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This is what it's like being in love, This is what it means to say I love you by EZ Scrittore

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Jackson and the little Norris boy, Wyzel, were out the back of the yard playing. Back there there is an old oak tree that got split down the middle by a bolt of lightning the summer I turned ten. When Big Daddy went to go chop it down I asked him to let me keep it and let me make a house in it and that's what I did.


Jackson's father, my brother Saul, had been seven at the time and Mamma was going to have Simon and Sarah any day soon. Big Daddy just looked at me and said: "Da tree yorns sos long as youse do da wirk yornselfs." And by the time Paul and Peter came along -- Paul a year later; Peter eight months after Paul -- I had my house done.


Wyzel was making a racket of a fuss with some rusted-out pots and Jackson was laying in to old wooden swing kicking up dirt and turning a pie tin in his hands playing at driving. He planted his feet in the ground, kicking up yet more dirt, and hopped off the swing and made for the door of the house. Wyzel meets him at the door and they kissed and hugged. They are unselfconcious and this was just apart of the game.


The heavy cherry-red ball of the sun set the olive-green and yellow leaves of the oak trees that lined the yard back there ablaze as it took its last foot falls of the days across the sky and my cheeks flooded over with hot fat tears like a river. Were Jackson to see me cry the boy'd ask me: Uncle Sweetie, why you crying? And I'd have to tell him that this is what its feels like being in love and having the one man you ever truely loved be dead and burried under the clay. And were Wyzel to hear Jackson asking he'd ask: Are you crying for Mr. Walker or yourself? And I'd have to say: A little for both. And I won't tell them that I did love Adam until I fell for Billy Hunter and I loved Bill until Adam came to take me home. I \won't say that that was when I truely realized that I was and would always be in love with Adam.


But, Jackson never saw and Wyzel never asked and I never told them that saying I love you and meaning it is a physical act. It'll cut into your flesh, your very soul, like a sharp cool scapel if you play with it too long. Wyzel never asked and Jackson never saw the river I cried for myself and my lover that died at my own hands and I just let them go on on playing and thinking that love made you fall off a cliff of passion that you never come down from because you're held up by love.




I first met Adam Walker at the old County Hospital, back when it had still had the sign that read Conuty Hospital. Big Daddy had been gone on on home to the land of God some ten years by the time and Mamma was in room 708 making a turn from this world twords the next. I was in the cafateria and was spilling hot fast tears over the plane bagel I'd bought just to have something to do other than sitting in that room with Mamma and waitting for her appointment with Death's angel.


I was alone and Adam came in and I felt his gaze on me like it was an old friend. He strolled on on over to where I was sitting on a cherrywood bench and sat on down next to me and nestled me in hs ox-strong arms, He pressed a handkerchief in my hands and told me that his wife just passed on on in child birth taking the child with her. He then left.


It was days later, two days after Mamma went on on with her appointment with death's angel, that I learned his name was Adam Walker. The handkerchief, with its uniform and curling block letter stitching, said all I needed to know. After I read his name from the bit of cloth, it was a simple matter of finding him in the phonebook. Luck was on my side in this matter as there was only one Adam Walker listed in the book.


I went to return that handkerchief and found myself getting lost in Adam and his world and I was safe. I was safe with Adam and I conned myself into believing I was in love with this man, this Adam Walker, because my name felt right comming out of his mouth.


I'd lost myself and I would have tried to find myself if it weren't of Billy Hunter.




My name may have been safe with Adam, but, that don't mean I was safe and being with Adam was like walking on broken glass with eggshells for shoes. You gone get choself cut no matter how carefully you step around what needed to be talked about and no matter how many times you folded yourself in half you still cain't be happy for your too busy trying not to be seen avoiding what chu trying to avoid. You just end up becoming numb in the soul. Sorta like frostbite in the heart.


Being with Billy was different. We were equals. It was easy as breathing. It was like waking up from a dream and finding that that man you've been dreaming about is laying right there next to you and your heart kinda skips a beat because you just realized, yet again, that you really do love that man. You just lean on down and puts your head right on his chest and listen real close and quite like to his heartbeat and you still get shocked that it beats to the same rhythum as your own.


