Our mommy came home from the hospital.

She was in a bed.

She wanted to be here at home with me and my sister Ruby when she meeted Jesus.

I am Scarlette.

        That is Sir, our step-dad.

When Mommy went to the hospital, Sir said he was supposed to take care of me and my sister.

We don’t need any help.

We don’t like him trying to undress us and dress us.

I bit him once and he hit me.

Now he doesn’t try.

But he takes Ruby into our bedroom and locks the door.

I hear him yelling and Ruby crying.

I’m going to tell Mommy when she gets out of that bed.

        We live where it’s pretty where there used to be a pig farm.

But we’re Cooters, cousins of Daws, and this is Daws County.

        Mommy was in a bed in our living room.

        Ruby and I were brushing Mommy’s teeth ‘cos she was real weak.

She opened her eyes and she whispered, “I’m sorry, babies”.

        I won’t tell her yet what Sir does.

        When Mommy got sick we needed money ‘cos she couldn’t work and Sir worked just sometimes, so Sir, now he sells little bags to strangers for money out back of the house

Before Mommy got sick she and Sir would have those little bags and laugh like stupid.

And Sir said don’t worry that he will take care of all of us.

        Daddy would have been real mad if he had been here, I just know it, ‘cos they were acting stupid if you ask me.

        Mommy told us she tried to be happy that Daddy was with Jesus but she wasn’t strong like me and Ruby; that we were like Daddy.

        Sir said that this house was perfect for a business.

He said to me and Ruby that there would always be a place for us here but I didn’t like the way he said it.

        One night Sir went away to meet someone.

        I said, “I like it better when it’s just us, Mommy.”

        Mommy whispered for me and Ruby to please stay next to her, ‘cos she thought Jesus might be coming tonight and she wanted to ask a favor from Jesus, and she wanted us to meet Jesus.

I could tell Mommy was crying.

Her face was shiny in the moonlight.

        Ruby was combing Mommy’s hair.

I was singing the silly song that Mommy used to sing to me and Ruby.

I’ll eat you, I’ll drink you

Yum yum yum yum yum.

I’ll drink you, I’ll drink you

Slip slop slippy slippy slop.


I’ll bite you, I’ll chew you

Yum yum yum yum yum.

I’ll gulp you, I’ll slurp you

Slip slop slippy slippy slop.


I like you, I love you

Yum yum yum yum yum.

I smell you, I taste you

Slip slop slippy slippy slop.


I touch you, I feel you

Yum yum yum yum yum.

I pat you, I rub you

Slip slop slippy slippy slop.


Well, I’ll eat you and you’ll eat me

And I’ll eat you and you’ll eat me

Sody pop, ice cream, sugar in my tea

1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3.

Ho ho ho ha ha hee,

And I’m a-gonna eat you up.

I’m a-gonna drink you down.

I’m gonna eat you up.

I’m gonna drink you down.


        Ruby asked, “Mommy?”

        The way Ruby asked her, I looked in Mommy’s face.

Something was different, “Mommy?”

        Mommy breathed out long and slowly and was real peaceful.


        Ruby asked, “Mommy’s sleeping?”

        I watched Mommy’s eyelids open slow.

I watched her eyes dry in the moonlight.

        Ruby whined, “Scarlette.”

        I hugged her, saying, “Mommy sees Jesus…”

        Ruby cried to Mommy, “You didn’t let us see…”

        I hugged Ruby and we couldn’t stand up.

We sat on the floor beside Mommy’s bed and we cried.

        We woke up on the floor, still hugging.

It was still moonlight and quiet.

We were alone.

I thought about Sir and I got real scared.

        I woke up Ruby and I unhugged from her.

        Ruby was startled, “What’s wrong?”

        I said, “Nothin’.  I’m going to get something important and I’m coming right back.”

        Ruby moaned, “I’m afraid.”

        So I said, “Come with me quick.”

        We stood up and looked at Mommy.

        Then went into the pantry and I climbed up and felt the top shelf.

There was the oilcloth.

        Under the cloth was Daddy’s hand gun.

Mommy had never moved it and she never told Sir about it.

        Ruby and I walked real careful back to Mommy and we sat down together again.

I looked at the gun and Ruby didn’t say anything.

Daddy had showed me the gun and I could feel that it was loaded.

