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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

With a little help, a man finds his special place and true love.

Submitted: May 11, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 11, 2018





Charles V. Walker, Jr.


Perry “Kipp” Smoot and his wife, Suzy, were seated at their diningroom table having dinner. Their sixteen-year old son, Stevie, was in the livingroom watching television.

"Talked ta Eric de uvver day," said Kipp, referring to Eric Johnson, a native and current resident of New York City, who had been Kipp's best friend in the army; they'd remained friends in the years following their respective discharges from the military. In addition to attending Kipp and Suzy’s wedding, he'd also visited Creston on several occasions over the years.

"Good. How's he doin'?" asked Suzy. “When’s he comin’ down?”

"He’s alright. Said he's gonna be in D.C. nex' Friday an' was gon hang out in Creston ova de weeken'." Washington, D.C. was only fifty miles north of Creston.

"We'll have a cookout fo' him, den," said Suzy. "He still workin' fo' dat janitorial comp'ny?

"Yeah, dat's why he's gon be in D.C.," replied Kipp. "Dey bid onna gov'ment contrac', an' he's gotta meetin' wif 'some gov'ment people." The company, for which Eric worked, Booker's Janitorial Services, Inc., had submitted a bid for a contract to clean five government facilities; the locations were all within a twenty-five-mile radius of Creston.

"That'd be nice. Ah’ll haveta let Tracey know about de cookout," said a smiling Suzy, as she scooped up a forkful of mashed potatoes. Tracey Carter, formerly Tracey Carter Bennett, was Suzy’s younger sister.

"Yeah, de two of dem hit it off from de firs' time dey met all dem years back," Kipp replied. "An’ de way thangs was goin’ between um, Ah thought he might make uh move down dis way permant'ly," replied Kipp. "Den ag'in, Ah don't think Eric was ready ta do de Green Acres thang."

Suzy laughed. "Could be. Eric knew he wasn't ready ta settle down inna small town like-iss. But now dat he’s gittin’ a little older, who knows?”

“Ah really thought thangs was goin’ to work out for Eric an’ Tracey in de beginnin’ when he firs’ started comin’ down hair. But den he stayed in New Yawk fo’ so long dat Tracey got tired o’ waitin’ fo’ ‘im.”

“He was trynta git his life tagevver,” said Kipp.

“But, in de meantime, Tracey started datin’ Nick Bennett,” said Suzy. “Den she tole me she was in love wif dat drunken asshole. An’ de nex’ thang Ah knew, she’d up an' married ‘im."

“Ah think she felt mo’ sorry fo’ ‘im den she was in love wif ‘im,” said Kipp. 

“Ah know he was raised innat orphanage down in Middleburg,” said Suzy. “He nevva knew who his people were.”

Kipp said, "Well, whatevva his story was, Tracey fine'lly gave his drunken, good fo' nuffin ass de boot.”

“Ah was so glad when she divorced him,” said Suzy. “But, he kep’ hangin’ ‘round tryinta git huh ta take ‘im back. She almos’ lost huh job when huh manager kep’ seein’ Nick hangin’ out in de parkin’ lot an’ inside de 7-Eleven.”

“Ah heard dat, too,” said Kipp. Tracey also confessed to him that Nick had hit more than once. But, because she knew the way in which her family, most especially her father, would react, she begged him not to tell anyone.  If Tracey or Kipp had told her father or brothers about the domestic abuse she was suffering at the hands of Nick, they would’ve hurt him bad.

Unbeknownst to Kipp, Tracey had told Suzy that she and Eric had been telephoning each other since her divorce from Nick. Suzy had a feeling that the two had started communicating as soon as Nick moved out.

“Well, dat asshole ain’t been seen ‘round fo’ monfs now, so Ah guess he fine’lly got de message,” said Suzy. “Maybe he’s gone fo’ good.”

“Yep, Ah believe he is,” replied Kipp.

“Nick Bennett’s prob’ly off somewhere chasin’ behine a likka delivery truck on his bicycle,” answered Suzy.”

Kipp was silent.

