It was Mother who told me about Gene dying. Dad had found out when he was in town but gave Mother the job of breaking the news to me.
“Cono,” she said, “I got some bad news fer ye.”
I thought that maybe we’d have to move away again, away from Ike. Or that Delma was sick again.
“Yer little friend Gene has died, gone to heaven.”
I remember staring at her for the longest time. I remember going to Uncle Joe’s funeral and hearing about Wort Reynolds going to heaven without a head. But this was different. This was MY friend. This was Gene Davis who was only a year older than me.
“He went to Roby to the hospital ‘cause he had a pain in his side.”
I saw Gene and me playing checkers, riding on his mare, making up stories.
“It was a bad appendix, burst before the doctors could git to it.”
I thought Dad was right about one thing. Doctors were good for nothing’s. Couldn’t fix Dad, couldn’t fix Gene.
“When Uncle Joe died, why’d they say ‘ashes to ashes’?”
“I ain’t real sure, Cono. I think it has te do with the fact that we were born nothin’ and go right on back te bein’ nothin’.”
“So now Gene’s jes’t nothin?” I asked, getting upset that the world was going to pretend he never existed.
“Nah, he’s somethin’ alright. He’s jes’t back to being part of the Texas Soil ’sall.”
“That ain’t so bad, is it?”
“Nothin’ wrong with that.”
“But I don’t get te see him again?”
“Afraid not, Cono. I’m sorry,” she said.
And I still am.
I go into my room and pull out my box of specials. There’s the old lace from a boxing glove, the time when Gene put together that fight for me; my first fight with real gloves.
At school and in front of everybody Mr. Green says, “Cono found out that he’s lost a good friend. His name was Gene Davis and he lived in Rotan. Cono, I just want to tell you how sorry we are.”
I nod my head and look down at my desk.
I don’t quite understand it, doesn’t make no sense whatsoever that Gene is dead. I want to see him again. I want to laugh with him. I want him to pull me behind his mare in the red wagon. I want to beat him at checkers.
Mr. Green has told me I can do anything I want. He says I can. He says he knows I can. So I decide to write Gene a letter, send it up to God Jesus to give to him.
daily prompt: Soil