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Same Blood

Houghton Mifflin

Ballantine Books
 February, 1990


Part One,
Chapter 1

Page 10

Social Services asked me who the daddy was and I wouldn’t say it to the lady ’cause it was none of her business and ’cause Scooter’s got three already and don’t take care of them. He just ain’t meant to be a daddy, never mind a husband. Now you probably thinkin’ I’m just in love lettin’ him git away but you remember Scooter, don’t you? Even as a boy nothin’ could tame him and he ain’t changed, never will, like he was born whole, followin’ his own rules. And he gits sweared at but let be, like he’s as much a part of Hazel as the goddamn snow. But I suppose his wife don’t look at him any special way ’cept as a low-down son-of-a-bitch. So this Social Service lady, she’s gittin’ so mad at me I couldn’t look at her face no more so I looked up at the bulletin board behind her where two of her kids was pinned up and I started readin’ the sayin’s beside ’em: “Jesus Loves You” on a sticker and “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves” below that in the middle of a field of hay.

I was holdin’ Bubby extra tight ’gainst my belly durin’ all the questions and then I don’t know why, maybe ’cause the lady give me the willies, I started starin’ at him again sleepin’ and his skin was so smooth ’gainst my shirt and ’gainst the metal made like wood on the lady’s desk that he looked angelic, almost like he was dead he was so peaceful. I was starin’ and I couldn’t help it, it was like with them cows, I was switchin’ over whether I wanted to or not, but not into his eyes, into sump’n real far down, almost like I was feelin’ from his belly now and feedin’ like he done to me.

Then it started, the grindin’. It come on slow, but it come on, like sandpaper in the gut, real soft, grindin’ me down. But then it seem holdin’ him tight ’gainst me, lettin’ him suck made it ease up, go away.

The lady, I heard her say that I had to come back till they figured out my case. She was tryin’ to smile and said, “Well, I guess it’s dinnertime.” See, I still had to hold my tit so as Bubby could suck, or it’d just fall out or squish up ’gainst his nose.

I ended up drivin’ from Tappen’s back and forth to Cartsdale in my big green Impala Tappen fixed up and kept filled with gas. It was almost

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