General Fiction posted November 8, 2017

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dialect story

Hunter's Moon

by LIJ Red

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
I woke up when my aging sooner, Shad, barked in the yard. It was near midnight, for the full moon was hanging high with a silver jet trail under its chin. A moon you could read newsprint by.

I listened to the motionless autumn night, and detected low voices from the direction of the public road. I left the bed and stood in the doorway, out of sight, gazing across the porch and steep strip of yard. The muttering voices carried far through the empty hills.

An old car was stopped in the mailman's tracks by my mailbox.

"Who's that?" I yelled. My voice is not what you would call tender and reassuring.

"M'name's Odie Chester, it's me 'n' m' wife Maudine 'n' our three young'uns. We hain't gon' bother nuthin'."

"Yer botherin' m' dog. Hush, Shad."

Shad got louder.

"We er sorry, sir, we's run plumb outa gas."

"Git on up here. Ack like y' know me so Shad'll shet up."

The whole clan weighed about fifty pounds more than I did. Odie a hundred and thirty pounds, Maudine about eighty and the three kids about thirty each. Sorry, seedy looking crackers, and ragged as kraut.

"Under th' porch is my plastic gas can, got a couple gallonsa mower fuel at'll get watery afore spring. Put it in ye damn old junk an' get outa my sight." I said, letting them get a look at the Ruger Vaquero 44-40 I had sticking in my waistband.

Odie pounced on the can. "Lordy, hit's nigh full. I hain't got but jis' a dollar er two--"

"Don't want ye money. Want my dog t'shaddup so I kin sleep."

He scuttled across the yard with the gas can. I hollered, "Hey, them kids eat 'nanner san'wiches?"

"Does uh bear shit in th' woods?" Maudine said. "They ain't had no supper yit."

"Git in thishere trailer an' fix 'em one. My ol' nanners is a-turnin' black an' th' bread's harder'n a preacher's pe-- heart."

I poured a glass of soda pop and sat down on the ratty couch. "Let'em finish th' two liters a coly. Damn stuff's goin' flat."

Maudine found bread and bananas on the table, the butcher knife in the dish drainer by the sink and the mayo in the fridge and made three sandwiches.

"Kin I make one fer Pa?" she asked in a tiny voice.

"Make yeself one, too. Paper cups er on top o' th' fridge."

The kids gripped the cups and the sandwiches like they were sacred relics. Then they made them magically vanish.

Odie was back. "I putchee can where I got hit. 'sempty now."

"Maudine, left ah th' sink they's a packa them new peanut butter twinkie thangs. Ont thank they fer shit. Give 'em t' ye kids," I said.

She snatched the flimsy cardboard pack.

"Now will y'all get ta hail outa here an' lemme sleep," I said.

"If they's ary God, he's gonna hear 'bout you," Odie said as they left. "We stayed too long, tryin' t' find work, tryin' t' hang on t' th' place. Weren't no jobs an' they foreclosed an' now we goin' ta Memphis, I hear they's work there. Always said I warn't takin' no charity, but looks like I may havta..."

"Yeah, get in line with all them fat-aissed women with woods colts an' whop down them food stamps," I said. "Good luck, Chester."

Maudine was doling out twinkies as they walked through the glorious moonlight.

The old car starter wound and ground for a while, then the engine fired and they eased away. Shad stretched out on the porch and sighed.

I turned on the TV. There was a re-run of Hootenanny on, kinda grainy and tinny. Peter, Paul and Mary were singing.
One night as I lay on my pillow
moonlight as bright as the dawn
I saw a man come a-walkin'
he had a long chain on

"Shit," I said. I turned the TV off and went to bed.

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