After the girl goes in the house Jeb, the old man, comes out on the porch and talks to me. He goes on and on about his ten daughters. He cant tell which is the oldest nor what age and he doesn’t know if they should be allowed to go out with boys or not. Like wild animals they sense his indecisiveness. At all hours they come and go with lanky hillbilly boys with big feet and long johnsons.
And they fall pregnant one by one. So he whoops em. The house is filling up, people sleeping everywhere. One of the girls brought home what she said was a husband but he is gone two days later, never to be seen again. The twelve year old has started to show.
One day in the back among poplar and kudzu he finds one of his being humped by a boy he’d never seen. When the boy sees him he flees with his pants around his ankles. And Jeb whoops the girl.
Travelling. You see some weird things on this road. On my way down from the hills my altruistic impulse nearly gets me caught. It’s from this time, I think, I started having mental problems. But if there are darker provinces of night I would’ve found them somewhere in this wide world. I have grown lean and bitter. A malign star keeps me.
A woman sleeping under the trees just off the road in a lacy white nightgown. I stop ten feet away and call softly to her and she stirs heavily, her hair caught up in leaves. It’s cold. I edge closer and see heavy breasts stirring under the nightgown and a thatch of dark hair under her belly. I kneel and touch her lightly. Her slack mouth twists and her eyes open. Her eyeballs look gorged with blood. She sits up suddenly, reek of whiskey and rot coming off her.
I say, RU alright, ma’am?
Her lips draw back in a cat’s snarl. What you want, you son of a bitch? She says.
Aren’t you cold?
WTF is it to you?
Not a fuckin thing to me, I say irritably.
She buries her face in her hands and says, I shoulda knowed you’d do me thisaway.
Never saw you before, I say, moving off.