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226 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1970
“By God, Latha, I may be gittin on in years but I swear I can still coax a respectable stand out of the ole dingbat down here, so if there ever comes a time when you feel like you just got to have it, then I'll gladly be at your service.”
My hero…It's like a fairy tale…
A girl offered herself to him for ten dollars; he thought about it, and bought the girl a soda and talked with her some; but finally turned her down. He rode the shooty-shoot. A girl offered herself to him for free; he declined. He visited the ball-pitching booth, and won a giant stuffed Panda. He placed it in the hands of the first girl who passed; her escort took umbrage and accused him of getting fresh, and picked a fight. The man was a big fellow, with much beer on his breath. They squared off. The man swung a roundhouse; he ducked under it and deflated the man's intestines with one jab, then broke his jaw with an uppercut. The girl thanked him for the Panda. He walked on.
The smells of things in the air of the night are the calls of lives wanting to be found. Why else are fragrances fragrant?
We see to find, we hear to find, we smell to find and be found. Until we find or be found, we are lost and wanting.
The theme of the mood of an ending is of a loss or finding.
The lightning bug, or firefly, is neither a bug nor a fly, but a beetle. I like bug, because it has a cozy sound, a hugging sound, a snug sound, it fits her, my Bug.
Deep in the dark blue air sing these lives that make the summer night. The lightning bug does not sing. But of all these lives, it alone, the lightning bug alone, is visible. The others are heard but not seen, felt but not seen, smelled but not seen.
Doc Swain jumped out of his car and kicked it viciously with his foot. "Goddamn scandalous hunk of cruddy tinfoil!" he yelled and kicked it again. "Sonabitchin worthless gas-eatin ash can!" Then he turned wildly about, yelling, "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"
"Here's your true sign, Every," Latha said to him. "The Lord wants you to be a doctor."
"Naw," he said. "I'm afraid it's something else."
Ella Jean Dinsmore came running into the kitchen, hollering, “Maw! Baby Jim fell through the hole in the outhouse!” Selena Dinsmore smiled absently and said, “Aw, just leave him go Ella Jean. It’s be easier to have another’n than to clean that un up, even if we could get him out.”
. . .
Latha had already lost her virginity, at the age of eleven, to some third or fourth cousin of hers. Well, as they say in this part of the country, a virgin, by definition, is “a five-year-old girl who can outrun her daddy and her brothers,” so I guess Latha was a late-developer or else just lucky – or, from another point of view, unlucky.
. . .
Frank Murrison woke to discover he had a morning hard, but Rosie protested, “It’s Sattidy. My day off.” He waited for it to subside, but when it did not he went to the barn and used a ewe.
Sneeze on Monday, sneeze for danger
Sneeze on Tuesday, kiss a stranger
Sneeze on Wednesday, sneeze for a letter
Sneeze on Thursday, sneeze for better
Sneeze on Friday, sneeze for sorrow,
Sneeze on Saturday, a friend you seek
Sneeze on Sunday, the Devil will be with you all week.
. . .
When the coffee was making, she noticed that the coffeepot was rattling on the stove. That was sure enough a sign that a visitor would come before nightfall.
. . .
Maybe this was all happening because of a configuration of those signs that morning: the redbird flying downward, the white cat in the road, singing before breakfast, the shirt on the wrong side out, sneezing on Saturday, the coffeepot rattling on the stove . . .