twelve             

            "Den what?"

            "Den we's standin' dere like someun farted, you know, stock-still, lookin' ev'ry which-a-way..."

            "I knows dat look, like someun farted."

            “...an' ol' Eugene step right on up..."

            "Eugene? Bless us."

            "I' be damned."

            “...an' him say—bold 's can be..."

            "Bold."

            “...say, 'Massah Zack, us hear you gone an' boughts yo'se'f a pillah-niggah..."

            "Pillah-niggah! Naw, him don' say dat."

            "Pillah-niggah, shit. In fron' o' Zach'ry?"

            "Bless us Lawd A'mighty, Eugene soon be at yo' Gates!"

            "Den what?"

            “Den Massah..."

            "Massah? Massah dead."

            " ...Massah Zack, him..."

            "Shit."

            "...ack like nuffin' happen, poker-face like; you know, face don' 's much 's crack..."

            "I seed dat face."

            "...swing hisse'f offen dat hawse real easy..."

            "Slow like."

            "...plant dem feets on de groun'..."

            "I see what comin'."

            "...walk right up to Eugene..."

            "Don' say it; I knows what comin'."

            “...an'POP—he knock 'im down..."

            "No, shit; Zach'ry whumpt 'im?"

            "...POPPED 'im; one clean punch—knock Eugene flat."

            "Wasn'  'spectin' it, wuz all."

            "Not 'spectin' it?! What else you 'spectin', say a damn fool thing like dat to Massah Zach'ry Squire?"

            "Him a chile."

            "Iffen him a chile, hows come you lookin' up from de groun' where dat chile knock you?"

            "Coulda whupt 'im."

            "Sho."

            "I coulda."

            "Zach'ry young, an' mayhap a rube-head, but him muscle' like a ox. Could whup yo' ass fair 'n square, mos' any time, mos' any day."

            "Fuck a rabbit."

            "So ol' Eugene knuckle un'er?"

            "Shrivel like a pea."

            "I coulda whupt 'im!"

            "Den what?"

            "Den come Cotton wif de shovels on'y Cotton totin' five an' him 'pose' to d'liver six—one fo' de Massah."

            "Massah dead, I tellin' ya."

            "Well den him up an' rise like Laz'rus. Dat boy be ev'ry ounce 's orn'ry 's Zachariah."

            "So ussun's done fo', is what yo' sayin'?"

            "Massah Zack say, 'Cotton, goes an' fetch anot'er un.' An' Cotton run off like a bird dog..."

            "Dint."

            "...like a bitch-ass bird dog..."

            "I din't neit'er."

            "...an' come back wif a shovel fo' Massah..."

            "Massah dead."

            "Will you shut up wit dat; I tellin' somethin'!"

            "Tell it, den."

            "Get on wit it."

            "I gettin'."

            "Get."

            "I gettin'. So us march on off to dat bottom Ian', ovah by de crick."

            "No shit, wit shovels? Hell, no won'er you boys tuckert."

            "An' de Massah say..."

            "I mum."

            "...de Massah say, 'Eugene, you digs a ditch wit George an' Luke from here to yon'er. Dig it deep 's you, 'coun' de watah needs to drain.'"

            "In dis heat?"

            "Den him say, 'I takin Cassius an' Cotton an' us diggin' ta ot'er side.'"

            "Dat make sense."

            "An' den him say, 'Whoms'ev' finish fust be gettin' him some co'n.'"

            "NO SHIT! How much?"

            "One jug a man."

            "Yo' foolin'. Man, him foolin'. Cassius, ain't him foolin', messin' wit our brains?"

            "I tellin' true."

            "Him tellin' true—co'n whiskey."

            "Where it at, den? You boys got co'n? Dey co'n somewheres on de premises?"

            The shack erupts with groans and laughs and raucous cussing as a search is made.

            "Well I'll be a uncle to a louse, dat boy not lyin'."

            "Co'n?"

            "Two jugs."

            "Dey full?"

            "Half full."

            "Full earl'er."

            "Shit, do you believes dis man? Co'n here-'bouts an' dese boys pullin' aw da while, not sharin' no-how no-way. We oughta gives yo' drunk-ass hides ta Mistah Tune. Set de wolf-houn' on yas—obble up yo' yarbles 'fo'e yo' sober 'nuff ta gripe."

            "Pass it over."

            "Fuck a rabbit."

            "Co'n whiskey! Ah; taste wondrous! Damn, dat Massah Zach'ry ha'f awright."