Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Jim

by Roy Beckemeyer

called himself a "big sumbitch." Cornpone version of Gable, hair
slicked back, bristly mustache. Two of the prettiest black and tan
coon hounds in the county. Had himself a passel of kids with
Mandy. None of those little boys got weaned till first grade. I can
still see the five-year-old stop off from playing, walk up to the card
table, tug at Mandy's sleeve. She'd unbutton her dress top and pull
out her tit and he'd stand, elbow on the table, head resting on his
hand, busily sucking away all through the next hand of cards. They
were of a height, dad and Jim. Dad was a bean-pole but all wire
and sinew. Quite a pair - the thick and thin of it; ran trotlines
together, sat in the front yard drinking beer in the lingering
August twilight. Sent us kids off with beer pails in our wagon to
fetch another round of Stag draft from La Paloma. Things broke
off when dad's blood went bad. Jim was not one who could be
around sick folks or doctors. Nurses gave him the shakes. He
wouldn't set foot in a hospital, even when Mandy was delivered of
the kids. So when dad had to go in, Jim stayed away. When we
called everyone in town to ask if they'd give blood, Jim wouldn't
even come to the phone. Let Mandy answer "You know Big Jim,
he just can't abide needles." He didn't care for funeral parlors
either, stayed out of church except on Sundays, wouldn't go near a
cemetery. It was months after dad had been set in the ground
when I saw Jim again. Backing out his front door, sack of dog
food under his arm, he saw me and stopped. Kind of hung his
head. "Gotta feed the hounds," he said, then turned away, just a
second too late to hide his big god-damned redneck tears.

First appeared in Music I Once Could Dance To, Coal City Press, 2014.

Roy Beckemeyer’s latest poetry collection is Mouth Brimming Over (Blue Cedar Press, 2019). Stage Whispers (Meadowlark Books, 2018) won the 2019 Nelson Poetry Book Award.  Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) comprised ekphrastic poems inspired by depictions of angels in works of modern art. Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. Beckemeyer lives in Wichita, Kansas, and is a retired engineer and scientific journal editor. His work has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards and was selected for Best Small Fictions 2019.