Adam had been the proprieter of the local dry good store when I first met him. A few years later, he'd expanded and took over the hardware store, when the old owner passed on on. By the time Billy Hunter came into town, I'd been running both stores on my own for five going on six years. That was some ten years ago. There I was twenty-six, in a marriage of sorts to the mayor of Magnolia City, Mississippi - the first all black town in the state -, running two whole stores on my own while keeping a house and planning parties for Adam and the whole time I was dying on the inside. I was so miserably unhappy with the life I'd let myself choose for me to live that I would have left Adam high and dry if I'd had a place to go.


That's what I was thinking about on the day Billy strolled into town. It was May 30th. I remember because it was the day of the big toe party and everybody had either already made the 12 mile trek north to Ruleville or was on there way there. Of course, Adam was there. That couldn't be helped. As mayor he had to put in an appearance.


I'd decided, almost the moment I heard, that if Adam let me go I wounldn't bother one bit going. It wasn't that I couldn't afford the ten dollar door charge. It was that the whole town was going to this thing and I didn't want to miss the opportunity for some ever rare alone time and, like I told Adam, someone needed to be in town in case someone came through. We'd been getting an every increesing number of people visiting our part of the state.


The day was so hot that it felt as though the A/C in the dry goods store, where I was working from that day, was even one and I had it cranked as cold as the thing would go. It didn't do one lick of good aginst the heat. I finally broke down and put a block of ice in an old wash tub in front of an electric fan. It was cooler, but not by much.


I was changing the ice for the third time when I felt the ruch of heat that told me someone had just entered the store. "Ah'll bay wid chu in uh second," I said not looking at the person. They didn't say anything as I finnished up my work. "Kay, Wha kin Ah gets ya," I said as I stood up from my work.


"Ah didn't no no town was dis dead," can a deep voice in reply.


"Tain't usually. Folks gone on ova tah Ruleville fo uh Toe Party," I said as a went to the mini cooler behind the counter took out two bottles of water and passed him one. He took a long swig and poured a generous amount over his head. I got lost in my thoughts as I watched the water drip down his toned shirtless chocolate chest and work its way down to the plaid work shirt tied arounded his waist.


"Wha's uh Toe Party," came his gruff reply.


"Ya ain't fom round dees parts ist ya," I said in a voice that rose in a pail of laughter.


"Naw, suh. Ah'm fom Memfis. So, wha's dis Toe Party bizznass?"


"It's dis bag tahdo whairin folks get tagedda an da wemen folks gets behind uh screen, sticks days bare foots unda da screen, an da mens bets on da toe dey wants ta daynce wid."


"Sounds lak ya done lak dat kintta thang."


"Dat bout rite. Done much care fo such thangs dees days."


"Ya ain't dat ol ist cha? Ya aughttah bay outs enjoyin yourn life."


"Married folks done gots dat option."


"Well, yourn husband's show uh fool tah lave ya hairin hair bay yournsef lak dis."


"Howst ya no Ah gots uh husband?"


"Tain't no main Ah nose gonna lets his ol lady go tah sum party bay huhsefs."


"well, luk at ya wid dat mimfis lunnin uh yourns."


"Ain't ment no disrespect, suh."


"Stop ya dare wid dat suh stuffs. Mah nayme's Sweetie. Sweetie Walkah."


"Well, Missuh Walkah, Ah ain't ment ya no disrespect."


"Tain't non been taykin iffin ya stop callin may Missah Walkah. Mah nayme's Sweetie. Missuh Walkah ist muh hisband."


"Well, hey still uh fool ta lave ya lak dis. Ah show nuff no Ah wudden't iffin Ah was yo main."


"Well, Missah ___, tain't chu jus as silva tonged as day cum."


"Billy Huntah, an done ya star widd dat Missuh Huntah bizznass, naw. Ah ain't buh nineteen an Missah Huntah wast mie pah."


"Well, Billy, chu uh long ways fom Memfis. Wha chu doin in dis neck uh da woods?" At this point Mrs. Jodie Black came into the store for her weekly shopping. I figured she'd be one of the few that didn't go to the party. At eighty-something years old she didn't go much of anywhere these days and apart from the times she visited the store once a week no one saw much of her. (I would later find out that this was the second to last time anyone would see her alive. Adam was the last one to see her alive and it was she who'd told him where I was going.)


"Headed ova ta Clarksdale ta pay uh visit ta uh friend uh mine."


"Well, done let llil ol may kaype ya hair none."


"Ah could awlays used da companay. Ah'm always good fo uh good tim." And just like that, I closed up shop, after seeing Mrs. Jodie off with her groceries, and went along with Billy.




