Posted on April 29, 2015April 29, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair4.29.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Stand By Me April 29, 2015: They did this sometimes. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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They got so old now that they look better in pictures that is in black and white. That’s what they say. So old, they don’t care none how they dress, just so long as what they is wearing is comfortable and it didn’t cost a month’s wages to pay for it. And they take theys time over a beer, the longest time, making it last more than an hour, making it last till it ain’t cold no more and it’s lost its fizz and fluster.
They just sit out front, like it is theys own front porch and they watch the slow day growing old and they comment on the ladies passing and what they think they’d like to do to ‘em – if they was ten years younger, by which they mean twenty. And remarking on the kids and how kids today is different to kids yesterday – kids in theys day.
And they tell the same stories, over and over, without any of ‘em letting on that they’ve been told and heard before. Stories ‘bout when times was hard or harder and they didn’t have two pennies to rub together, nor even one penny, and they took any old job just so as they could put food on the table. Sometimes working three jobs at a time and getting paid in groceries or chickens or favours owed.
‘Course the stories they tell is a long road from truth these days, as is the way of stories told over and over, and they grow arms and legs in the telling and stand taller and taller each time. And they know what they say ain’t exactly so, but that don’t make no nevermind. They nod and laugh and choke on their beer and they slap their thighs and cuss and it’s like they had forgot and only just now remember.
And one story they tell and it’s ‘bout a boy called Trip and they lower theys voices when they tell it, each of ‘em having a part to say in what happened. And it was a dare is all it was, and kids don’t never refuse a dare, not then and not now, and Trip and the rest of ‘em had to cross the railway bridge that lies outside of the town and they had to do it knowing there was a train coming sometime.
First that I heard ‘em telling it, I thought it was a story like the rest and it was maybe bigger than it really was, too big for its britches or boots, too big by half. The train was a little earlier than it shoulda been, see, and they wasn’t all of ‘em across. And the train blowing steam and whistling or screaming for ‘em to get outta the way, ‘cept there was nowheres for ‘em to go, not ‘less they jumped from the bridge to the stoney canyon below.
Trip lost his footing and fell – and the old men stop to catch breath then – but the train couldn’t stop, and it ran right over or through him. One minute he was there, breathless and falling, and the next it was like he had never fucking been at all. They bow theys heads when they gets to the end of the story and they look to a chair set between ‘em that they keeps empty and a beer that sits on the table and is never drunk.
Like I said, I thought it was a story that was like all the rest, ‘till I looked it up in a old newspaper down at the library. And there it was, on the front page, all the little details, and the names and addresses, and a picture of the train stopped on the bridge, and not a word of what they told was a lie.
And I hear ‘em sometimes, theys voices lowered, and theys asking each other what they think Trip would make of things they is talking ‘bout, and asking what Trip would say to this or that. And in the stories they tell, some of ’em, they always give Trip the best girls, or the best lines, and I reckon as how they still miss him even though he’s been buried for more’n fifty years, and I reckon as ’em talking about him and the chair kept for him and the beer waiting, well it’s like they don’t really let themselves believe he is gone.