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Same Blood

Houghton Mifflin
        1989

Ballantine Books
 February, 1990

Excerpt:

Part One,
Chapter 1


Page 12

Marilyn though, she ain’t bad, she’s the first one would sit down and act comfortable, like she wasn’t sittin’ on hay, and she’s the first one would drink a cup of coffee. Maybe it’s ’gainst the rules down there in Cartsdale. She asks Bubby things, too, what he likes. He thought about it first time, quiet, then blurts out like he does everything, “I like trees, mommies, girls.” Marilyn liked that, it seemed, and that’s all you gotta do for Bubby, he’s such a pleaser. He goes and shows off for her with a whole list of stuff—garage, barn, birds, house, truck,—thinkin’ he’s still real cute sayin’ everything he can name.

It was Marilyn got me the job cleanin’ for Mrs. Butler. She said it was important ’cause I refused to put needles into Bubby so he ain’t got his vaccinations, and after so long tryin’ to change my mind, Marilyn said I’ll lose my Medicaid and maybe even my cash grant. Then I ain’t got nothin’ and already bein’ on probation as a child abuser they could take Bubby away since I ain’t capable of keepin’ him, how Marilyn put it. Now they just see me as stubborn ornery, but I’ll never forget, Daddy, how one minute you was there and the next you was frozen stiff as a board. I do my best to listen to the doctor and I let him check Bubby over but I stop short at lettin’ needles go in. But so no one can say I ain’t capable of keepin’ my own son, I git this job. I was in debt anyway up to my ears, with rent here in Hazel $200 and the cash grant $305, even though we been lucky, Adele givin’ us beds. Well, just the Impala—I got it from Oby Shader over in Kaatersville—it’s in the shop more’n not. So I call up Adele, Beulah had told me ’bout how she was takin’ in kids, her six were grown and she needed the money bein’ all by herself and she’s always loved kids. Adele, she said she’d take Bubby on for $10 a day. Adele’s the one told me ’bout Mrs. Butler bein’ so fussy.

Now Marilyn fought for me, got me up to $4 an hour, a lot more’n Tappen could ever pay, so I make out good moneywise but it ain’t never been good on Bubby ’cause he cried like an Indian for three weeks and the grindin’ in my belly got so bad I was near to faintin’, and you know I ain’t the type to swoon. Adele, she said, “Bubby’s got spirit, we know that, he

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