Come Day, Go Day

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Cloletha was searching through the meat case when she saw Bo out of the corner of her eye, but she just kept right on looking through the packages of hamhocks. Trying to find out which one was going to taste the best, though she could only guess from looking through the plastic covering. She had driven to the Piggly Wiggly right when they opened so she could get her a hamhock, then head to work at Mrs. Gold’s and be on time. Because after she left Mrs. Gold’s she wasn’t going to want to run back out to the store and face the evening crowd of wives.

Even though her mama was dead, Cloletha heard her voice in her head telling her she better have some collard greens boiling in the pot, otherwise supper wasn’t complete. And Cloletha needed to put a good hamhock in the water, otherwise those greens would be tough as corn shucks. You couldn’t cook collard greens without some pigmeat to make them tender, but when she made it to work, Cloletha knew she’d have to hide her hamhock from Mrs. Gold until she sneaked it back out on her way home.

Mrs. Gold was a caution, sweet as far as white people went, but a sure enough caution. She was just an old lady, didn’t mean anybody any harm, but she did have her tantrums every now and then and Cloletha didn’t want Mrs. Gold’s nerves worked like that. Cloletha didn’t want her own worked either. If Mrs. Gold found out there was pork anywhere around her, she was going to have a fit. At least she didn’t have two of those separate Frigidaires for her food, but Cloletha knew Mrs. Gold had some powers. She could see into Cloletha’s secret, pig-loving heart. Like Cloletha’s mama always had known when Cloletha did wrong when she was a little girl. So she knew she had to hide that hamhock and wash her hands over and over, lest Mrs. Gold sniff it on her somehow.

“I smell swine.” That’s what Mrs. Gold would say. Only that, and turn her head away from Cloletha in supreme disappointment. She might stop speaking to Cloletha for a few days, too, and there would be much making up to do on Cloletha’s part.

Cloletha held onto the glass front of the meat case as she looked and tried not to slip on a wet spot on the floor; they didn’t mop up at the Piggly Wiggly like they should. And those rubber-bottomed nurse’s shoes of hers didn’t grip right sometimes. They were ugly, too.

“Hey, Cloletha, how you doing?”

Bo carried a six-pack in one hand. This early on a Wednesday morning and here he was, not even ashamed to be drinking. Or planning to drink.

It wasn’t like she hadn’t been seeing Bo around. It was just a small town, that’s what she kept telling herself when she started to see him down to her church, Red Mound Primitive Baptist, for two Sundays running. By himself, though he should have been with his wife, Doreen, and their three girls at First Baptist. That was Bo’s regular church. Cloletha was trying not to be vain and think every man wanted her, when what the man really was doing was just trying out a new church. But now, Bo in front of her at eight-fifteen in the morning, staring at her in the Piggly Wiggly, now that was something different.

She noticed how good Bo was looking. Fifteen and more years gone by, but he looked as good as he did back in high school, better even than when they were kids and she thought she had so many chances. Before she started getting older and the men started looking the same way. Feeling the same way on top of her, too.

Bo was well past thirty and edging on to middle age but walking upright. Had every single one of those pretty teeth of his. Not a spot of decay anywhere in that mouth. He certainly was looking sure enough good so she let herself make small talk while her back was turned. Cloletha didn’t even worry about his looking her over. The good thing about a man who had become harmless in your mind was that you didn’t think about how you looked like to him from behind. She was wearing a girdle, so she knew she couldn’t look too bad.

“Yeah, Cloletha, I just finished a double shift.” Bo closed his hand onto the edge of the meat case, like he was keeping it standing up with his strength. “I’m so tired. I’m going home and take me a bath.”

“I heard that. Fixing to go see bout Miz Gold myself.” Trying to give him a hint that she didn’t have time for idle chatter.

“You still taking care of her? Money must be good.”

“Can’t complain.”

Bo had been the first boy Cloletha had kissed and pressed her then-young body up against and whispered to and made plans with. And, also, the first boy she had hurt so bad by breaking it off suddenly. She had told Bo she didn’t want to be his girlfriend anymore, that she just wanted to be by herself, but the truth was that she had been getting with Pete Jackson for a couple of months already. Giving him what she had been trying to give Bo for two years but what he just wouldn’t take. What was wrong with Bo, Cloletha had asked herself, especially when she started getting bored with Pete.

