Long time, real long time ago, there were a boy. A boy an’ his Ma’ and his Pa’, all up together out in ‘tween the hill and the great black swamp. They were a fixin’ young family. Each one born in dat house o’ theres built ‘tween that hill and swamp. Ev’ryday they wake and they don’ lift a finga’ for themselves. ‘Cause theys a fixin’ young family with some real dirty money.
Boy’s Pa’ earned his fixin’. Young an’ he got hisself involved with a runabout gang in the early days o’ his boyhood, lettin’ his feet walk ‘tween towns an’ never staying one place too long. Made good pay when he left, but claimed poor whene’vr he came new inna town. That pay be dirty money. That house be built with stories in them bricks. Stories told through bullets an’ passed to bill an’ passed to brick. In that dirty house, laying inna dirty box, are his old walking boots. Mighty dirty an’ now mighty heavy. He ain’t wear those boots since Boy’s Ma’ came ‘long, for good reason. Boots are mighty heavy on his feet now. Many graves been dug in the footstep o’ those boots. No grave he ev’r seen though, ‘cus he don’ stay for long, y’see.
Boy’s Ma’ earned her fixin’. She grew inna little town, far from where she livin’ now. Rightful sayin’ she bein’ happier here, ‘cus she didn’t like back home, oh no sir. Back there she got a tannin’ daily an’ a right fair livin’, though she weren’t wantin’ it. Her own kin put her up an’ they uncle say she’d make a fine young lady iffin she willing to hoist her dress to the next thick pocket in town. Sad, sad girl. But she ain’t no angel. P’haps it was fate what brought Ma’ from under a fat-cat and out to the streets to see a hurt young Pa’, digging out a straight blade in his side. She brought him home, patch’d up his lil’ scar and stay by his side. Pa’ healed up good and nice and repay her the only way he could, least this time she was happy t’do it. Still, she no angel. Ev’ryday she waved her hair and hoist up her dress and put Pa’ under her magic. Soon ‘nuff, Ma’ was ridin’ ‘way from town with Pa’ and a whole family left in the boot’s footsteps.
Boy doesn’t know his Ma’ or his Pa’ well ‘nuff yet. Don’t know his fixin’ young family, he only a young Boy that ain’t earned the fixin’ just yet. He don’t see his Ma’ take sneaks o’ liquor that slyly turn to swigs an’ to gulps an’ to glasses an’ to bottles. He ain’t seein’ his Pa’ lookin’ down at their workers wi’ a steel frame eye. He don’t know the worker’s ain’ workin’. Theys youth earn his Pa’ and Ma’ the fixin’, but they current life earns it more.
Pa’ and Ma’ keep ‘em workers in the shed. Big shed for tools, small for workers though. Too, too small. Mud floor and beds o’ flour sacks. Mighty uncomfortable. Mighty, mighty uncomfortable. But, it’s rest an’ workers love they rest. ‘Till the mornin’. Come mornin’ rise, Pa’ call out for breakfast an’ workers go t’work. Breakfast made, chores to do. Chores done, but not too well for Pa’. Heavy cane gets thrown about in his han’. Land trimmin’ to do, not done quick ‘nuff and Pa’ calls out ‘bout his old story-teller kept up nex’ to his boots. Workers work off faster. Trimmin’ done and lunch gets made. Never once had Pa’ sat and finished his lunch. Always halfway through and out it come in rivers. Throws it at the nearest worker and calls out ‘bout his story-teller and throw his cane ‘bout harder now. Workers clean and tend to anything th’Boy needs. Workers liked that Boy. Then dinner comes and Pa’ still sour-faced from lunch, but quiet. Dinner ends and workers clean that house up an’ down one more time. Then they rest, rest from Pa’ an’ his story-tellers an’ his cane throwin’. Never a happy day for Pa’. But workers go on each day, ev’ryday just for that Boy. Young and so kind. Smilin’. Never yellin’. Never throwin’.
Then the day come. Young boy got real sick. Doctor come an’ say “This boy been poisoned, Sir, ain’t no disease do that. Only Poison, Sir.” and Pa’ must’ve bit a ripe lemon, ‘cus his face ain’t never been more sour or more firey than then. The shed door came down that day and Pa’ threw his cane aroun’ and yelled and cry out, and the workers try to say what they knew. Workers did’n do a thing, workers say they innocent, workers say Boy liked to play near the swamp. No words help’d ‘em when the story-teller came glaring outta Pa’s pocket. One worker, young lil’ girl, a sweet young thing. She fell un’erneath those heavy footsteps. Those mighty heavy, mighty dirty footsteps.
Workers weren’t too happy. Ev’ryday they worked, ev’ryday keep goin’ for that Boy. Now that Boy was ill. That Boy ain’t too long, far as they seein’. Worker’s rest came few days later an’ they had slipped Ma’s key to the shed when she had sneaked her liquor that day. She didn’ notice. Not when the key came off her wris’, or when that shed door open. They knew that house too well, an’ ain’t no worker ev’r stood on a loud-talkin’ plank when Ma’ had her wild headaches. Ma’ was sleepin’ still on the parlor couch, wavered onto it by the liquor and now lifted by workin’ hands. She didn’ notice thanks to the liquor. She love that liquor real well, made her real mean ‘till she fell asleep. Ain’t never she gonna throw a bottle at another worker. Ain’t never she gonna blame workers for a whiskey stain again. She loved that liquor real, real good. ‘Cept she didn’ like bein’ too close to it. She didn’ like small space neither. Never was a swimmin’ girl too. Liquor cabinet mighty heavy. Mighty heavy an’ mighty dirty. Ma’ had her fixin’.
Weren’t too long ‘till workers foun’ Pa’ layin’ in his silk and cotton bed. A warm lil’ cloud it was, holding a sour lil’ devil. The sour face never changed ‘roun the workers, nor did it change when workin’ hands lifted him out of his lil’ cloud. Devil yelled and screamed out as they took him out. Weren’t no story-tellers an’ no cane for his hands now. No more footsteps. No more after their last. Pa’ yellin’ scared the workers once, now his yellin’ ain’t nothin’ but swamp noise now. Ev’n when he fell from that tree branch. Tellin’ ya’, mighty heavy boots he was made to wear that night. Mighty dirty boots, mighty heavy boots. No man’s neck coulda been stronger when they weighed him down. Pa’ had his fixin’.
Workers rested that night. Woke that mornin’ to a new swamp-bird scarecrow inna tree and few drunk gators underwater. Workers woke up that Boy, still sick as a yellow ‘gator. Boy didn’ eat, not that day, an’ he didn’ play. He didn’ do much. ‘Till that night, he did nothin’. Workers knew he didn’ earn no fixin’. But ain’t their choice. Mornin’ never met that Boy again. Workers cryin’ as they walked away from that young, fixin’ family.
That Boy had his fixin’.