Buzz’s pappy left home only a day or two before Buzz’s fifth birthday and if I can re-call all that way back, his pappy told folks he was real ashamed that he couldn’t support his family and then disappeared to Tijuana with a flamenco dancer.
Somehow I don’t think it was his family he wanted to give his support to.
The day he left, me and Buzz were fishin’ down by Pastor’s Creek which sits next to the Big River which flows all the way to the coast. We always talked of taking a raft to the sea but like most things we talk about, it never did happen; least ways not yet.
Anyhoo I’m shootin’ off here - so on the day that his pappy left, Buzz asked me where the tide went, as it was way out on this side of the Big River.
Me being me, told Buzz that it went to the other side.
I explained to Buzz that when it was low tide on this side it was high tide on the other. He took my word without question. He just gave one of those – that seems right to me – nods and went on with his fishin’; not another care or another word - that’s why I love Buzz like a brother.
Now I ain’t stupid, not like Buzz and I knows the real god’s honest may I spit on your hand and hope to die truth - just like my grandmama told me. She said there’s a big hole under the river where the water runs through to the other side of the world – kind-a like that sand in an egg-timer – like the one, our teacher with the bad teeth from England showed us once.
When all the river water goes through their holes, the world turns upside down and it becomes night for some and day for others. Then the water comes back down the holes and we turn over again. If that ain’t the simplest explanation, then I don’t know what is.
My grandmama always had a big smile on her face when she told me that one. I guess I’ll tell Buzz the truth one of these days.
Buzz’s pappy never did head back up this way, but I did hear that the flamenco dancer once drove through town in a big red Cadillac – although this town is always full of stories like that.
You just ain’t sure what to believe.
Guess he’s scared he might get beaten up by the grasshoppers on the way there.
One night, me and Buzz were lying out back in his mama’s yard just hanging. We wanted to go hiking across the top of Yellow Ridge but his mama was having none of it. Since Buzz’s pappy had gone, she was feared people coming to her house and stealing things; to be honest with you, his mama had nothing worth stealing.
So there we were looking at the stars, we must have been about five years old and right there and then I convinced my friend that the fireflies were little people and the lights were their little city. I kind-a guessed back then that Buzz wasn’t gonna be no Einstein.
Now Buzz would tell you that he’s a gnat’s wing taller than me but he ain’t telling the truth. All thru’ schooling he was always the small one - I guess he thought back to the fireflies and was hoping that he wasn’t the smallest thing on this here planet.
Nope, between you and me and the kitchen stove, I was always the first between me and Buzz to feel the rain, I swear on a stack of bibles that’s true.
Then one day he grew more than me and I was kind-a suspicious until I check and see he’s been messin’ with his boots, stuffin’ them with old socks so he looks taller.
In his naked feet he still ain’t bigger than a grasshopper – I tell ya he could look one right in the eye.
I swear that boy has an inferiority complex, at least ways that’s what Stevie (the cleverest kid in school) told me. Not too sure what it means.
One day Buzz says to me ‘Jay, ain’t it time we headed over to Duchess County a spell’ and of course I asked him if that was where all the short kids went these days.
He said nothing until his fist hit my face. He was that quick that I didn’t see nothin’ till it was right there on the end of my nose - which was now as flat as Corry Mitchin’s chest.
Of course I ain’t for hittin’ my best friend, on account that he’s so stupid – no sir, so I did what anyone would do, I threw his boots into the river. Even the Sunday preacher would have said I had a right.
No man should put a fist to his best friend’s nose.
Buzz keeps saying that on account of his good looks – only his mama told him that – that maybe we should think of headin’ out west to California.
I drag him to the old barber shop to show him on the Civil War map that hangs on the wall there, how far it is.
Buzz says, ‘it can’t be more than 11 or 12 inches at most’ and that wasn’t too far - from where he was standing. Can you believe my best friend, just how stupid he is?
So the upshot is, me and Buzz are heading out west just as soon as he finds another pair of boots.
bobby stevenson 2015