“An’ den Eric wif dat nasty ass, conceited, nappy afro wearin' girlfren," said Suzy.  “Had dat small earring in huh nose. Said he was gonna ask huh ta marry him. What was her name?”

Kipp chuckled as he mentally pictured the woman with the large afro and the small earring in her right nostril. "Huh name was Julia or Judy. Sumfin like ‘at.

“Yeah Julia Loop,” said Suzy. “Loopty loop.” She laughed.

“Anyway, Eric said dat nose ring was huh way of bein' in touch wif huh blackness or some foolishness like ‘at. Ah jus' thought it made huh look like a damn fool."

"Ah kep’ waitin' fo' huh ta sneeze," said Suzy. "Wanted ta see if de earring would move or sumfin."

"An' you call me silly an' crazy," a smiling Kipp said. "Ah thought dere was more peppa on de food den use'al. An' why you axed huh if she was 'llergic ta anythang."

"Ah'm innacent," said Suzy, with a wink, holding up her hand, as if she were taking an oath. "Girl Scouts honor."

"You was nevva in de Girl Scouts," said Kipp. "Dey could'na survived you."

Suzy laughed. "But jus' be glad she didn't sneeze or dat earring mighta flew outta huh nose an' put somebody's eye out."

Kipp laughed and said, “Eric thought he was in love.  But she was all phony niceness. Den when she knew she had him, he fount out what a conniving woman she was. But, he was too caught up ta git outta dat sit’ation.”

“Ah knew dat,” said Suzy. “Ah knew dat. Ah could see by de way dey talked ta an’ acted towards one annuvver. A woman cain sense deese thangs.”

“Den one day, she up an’ tole ‘im she got a job in California an’ was movin’ out dere.  Said he was welcome ta come along, but wevver he did or not, she was still goin’.”

“Ah’m glad he said, ‘good riddance.’ Wif huh high an’ mighty important actin’ self," said Suzy.

“Ah’ll call Eric later an’ tell ‘im ‘bout the cookout we gon have,” said Kipp. “Dat way he cain see everybody at de same time when he gits down hair.”

Bullock Inn. He saw the hustle and bustle of people moving about and thought to himself, "I’ll be damned if these country folks don’t get up early." He smiled.

Eric showered, shaved and dressed. He put on a Washington Redskins jersey that Kipp had given him for his birthday several years ago, a pair of blue jeans and some sneakers. Despite wanting to smell nice for Tracey, he passed on putting on any cologne. Years ago, Kipp warned him that using cologne for an outdoor summer event in the country would turn him into an all-day mosquito magnet. He decided that the scent of the inn-supplied Ivory soap would have to do.

Ross Diner for breakfast. Although he knew that Suzy and Kipp would be a bit upset with him for not coming to their house for breakfast, he always hated showing up anywhere hungry. This was true even if it was the house of people who considered him to be family. On top of that, having eaten at the diner on several other occasions, he'd been thinking about a Ross Diner breakfast ever since he'd left New York.

After he finished eating, Eric decided to drive around Creston to kill time - - it was only eleven o'clock - - and to take in the country sights and air. Over the years, he had become quite familiar with many of Creston's main roads and backroads. He planned to stop at the local Safeway supermarket to buy some beer and a local State-owned and -operated Alcohol Beverage Control outlet - - colloquially referred to as the “ABC store” - -  to pick up a bottle of rum and a bottle of vodka for the cookout.

As he drove along Main Street, Eric, who was listening to Howard University's radio station, WHUR, smiled as he saw that both black and white people, almost all of whom were strangers to him, greeted him with waves and "hellos." This was one of things he missed when he returned to New York City.  Creston was a special place and could certainly be his special place.

Now, driving on the outskirts of Creston, he entered Mattaponi, a large, heavily wooded area. A large Native American population once resided in this part of Virginia, and had remained there even after European settlers had moved in nearby. For the most part, the Native Americans and the settlers got along well, with each respecting the others’ territories. Eventually, however, all of the Native Americans moved further out west.

