Unformatted text preview: www.processtext.com/abclit.html I grunted and nodded and somehow managed to convey the message that I would return any time she wanted. "Would you like to see my garden?" she asked. I nodded again, both jaws filled to capacity. "Good. It's out back. I'll pick you some lettuce and greens. They're coming in nicely." "Wonderful," I managed to utter. "I figure a single man like you needs all the help he can get." "How'd you know I was single?" I took a gulp of tea. It could have served as dessert—there was so much sugar in it. "Folks are talking about you. Word gets around. There are not too many secrets in Clanton, on both sides of the tracks." "What else have you heard?" "Let's see. You rent from the Hocutts. You come from up North." "Memphis." "That far?" "It's an hour away." "Just joking. One of my daughters went to college there." I had many questions about her children, but I was not ready to take notes. Both hands were busy eating. At some point I called her Miss Calia, instead of Miss Ruffin. "It's Callie," she said. "Miss Callie will do just fine." One of the first habits I picked up in Clanton was referring to the ladies, regardless of age, by sticking the word "Miss" in front of their names. Miss Brown, Miss Webster, for new acquaintances who had a few years on them. Miss Martha, Miss Sara, for the younger ones. It was a sign of chivalry and good breeding, and since I had neither it was important to seize as many local customs as possible. "Where did Calia come from?" I asked. "It's Italian," she said, as if that would explain everything. She ate some butter beans. I carved up a pork chop. Then I said, "Italian?" "Yes, that was my first language. It's a long story, one of many. Did they really try to burn clown the paper?" "Yes, they did," I said, wondering if I'd heard this black lady in rural Mississippi just say that he...
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