All Bedlam Courses Past (part seventy-two)
All Bedlam Courses Past
An Object in Motion
Ma’am, was what he called Verbena, and off, hollering this, Samuel went up the steep of the hill, on their own side.
“So we’re not crossing.”
“No use now. I’d of come up the other way, to where we’d get a look at the lay of things.”
Verbena’s voice came from the cabin porch. “Samuel, you been up here yesterday. Now she never…”
It was a backend porch, fenced by a stand of brush. Stone slab steps. Laundry hanging, or…curtains. And Verbena, out from behind these, shooing a hand at Samuel, a razor in her other.
Someone else said, “Get the hell home!”
It was the heart-fluttering, hoped-for voice, but launching from her first solid foothold, Élucide was waylaid, enveloped in Verbena’s arms.
“Oh, if it ain’t my Lucy! You come up to see us! How you ever been, dearie? You ain’t any bigger, but just give a look at that dress!”
“Fancy lil lady,” Samuel said, seated, dangling legs.
“Samuel, don’t you pick up from your mama. That ain’t nice, what she says. That Mary has sent him off here to be fed again,” Verbena told her. “Richard, you stay put! He ain’t decent, sweetie, cause he just now got his self up.”
The razor still in the hand not circling Élucide’s waist, Verbena with a pinkie snagged the curtain in passing. The moment begged the seizing of, and Élucide gave a stare to Richard in his drawers. His face was shaved from cheeks to chin, clean where the razor had scraped. Grimy to the hairline otherwise.
His mother sounded a fretful cluck. Richard, tone ugly, muttered a word Élucide thought she had never heard anyone speak…
And yet she knew what it was.
“Your daddy home, Mr. Everard?”
Behind the curtain a rattle of wooden stool. “You go whistle if you want him, Mr. Chambliss.”
Élucide felt a hand tug her skirt. She was eyeing the scene discreetly, chafing a bit, should a bucket of water play any role in Richard’s getting decent…at not upending this over his head.
“Your name ain’t Lucy.”
“Well, no, Samuel. That’s what your grandmother calls me.”
He put the finger in his mouth again, his eyes in some way pleading.
“My name is Élucide Gremot.”
A fit of giggles.
But Samuel Paton, immature for his apparent age, was not offensive…whatever he was. Repeating, “Ellaseed”, he took off at a run down the hill.
(2023, Stephanie Foster)