Dust covered their bare feet as two friends walked along a dirt road. “Whacha got in yer pocket ya keep feelin’?” Billy nudged his companion.
Andy looked down at his feet. “Tain’t nuth’n.”
“Nuth’n? I betcha stole candy down at da corner store.”
“Nope. Dun’t do no steal’n, mama whip me, papa whip me, and da preacher whip me, if I be steal’n.”
Billy tried to look around Andy. “Din whacha got?”
“Nutin’ you’d be interested in.”
Billy puffed up chest and looked straight ahead. “Yeah, you ain’t got nuth’n I’d be interested in for shur.”
Andy pulled his hand out of his pocket and produced a squirming green toad. “I goch me a frog fer a pet.”
Billy pretended to double over with laughter. “Da little toad is yer pet?” He let out a fake laugh. “Ya git me all the time, now dats funny, a toad fer a pet.” He laughed again. “Ya kin make it sit-up and beg.” Billy fell off the road and rolled in the tall grass on the edge of a field. “Ya kin teach’m to roll over.” He laughed and rolled around acting silly.
“Well, he won’t bark.” Andy stuffed the toad back in his pocket.
Billy finally righted himself and joined Andy on the road. “Yer mama gonna llow ya be keep’n a toad in da house?”
“No matter, she’ll git used to it. It’ll be a family pet.”
“Dogs will eat it fore ya git it outta yer pocket.”
A wrinkle crossed Andy’s brow. “Dogs is outdoor pets. Mah frog is an indoor pet.”
“Indoor pet?” Billy screamed with laugher. “Toads n’ frogs need swamp water and mud.”
“Build’m a box I will.” Andy tried to sound authoritarian. “Mays be jest put’m in a corner of the wash tub.”
“Da wash tub? Oh, oh, oh. Now, dats some funny alright.” Billy pulled a long wheat straw from the side of the road, stuck it in his mouth and stared at the sky. “Ih, kin see it now. Da frog is jes rest’n in som mud in da corner of da wash tub, and yer sister run in to worsh her face.” Billy pretended to point with the grass straw. “She be carry’n a big ol’ pitcher ah water.” He made a pouring motion. “She’ll see da toad, din she’ll drop da pitcher. It’ll break on the corner of da tub. Water an pitcher parts done gone everywhar.
Yer momma’ll come in to see all da commotion, yer sister’ll be scream’n. Da toad’ll be jump’n.” Billy jumped up. “Din yer momma gonna say, ‘I’ll beat da Andy till da sun goes down if’n I kin ketch’m.’”
Andy kicked at the dirt. “Yeah, ah suppose.”
Billy slapped Andy on the back. “Din, when yer pa git home, ya git a beat’n all over, and probably hav ta shovel manure outa da hog pen – fer da res of yer life.”
“Yeah, ah neber thought a dat.”
Billy chewed on the wheat straw and pointed up to the sky. “It’s a tirrable price to pay, sorta lik da final jedgement the preacher done told us about.”
Andy stopped and played in the dirt with his toe. “Ya thik God’s gonna beat me too, jes for gitt’n da pitcher broke?”
“Ah wouldn’t doubt it.” Billy took a bite of the straw.
“Guess ah betta lit da toad loose?”
“Yup, save ya soul and save beatn’s an everthin, jes cause ya lit da toad go free.”
The two boys crossed over the road and into a field walking until they came to a stream. Andy took the little toad out of his pocket and set it on the creek bank. “Der toad, go fine yer mama. Ya wasn’t much potential as a family pet anyhay.”
Billy nudged the toad with his toe. “Ah thins ya made a pripper decision.”
“Dat toad nuth’n but tribble. Ya, ah wasn’t wish’n fer no beatn’s nohow.”
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