Must have been something wrong with him. Bo kept saying, “Cloletha, naw, you a good girl,” but Cloletha had suspected that wasn’t it. She just didn’t know what it had been. She had been excited, sneaking around behind Bo’s back, though it quickly turned tired with Pete when he became her boyfriend for real. And it hadn’t felt so good when Bo had cried salt tears when he ran into her and Pete coming down from the balcony at the movies that night.

• •

At Mrs. Gold’s Cloletha greeted Sondra, the night nurse. Cloletha held her grocery bag behind her, trying not to be obvious until Sondra left by the back door. Sondra looked at her a bit odd, but Cloletha smiled like nothing was wrong. Then she hid her hamhock in the Frigidaire, covering it up with a bottle of milk and another of orange juice. Mrs. Gold couldn’t walk to the kitchen without help anyway, but Cloletha made sure if a miracle happened and Mrs. Gold started getting spry, she wouldn’t find that hamhock in the Frigidaire without some serious digging.

“Cloletha, is that you?” Mrs. Gold called out from her bedroom.

Cloletha didn’t know who else it would be. Sondra had just left and Mrs. Gold’s son, Jimmy, lived in Atlanta and visited only a couple of times a month when he came to town to collect rent from Mrs. Gold’s tenants. He never came on Friday and stayed until sundown and lit Mrs. Gold’s special candles with her even though Mrs. Gold always asked him to. He didn’t bring his wife or children, either, because a few years ago Mrs. Gold had called the wife a name that sounded like a hiss. Not to the woman’s face, but it had made Jimmy very mad. Later on, Mrs. Gold told Cloletha that the word meant a bad woman who wasn’t of the right faith, meaning Jewish.

Today, as Cloletha sat next to Mrs. Gold on the love seat, their shoulders touching while they watched The Price Is Right, Mrs. Gold told Cloletha, as she had so many times before, that if Jimmy had married a nice Jewish girl, she could go to her grave in peace. That’s why she couldn’t die yet.

“Miz Gold, when you gone get past this? You got grandkids by that lady now. Ain’t that good enough?”

“It’s because of my grandchildren that I despise her.”

“Them some strong words, Miz Gold.”

“I know what I’m saying. Do you know my oldest grandson hasn’t even had his bar mitzvah? I asked and asked Jimmy about it and finally, he had to tell me. He was trying to hide it from me, but I told him he can’t hide from You Know Who.” Mrs. Gold emphatically pointed her finger up to the ceiling.

“Well, you done told me that before, but I’m telling you it could be worse. I ain’t trying to be funny, but at least they both white, Miz Gold. Now what you need to be doing is thanking You Know Who for little bitty favors.”

“The in-laws don’t think Jimmy’s white. The in-laws belong to a country club that won’t let Jimmy come through the front door or the back either. I’m telling you, Jimmy might as well be colored to these so-called in-laws. No offense, Cloletha.”

“None taken, Miz Gold.”

“As a matter of fact, I would have been happier if he had married a colored girl, as long as she was Jewish.”

“Uh-huh, I don’t believe that, Miz Gold. I don’t believe that at all.”

Mrs. Gold allowed Cloletha boldness because she was Mrs. Gold’s favorite out of her three caretakers. Cloletha knew having someone to talk to her, as an equal or at least an approximation of one, made Mrs. Gold feel as if Cloletha were a friend who stopped by five days a week and half a day every other Sunday just to visit, instead of a black somebody paid to help Mrs. Gold sit on the toilet, make sure she didn’t slip getting in and out of the bathtub, dress her, and comb her thin, gray hair in a style that did not reveal too much scalp.

“It’s true. Look at Sammy Davis, Jr. He converted, you know. He’s a good Jew, too.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Boy, that Sammy! He’s so cute and he sure can dance. Don’t you just love him, Cloletha?”

“He all right, Miz Gold. He show his teeth too much if you ask me.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It mean he smile too much. And remember last year when he hugged President Nixon? That was a scandal!”

“What’s wrong with hugging somebody, especially the President? Hugging means you’re friendly. Smiling, too. Those are good things, aren’t they?”

Cloletha said nothing.

“Is this one of those secrets you won’t tell me that has to do with being colored? Always with the secrets, this girl!”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Don’t you ‘yes ma’am’ me. I’m old but I’m nobody’s damned fool.”

“I heard that, Miz Gold.”

