Scoots’ hand in mine, we walk home from school. His other hand blows a new harmonica, one of many Miss Helen bought at Johnson’s Variety.
He’s getting better at playing “Has Anybody Seen My Gal.” He misses notes sometimes, but now I can almost sing along without hour-long Pauses between the words.
“You like playing, Scoot?”
He takes the harp from his mouth and wipes it on his sleeve like a real musician. “Like DeFord Bailey.”
“Who’s Difford Bailey?”
“DeFord Bailey. Best ever. That’s gonna be you someday, Scooter,” he says in a Frankish-enough voice I have to laugh. “DeFord had polio. Polio. Like me.”
“You never had polio, Scooter.”
“DeFord learned anyway,” he says, straight in my eyes.
And then I know. Scooter understands that, unlike most folks in Holly Gap, Frank believes in his abilities to learn.
Scoot drops my other hand and uses both to play us home.
Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket