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“Folks who think money is all that matters are fools”

An All-Day Sucker


By —— Bio and Archives--March 11, 2019

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An All-Day Sucker“Folks who think money is all that matters are fools,” my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird once told me. As a boy I didn’t always pay attention to the old black man’s wisdom, but should have, especially about money.

One day while lolling with my pals on Uptown Avenue in our Mississippi Delta hometown, I learned the hard way to abide by Jaybird’s words about money. I didn’t have a cent, and needed a quarter to buy an All-Day Sucker at Peach-Eye’s Grocery. As we meandered up and down Uptown, Billy Clyde Rakestraw, known as Mr. B.C., blared his horn, scattering us from a spot near the bank where he wanted to park.

.

Like most folks, Jaybird didn’t care much for Rakestraw, and warned me to steer clear of him, but once again I ignored his advice and suffered shame for doing so. A scowling, ill-tempered old farmer, rumor had it that he once was a happy, fun-loving guy until Billie Beth, his raven-haired, blue-eyed bride, ran off with a city slicker. After that, he stopped socializing and took to drinking.

“I bet y’all won’t let the air out of one of Mr. B.C.’s tires,” an older boy dared.

“Put your loot where your lips are,” I sneered. He sealed the wicked wager with just what I needed: a quarter.

I peeked in the bank, saw Mr. B.C. haggling with a teller, and calculated I had enough time to do the deed. The tire was almost flat when I heard what sounded like Judgment Day thunder.

“Gotcha!” Mr. B.C.’s vitriolic visage was so close I smelled his chewing tobacco; the quarter in my pocket weighed a ton.

Luckily, Aunt Murleen happened by and, seeing her nephew dangling from the handful of shirt collar Rakestraw had hold of, screeched, “B.C., put that boy down rat now!”

The old reprobate obeyed. A small crowd materialized, gawking at the spectacle, as Murleen and Billy Clyde whispered to each other, discussing my fate. When they parted, Rakestraw laughed — something nobody had seen him do for years.

“Junior, B.C.’s going to the barbershop … says you better have that tire blown back up before he returns,” Auntie said.

“But I ain’t got a pump.”

“Don’t need one, boy,” she replied, struggling to maintain her composure. “Don’t you know you can blow up tires with your mouth?”

Directly, Rakestraw ambled back and looked down at an exhausted boy, blue in the face, puffing with all his might.

A toothless grin broke across the old man’s unshaven, leathery face, as he reached in the pickup and fetched a hand pump.

“Here, boy,” he guffawed, “I ain’t got time to wait all day while you blow up that tire with yo’ mouth.”

Sitting on Peach-Eye’s front porch with Jaybird, I realized what a fool I’d been — all because I wanted money for a piece of candy.

“Shoot, I can’t eat this,” I mumbled, and handed it to him. “Reminds me of what I’ve been: an all-day sucker.”


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Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran (Vietnam Era), former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer and ginner, author, and retired college teacher. His short story anthology, Boss, Jaybird And Me, is available at Squarebooks.com (telephone: 662-236-2262). His latest collection of faith-based short stories, entitled One Hundred By Five Hundred, is also available at Square Books (telephone: 662-236-2262) and at amazon.com. To receive Reed’s free weekly newsletter, send an email address to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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