I slid it under Mommy’s bed real close.

        The front door banged open.

Sir bumped inside cursing.

In the moonlight we saw him go unsteady to the lamp.

He turned on the lamp and covered his eyes.

Then he saw us sitting on the floor by Mommy’s bed, “What the, you scared the, what the, are you girls doing up like this?”

        Ruby blurted, “Its Mommy.  She saw Jesus.”

        Sir came over and looked at Mommy’s face.

Then he looked down at us, “Your ‘Mommy’s’ work on earth is done.

And now, she wanted me to care for you two and don’t you worry.

I will help you.”

        I looked down and I said, “We don’t need help.”

        Sir asked, “What did you say?

No damn matter.

Both of you are going to be a lot nicer and…

damn grateful to me,” and he snatched up Ruby, saying, “Time for bed.”

        Ruby yelled and struggled.

        I jumped up and yelled, “Leave her be.”

        Sir was laughing and spanking Ruby’s legs.

He sounded crazy.

Then he grabbed Ruby’s ankle and he lifted her upside down and Ruby shrieked and he started singing Mommy’s song.


I touch you, I feel you

Yum yum yum yum yum.

I pat you, I rub you

Slip slop slippy slippy slop.


        Then I could hear Daddy in my head.

I dropped down to his gun there.

I held it at Sir with both hands.

I yelled, “Quit it!”


I’ll bite you, I’ll chew you

Yum yum yum yum yum.

I’ll gulp you, I’ll slurp you

Slip slop slippy slippy slop.


        Then I squeezed the gun the way Daddy taught me.

        Sir he spun around and he dropped Ruby and the lamp bulb popped and Sir dropped in the moonlight onto the rug.

        Ruby hopped shrieking to me.

I put the gun down and I hugged Ruby.

Sir was moaning.

        We both cried.

We were rocking back and fore and I think we must have fell asleep.

        I opened my eyes and I saw Mommy.

Her back was to us and she was standing.

She was standing over Sir who was still moaning.

Mommy wasn’t standing steady.

I called, “Mommy!”

        Ruby opened her eyes and cried, “Mommy!”

        Mommy started to turn her head to us and her voice was awful and dry and creaky, “You girls go to your room.”

And we started to see her face and for a second it looked all shrively.

But then the moonlight was on her face and her face was the face of Mommy like when we were little girls.

She was pretty and happy.

        Ruby yelled, “Mommy you got all better.”

        And Mommy’s voice was her sweet young voice, “Girls, now go to your room, please.  I have to fix this.”

        And Ruby and I left the room still holding each other.

And we saw Mommy kneel over Sir and she undid his pants.

Then she laid her head on his tummy and we heard a crunch like a carrot and Sir screamed and then he cried softly under Mommy’s hand put over his mouth.

        In the morning Ruby and I woke up and thought we just had a dream.

        I stood in front of the dressing mirror that Daddy had bought us.

I could still see Daddy smiling behind me and Ruby when we used to dressed in Mommy’s clothes.

        But when we ran into the living room we saw Mommy sitting on the couch in the morning shade and our front door was open.

        We didn’t see Sir but I saw the dark stain on the rug.

        We ran to Mommy, “We’re so happy you’re back!”

        Mommy said, “I’m still tired, my sweet girls.”

But Ruby and I were looking into Mommy’s face and it seemed like Mommy’s voice was in our heads but not in our ears.

Her face seemed bright and she was young and she was happy.

But Mommy moved slow.

        I asked, frowny, “Where is Sir?”

        Mommy smiled, “He’s out in the pig roaster barrel, dears.”

        I said, “OK, Mommy.”

        Ruby said, “OK, Mommy.”

        We heard a creak and Ruby and I turned to the open front door.

On the carpet of morning sunlight we saw it was just an ol’ crow looking in at us.

        Ruby laughed, “Look, Mommy, a crow wants to come in!”

        Mommy said, “Stop foolin’.  You girls show Lenore your manners.”

        Ruby asked, “The crow’s got a name?”

        I asked, “Mommy, wasn’t ‘Lenore’ our godmother’s name?”

        Mommy said, “Of course it is.”

        Suddenly the crow flew to Mommy’s shoulder.

Me and Ruby yelled afraid.

But Mommy raised her shaky hand and said, “Shhh, shhh, little babies.”

