I sure hope I don't get like my Mambo when I grow up.
'Arletta, feed them chickens, ya hearing me? And be good to that
cockerel. He'll be needing special attention now, 'cause I'm wanting
him well fed and wild this Saturday.'
She knows I'm watching her wiggling o! to parade herself, halfdressed
and rouged all over. 'Cheap devil Mambo and no panties,'
that's what Pappy used to say, and about his own daughter, too.
Ain't nobody ever put no stop to Mambo when she's planning on
It's gonna be a dark moon this Saturday, that's what she's talking
about. She's gonna get outta that tight frock of hers and get herself
all done up in sparkling white. Ain't gonna be nobody like her. I hear
folks say ain't never been anybody like my Mambo.
Out on the front step of our cabin I finish drying my hair with a
cotton rag and stop sni"ing on account of Mambo leaving me here by
my lonesome again. Sni"ing ain't any use anyways. She's o! parading
herself just like Pappy said she's good for, hanging out and dancing
all night in one of them juke joints, and coming home to our cabin
when she feels like it. Ain't got no mind about me.
We got two rooms in our old cabin. One we live in, though ain't
much in it, just our table and two wooden stools Pappy made a long
time ago when he was able. We got a beat-up old Tilley lamp Mambo
says it was once as blue as the sky, but now it's got all over with rust.
What food we have is laid out on the other end of our table ain't
ever much and down below is where we keep kindling for the pot.
We got a big shelf stuck up above the fireplace ain't much on that
neither, except the gourd we use for washing, Pappy's Bible, real worn
out with reading, and a box of matches I ain't s'posed to touch. We
got an old bucket placed outside of our back door that's all chipped
on the edges now, and four tin mugs, but one gets used for tallow since
Grandma passed away. And wooden bowls Pappy sliced o! a tree and
whittled down good till he says they got fit for using.
Pappy's rake and spade are laid out across the rafters now, gathering
dust and mighty cobwebs, 'longside a rusty old wheel he was gonna
use to make a handcart one of them days. Mambo keeps his saw and
box of nails up there too, but she ain't never opened that box and
there's a lot that needs a nail round here.
The threadbare chair we got in the corner needs fixing up too; don't
s'pose it ever will be, now Pappy's gone. That's where I curl up when I
need to be remembering him, even though that horsetail sure is prickly
coming through all them holes. Pappy said, 'When ticking need new
stu#ng, that's called upholstering, Arletta,' but ain't never get done.
Only other chair we got is his rocking chair out on our leaky porch.
Mambo and me share the other room in our cabin for sleeping. We
still got Pappy's old closet in there, and a dresser with proper drawers
down below and a big mirror on top that she got from one of
her fancy beaux 'cause his folks were turning it out for burning. He
brought it over here himself on the back of a cart and stayed for two
days. Mambo paying it o! I s'pose, with all that giggling. She's got
Pappy's bed now and the cot we used to share been moved into the
bedroom as well seems just to stu! the room up. We got too much
in one room and not enough in the other, but I ain't saying nothing.
When it's fine we cook out back under the boards Pappy nailed up
a long time ago. It leaks bad when it's raining though, and we take the
cooking grate in every night 'cause we're feared it might get taken. We
share a toilet with everybody else round here and the flies which the
gov'ment s'posed to send a truck for emptying every week. We get water
from the pipe on the side of the road, same as everybody else. When
Pappy was still living, he'd haul water from the pipe to our washtub out
back every day and wash me first. When it got cold he'd heat the water,
but Mambo says that time gone now and I gotta be doing for myself.
We're lucky having our cabin, Pappy used to say, and lucky we don't
have to be sharing it like in the old days. He says it got built bad, but
he fixed it up good and gave it a proper chimney and now it's gonna
stand for a hundred years. He planted plenty sweet potatoes and corn
out back, an orange tree and two fig trees on the side. Sometimes that
orange tree don't give good fruit if winter's been real cold, but we
always have figs in summer 'cause he'd keep them wrapped up from
frosty mornings. He was soft on eating figs, my Pappy.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...