During one of his fall visits to Creston, Eric, Kipp and two of Suzy’s brothers, Harold and Junebug, had gone deer hunting in Mattaponi. Eric remembered how during a break for lunch, he'd remarked to them that with all the trees, and hidden nooks and crannies in Mattaponi, you could kill someone, hide the body and they'd never be found.

Kipp laughed and said, "Now, Ah know you really are from New Yawk City. Only a New Yawka could look pass de beauty o’ God’s work an’ see a place ta hide uh corpse." They all began laughing at the mixture of truth and absurdity in what both men had said.

In the early afternoon, when Eric finally arrived at the cookout, Suzy’s parents, Tommy and Anne, were already there. Like a lot of people invited to an event where the majority of the other guests would be younger than they, Tommy and Anne arrived early and left early.

He walked over to where Kipp was working to get the charcoal grill started.

“Hey, man, how are ya? Good ta see ya,” Kipp said, as he extended his hand. The two men shook hands. “Didja git a good night’s sleep?”

"Yep. Didn’t get into Creston from D.C. til almost eleven last night. But, slept like a baby the minute my head hit the pillow,” Eric replied. “Must be something about this country air.”

“Good. An’ if thangs work out, you’ll be gittin’ plenty of it,” said Kipp.

“I’ll fill you in later on that. In the meantime, where you want me to put this beer?”

"Dat big blue an' white coola nex' ta de table ova dere," replied Kipp, as he pointed towards a small, rectangular table. “Brang me a cold one an’ git one fo’ yo’self.”

“I’m going to hold off for a bit before I start,” said Eric, walking to the cooler. He began putting the beer inside of it, then reached down through the ice until he found a beer with some chill on it. He walked back towards Kipp.

"Need any help with that grill?” he asked, as he handed Kipp the can of beer.

"Naw, Ah got it," replied Kipp. "But you'd betta go ova an' say, 'hey' ta Mr. Carter. He's been askin' 'bout-chu."

Eric smiled and walked over to the table where Tommy and Anne were sitting.

"Nice to see you again, Mr. and Mrs. Carter," said Eric, offering his hand to Tommy.

Tommy smiled broadly, stood, pushed Eric's hand aside and embraced him in a hug. "Boy, don't you evva try ta shake ma hand! You fam'ly!" he said in his gravel-voiced loudness.

"Tommy, stop!" said Mrs. Carter. "You gon hurt de man."

As much as Eric liked and appreciated Tommy's demonstration of affection, he did feel as if he were being crushed. Tommy relaxed the hug and released him. After catching his breath, Eric shook Mrs. Carter's extended hand and leaned to kiss on her on the cheek. When Eric looked over his shoulder, he could see Kipp grinning.

Stevie came out of the house with a bag of ice in each hand. "Hi, Uncle Eric," he said, as he began filling a cooler with ice.

"Hey, Stevie! How’s my main man?" said Eric, crossing to where the boy was filling two coolers with ice; he and Stevie shook hands. "You’re getting so tall.  You’ll be taller than me an’ your father by Christmas."

Stevie blushed and replied. “Maybe. Ah’m goin’ out for the basketball team nex’ fall.”

“Tell ‘im de uvver good news,” said Kipp, with pride in his voice.

“Oh yeah. Ah got ma driver’s license las’ week,” said Stevie.

Eric grabbed the boy and gave him a hug. “Congratulations! You’ll probably be a better driver than your father.”

"Ah heard dat, you troublemakin' New Yawka," shouted a grinning Kipp.  “Now, Ah’ll nevva git ta drive my own car.”

Eric reached into his pants pocket and handed Stevie a twenty-dollar bill. "Here’s a little gift to celebrate."

"Dat's alright, Uncle Eric," said Stevie, “You don't haveta gimme anythang."

"Boy, you'd better take this twenty, before it ends up in the cash register at the ABC store when we need another bottle of booze." Eric laughed. The boy smiled and reluctantly took it.

“Ah should git halfa dat,” said Kipp. “Who do ya think was in de passenger seat whennat boy was firs’ learnin’ howta drive an’ was runnin’ all up in people’s front yards over dere rosebushes an’ lawn furniture?”