“I don’t smell swine on you, do I?”

“No, ma’am.”

• •

The next day was her day off, so Cloletha rose early to clean up her place. She never had been one of those neat women that men talked about. The kind of woman who made them think of their mamas. Men wanted one of those, but Cloletha didn’t want to be one of those mama-women, since usually, the man and Cloletha were going to end up in bed sooner or later. What kind of nasty mess would that be, rolling around naked with a man while he was thinking about his mama? That was nasty, that’s what that was.

She knew what a man desired in a mama-woman. He wanted wife material, and somehow, Cloletha never seemed to be that. Some days that was all right, because she didn’t want some man up in her house telling her what to do. Asking her to fry him some chicken and make him some biscuits every time she turned around. Bugging her to clean up when she didn’t feel like it and handing her white shirts to iron. Somebody constantly squabbling with her about the lack of money in the house, like he didn’t know being black usually meant being broke. He should look around him and see that truth. Cloletha knew she could do bad all by herself. Seeing her mama and daddy had taught her that.

But some days, being a wife seemed like a mystery to Cloletha. A wonderful mystery that only some women could snatch and open and discover for themselves. And some days, not having found out what the inside of that mystery looked like made Cloletha mad. What was wrong with her? Not a damned thing, that’s what. She had some good loving, some real good loving. She knew that from the way men acted when they were with her that way. And Cloletha kept herself up, wore pretty clothes on her day off from Mrs. Gold’s, fixed her hair on a regular basis. Cloletha was a handsome woman, too, though she could maybe stand to lose a couple of pounds and she didn’t have all her teeth. She had to have the gold tooth put in front from when Ella Sims and she had gotten to fighting over a man a while back. Ella had hit Cloletha in the mouth and knocked the tooth out but Cloletha wasn’t upset anymore about that. It had been a long time ago.

Shoot. Cloletha was keeping better than most women who had been married for five or ten years, the ones who always seemed so smug when she ran into them at the Piggly Wiggly.

“Girl, when you gone get yourself a man? You ain’t got no time to lose, Cloletha.” Never mind that the woman’s own man was about as cute as broke-leg-dog and didn’t want to work. He was a man. That was what mattered.

Her day off was an all right day, though. Cloletha wasn’t feeling mad that day or afraid of what was going to happen to her when she got old and had no one to help take care of her. She was feeling energized and she took herself a long hot shower, making sure her head was covered well by the plastic cap so her hair wouldn’t go back from the water. Then she put on a pink pantsuit with a green scarf around her neck, even though she only was going to sit around barefoot and paint her toenails and watch TV until she found herself hungry. Then she was going to fix herself a bologna sandwich for lunch. That was going to make her sleepy and so she was going to take off her outfit and nap. Then she was going to get up, put back on her outfit, and watch more TV. For dinner, warm up some of the collard greens she had made the evening before with a corn cake to dip in the pot liquor. Then read Ebony until she got sleepy again.

Bo knocked on the back door at the beginning of Captain Kangaroo. At first, she thought it was that long branch of the big oak tree in the backyard, the one that hung low over the house. She needed to have that tree cut down but couldn’t bring herself to because she liked the thought of having a big tree in her yard like Mrs. Gold had in hers. She ignored the knocking sound for a while until she realized that a branch couldn’t make such a steady rhythm.

“Hey Bo, what you know good?” Cloletha stood behind the screen door and wanted to ask him what the hell he was doing knocking on her back door this early in the morning, but he wore a look on his face like the slightest of words could break him down.

“Hey Cloletha. I just got off from work. Bout to go home and take me a bath. Thought I’d come by and say hey to you. You sure looking fine. You going somewhere?”

“No, I’m just sitting up in here by myself.”

Cloletha was not liking the fact that she and Bo had entered into a pattern after only two days. Yesterday, the Piggly Wiggly. Today, her back door. If she saw Bo tomorrow morning, she could write the words to her own blues song.

“Can I come in?” Bo pressed his palm against the screen and pushed gently.

“Well, it’s kinda messy up in here. I won’t expecting no company.” Cloletha let go of the door handle and let him push the screen door open. She walked through the kitchen to the front room and knew he was following.

“Aw, woman, you know I done seen this house worse.” That was true. Back in the day, she and Bo had wrestled afternoons on this very same couch in the front room after school. Her mama was at work and Cloletha wasn’t supposed to be having boys over but she had been trying to get Bo to do something, a certain something, and he had said, no, no, she was a good girl.

