She Believed We had Robbed a Store


It was all that I could do to get up in the hollow with all that load but we finally made it and pulled into the parking spot beside the house. As usual, everybody in the hollow was eyeballing us as we drove in and parked.  Elaine and I got out of the car and walked into the house. May was sitting at the table that had been cleaned, for once and she was having a cup of coffee. I looked over at Blaine and snapped my fingers, saying, "That's the one thing I forgot to get, coffee."

I walked over to May and kissed her.  She looked up at me and said, "Well, did you score anything?"

I said, "Yeah, we managed to pick up a buck or two."   I started to unload my pockets and tossed a bunch of fives, tens, twenties and a dozen fifties onto the table.  

May took a look and in a kidding way,
said, "What in the hell did you guys do, rob a bank?"   I said, "No, but I got lucky."

By that time, the rest of the family was in the kitchen eyeballing the pile of scratch.

I said to her mother, "How about getting the kids to help us unload the groceries out of the car?   They're all yours, Mom."

The kids and her mother went to the car and started to tote the slabs of bacon, the bags of flour and all the cases of food (the neighbors were still watching) after the kids took in the last of the groceries. About a half hour later, a knock came on the door. May opened it and there stood a little girl with an empty cup in her hand and she said, "Mommy wants to know if she could borrow a cup of flour 'til tomorrow when daddy comes home."

Well, May took the cup, dipped it in a sack of flour and gave it to the girl.
A few more minutes passed and there was another knock. This time it was a boy saying, "Mom needs a piece of meat to cook her beans. She'll give it back when she gets her welfare check." Next was a teenaged girl wanting a couple of cigarettes, then another little girl wanting some coffee.

By that time I was fed up with handing out the food and said to May and her mother,, "What the hell do these people up here think that we are, the Salvation Army at Christmas? I got that food for us, not the whole damn community."

Her mother looked at me and said, "You told me that all the groceries were mine, is that right?"   I replied, "Yeah, that right."

"Then I guess that I can do whatever I want to do with them, can't I?" she said. I replied, "I guess so."

She said, "We all help one another up here in the holler once in a while. I don't think that we'll starve to death by letting somebody have a little bit of sugar, lard or flour. I run out of things once in a while and have to borrow, too. It took a few minutes to sink in, but I got the message loud and clear. She was right.

For the next week, every time a car came up the holler, May's mom was at the window, looking out, thinking it was the law coming to get Elaine and me. I think that until the day she died, she believed that Blaine and I had robbed a store somewhere.

To be Continued


Posted here courtesy of Midway Publications - Copyright 1999 William T. Usher All rights reserved


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