Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Edgar Markey had lived a long time and was happy to go on living a lot longer. He was afraid to be a burden, and so he had let a lot of people worry instead of help. He imagined dying under the front porch like Blue had done, and Girl back in Jasper. A few had been hit by cars - Edgar didn't see that as a reasonable option like slipping under the porch - and he had buried them all along the way. No cats ever. He had dropped that Siamese along the highway near the shelter and the kid would just have to get over it. Life is hard and there's no sense in hiding that from a child.

Edgar did have sisters. Vi was fifteen months older and Mary Ann thirty-two months younger. They're the only ones left now to worry when they don't know where he's staying. Harv died in his sleep when he was already an old man. Their sister, Anita, was home babysitting four of her grandchildren and just stopped reading Stella Luna to them in her old rocker.

His second wife stopped worrying a dozen years ago, the last time she heard from him. He left while she was grocery shopping. He packed a bag and his tools into that old green Datsun but forgot to leave a note. Going out - back never. Louise is a practical woman. "If he doesn't wanna be here, I don't want him here."

He had had two kids of his own through the years, eighteen years if you care to be exact, and they hadn't met until Jessie wrote to Hank on the occasion of his college graduation. They had started emailing after that, both of them only-children so long and hungry to compare and make sense of their father. Hank had suggested hiring a private detective to find him now and Jessie was indifferent but said she'd chip in, if that's what he wanted. He seemed so determined and eager, and she couldn't see herself dissuading him. Why should she be the downer when she was pretty sure Edgar would greased-pig right out of their grasp again?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy Valen-Tiny Day

This week, a very small tribute to:

Ritchie Valens-tiny,
The Small Bopper, and
Itty-Bitty Holly


Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice, sure, but not because she's lonely. You think rice fairies clean up after superstitious rituals? Elanor pulls out the old Electrolux, yanks on the cord and tidies up after the latest 50% chance. Some people are optimists, but Eleanor Rigby is the church cleaning-lady.


She's a pip, that Apple Seed. A tutti-fruity cutie. She mixes business with pleasure, looking so sweet that a little cyanide won't kill you.


It turned out that Miss Bitty wasn't all that small, which was fine with her and so what if other people didn't like it? Of course, not many people would say they didn't like it, certainly not to Bitty's face and then definitely not more than once. The first time you could chalk it up to being mean or foolhardy, but the second time would just have been pure stupidity. Bitty didn't suffer fools gladly. She was much better at gladly making fools suffer.

Not that big is all Bitty was - oh no. Bitty was a force of nature. Not nasty or destructive, like a bolt of lightening or a tornado. No, if Bitty liked you, she loved you and that was all there was to it. Then she would be a force of nature like a big live oak tree that you sit under on a Florida August afternoon. Otherwise, she was like the sun on the same day. You wanted Bitty to like you no matter what you had to do. That sounds like it was hard, but it wasn't, not if you were sweet and nice and not mean like Elmer Sneed. He was just plain mean, plus stupid, which is a bad mix anywhere but especially around Miss Bitty and especially especially if the stupid is bigger than the mean. And that's all I'm going to say about Elmer, because it's not right to speak ill of him now. Before last March you could speak ill of him all you wanted. Bitty didn't bother with talking though, and that's why someone like me needs to tell the story, because it isn't going to tell itself.