Yellow-Brown Afternoon

Eucalyptus trees with silver-dollar leaves shaded the chocolate-hued men, those with the ancients’ lines around they eyes and steel and yellow-gray crowns upon they brows, slow and stony and tumbling-down voices, and gnarled fingers like busted-up tree limbs that moved the ivory tabs of black-dotted things this way and that along the scarred and pigeon-shitted table top.

“Don’ be lookin’ over here, you ol’ cheat, don’ be looking over here; git you ol’ yella eye-balls onto you own side a thisyer table.”

“They’s only echoes now,” like the cars and trucks on the overpass, like the train that rumbles slow down on the city track, ‘neath the palm trees on the other side.  “They’s only echoes now, them memories that still live and rattle yon in you brain.”

Images alive in the past and yesterday with a scorched-grass and dusty smell that rides in the nose-hairs for a long day; they’re like swollen and knobby coffee-milk fingers reaching into those lost recesses of tainted dreams, scooting those domino pieces to the side again, sliding them face-down and around, picking-up five or two again, and lining them up sideways at a slant.

“Pass me that bag, Mistah Scott…’f you don’ mine.”  If it were my can in the brown bag I’d have offered me some sitting there, just to see what I’d have done, to see how colored the skin of my soul was on that yellow-brown afternoon.

I fingered the blue card in the manila coin envelope and slid it back and forth, took it out and brought it in again, watching lazy mouths work their chew, work their salted seeds and spitting shells; I thought about the places they’d been, the lies they’d heard, and the promises failed, as the lines wore deep into their chocolate and honey-colored skin.

“You don’ know how to play this, do you, Mistah Scott?”

I used to play it some as a kid with my sisters, said I.

“Yah…maybe so, but not like we doin’, though, ain’t that right?  Not like we doin’ out here ‘long-side the overpass with pigeon shit all over the goddamned place, not like that, didn’ you?”

No, we played inside on the kitchen table…sometimes in the living room…but that was a long time ago.

“Couldn’ be too long ago, Mistah Scott, you just a young man.  You couldn’ tell me ’bout no long time ago, not yet no-how.”

No…not yet, no-how….

10 responses

  1. “No… not yet, no-how” … I know that feeling — Love those words. Puts me in mind of when the grandchildren start a statement “when I was little” (my oldest grandson is now .10). LOL.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:05 am

    • I see that with my little one, too, Marcy…”when I was little…” and he’s 10, also. Yet another example of how so many things are relative to the current situation. Thank you. 🙂

      March 5, 2012 at 8:08 am

  2. So wonderfully written. I was utterly captivated, picturing the scene and hearing the voices. Exchanges and moments like these stay with us. Thank you.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:34 am

    • You’re right, Lemony…those moments do tend to stay with us…sometimes making themselves a part of us. Such a nice comment…thank you.

      And you’re welcome, too. 🙂

      March 5, 2012 at 9:43 am

  3. You write really well Scott.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:06 am

    • Thank you, Mike. 🙂

      March 5, 2012 at 10:40 am

  4. Wonderful Scott, a beautiful weaving of words and humanity.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:54 am

    • Such nice words, Karen…thank you. 🙂

      March 5, 2012 at 11:56 am

  5. George Weaver

    Nobody writes this kind of dialogue in the vernacular unless he’s been there and for far longer than a day. You have the idiom precisely right. You’ve also captured the phonology perfectly. How many writers do you know who even grasp “didn’ “? Much less think to use it. I can’t recall having read it before anywhere. (I say it that way myself)

    Dialect and vernacular are very precise. One wrong word, one wrong phoenic spelling, one wrong phrase…and you’re instantly exposed as a fraud.

    The scene is perfection, but it’s the dialogue that so impressed me. You’re good, Scott. Really good! It’s a treat to read a piece as authentic as this one.

    I’ve neglected your posts. I apologize. I will be back!

    March 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    • Wow, George…I don’t really know what to say…thank you…very much. 🙂

      March 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm

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