“Red Shackelford’s life had turned into a series of catnaps.”
I never knew what to do with that story.
It comes back to me every so often and I try again.
-Red Shackelford’s life had turned into a series of cat naps. His wife, Arletta, had passed in early spring, leaving him in charge of her hands-in-the-dirt garden with strict orders to make sure it bloomed.
Red had split his life between the U.S. Army and selling circuitry behind the counter at W.B. Davis Electrical Supply Company. What did he know about plants.
You buy ‘em at the grocery store.
Bring ‘em home,
Unwrap the cellophane,
Fill a vase with water,
Throw in some pennies,
Add the flowers and
Put ‘em on the table.
Arletta had bought her seeds,
planted them with Olympian effort
in the strip of dirt right off the front porch
which Red had outlined for her with yellow bricks.
He considered his contribution to the event done.
Until she passed.
Now he was going outside every few hours, shirtless,
his skin burning brown under his white chest hairs,
bending over and
checking to see if those suckers
hiding in the ground were going to amount to something
or remain another promise he was ill equipped to keep.
I’d see him at all hours of the day yelling,
“Grow, god damn it.”