How could he have known? It surely wasn’t his fault. For five years he had to beat the boy regular, and now this.

He had always been the troublemaker. The other seven never gave much trouble. They always minded – especially after a good whipping. But not that one. Never did listen.

Just sit and grin. That’s what burned you up. Like he didn’t even care if he peed in his pants, or left the milk out to sour. Every day it seemed like it was this or that. Work out in a ditch all day then come home to his wife yelling about that boy again. Five years! It still made him mad at both of them. She should have known anyway.

Deaf as a post. Never had been able to hear nothing but noise after he was three. He had just thought he was lazy and stupid. God knew he loved this child just as much as the others. The Lord must be testing him again. He rubbed the boy’s head. He turned toward his daddy and grinned.

I growed up po and ignant in Alabama. Then I went off to college and became a socialistic atheistic business school grad with an MBA. Not wanting to add evil capitalistic bastard to my resume, I obtained an antidote degree -the MFA. What a difference a letter makes. Now I teach college and make art. That's more fun and I'm less prone to drift toward the dark side. So, at the advanced age of sixty.... I have chosen mind over matter, joined the League of Defensive Pessimists and have no better answers, only fewer questions.

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