The thick clump of brown dirt that was typical of Millstown did not come easily out of the ground as Nigel's muscles strain, sweat pours down his brown body, as he works the dirt free of its natural placement. A fat faced sun, its jowls happy and content, fills the afternoon sky on this early August day. Its heat bears down on the ground below. Nigel Simmon, a black farmer, in denim overalls is digging a hole to replant a post for a mangled fence. Nigel a strong and handsome man is working as the sun laughs. A voice told Nigel, "Let it go till tomorrow," but he knew the fence must go back up today. A fence that had been mysteriously knocked down by what looked to be, by the prints in the dirt, a man alone on foot. Nigel's tobacco leaves stomped senselessly by some brute angered him. The fence knocked clear made easy access for others to use the patch of land as a shortcut across his field of tobacco to wherever. Nigel had a crew of six people that helped him with the care and nurturing of his tobacco. However, it was Sunday morning and Sunday, with all respects to the Almighty, he gave his workers as their own. So he continued to dig and sweat in the Sunday sun.
A friend pulls up in a horse drawn wagon, a thin and wiry fellow named Melvin Ralston. Melvin smells of fresh bathing and a hint of corn liquor as he jumps down from the wagon with a smile. Melvin a fair hand on a farm, but a better gambler and bootlegger at heart, asks, "What you going to do? Dig you a grave, Nigel?…" Nigel looks up at Melvin, offering only a frown in response to his remark. Melvin continues, "…Too hot for that, man. Dig the grave tonight and keep the body in the shed till its time."
Nigel quickly replies, "And if you keep that mouth moving I'll have a fresh body to stick down into this here hard dirt."
Melvin moves in a little closer to Nigel and examines the vandalized area. "Some mean and powerful dud paid your fence a visit last night looks like," Melvin states, having put his grin away for a moment.
"Sure enough looks like it," Nigel replies while still pushing his shovel into the ground.
"The work of Mills. Clarence Mills it looks like done this."
Nigel digs a bit more dirt and then asks, "What's wrong with that boy, Melvin?"
"His brain is like a song you half try to sing in the outhouse. Not worth a damn in public," Melvin advises.
"Why would he do this to me? We always got along," Nigel replies.
"He needs to stop sipping that corn liquor," Melvin states.
"What the hell are you talking about? It's you that makes the stuff he drinking," Nigel advises.
"Yeah, but for regular folks to drink. Folks whose brains isn't scrambled and can handle a few sips," Melvin advises.
"You need to get back on that wagon, ride to Blue Patch, and knock down that damn still of yours before someone gets hurt from the moonshine you're selling," Nigel states with exhaustion from digging, and anger for Melvin in his voice.
"There's more to drinking than water and buttermilk, Nigel," Melvin replies with a smile brightly lit by the sun.
"So says the devil," Nigel relies.
* * *