A time and weather worn woman sat on a porch in a creaky old rocking chair, mending a large pile of socks. Though she kept her eyes on her work, her lips were set in a thin line and her foot that kept the chair rocking was slapping the wooden floorboards impatiently. She refused to look up from her mending, even when she heard the engine of an old 1930’s GMC ˝ ton pick-up truck, snaking its way up her long dusty driveway. And when the dirty driver of the vehicle jumped out and hollered a greeting: “Howdy do, ma’am?” she simply picked up her sewing basket and disappeared into the house, without acknowledging the man’s presence.
He scratched his head and looked down at himself. With one overall strap undone and hanging carelessly down his back, no shirt, leathery skin, brown with sun and soil, a dingy gray cowboy hat, and muddy boots, he wasn’t aware of the sight he made. He shrugged and clomped up the porch steps, but when he reached the door, a shrill voice from within, made him stop.
“Don’cha ya dare come in here wif dem muddy boots on yore feet, ol’ man! I jist swept and mopped dis place clean and I’s like ta keep it dat way, long as I cin!”
He stooped to yank his boots off and then trudged into the house. He followed the heavenly aroma wafting from the back of the humble abode, his mouth watering. When he came to stand in the door of the kitchen, he removed his hat to reveal greasy, tousled brown hair. He breathed deeply and then sighed with satisfaction. He plopped down on a rough wooden chair in front of an equally primitive table, piled high with food. He reached out to take a steamy biscuit, but drew it back quickly when it was smacked by the old woman with fire in her eyes.
“You’ll do rightly to wash up afore you come to my table! And den I’ll says a prayer like civilized folk afore you dig in!”
He sighed and, with stooped shoulders, shuffled his way out of the kitchen to wash up at the outside pump. He would have fooled anyone into thinking he was repentant from the sharp rebuke, if it weren’t for the silly grin on his face he couldn’t hide. The woman rolled her eyes with an air of superiority, accustomed to the ways of backwoods, hillbilly men.
When he came back in with face and hands clean as could be, he placed himself at the table, waiting for the woman to set herself down as well. After she had sat and said a prayer, he began to create a mountain of food on his plate. He glanced over at the woman’s plate and shook his head. “You’ll waste away ta nufin’ if das all yous gunna eat, woman! Here, have sum more potatas, dey’ll stick ta ya ribs, sure thin’!”
The woman stiffened and pushed the spoon away from her plate. “No, it ain’t ladylike ta eat like dere ain’t no tomorra! I be jist fine!” she insisted.
The man shrugged. “Awh right. If’n yoo say so! Dat means more fa me!” he said, adding the rejected mashed potatoes to form the snow on the mountain top.
The woman watched with disgust as the man ate with the appetite of a bear before hibernation.
He leaned back in his chair, stuffed and satisfied watching the woman take dainty bites. “Ya shore do take a long time ta eat so little!” He punctuated this statement with a large belch. He grinned like a schoolboy. He pushed himself away from the table and stretched. “I’s suppose I shood git on back to work now.” He grinned at the old woman placed his hat on his head. “Have yerself a nice day, ma’am. Thanks fer da ‘licious meal!”
The woman surveyed with disdain the damage done by the large man. She presently came to a conclusion and jumped up and ran out to the front porch. The man was just getting into his truck.
“Why does ya allus do dat?” she wanted to know. “Ya make me so angry sometimes, Adrian!”
Adrian flashed her a brilliant smile. “Aww, shucks! Ya know it ain’t pers’nal, Laverne! Jist my aim in life to make yorn mis’rable!” He winked at her and drove back to work.
Laverne’s eyes smiled at her husband’s words, even though her mouth refused to.
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