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Same Blood

Houghton Mifflin

Ballantine Books
 February, 1990


Part One,
Chapter 1

Page 17

Willie Craw talkin’ how gray squirrel tastes just like chicken. So I pick up Bubby all cocky ’cause I’m free and it’s summer and warm and I’m tellin’ him how we can go live in a tent backa Tappen’s—in the black-eyed Susan field, he won’t mind—an no one’s gonna disturb us. I’ll git a gun and maybe even Scooter would come and teach us how to shoot. Course I ain’t thinkin’ ’bout September and October nearin’ and how this big old Impala we’re settin’ in is gonna break any minute and I still ain’t paid Don Cramer for the work he done on it in June. We git home all punchy and there’s Marilyn waitin’ on the stairs more dressed’n usual in one of them shiny beige blouses.

Daddy, she tells me straight out I’m in trouble. That I gotta go git a shot of hormones to dry up my tits or they’ll take Bubby on account of sexual perversion. I couldn’t move. All that big feelin’ drained outa me quick as a vacuum had done it. I threw up, Dad, right on the ground in front of them stairs. In front of that shiny blouse. And she stands up and holds me like I’d fall down without her and then she goes on ’bout how the appointment is already set with Dr. Muller down in Clem Cove and that I’ll be much happier after it’s all cleared up, like it was a disease. I felt so beaten down and ugly in the face of my vomit and Bubby glued to the railin’, the sweat on his gut growin’ his shirt dark. He knowed his ma ain’t ever gonna carry her own gun. Then like someone else is sayin’ it, I say, “OK,” and Marilyn, she gits in her little blue car and backs out the driveway on her way home to Cartsdale. I didn’t even swear at her. I didn’t say a word. I said OK.

Now Bubby’s asleep, Daddy, and you git the whole mess right on your lap. It’s all one word again—scared. I feel scared.

I bet you never knew when you was alive I could talk so, but with you it’s just like with Bubby—I don’t have to talk ’cause we’re blood, same blood, and all the words are gonna git to you whether I talk ’em or not. But I ramble on to Bubby, too, ’cause it’s same as that love I told you come when Bubby was born—talkin’s like splashin’ water with your hand,

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