• •

“Cloletha, what’s that smell?”

“Miz Gold, I done told you I ain’t been eating pork.”

“No, it’s something else. I know what it is.” Mrs. Gold poked Cloletha in her side with her elbow. “I smell a man.” On The Price Is Right, both contestants bid over. The losing music sounded in the background with its tragic bass noise. Mrs. Gold turned momentarily from Cloletha to throw up her hands then turned back to Cloletha and smiled slyly.

Oh, Lord.

“This might come as a surprise to you, Cloletha, but you know I was married once. I even made a baby with a man. I know when hanky-panky is going on.”

“Miz Gold, ain’t nothing like that happening.” Mrs. Gold laughed and laughed. Cloletha was glad she was too brown to show a blush.

“So you found yourself a boyfriend, huh?”

“Well, not exactly. I mean, somebody trying to like me, but I don’t know about him.”

“What’s there to know?”

Cloletha’s mind worked frantically. It wasn’t too good to let Mrs. Gold jump too many steps in front of you, especially if you didn’t want to tell her the truth.

“Cloletha, let me tell you a secret.”

Oh, Lord.

“You know, some years after Mr. Gold died, I had a boyfriend for a while, a very nice, older gentleman. He wasn’t Jewish, but we kept company discreetly. If you catch my meaning.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, this nice, older gentleman wanted to get married, but I didn’t think it was best. What kind of example would that have set for Jimmy? I always told Jimmy’s father, we should have sent him to college up north. There are plenty of Jewish girls up north.” Cloletha hoped that Mrs. Gold’s mind was wandering away from the given subject, but Mrs. Gold came back around. “So the nice, older gentleman and I didn’t get married. He was very disappointed, and after a while, he became impatient and he married someone else. That was that.”

Mrs. Gold looked down at her hands in her lap.

“But often, I have wondered why he had to spoil a good thing trying to get married. What did we have to prove at our age? And our needs were met. If you catch my meaning again.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“What I’m saying is, you’re a beautiful, young girl. You have plenty of time to make those choices.”

“Miz Gold, I’m thirty-three years old. Be thirty-four in five months. I ain’t no young girl no more. And some of these men out here, you know, they married and trying to run around. I got to be careful with myself.”

Cloletha thought that was as much as she was going to tell Mrs. Gold.

“Listen to me, sweetie. Men are what they are. It’s always something. His wife doesn’t understand him. You’re so beautiful and he can’t help himself. He suspects one of the children isn’t his. Oh, it’s always something.”

What was it that Bo had said last week? He had a feeling that Doreen had stepped out on him and that his baby child wasn’t his blood. They had been sitting on Cloletha’s couch in her house, early the morning that he had stopped by on her day off. Holding hands while Captain Kangaroo tried to teach the children of the nation right from wrong. Sitting close and then closer until Cloletha felt Bo’s breath, familiar yet thrillingly new on her cheek. His truck parked up the road and hid behind some trees. And he had talked about how he never loved Doreen the way he had Cloletha, even though he and Cloletha were teenagers when all that had taken place. And maybe Doreen had known that and had cheated to get back at him.

Cloletha had been getting those feelings that told her that she was going to be naked with Bo in under two hours, and it was going to be some good, wild loving, too, the kind that made her hair go back and she had to wash and dry and straighten it over again, though Cloletha was trying to pretend to Bo like she wasn’t studying about loving. The pretending was what made the loving much better. And afterwards, she planned on fixing him a bologna sandwich when she made her own. Might even pour him a glass of red Kool-Aid, too.

Even with those feelings, Cloletha couldn’t drum up any sympathy for Bo and his supposed troubles. She didn’t care one way or the other about Doreen. She wasn’t jealous of Doreen but she didn’t feel guilty about her either. Bo had been Cloletha’s before he was Doreen’s. What Bo told her about the baby girl, what he suspected, that only had made Cloletha a little annoyed at Bo, but not sorry for him, either. Bo needed to stop whining. That child was living in Bo’s house, under his roof, and the child needed him to be her daddy, even if he wasn’t by blood. Bo needed to get past whatever he suspected because it was too late for his stupid regrets or suspicions. Feed them and they’ll look like you, Cloletha’s mama always had said.