Eric, Kipp and Stevie laughed. A blushing Stevie said, “C’mon Dad. You didn’t haveta tell dat part.”

Eric patted Stevie on the shoulder and said, “Don’t pay no mind to that old man.” He then walked back to where Kipp was working at the grill.

“Hey, Eric!” shouted Suzy, as she emerged from the house, with the front porch screendoor slamming behind her.” She walked down the three porch steps and placed the aluminum foil-covered tray she was carrying on a picnic table.  She walked over to Eric and gave him a hug.

“That was a gentler hug than the one your father gave me,” said Eric.  “I might need back surgery if he hugs me again.”

Suzy laughed.

"How'dja meetin' go yestaday?" asked Kipp.

"Got good news. I was savin’ it til I saw y’all in person," Eric replied. "My company won the contract to clean those military installations.”

“You crazy bastard,” said a grinning Kipp. “You shoulda tole us dat over de phone. Congratulations!” He and Suzy walked to where Eric was standing and hugged him simultaneously.

“I'll be relocating to Manassas as Regional Director." The town of Manassas was located twelve miles north of Creston.

"That's great! You'll be closer ta us," said Kipp. "An' Tracey, too." He smiled and winked at Eric."

"Behave yo'self, Perry Smoot," scolded Suzy. "How'd j'all hair 'bout de contrac' in de firs’ place, Eric?"

"One of them full o' shit politicians in New York is drinkin' buddies with my boss," Eric replied.

"Dem D.C. gov'ment folks can be a real piece uh work sometimes," interjected Kipp. "So much burro'cratic bullshit."

"Yep," agreed Eric. "At the final meeting, had one guy in there askin' a lot of questions. Think his name was Maurice Knightly or somethin'. Anyway, seemed like he was askin' questions not so much as to learn anything, but to embarrass me. To trip me up. I hate people like that."

"Ah know whatchu mean," said Suzy. "You want me ta sen' Harold an' Junebug downnair ta whip his ass?"

All three of them laughed. Despite her laughter, Eric could see the seriousness in Suzy's eyes. Kipp had warned him that the Carters, both males and females, loved to fight. As Eric had driven from Washington, D.C. to Creston alone, he'd had plenty of time to dwell on and brood about Maurice Knightly. During the drive, his utter dislike for the man had grown exponentially.

They turned towards the sound of a white, Chevrolet Nova pulling into the dirt and gravel driveway. It was Tracey's car.

“Ah was ‘bout ta give up on you, girl,” shouted Suzy, as she began walking towards the car.

Tracey emerged from the car and walked to a back passenger door. She reached into the backseat and removed a large aluminum tray. When Suzy reached her, Tracey handed it to her and said, “Betta git dis potato salad in de fridge.”

“By de way,” said Suzy. “How many outfits didju try on knowin’ Eric was gon be hair?”

Tracey blushed and replied, “Jus’ one. A halter top and some short shorts. But, den Ah thought ‘bout Daddy an’ Mama an’ Ah figgered dis one was de safest.”

She was wearing a pair of blue jean dungarees, a gray tee-shirt and open-toed sandals.

“Ah ain’t showin’ nuffin, am Ah?” Tracey asked her older sister.

“Naw, girl, but dem jeans is kinda tight on you,” Suzy said smiling. “Ah cain see yo’ crack peekin’ through de seam.”

“Shut up,” said Tracey. “Ah put on a few pounds ova de winta. You don’t thank Daddy’s gonna say anythang, do you?”

“Naw, Ah was jus’ playin’ wif you,” replied Suzy.

Both sisters laughed.

 “Did Eric tell y’all de good news?” asked Tracey.

“Fine’lly,” said Suzy. “Why didn’t you tell me? Ah know y’all always talkin’.”

Tracey smiled and said, “He begged me not ta run my mouf. Said he wanted ta tell you an’ Kipp de good news hisself an’ in person.”