I had been in Clarkesdale with Billy for a carefree and happy month. Billy and I had gotten into the habit of partying until the wee hours of the morning, staying out until the clubs put us out at six in the morning and continuing parting at one friend's or another's house, making love until was passed out, waking up and repeating the whole process over again. It was fun for the first week or two. By the time Adam showed up I'd taken to staying over at whomevers house that we'd be parting at cooking and stocking up for when they'd eventully arrive form the clubs.


It was late, even for us, when Adam showed up. We were parting at Oletta Mae's house, Oletta Mae was Billy's eldest brother's widow, and the party was dying out by that time. Nearly everyone had either turned in or passed out, and it was just Oletta Mae and her beau de jours, some smoothe talking caramel skinned boy half her age she'd picked up at the hole-in-the-wall bar they paid a visit to that night, and Billy and myself.


Oletta Mae and the boy had just retired to her room, and Billy and I were out on the poarch making out heavily and carring on worse than a couple of high schoolers in the backseat of a car in make-out lane when they knew the sheriff would be stopping by in a few minutes. I didn't hear Adam walk up and if he hadn't spoken we wouldn't have known he was even there.


"So, dis's whair ya been," Adam said in his bisness voice which was as close as Adam ever came to showing how ticked off he was.


My blood ran cold at the sight of him. "Adam" was all that I could manage to say in a hollow and empty sounding voice.


"Ah done thank Ah's had da pleasure uh mayten ya," Adam said as he turned his charm on Billy.


"Nayme's Billy. Billy Huntah. No need ta ask who ya are."


"So, ya da un mah Sweetie done run off wid."


"Hey whatn't zacklay yourns iffin hey leff wid sumun lak may."


"Dat's why ah's hair," Adam said wistfully as he turned to me and said "Ya cumming home." It wasn't a question. He'd said it like it was a matter of fact; like there was no other option and I had little doubt that in his mind that was exactly what was going to happen.


"Sweetie ain't goin' nowhair wid chu, Missah," Billy said in an icy voice that chilled me to the bone.


"Tain't much chu can say bout tit, son. C'mon, Sweetie, Tim ta go," Adam said as he grabbed my wrist in his firm, strong grasp and made to pull me away.


"Ah sayed he tain't goin' nowhair wid chu," Billy muttered hotly as he reaced in his pocket and pulled out a switchblade and clicked it.


"Am Ah suppose ta bay scared," Adam muttered back cooly as he dug in his left brest pocket with his free hand and pulled out the a .357 Magnum. This had gone far enough as far as I was concerned. I knew Billy wouldn't back down, not now, after Adam had chalenged him so.


I knew I had to do something to end this before it got too far out of hand. I also knew, form the moment that Adam had showed up that I'd be leaving with him. I knew that the only reason I'd tooken up with Billy was because Adam hadn't been showing me that he loved me or that he cared at all. I knew now, by the simple act of him coming to get me, that he did in fact care.

"Adam," I said in a small and shakely voice as I turned a sweet caressing eye his way, "Give may dat thing, an' Billey, ya puts dat nife uhway. Naw, Ah ain't bouts ta have ya two fiten ova may. Naw, Ah'm, Billey, this was funin awl, but, Ah gotta go home naw."


"Wha chu tallkin bout. Ya is home," Billy said in a voice just above a hiss.


"Boi, he goin home wid may an dat's all ta it," Adam said in his fact stating voice before he grabbed my arm and started to pull me away.


It all happen in the blink of an eye. One moment Adam's holding onto my arm, pulling me away. The next, one of his hands is clutching at the whole in his chest and the other's fumbbling with my hands reaching for the gun. It found purrchase and BAM! Billy fell to the ground; dead before his head even met the grass. Adam, my Adam, fell only seconds later.




The mewling of the cat, a stray thing that I took in one long ago summer's day when its mornful cries pierced the vale of my sleep, drew me from the worlds of my rememory and reminded me of why I'd came out to the back of the yard in the first place. "Jackson, Wyzel," I called to them and they looked up at me throught the glassless window of the tree house expectantly, "Time for supper." They made a mad dash past me into the house headed for the bathroom to wash up. As I looked after them I thought "Ah'd do jus bout ainneethang to protect their love, even ifin Ah had to fight dem deyselves." And in that one moment, that was to only truth that mattered.

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