And the crow started to pull strands of Mommy’s messy hair!

        Mommy said, “Now, can you sweet babies clean up and fix up this messy living room.

We will be having a visitor, sure enough.


Will you bring me my Sunday hat with the veil, please.

And Scarlette?

I’d like to be wearing my coat for company.”

        I said, “I wish our godmother was here real.”

        The crow made a creaking croaking sound and tipped its head back at me, I swear.

        A hour later Mommy had me standing with Daddy’s gun behind the front door, peeking through the butt of the door, and Ruby was in the kitchen.

Mommy had sat again on the couch, still in the shadows, facing the open front door.

        Mommy looked pretty in her Sunday hat with the veil and with her coat for company.

        The crow made a creaky sound from the back of the living room.

        One of Sir’s crummy “friends” walked up to the open front door and looked in.

He said, “Hi, Ma’am.  Is your husband in?”

        Mommy said, “He’s away but I will take care of you.”

        Sir’s crummy friend nodded, saying, “You are looking much better.  That’s good.  That’s good.”

        Mommy asked, “What did you expect?”

        Sir’s crummy friend stuttered, “I thought…, I mean you came home from the hospital…, to be with your family…”

        Mommy asked again, “What did you expect to buy?”

        Sir’s crummy friend was real fidgety and he said, “Oh.  Oh… I thought you meant… Well, I was told one bag is going for a ‘Benjamin’.”

        Mommy called to Ruby who was in the kitchen, “One bag, baby.”

        Sir’s crummy friend said quick, “Oh, no.  Sorry.  I need three.  Three bags.  I got three ‘Benjamins’ here,” and he held out cash.

        Mommy called to Ruby, “Three bags all told, baby.”

        And that is how me and Ruby got money to live on so we could run to the store.

After a couple days we sold all of Sir’s bags.

Mommy didn’t eat much during then that I saw at all.

But she had a glow except she was still skinny.

        Then Mommy said she was hungry and she went out to the pig roaster barrel.

        Ruby and I went to our room.

        But something wasn’t good.

Ruby said, “The house always smells now and there are always flies now.”

        Just then a fly landed on our dressing mirror, a big noisy fly, and Ruby said it was making her sick.

I reached out quick and I smushed the fly right on our dressing mirror.

        Ruby cried out, “Ewww, yucky gross!”

        And we both heard a stifled cry and then we heard buzzing from all over the house.

        I heard the crow squawk.

        Mommy appeared in our door and startled us and she said, “What have you done?!”

        And her face was like it glowed blurry and was wrinkled.

She was hissy and raspy, “What have you done?!”

        Mommy was real mad and Ruby and I were real scared.

Mommy grabbed for us and I screamed.

        Ruby cried out, “We just only smushed a fly!  Why are you mad, Mommy?”

        Then Mommy seemed to try to keep her temper.

I could see her face again.

Mommy said, “You… made a mess.  You must not do that ever again.”

        Mommy turned to go out of our room and I saw her in our dressing mirror.

I saw her like a skeleton with flies for skin!

        I screamed, “Mommy, the mirror!”

        Mommy turned to the mirror and I saw Mommy’s face but in our dressing mirror it was a scary face.

Ruby screamed.

        But Mommy was like hypnotized looking.

She stood in front of the mirror and raised her hand but she wouldn’t touch the glass and she turned her head side to side slow.

        I peed my pants.

        I saw Ruby was in a ball on the floor covering her face.

        Then I saw Daddy in the mirror like I could in my mind but this was different.

Daddy in the mirror reached his hand to Mommy and Mommy touched Daddy’s hand in the mirror.

        Then Mommy fell to the floor in front of the mirror.

Now in the mirror was both Daddy and Mommy and they were young and happy!

Mommy touched her heart and waved at us and Daddy wagged his finger at us and he smiled.

        Then the mirror was empty except for Ruby and me.



        And that is all what we told Sheriff Arvin Biggs and his men.  But they didn’t want to believe us at all.  They said we were shocked.  That we had been mawl-sted.  Trom-tized.  They didn’t want to ask us too much more what happened at all.

        I know you understand.

        But, Lenore, you will still come and see us, won’t you?  And make sure we go to church and praise Jesus, won’t you?







“I’ll Eat You, I’ll Drink You” by Woody Guthrie

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