Because Mrs. Gold had struck a nerve, Cloletha found herself wanting to defend Bo to her, though she couldn’t actually claim him by name.

“Well, what if, you know, just supposing he having problems and all that with his wife or some of that other stuff be true? I mean, just supposing?”

“Oh, sweetie.” Sigh. “A man always says something to justify, but remember, if it’s not about him but about you, then you can hold your head up. Trust me, when you’re my age, and you can’t even walk around your own house without using somebody’s arm, when your own son won’t come and light the Shabbat candles with you . . . ” Mrs. Gold put her hand up and covered her mouth for a moment. “What I’m saying to you, Cloletha, is that you’ll look back on this time and wish you had lived your feelings when you had them. So live them. Just as long as when you do your business, you don’t do it on Front Street.” Mrs. Gold poked Cloletha in the side again. “If you catch my meaning one more time.”

“Miz Gold, you know you something else.”

“Don’t you forget it.”

• •

At the American Legion, Bo’s face is turned away as he watches the jukebox. Studying on a song. Cloletha stays patient beside him. Bo’s right hand in his pocket, fingering the change, like he might decide to play something different other than James Brown, but after a few months together, Cloletha knows that the outcome definitely will be James Brown. James Brown is the sure-enough man.

Bo likes the song about a brother owning the world, claiming what belongs to him. That’s the one he always wants to play because that makes Cloletha mad and then he gets to calm her down. Cloletha, she likes the one that is a steady stream of pleading. She likes that one. That one makes her love come down, as if she needs an excuse.

“Cloletha, girl. You know got my nose wide open.”

“I hear you talking, but if Doreen come through that door, you gone say different.”

She isn’t serious, though, just likes to tease him. Doreen never comes through the door, so Cloletha cozys up with Bo in the corner but tries not to appear that way just for the sake of propriety. Bo’s looking one way, Cloletha’s looking the other. Trying not to watch folk looking at them and gossiping.

There they go again, Bo and Cloletha, talking out the sides of they mouths. Who they think they fooling?

Acting like he talking to himself, like he crazy. He know he ain’t crazy. He just a dog, that’s all.

Cloletha crazy, though, done been crazy. She ready for a room down to Milledgeville, a bed and one of them straitjackets, too. Cause when Doreen find out, Cloletha gone get hurt.

That’s right, I had done forgot about what Doreen did to Fanny.

I bet Fanny ain’t forgot. She still carrying that mark cross her face.

Uh-huh. Fanny used to be so pretty.

Not no more, she ain’t.

After they started seeing each other again, Bo found out Cloletha’s brand, and then he started smoking that instead of his regular brand. Bought it in boxes so they could smoke together. Tonight he lights her cigarette for her, bending his leg at the knee and striking an old time safety on the bottom of shoe leather and then the scent of sulfur lingers. That is his scent now, to her.

Standing in the corner, smoking, trying to hide behind the disguise of whiteness. Moving real slow to James’s word. Bo likes to pretend it is a man’s world, and then later on, Cloletha lets him know it really is hers.

Sometimes, on these Saturdays, if the room remains mostly empty, they will dance together. Not at first but after she dances with other men, army friends of Bo. Each man keeping a space between himself and Cloletha, looking impersonally at the top of her head until the music finished playing. Then, after five or six songs, Bo will cue up the jukebox to James.

After they dance, Cloletha will look at him, wait on him to get up and leave. If he did, that meant he would be coming by soon, that they would spend the night together, wrapped around each other as if they don’t need sleep ever. That meant Bo would rise and leave and go home and shower and meet her at her church. Cloletha never has asked what he says to Doreen and he doesn’t volunteer. She only knows that he’s stopped going to church with Doreen and the girls. And that Cloletha sits every Sunday in the amen corner and Bo sits in the back pew at Red Mound, but they both sway to the preacher shouting and loving the Word as if they are not both shameless sinners who would burn for their pleasure.

This Saturday, tonight at the Legion, Cloletha feels playful.

“Bo, I need to leave. I got church in the morning and then I got to be at Miz Gold’s. You know Sunday my half-day.”

“Come on, now, don’t go. I’m gone be at church with you. If I don’t need no sleep you don’t neither.” Flashing those pretty teeth of his.

“Doreen gone come through that door soon. I bet you.”

“I’m a grown man. I ain’t scared of no Doreen. Besides she ain’t came in all this time.”

