Sofie was naked, of course, having stripped off her clothing as soon as she returned from the fabric store. She didn’t bother transferring the eggs to a plate. She stood over them, eating from the skillet. Besides there was no one to talk to but herself and, right now, the way she was feeling, it was good enough.
Perhaps it was the opium coursing through her that made them so beautiful. Little fried eggs showing up like new suns, waiting to be devoured. Her fork pierced the middle, the yellow sunrays spreading throughout the pan like a new day. The sight was so fascinating; she hesitated before taking a bite. But yes, eat the new day, Savor and enjoy. The egg slid down her eager throat. Taking the remaining butter from beside the stove, she smeared it on her arms, then her breasts. She was a new egg on a new day.
Here I go again, on the way back to Sweetwater. Not to get a donkey but to shoot Sunshine, My Only Sunshine.
Driving down the highway, Aunt Nolie doesn’t talk much, at least not with her mouth. She clutches that steering wheel like she’s about to squeeze all the Texas sand and Grit out of it and that’s a whole conversation in itself.
We finally get to Sweetwater and park in front of the Lucky Star Bar.
“Cono, ye wait right here.”
“OK,” I say, since I’ve already met the woman, who’s about to be shot anyway.
I sit in the car, again. I watch the people come and go, again, except this time, the ones that had been going were coming and the ones that had been coming were now going. I wait for the sound of a gunshot, the sound I’ve become familiar with when I hunt with my dad. I wait alright ‘cause there’s nothing else for me to do.
Finally in the safety of my own room, where the roving tourists of mourners are not allowed to venture, I can place the nib of my Quill into the waiting black ink upon my desk, the desk Papa made for me then carved his initials on the bottom left corner as an artist signs a canvas. If I do not write down these things I will surely go mad. There is much to say.
Although Papa rarely wrote words upon a page, he has always encouraged me to do so. He says I have a talent for such things, for placing thoughts into words and packaging them safely on the empty page as if the page were a box for keepsakes.
The windows are open and the summer breeze floats across my bed like a puff of air that puckers and ends up whistling out a happy tune. Anything bad that might have happened during the day has been blown on through. I hear the sound of the train chugging by ever so often. The kaPluck, kaplunk of the oil wells pump like they’re helping to push the blood through my veins. That’s when I start to get sleepy.
And when I hear that nicker that Polo makes? I know I’m almost out like Lottie’s eye. Tomorrow, I’ll ride him like a wild Indian.
The morning shows up and knocks on my window like a redbird pecking at his own reflection and I know that Pa has already put in a half of days of work. Pa’s a real good man and a real good farmer. Gallasses help to hold up his pants, since he got ruptured on a bucking horse early on. Pa said, “That horse swallered his head n’all. I must’a had the reins too tight.” Pa keeps going like nothing ever happened. He doesn’t believe in “bellyaching.” He says, “Thar ain’t no room fer it.” The sound of no bellyaching is music to my ears. That’s one thing I’m glad there ain’t no room for.
After Miss Primrose’s words, the students Dash outside to breathe in the real world.
“Scoot? Want to go to the swimming hole to look for Frank? If he’s there, we can’t stay long. Your Mama will have a hissy fit if we’re late coming home.”
His eyes light up. “Grab your muskets, boys!” he shouts. Then, for the first time today, he pulls out his blues harp. As he plays, his cheeks puff out and suck in, puff out, and suck in like what I picture a blowfish doing.
As we walk to the swimming hole, I think about my birthday even though I don’t want to. Without Mama, it wouldn’t even be a birthday. It would be a few friends, a cake and presents without promise. Now I have to talk to The Secret Keepers, Miss Helen or Miss Delores. If they know where Mama is, maybe they can send word that I refuse to turn twelve without her.
This train has its rhythm going now. The Passengers have settled in, most are trying to sleep, just to make the time pass. I lay my head up against the hard window and watch as San Antone starts to slowly slip by. I close my eyes to see if I can nod off like everybody else, but it’s only an idea. Sleep is knocked out by that presence in the seat next to me. More memories keep nudging me, crowding me up against the ropes, where none of my boxing defense skills seem to work. No, these are stronger opponents. They jab my chin, then power punch me in the gut. It’s more painful than a broken nose. They make me remember.