“Well you damn sho did a good job uh keepin’ his secret,” said Suzy. “Ah thank you kinda like ‘at man.”

Before a blushing Tracey could reply, Eric walked to where the two sisters were standing.

“Hey, Tracey. Nice to see you.”

“Speakin’ of de devil,” said Tracey.

“What?” asked Eric.

“Nuffin,” replied Suzy. “Tracey was jus’ sayin’ she was lookin’ fo’ward ta seein’ you.” She winked and smiled at Tracey.

Eric shrugged his shoulders. “Do you need a hand with that tray, Suzy?”

“No, Ah got it. Lemme go put dis in de fridge an’ check on de corn puddin’, anyways. Y’all behave now,” she laughed and began walking away.

Eric moved closer to Tracey; they were now only a few feet apart.

"Hey, there Mister New Yawka,” said Tracey, as she reached over and tugged at the hem of his Washington Redskins jersey. “Ah see you got de right shirt on fo’ bein’ ‘round hair. But, Ah know you’ll catch hell up dere if you wear dat shirt uppair in New Yawk.”

“Naw, that’s one of the great things ‘bout livin’ up there. Folks root for teams for all over the country.  Matter of fact, some of my friends are Dallas Cowboys fans.”

Tracey formed an X with her arms. “Don’t say de name of dat team ‘round daddy.  He’ll fight you fo’ sho.” She laughed. The Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys had been longtime National Football League eastern division rivals.

Eric smiled and put one hand over his lips.

“How long you gon be in town?” asked Tracey.

“I’m leavin’ Monday afternoon,” Eric replied. “Need to finalize some things in New York to get ready for my relocation.”

“Are ya excited?” asked Tracey.

“Yeah a little bit,” said Eric. “It’s a big deal for me, but New York’s only about three hundred miles away, so I’ll still be able to visit my family and friends regularly.”

“Glad ta hear dat.”

“I’ll be back by the end of the week,” replied Eric. “Start interviewing local people for some of the custodial jobs we’re going to have. We put an ad in the Democrat.” The Lennix Democrat was a weekly newspaper that served Lennix County, as well as several other counties in northern Virginia.  “We’re renting one of Biggie Langer’s offices.”

“Sounds like you got it all worked out,” replied Tracey. “Didju fine a place ta live yet?”

,” said Eric. “Going to check them out when I get back. In the meantime, my company’s paying for me to stay at the Bullock.”

“Maybe Ah’ll come over an’ brang you dinner sometimes,” said Tracey.

“Dessert, too?” asked Eric with a wink.

“Maybe if you’re a good boy,” said a smiling Tracey.

“When do you go back to work?” asked Eric.

“Ah’m off til Monday night. Phyllis Mann switched shifts wif me, so Ah don’t haveta work dis weekend.”

“Phyllis is a nice girl,” said Eric. “

“Den why ‘ontchu intraduce huh to some of your New Yawk buddies?”

“Shoot! I may want to take her out myself,” replied Eric. “I ain’t tryin’ to bring no competition into the picture from up north. Especially, after I move down this way.”

Tracey poked her tongue out at Eric.

“You do that again an’ I’m gonna bite that tongue.”

“Ooh! My daddy heard dat an’ is lookin’ right atchu.”

Eric looked around slowly.  He saw Big Dusty talking to Marshall Powell; he wasn’t paying any attention to the couple.

“Gotchu!” said Tracey.

Eric smiled. “Would’na mattered anyway, because your father considers me ta be family”.

Tracey rolled her eyes and smiled. “Yeah, like uh retarded fifteenf or twentief cousin. He knows whatchu city fellas are up to.”

“An’ what’s that?”

“Findin’ some country gal who’ll let you kiss huh.”

“Are you that country girl?” asked Eric, as he took a step closer to Tracey.

Tracey blushed and replied, “Maybe. Stick around an’ you jus’ might fine out.”

They both laughed.

Kipp, who had filled the top shelf of one grill with pieces of seasoned chicken, decided to take a break.  He sat down in a lawn chair and reached into the cooler for a beer.