“Uh-huh, that’s what you say. But she got papers on you.”

Not wanting to go but lazily stretching her body just to scare Bo. Just to feel his hand touch her arm to stop her from going, though Cloletha knows she wouldn’t leave unless they have exchanged the sign. Unless he would be there later on, his pickup in the bushes up the road from her little house. Unless he would tiptoe up to the back door and knock light.

Tonight, as Bo and Cloletha play, Doreen finally walks through the door of the Legion and looks over at Bo. She doesn’t say a word or come closer to the two of them across the room. Him and her, Bo and Cloletha. Cloletha doesn’t stretch her body anymore, like she has so much time. Cloletha tenses and wants to run. She’s played this scene before, with someone else’s husband. Over and over. She’s too old to play this scene again. She can’t carry another gold tooth in the front of her mouth.

Doreen not looking mad, though Cloletha prepares to die or at least bleed. What Doreen looks like is certain. Bo is her husband and she doesn’t need to get mad because she and Bo, they’ve been through this before.

Tonight, it’s Cloletha’s favorite song on the jukebox. An old song, but it’s still good, the best song there is for Cloletha. The stream of pleading, apologies in advance.

Bo whispers to her out the side of his mouth.

“Wait a minute, baby, don’t go. I done told you just wait on me. Just for a minute. I’m coming right back.”

“Uh-huh, that’s what you say. You ain’t coming back. You know you ain’t, so go on and run after your wife.”

“I’m gone be right back, baby. I promise.”

His hand stays on her arm for a few moments and his fingertips brush the fine hairs on her skin as if he translates a language spoken way, way over there, across the water somewhere but he knows that language. Lord, Jesus, he knows it. Taking the hand away but touching her one last time. Doreen waiting by the door, patient.

“Cloletha, I’m gone park right in the front tonight. Just wait on me cause I’m gone be back, baby.”

Cloletha thinks that she should be ironing her dress for church tomorrow. Rinsing out her stockings and hanging them over the shower pole. She’s thinking on what Mrs. Gold told her. There’s still time for Cloletha.

“I’m gone knock on that front door tonight, Cloletha. I promise.”

Keep her business to herself, that’s what she should do. Don’t keep coming to the Legion standing in the corner with Bo, broadcasting—that’s if she ever sees him again. If Doreen has not reclaimed him.

“OK, but you better park right in front like you say.” Cloletha looks down at the floor as she says this to Bo, knowing he already has left her side. Knowing she is a fool. Wondering how she has entered into this kind of bargain with this man.

It was that day months ago in the Piggly Wiggly. How she noticed the edge of cupid’s bow of his top lip and how it puckered in lines when he smiled. How the smile revealed the red inside the almost black of his bottom lip. The wonders of the mouth, the teeth, set in an ordinary face that wasn’t handsome in particular. The way, when she first started learning how to kiss at fifteen, years ago, Bo had tasted so clean, though she didn’t know what clean was then. She would find out later, when the men were no longer that way.

She had reminded herself that the man was married to Doreen. Bo was the father of three girls and was settled. And he had been buying beer at the crack of dawn practically, so he wasn’t a prize for Cloletha to rub the tarnish off and carry around in her pocket.

Bo had looked straight at Cloletha while she hunted for her hamhock. His eyebrows had been raised and meeting together in a question and she had wondered if he was thinking about Pete Jackson. Bo still trying to figure out what Pete had that he hadn’t, even though Pete had run up north a while back. He had knocked up a girl and when the sheriff tried to make Pete marry the girl, Pete headed out on the bus the next day before the law could stop him. They said he was up in Cleveland somewhere.

Cloletha had tried to hide her guilt from herself as Bo stood there, holding his six-pack, but she felt bad. She had wanted to tell Bo she was so sorry, that she had done him wrong stepping out on him with Pete. He hadn’t deserved to be fooled like that. It also came to her clear as she was looking for her hamhock that she had thrown Bo away before she knew any better, and realizing that made her mad at Bo.

So she tried to brush Bo off by walking fast ahead of him, but when she got to the checkout, she remembered she had left her purse in the car and she just stood there feeling stupid until Bo had caught up with her. Bo had taken the hamhock from her left hand and paid the fifty-nine cents for it. And though it wasn’t heavy at all, Bo had carried the small bag out to her car for her.

“I got that for you, Cloletha. You know I got that, girl.”

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