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The Snuff Bucket...REvised
by dee stewart
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The Snuff Bucket

An autumn wind whistles softly in the air as goldenrod, copper, and red-purple leaves trickle from the sky. The foliage complements the manicured lawns of the south Georgian town. Emerald carpet-like grass coupled with towering southern magnolia trees, red maples and flowering dogwoods makes Valdosta a romantic wonder to behold.

The leaves dance toward Main Street. They stop in front of the shiny green wood doors of the town’s most reputable jeweler, Giradin’s. A new wind forms a funnel near the entrance, which takes those leaves into the gale.

Busy shoppers clutch their windbreakers close to their chest and hold their hats tight to the head. Although the Valdosta citizens praise the beauty of the landscaping, they constantly complain about the autumn windstorms. On days like these many Valdostans frown at the falling leaves and just stay inside.

However, I, Candace Parker, stand amidst this leaf shower tickled pink. Today I pick my engagement ring. Did you hear me? My engagement ring…and tonight I announce the good news to my family and friends at Sojourner’s Coffehouse. I can not help, but take a deep breath of this crisp autumn air and relish this moment.

“What a beautiful day,” I raise my hands, tilt my head to the sky and twirl my body round and round like the falling leaves. “Wheeeeeeee”.

A year ago I thought that I would be an old maid. Shoot my whole family thought the same thing. After spending the last ten years of my life pursuing an education and career. I never had time to date let alone fall in love.

During a commercial shoot for Phillips Arena I met Brian Lissimore, the love of my life. He was a rookie right defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons. This commercial was his first; so he was a bit nervous. He kept twirling his SEC championship ring. I instantly put his mind at ease by reminiscing with him about his glory days at Valdosta High School and the University of Georgia. A man loves his ego stroked every now and then. After that we were joined at the hip. We were engaged after only a year of dating.

I have waited for this moment a long time. I dreamed of Prince Charming, since I was sixteen years old. Today marked the beginning of my fairy tale ending or so I thought.

“Happy Thanksgiving. Welcome to Girardin’s,” greets the store clerk. He holds the door open for Brian and myself. After a quick glance the greeter recognizes Brian. ”Nice to see you, Mr. Lissimore”.

“You know…” Brian chuckles, ”it’s good to be seen.” He gives the greeter a hard handshake.

"This place is beautiful just like in my dreams," My eyes twinkle and I ignore Brian’s arrogant remark. Like I said a man has to have his ego stroked…

Brian is an athletic, chisel-framed, caramel colored man of crafty eyes and celebrated good looks. He announces rather loudly for my taste, "Anything for you baby."

He makes me sick when he says that. Ever since he memorized all the lines of Jerry Maguire he has got on my last nerves. His apologetic temperament fades faster than Whitney Houston’s voice. Brian’s face is now smug unlike this morning’s puppy-dog stare.

“Let me take you to Giradin’s, baby. It will make you feel better.” Brian begged me two hours before we came here.

“The dark horse returns”, I shake my head. “This morning’s show is another classic Brian performance.”

Why do I put up with his theatrics in the first
place? Prank calls from strangers and whispers among family friends hint of his womanizing. His exploits are so infamous that it is yesterday’s chief gossip at Ernst Van Praag, my employer.

“You know…” Jennifer, the new casting auditor, leaned forward and whispered to Teresa, the receptionist, at the lunch table in the break room. “I heard from a reliable source that Brian Lissimore has to go to court Tuesday for a paternity suit.”

“What?” Teresa screamed. “Scandalous!”

I hid between the soda machine and the refrigerator out of view from the chattering crew. Silent tears hung at the tip of my eyelids. I refused to let them fall.

“It’s a shame. Candace is so sweet, but that Brian is a first class jerk,” Jennifer continued.

“Yeah, I hear you girl, but he is rich and fine as wine. I wouldn’t let him go either,” replied Teresa as the ladies go back to work.

Yesterday’s news floors me. Yet I refuse to end the engagement. I got a hard head and to tell you the truth, I hate to admit it when I am wrong. Besides, Brian’s misdeeds are small prices to pay for marrying the man of my dreams.

