Times wus hard. Real hard.
When I had ta sell Molley, I made sure and promised her I’d take care a tha kids.
‘Steve’, she said, ‘Steve’, tears collectin’ in her eyes as some mother gunned a muscle car, readin’ to take her away.
‘Take care a little Suzie and Steve Jr. You’ll watch em close now for me won’t ya?’
I could hardly talk for the lump in my throat.
‘I sure will honey,’ I said, promising to do my best by our fine pair a young-uns.
Well, times they do get harder. A man can get sick, soul sick, so no doctor ‘ill cure em. Sick a workin, and sick a tha sight a himself in the mirror. Shit I did my best, but like I say, pretty soon it got hard and I had to start thinkin’ a possibilities.
Time come I’d done all a man could do to keep it together, and it just wasn’t near good enough. So I had to consider the unthinkable. I had to prepare myself ta sell Steve Jr. Exceptin’ this time, my old pal Billy-Ray, whose been a good old boy through all recent troubles and all my troubles past, he says..
‘Steve, you know what? If you do have to, I mean, if you really do have to, go about sellin’ Steve Jr. you’ll be cutting yourself out of the action if’in you strait up sells the whole lotta him.’
‘What you talkin’ bout Billy-Ray?’, I axed him, rubbin’ my chin and considerin’ real hard.
‘What da you think those guys did when you sold ‘em Molly? When you had to sell ‘er I mean.’
‘I don’t rightly know,’ I told him. ‘Mostly I don’t like ta think about it.’
‘Well,’ he says, a look a awful sorra’ passin’ over his features. ‘By my reckonin’ they’s gotta done one a two things, most likely both.’
‘I kin guess one,’ I said, shakin’ my head and shiverin a little.
‘Well, yes sir, they is likely to a done that, plenty a that.’
‘Well, don’t go on about it then’, I tolt ‘em.
‘Steve, buddy, after that, what a ya reckon they did, after they’d had their fill?’
‘Well,’ I said, sickenin, ‘I reckon they sold her on, either rent ‘r retail.’
‘Sure’, says Steve, ‘Sure, for a while.’
And he takes a look at me, real sympathetic like, and stays quiet for a second, and I says ‘Billy-Ray, just say what oughta be said, and don’t you go worryin ’bout my precious sensibilities,’ and all the time I’m thinkin’ Molly, poor Molly!
‘Steve my friend, comes a time a woman gets a look, ya know. Like a coyot’ with an injured paw. Woman gets a look like that, she aint much use for nothing more ‘an well.. She don’t rent too high no more, and wont right sell neither.’
‘Billy-Ray,’ I asked, real serious like, how comes you know so much about this stuff? And he looks at me, like I wus simple, and he says…
‘Steve, what you think happened my own true wife and sister Sally Anne?’
Near as I know, Sally Anne dun got the sickness over a period a years, and passed on. Slow, real slow. But I don’t wanta say it so I just looks at him. Billy-Ray, well he looks out across the farm and he gives a whistle, and Steve Jr. comes a running over all friendly and such, and wipes his dirty hand, all scuffed and sticky from foolin’ about in that there mud, and shakes Billy-Rays palm, real gentleman like. And Billy-Ray, he reaches down and picks up Steve Jr. with one arm and holds him high, laughin’ and waving, and with his free hand he points at the little fellers belly, and says…
‘Tell me, whats this?’
‘Why, that’s Steve Jr,’ I reply, reckonin him for a kidder.
Billy-Ray shakes his head, and smiles and says…
‘No, dummy, inside,’ and I pause and think for a second and I reply.
‘Aw, Billy-Ray, I don’t rightly know what you mean. All Steve Jr’s got inside is a pinch a love, a mite a grub, and a whole mess a organs.’
‘Exactly’, says Billy-Ray, and all of a sudden I get his mean’.
Well, first to go wus Steve Jr’s kidneys. Cause well, I reckon he had two to start with, and he ain’t got need for more ‘an one. Billy-Ray arranged things and took a fair cut ’cause things wus tough all over, and together we got him back to rights. Suzie carryin water ta cool his little brow, Billy-Ray tellin’ him stories ’bout how them good old boys used ta ride the South Pacific railroad, up ta where a jungle been set up by a friendly old dame in perpetuity. Pretty soon Steve Jr. got well enough again ta get back ta work.
But times was hard, real hard. Pretty soon it got so one end wasn’t meetin tha other, and Billy-Ray offered, and I accepted, and he up an found a real nice family with a son ’bout Steve Jr.’s age, whose own legs had been crushed up in a car wreck. So we made a little money, and Steve Jr? Well he was happy as punch to be doin his part as a man ta take care a his family, and we made him a fine little cart to push himself about the yard.
‘Ceptin it got so we had to do another deal, and another, and pretty soon he had nothing to push himself about with. So we put him ta bed, and yessir he had a fine old holiday just watchin’ tee vee and restin up a time. And shucks if his little sister didn’t start to get jealous at at the ‘tension bein’ focused on Steve Jr. and insisted, straight up insisted, that she be allowed to do her part.
Well times was a little easier, but things was rough all over, and we got word from a fella who dropped by to put an offer in for Steve Jr’s cor-knee-a’s, that folks all about was turnin to extreme measures to hold body and soul together. So I figured, and Billy-Ray agreed, that we best be sellin’ Suzie afore in the market got too glutted.
‘Aint nothin’ can be done ’bout it,’ I said sadly.
‘Not a darn gone thing,’ Billy-Ray agreed.
So, with a tear in my eye, I took Suzie up ta old Jacob’s place. Old Jacob was known to have an eye fir such things, and well we haggled and that, and ‘ventually settled on a fair price.
After that it got to be a regular occasion, though ‘course he’d pay a little less each time, and after the first trip it got a little harder to get Suzie to agree ta come along. Well, she always was a headstrong kid, and it happened that one day, her little birthday arrived, and she started yappin’ that she didn’t have no cake or presents or nothin’, and askin after her momma long gone, and Steve Jr, who a course we’d sold tha’ last a, some time before.
Well, times was fierce confusin’, and what with my wife an’ boy gone, I didn’t have no resources to take care a no raucous little kid like that. So Billy-Ray and I took Suzie by the arms, a screamin and a cryin, and found a nice friendly Mexicano doctor who gave as good a price as could be expected for the various organs, whole sale.
It broke my heart to do it, but you know, sometimes a right choice ain’t an easy one. Things ‘ud go ta hell if folks just did whatever they wanted to all the time, so I reckon it wus the proper action considerin’.
As I drove back home in ma’ SUV I’d bought with Molley, up the quarter mile tar-me-cad-um driveway to that big old mansion I’d picked up from the various parts a Steve Jr., and had pedro, that good ‘ol Paragoyan boy Suzie’s hard work had paid for, open the gates and start fixin’ up dinner, and Billy-Ray and me started watchin’ Duke’s a Hazard on the hundert inch plasma tee vee I’d bought in anticipation a sellin the rest a her – I took a sideways look at Billy-Ray, makin’ the measure a the man. Sure seemed full a them there juicy organs, I thought. Well darn if it wasn’ already takin’ that same sorta look et me! Well, I already had me ona them there Xboxen, but that Playstation 3 sure did look sweet.
After all I thought, things wus gettin’ better all the time.