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Rich Man, Poor Man

by Janice Daugharty


Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2010 Janice Daugharty


Second time around the yard and the hens lift high on gold wax claws and kite past Elec with his legs spread like a cardboard standup in a Minit Market. He lunges for the last hen and nabs one wing, opening it like a Spanish fan, picks her up, frantic and flouncing, and tucks her under his right arm. She settles, clucking, pea eyes shining from her inset head.

The young woman on the back porch flips her long platinum hair and titters. "Go on and take `em all," she says. "Teach June Bug to loaf off and leave me." Her butt is a bustle, how Elec likes his women.

He stoops to stuff the hen into a tomato crate, then stands with his blue jeans riding dangerously low. His nappy head spikes silver in the sun. He cocks his hip and lights a cigarette between cupped hands as if he's blowing on a mouthharp.

"Yeah," he says, "I shore been wanting me some laying hens." He doesn't know if that is true exactly, though he has coveted the fat black hens since he first came by to get permission to clear the AT&T right-of-way through the couple's front yard.

The woman floats like an aired-up angel toward the end of the vine-twined porch and gazes up the dirt road. She's wearing a long denim skirt and a tight magenta shirt that shows her hiked balloon breasts. Her round face is a makeup masterpiece.

"Old man ain't gone get aholt of you for letting me have his hens, is he?" Elec's blue eyes bloom in his sun-pied face.

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