Tagged: Phyllis

MONDAY: Sleep of the Dead

BY PHYLLIS L. HUMBY

Copyright is held by the author.

JIMMY WAS stinking bad. The smell wafted out to the road. They found him layin’ on the couch. Half bottle of beer on the table next to him. Wheel of Fortune blasting on the TV. Jimmy was hard of hearing. ’Course he’d never be watching a show like Wheel of Fortune. Not if he was alive. Poor Jimmy.

They say his supper dishes was on the table. Pork chop bones and all. If old Ruby’d still been around everybody’d know’d about Jimmy sooner. Ruby would’a been howlin’. That was some mournful sound when that old dog took to howlin’.

When Ruby died, Jimmy dug a deep hole out by the daisies, wrapped her up in that flea-bitten jacket she always laid on out on the front porch, and put her to rest. There’s no doubt that’s where Jimmy’d like to be right now. Pushing up daisies with that old hound. Pushing up daisies . . . get it?

’Course his faithful old girl had what they call a natural death. Got old, fell asleep, and didn’t wake up. Old Jimmy died the same way. But there was nothin’ natural about it.

Oh, he looked peaceful enough. Feet crossed. Toes showing through the boot holes in his socks. You know about boot holes. Your socks stretch across your toes when you tug on those boots, then rub against the inside until you wear holes right through. That’s boot holes.

Jimmy spent his days outdoors. Digging. Trimming. Cutting. Yard always looked good. That was the giveaway. You might say dead giveaway. Up and down the road, people asking, “Y’all seen Jimmy lately?” His grass was getting long. The whole place was looking right shabby. “Not like Jimmy,” they’d say.

Nobody knew Jimmy real well. He didn’t meddle in other people’s business and didn’t want nobody meddlin’ in his. He told me so himself.

I just wanted to talk a spell. See what he was doing. He grunted back that he was busy. Too busy to yaw with me. He wasn’t busy a’tall. Never did nothin’ but plant daisies, cultivate sunflowers, and bury dogs. Poor Ruby.

Old Jimmy must ’a been back there with them sunflowers when I knocked at the door. Without Ruby baying out a warning, he had no way of knowing I walked through the place. Saw them two pork chops sitting on a plate. Covered with some kind of seasoning. Like that onion or garlic powder I use at home. Got me to thinking.

My fingers curled around that vial of tiny white pills in my pocket. Doc Little gave ’em to me for those wicked pains in my head. Just take one at a time, he’d said. Wondered what a few all ground up would do for Jimmy. Might make the old guy drowsy. Like Ruby, he might fall asleep. Never wake up.

Poor old Jimmy. Thought somebody’d find him a lot sooner than they did.