My last mistake cost me $30,000. I had to have a 1973 Playboy Pink Ford Mustang Convertible. For two years, I accommodated that pink lemon. I finally sold it after replacing the head gasket twice, and buying a new transmission. I wonder what this engagement will cost me?

I notice Candace’s facial expression and am quickly reminded that I am in the doghouse. My grin quickly fades.

Apparently some nosy co-worker told Candie about this stupid paternity suit mess. I would have told her, but I wanted to take care of it first. When she found out she hit the fan. I had to get down on my knees, and you know it hurts to get down on these needs after hours of running the gauntlet and pushing tackle dummies. Hopefully, this Giradin’s thing will take her mind of the suit and I can straighten the mess out. Jealous coworkers…some women just love dogging men, especially men like me.

Christie, Girardin’s sales associate-of-the-month, welcomes me to the diamond table. "Mr. Lissimore, how can I help you?"

"My fiancée is here to select an engagement ring."

"What kind of ring does she want?"

"What is the most requested?" I bellow, hoping to get Candace’s attention. I lean over the diamond counter and motion her to come over. Candace has a bad habit of not staying focused. I think she daydream too much.

"This engagement ring is the premiere piece this year and the most requested wedding set. It contains a gorgeous ¼ carat princess center stone, nine .15 carat side…."
I hear Christie. Her southern drawl is more horrid than mine is. Brian waves his hand in the air like I can not see where he is. I nod my head back at him to let him know that I am coming.
As I approaches Brian and Christie, I notice a necklace in the precious stones counter. The wide neck/collar construction comprises of gold and silver inlaid with countless glass beads, lapis lazuli and jasper leading to a brilliant blue onyx centerpiece that dances with the artificial lighting of the showcase. I peek into the glass counter to examine it further.
The bloodstone’s bluish color is reminiscent of my great grandmother, Granny’s lakeside home. I remember growing up with Granny and her teachings about life and love. While standing at that counter, I relive a conversation with her that changes my decision about Brian and about my self worth.
Twin Lakes was the home of my ancestors, the Creek Muscogulgees, better known as Black Seminoles. The Creek Indian War of 1836 and the Second Seminole War of 1836 scatter, my family to Texas, Mexico, Florida and back to the Georgia rice plantations. After Emancipation Sally Johnson Tucker, Granny’s grandmother, migrated back to Twin Lakes.
The Johnson women met at Ocean Pond, a local lagoon that reminded them of the Everglades’ Lake Okeechobee, a Seminole word, meaning "plenty big water", to fish and to share stories about hiding in the swamp and living on the plantation. For generations the women rose early and set out for Ocean Pond. It became the Johnson women’s rite of passage. Every morning the summer of my eleventh birthday Granny and I fish Ocean Pond.
"Baby, it’s time that you learn a few thangs about dis worl." Granny spoke with a peculiar accent that was a mixture of Muskogee, Gullah and broken English.
"Like what, Granny?"
"Take this snuff bucket. Press it in the ground."
"Ooh! The dirt has worms in it!"
"Uh-huh. See what comes up when you do a lil diggin?"
"Yes, mam."
"We women gotta be like that snuff bucket. We gotta dig up da dirt and find da truth."
"What does that mean?"
"Dere is more to what we see, den what is really dere. Don’t ‘cept every thang and everybody dat comes yo way."
On our way back home Granny gave me some more guidance. "Candace, let me tell you som’in else."
"You becomin’ a pretty young lady. Boys will be beatin atcho doe, directly."
"Oh, Granny", I blushed.
"Baby, dey will. But don’t be caught up in da trappings. Good men are good men. Just like dat snuff bucket you gotta dig around to find a good one."
"If dat man don’t loves you like the Lord loves you, den, baby, he ain’t a good man."
Granny’s message confused me. Yet, the notes set in my heart. They made perfect sense now.
“Candie?" Brian calls.
Brian nudges my right shoulder as he places the engagement ring on my finger. As I turn to face him, I notice something different about Christie. Christie’s stomach bulges.
“How many months are you?” Christie’s pregnancy triggers the memory of yesterday’s events again.