“Damn if it ain’t gittin’ hot out hair,” he thought to himself, as removed the top of the bottle with an opener.

He was smiling as he watched Eric and Tracey talk, laugh and flirt.

Safeway and into the shopping center’s expansive parking lot, pushing a shopping cart filled with bags of groceries.

He heard someone shout, “Hey, bruvv-law. Wair ya headed?”

When Kipp turned towards the voice he saw that it was Nick Bennett walking towards him. He wished he could just get in his car and drive away, but it wasn’t in his nature to be nasty and rude.  “Hey, Nick,” he replied.  “Jus’ headin’ home. Need a ride o’ sumfin?”

“Naw, bruvv-law,” he said when he was closer. “Ah got ma bicycle.” Months earlier, Nick’s driving license had been revoked, because he’d been caught driving intoxicated one too many times. Now, he either walked, hitchhiked or rode his bicycle around Creston.  “Ah could use a little help gittin’ a bottle, if ya got it.”

Kipp reached into his pocket and handed Nick a five-dollar bill.

“Thanks, man. Ah really ‘preciate dis.”

Kipp got into his car, started the engine and rolled down the car’s driver window.

Nick continued. “Tell Suzy dat me an’ Tracey gon’ have y’all ova fo’ dinna one Sunday, okay?”

Kipp said, “Will do. An’ you be careful out hair.  Deese young boys are simple as hell. Rob an’ hurtchu ova nuffin.”

“Okay,” said Nick, as he waved, turned and walked in the direction of the ABC store.

Kipp shook his head, put the car in reverse, backed up and then drove out of the parking lot.

When he ran into Tracey a few days later, she told him that Nick’s drinking had gotten totally out of control.  Even more importantly, while in a heated argument, he had punched her in the stomach, making her vomit onto their livingroom floor. She begged him not to tell Suzy or anyone else in the family about the incident.  He reluctantly agreed to what she asked of him.

Not long after hearing Tracey’s story, late one Sunday night, Kipp, in his pick-up truck, was driving home from Alexandria after taking one his elderly aunts home; she had come to dinner with him, Suzy and Stevie.  As they weren’t as well-lit as the bypass highway, using the backroads between Creston and Alexandria was somewhat dangerous. These roads, however, had shortcuts and had less traffic, thereby shaving over twenty minutes off the trip between the two towns. As he rounded the bend on Prager Road, Kipp saw a lone figure walking along the embankment. When he got closer, he realized it was Nick.

When he was alongside Nick, he pulled over to the side of the road. “Hey, Nick,” Kipp shouted. Upon hearing the pick-up truck’s driver’s voice and recognizing it as Kipp’s, Nick jogged up to the passenger side window.

“Bruvv-law!” said Nick. “Wair you comin’ from dis time-a night?”

“Had ta drop off ma Aunt Virginia down in Alexandria,” replied Kipp. “Git in.”

Nick climbed into the pick-up truck’s cab. The smell of alcohol, barbecue charcoal and body odor suddenly filled the truck.

As he was driving back onto the road, Kipp asked, “Whatchu doin’ prowlin’ ‘round out hair dis time-a night onna Sunday?”

“Ah was down-at a cookout in Bristol,” responded Nick; his speech was slurred.  Bristol was a small town several miles outside of Creston. “Hadda a few drainks wif some frens, but dey ran out of booze, so Ah was goin’ ta Duke’s ta see if Ah could get a bottle or two on credit,” Nick replied with a mischievous grin; his breath reeked of alcohol.  Parker “Duke” Sharp was one of the area’s bootleggers. “Caught a flat tire an’ hadta leave ma bike in some bushes back-air.”

“Hell, it’s damn near ten o’clock,” said Kipp. “You sho’ Duke’s still up?”

“Yeah,” said Nick. “Ah didn’t call ‘im, cause Ah figgered he’d be more inclined ta help out a man who had walked all de way down hair ta see ‘im.”

Kipp laughed.

7-Eleven ta try ta talk some sense inta yo’ sista-in-law ‘bout dis whole damn divorce thang. Her shift starts at eleven.”

