3   Even Sunflowers Cast Shadows


    Even the first time we were together, Rach was at the center of things. He was a string bean of a boy with skinny ankles shooting out the bottom of his britches and a cowlick like a tornado in his straw-colored hair. He bragged about a manufacturing plant where his daddy had worked in Detroit that made “an automobile a minute.”
    “Bull,” John B. challenged. The boys were the same age, but my Johnny was a half foot shorter than Rach. “Does not.”
    “Does so,” Rach shot back. There was something wiry and pugnacious about him that I immediately admired.
    John B. smiled. “Y’all talk funny.”
    Rach laughed. “And you all don’t?” Then everybody laughed.
    So we became thick as thieves. We just couldn’t get enough of each other. Rach had a certain swagger that you had to keep your eye on, and I could see that Eileen, who was nine at the time, was getting her money’s worth. Margaret Drummond was my age. She could cross her eyes harder than anyone I ever met, before or since. She’d pull them in and down until practically all that was left was white. Sometimes she’d set them that way with her lids closed and open them up on someone. It scared the bejesus out of little Sue-Sue the first time. Margaret never got to enjoy the full reaction of her victims, of course, because she’d have had to be able to look out her nose holes to do it.
    Our two houses were situated at the edge of town. The Drummonds were the last house on Cherokee Street and we were around the block at the very end of New York. Cornucopia being a river town, it was just a short hop from either place through a little wooded glen to a cool swim on a hot summer afternoon. So that’s where we all headed for a dip below the dam that first day to get acquainted. Us and the Drummonds.

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(c) 2010 Douglas Armstrong