james lineberger


we lived for a while in shelby
across the tracks from a warehouse
where some of the men that worked on the dock
would yell things
at our maid annie who took care of us
while mama and daddy worked
in the mill at gastonia i think it was i was
only about six then so i don't
everything but i have never forgotten how annie
ignored the men
and didn't say anything back
except finally when they got bolder
and one time at lunch
came across the tracks right up to the front of the house
where we were playing
in the dirt and one of them said boy tell that nigger
to get out here and suck my dick
and when i didn't move fast enough for him
he shoved me so that i stumbled
on the steps
and hurt my arm and richard and bud
were sniffling and i was yelling
out loud
for annie! annie! when all of a sudden
there she was up on the porch
just outside
the screen door
holding daddy's shotgun pointed waist high
at the men and her voice
was like one of the ghosty people
in the stories
she would tell us sometimes
and scare the daylights out of you only this time
instead of going woooo woooo
she said y'all touch one of my babies again i'll kill you
but that night
when daddy got home the man that ran
the warehouse had a talk
with him and we had to let annie go
daddy said because
what would happen if that crazy woman had hurt somebody
and we never saw her again
but one time when i asked what maybe happened to her
mama said who knows
people like annie they just come and go

Location: Hell's Half Acre, North Carolina
Email: jdline@vnet.net
Publications: Stirring, etc.

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