Kipp felt himself go cold, as he continued driving.

“Ah know she didn’t mean ta do it, cause she knows how much she loves me,” said Nick. “If she takes me back, Ah’ll show huh what a good man Ah cain be.”

“You sho’ you wanna go out dere ta talk to huh?” asked Kipp. “She might git inta some kinda of trouble or sumfin.”

“Yeah, but Ah know it’s de onliest place she cain’t walk away from me, cause she’s workin’ an’ hasta stay in de place.”

“What about de customers?” asked Kipp. “You don’t want dem all in y’all’s private business like-‘at.”

“Ta hell wif ‘em,” exclaimed Nick. “Ah couldn’t give two shits if dem muvvafuckers innat sto’ or not. Ah want ma damn wife back!”

“Tracey might call de Sheriff on yo’ crazy ass,” said Kipp. “Didju evva think ‘bout dat?”

“Yep,” she did it de las’ time Ah was out dere. But, dey didn’t do nuffin except make me leave an’ promise not ta come back in de sto’. So Ah jus’ walked up de bypass a little bit ‘til dey lef’, waited awhile, an’ den went back innair.”

“What happened den?”

“De bitch’s  - - ‘scuse ma French - - manager came out, gave me a few dollas an’ made me leave,” answered Nick. “He hadda pistol on his hip, too. Ah thank he useta be a Deputy Sher’ff at one time or anuvver. Cracka bastard.” Nick laughed. “So, Ah walked on downta Big Kellogg’s ta git a bottle.” Big Kellogg, like Duke Sharp, was a local bootlegger.

Nick continued. “Den Ah walked over ta Knotty’s, had a few drainks wif him an’ spent de night sleepin’ on his raggedy ass couch.”

As they neared Duke’s house, both men could see that all the lights in the house were off. It was pitch black in the surrounding area. The sound of crickets could be heard coming from the darkness. Kipp drove the truck off to the side of the road and came to a halt in front of Duke’s house.

“Shit!” exclaimed Nick. ”Well, Ah’ll be damned.”

“Whatchu gon do now?” asked Kipp.

“Guess Ah’ll swing by Kellogg’s,” said Nick. “He’s always up all time-a night doin’ sumfin.”

Kipp guided the truck back onto the small, narrow, dirt road and began driving again.

7-Eleven frommair.”

Kipp felt his body go tense. “Why ‘on’t chu jus’ git yo’ bottle an’ go on over ta Knotty’s. Let Tracey alone tanight.”

“Cain’t do dat,” said Nick. “Wanna show huh how serious Ah am ‘bout gittin’ back tagevver wif huh. But you know, ‘tween you an’ me, sometimes deese women jus’ don’t wanna listen. Dat’s when you gotta fine uvver ways uh gittin’ dere attention. Know what Ah mean, bruvv-law?”

It was after that last statement that Kipp made his decision. “Befo’ Ah drop you off at Kellogg’s, Ah need ta swing by Scottie’s near Mattaponi ta pick up ma fishin’ pole Ah lef’ in de back of his car. Ah tole ‘im Ah’d come by on de way back from Alexandria.”

“No problem,” answered Nick. “Tracey’s shift don’t start til eleven, so Ah’m jus’ gon res’ ma head back an’ think ‘bout what Ah’ma say ta huh.”

“Alrighty den,” said Kipp, as he drove towards Mattaponi.



Kipp felt the presence of someone standing behind him. When he looked back, he saw Suzy looking towards their driveway at Tracey and Eric; she had her hands on her hips and a big smile on her face.

“It’s nice ta see dat,” she said, when she looked down to see Kipp looking at her.

“Sho’ is,” Kipp replied.

“Ah jus’ hope dat Julia or Judy or whatevva de hell huh name was an’ dat drunken bastard, Nick don’t come back an’ ruin thangs fo’ ‘em.”

“Baby girl, Ah tole you Nick ain’t comin’ back,” said Kipp. He then thought to himself, “He’s in his special place.”

# # #

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