It is one of the most undesirable and one of the most important tasks around the place. Uncle Jep and I are digging a new pit preparatory to moving the outhouse. It doesn't have to be done often, but when it has to be done, it has to be done. Mid-afternoon and the zephyr speeds the evaporation that cools our sweaty brows.
"That's got 'er." hollers the Old Uncle, "Come on up. We need a break afore we start the move. Worst part now is fillin' th' ol' hole."
I didn't have to be told twice. Clammered out the pit, admired my handiwork. A neatly dug hole, if I do say so myself. We ambled over to the garden where we had left our canteens. I flopped down on the ground, Uncle sat on Aunt Grace's "prayer bench." True. Auntie loved to sit in the garden, listening to the bees and admiring the abundant produce, the grapes on the arbor, the melons on the vines twining through the rows. And there she would pray, for "It is all a gift from God, and to be ungrateful is one of our worst sins."
I took a long draught from my canteen. "Ah! Now, Uncle, give us today's tale."
"Waal," he draws the expression out as though it should be written 'way-all,' "I don't have a 'tale' today, but I do have somethin' on my mind thet I been needin' to say to ya.
"You been with me an' yer Aunt Grace how long now? Goin' on four year, I think. You come over here not dry ahind yer ears, whut? Sixteen, you were. I tole Grace, 'I never be able to deal with a teenage kid, all smart-alecky, know ever'thing, they do.' Waal, I may a been right, but I was wrong. You not on'y a good kid, you have work hard, been a real blessin' to these here two ol' folk.
"Now I know I am a cranky ol' man, can get moughty critical sometime. But what I hafta say is, You are a son to me. Never had a chile, y'know. That is a long an' difficult tale, don't rightly know can I ever tell it you, nor to anyone, come to that. But Grace and I want you to know that had we ever had a chile, we would have hope hit would be one jus' like you."
Uncle Jep arose from the bench, his old bones audibly creaking. I rolled over, hopped up from the ground, and we started to stroll back toward our job site. Without a word, on account I was all choked up, doncha know, as Uncle would say, I put my right arm around his shoulder. He swung his left arm over mine, and we walked just so, back to that hole in the ground.
© 2014 David W. Lacy 33