very good time at all, not good.  Edward Whitley stood in the corner like an old floor lamp.  He wasn’t looking at anything.  His beady little eyes just sat there like the last two peas on a plate, lost in some thought, away from everything around him.  Winnie Spencer was passing out homemade peanut butter cookies, a good thing to do, but there weren’t many takers.  It wasn’t that out of place.  This was peanut country.  Everybody loved a peanut.  It’s what made Southampton County tick.

Why is it that the more miserable a time you’re having the slower it seems to move?  It sounds reasonable, even true, but why, really?  Emma Pattersoll’s little girl was sitting on the floor in her best Sunday dress, petticoat and all, playing jacks   The ball bounced and she’d grab one. Then she’d do it again.  George Spencer chewed Beechnut.  He had a sort of slow rhythm to it. The last thing anybody needed was a clock.

Wade and Wayland Bennett were identical twins.  It wasn’t until Wade died that anyone could tell them apart.  “So, that was Wade,” someone said looking down into the open casket.

“Wade was the silly one.  He had a mole.”

The funeral home man said, “I was expecting a bigger crowd.”

“Yes,” said Rosalie Bennett Poole, “I can’t understand it.  Wade was such a good man.  There weren’t no other man like him.”

“People just don’t pay respect the way they used to.  They don’t come out.”

“I know.  I know.”

“I always figured Wade Bennett to be queer,” said Charlie Ingram.

“For land sakes Charlie, don’t say that. Don’t say it so loud.”

“Hell, I thought that was Wayland.”

“Well, it don’t matter now.”

“Cookie?” said Winnie Spencer cheerfully.

 

James William Gardner

James William Gardner writes extensively about the contemporary American south. The writer explores aspects of southern culture often overlooked: the downtrodden, the impoverished and those marginalized by society. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

 

 

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