“Eight. I start maternity leave next week.”
“Wow! Isn’t that great, Brian?” I turn back toward him.
“Uh-huh”, he quietly mumbles. Brian shuffles his dangling foot and shifts his eyes from light fixture to floor.
“Candie, I thought we got over this yesterday.” Brian replies. *************************************************************
I can’t believe she wants to start this up again and in front of everybody to top it off. What do I have to do to prove myself to this girl? I made a mistake…a stupid mistake. I am taking care of it, but her attitude is pissing me off.
“I think I hit a nerve,” she winks to me and looks down at the ring.
I stare at the diamond nesting on my finger. I feel both excitement and anguish. My hopes, dreams and identity rest in this ring.
I look at Brian. He is fidgeting with his UGA football ring. From this reaction I can tell that he is just as nervous as I am.
How can something so gorgeous carry such weight? My hands tremble. I cannot breathe.
“Lord, I need a word”.
"The good thangs in life ain’t even a pretty rang, baby," Granny whispers. " ‘Member the snuff bucket?"
Suddenly the engagement ring looses its brilliance. It appears lackluster. I see myself self in the ring. I feel dull, distorted and disappointed. The disappointment hits me hard in the chest and remains there like a hard knot. The knot rises up my throat and lodges under my chin.
“What am I doing?” My chest tightens. I can feel a cry coming on, but I fight back the tears. I need this engagement. I cannot throw this away. This may be my only chance. I mean I do love Brian. He just does not know how to love me back.
For twenty-eight years I never see myself until now. Looking into one of Girardin’s counter mirrors I observe a regal, lean neck, golden hazelnut beauty with a straight, pointy nose like that of the Seminole, thick, lengthy sandy brown hair and pouty bronze lips. I discover a familiar face staring back.
I look like my Granny. Granny’s words weigh heavily on my heart. An ancient matriarchal force emerges from my belly. It illuminates me.
Right then and there I realize that accepting Brian’s proposal is like putting dead bait on a fishing rod. I am not going to get what I want. I am not going to get my Prince Charming.
“Dead bait don’t catch good fish like bass and trout, baby. It just catches mo bait.” Granny whispers. “Don’t wase yo time.”
If I continue with this engagement, I expect more heartache and more betrayals. Whether Brian is innocent or not, I am just tired of the drama. I need to trust him and honestly I don’t. I hate being single, but the way this thing is going I will be single again soon anyway. Granny is right.
Brian looks at the time on Girardin’s store clock, and rustles under his breath, "Is this the ring you want, Candie? It’s the best here and you deserve the best- the good things in life, baby." He tries to pull me in his arms.
"What did you say?" I jerk away from his embrace and wince. “The good things? Get off me!" I shout, looking baffled and pissed. Where did I get the guts to say this?
"Uhm...maybe… I should give you…a few minutes alone," Christie suggests as she withdraws from the diamond counter.
Candie can’t be this mad. I mean isn’t this the ring she showed me in the bridal magazine? Isn’t this what she wanted? Isn’t this proof that I only want to be with her?
"What’s wrong with you?” I ask.
Refusing to look at me, Candace removes the ring from her finger, places it on the counter and quietly walks toward the Giradin’s exit door. "Ain’t nothing wrong with me. I just forgot to use my snuff bucket. That’s all."
I run to the door and watch Candace jump into a Checker Cab. “Snuff bucket? What is a snuff bucket?” I ask the greeter.
“Maybe it catches these leaves.” The greeter shrugs in bewilderment as we stand in the middle of another annoying leaf funnel in front of the store.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Michelle Edwards 14 Jan 2009
Hi Dee, I'm a new member and just finished The Snuff Bucket. I reaaly enjoyed your story and the wise words from grandma. I'm glad Candace was able to hear God's wisdom thru her gradmas voice. I'm sure right now Brian is wishing he'd cherished what was right in front of him. As my grandma always said "You don't miss yo' water 'til the well runs dry".
Michelle Edwards 14 Jan 2009


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