by Xiao Qing
Copyright 2013 Xiao Qing
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No matter what, Old Man was dead. His family scraped together the twenty-five cents to pay the bullet fee and brought his remains home in the oxcart that he used to drive.
“One bullet, that’s pretty good though. What if they fired two shots? That would definitely put his family in debt,” a villager drawled before taking a bite from a charred potato.
Under their bamboo hats, the villagers nodded as they devoured their lunch along the edge of the rice paddy. In front of them, the rice grew full, shimmering chartreuse beneath the scorching sun.
“Poor Old Man, I can’t believe it,” a young woman said as she unbuttoned her blouse for her son, Tiger. The two-year-old boy was naked, squatting a few steps away from her, toying with rocks and twigs as he dribbled. In the sunlight, his stout body shone golden brown and his butt was caked with mud. Bumps and scrapes, old and fresh, were all over his knees, legs, arms and elbows.
“It doesn’t matter now, he’s gone. May his soul find peace.” The young woman opened her blouse wide, letting out two breasts, full as honey melons. “Tiger!” she called, and then clapped her hands.
The boy heard his mother. He giggled and dropped the rocks and twigs. Crawling over to his mama he pounced on her left breast and caught the chocolate-hued nipple in his mouth. With a gurgling sound, he started to suckle.