Debt (Orphans)

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I found half a chicken, a few leftover roasted potatoes, onions and eggs. I mixed them together to make some hash. It was frying in a hot pan of lard as I mixed up some hot water corn bread.  While I was doing this Billy kept looking out the back door toward the field. “I best be getting back before Ole Pete comes back.”

“Ain’t you hungry?” I asked, stirring the thick meal while my stomach rumbled, looking at him. He nodded. “Then set right there until I get finish.”  I made my voice sound like Mama whenever Papa wanted to run off to that watering hole in the woods.

“But Ole Pete told me to have that plot of land turned over by sunset,” Billy said, fidgeting. His long legs were bouncing up and down like a jack rabbit about to run off. I could tell he was torn. He wanted somethin’ more to eat, but he also wanted to get that field done for Ole Pete. I wondered somethin’ so I asked, “Why come you wurk for Pete?

I was removing the savory hash from the hot pan and putting it on a plate so I didn’t see him licking his lips.   I dropped more lard in the pan before placing my hand into the meal. I began to make patties of corn bread, throwing each thick patty into the hot pan, so they can sizzle to a golden brown.

“Causing he took me in, when I ain’t have nothing, I reckon.”   I turn to look at Billy; he was staring at the plate of hash. I took two of the corn breads out of the pan and put them on his plate, before pushing some hash over on it too. I turn to hand him the heavy loaded plate. “You ain’t got no family?” I asked making more bread.

“I’s ain’t never know.” Billy said forking the hash into his mouth.  “How you don’t know?”  He shrugged, but I didn’t see him. “I’s ain’t never had family, been on my own since I was four.” I put the last of the corn bread on the plate and turned off the stove. “Everybody got a Mama, Papa.” I wiped the sweat from my face and put some of that hash and two corn breads on my plate. I thought of my own Mama and Papa and how they just sent me away. I ain’t got  family either.‘ Well I’s don’t,” Billy said.

I sat next to Billy and for a short time we ain’t said a word, just ate. The hash was good and I used the last of the bread to sop up the remains. I wanted more, but Old Pete had to eat too. “That be mighty good ma’am…huh, Syreeta.”

“Thank you Billy.” We sat there for a moment just looking at each other. I ain’t never seen eyes like his, no sir not ever. They made me feel funny inside.

“Well, I best be going back to the field,” Billy said smiling. “Thank you kindly Syreeta.”

I just nodded, but smiled back as we both stood. He headed for the door while I took the plates off the table, and that’s when we heard it. A loud explosion that shock everything.

Copyright © 2013 Glynis Rankin

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