Guest post by Shaherazade Budreau
This morning, I saw Faith sitting out on the porch in front of the Wilbur County Feed & Seed. She had a cane standing between her legs and was resting her hands on top of it. She was wearing a cap and sunglasses.
“You mind if I sit down here with you, Ma’am,” I asked her.
“Sit yourself right down, Shaherazade,” Ms Applegate said to me. “What brings you to this dusty old place on this fine summer day?”
I plopped myself on the bench beside her, and I told her the Wilbur County Feed & Seed was my favorite place in Germaine.
“Why is that?”
“I like the way it smells and that it’s sort of dark and I like the wood floor even if it is splintery and I have to wear shoes.” It smells like leather and grain from all the saddles and bridles and other horse stuff that the man who works there told me is called tack.
“Dale is always nice to me. He tells me what things are called and what they are used for and doesn’t give me a hard time because I’m just a city kid from the South with a funny accent.”
Miss Applegate nodded her head. “I always liked the baby chicks and rabbits when I was a child.”
“Wow! This store has been here a long time. Oh, I’m sorry, Ms Applegate. I didn’t mean…”
She gave me a look that put a stop to my apology. Wasn’t a mean look, just sad. “Time passes,” She said. “Isn’t any of us can do anything about that.” She looked at her hands resting on the cane and I bet she was thinking about how wrinkly and spotted they are and how they must have looked when Great-Uncle Charlie was holding them.
“Well, the store was pretty new when I was young. Many of these old cooperatives were built back in the Great Depression or earlier, when the farmers had to stick together to survive. Not that things are a whole lot different today. This building replaced a hay barn and stable that burned down.” She might have been about to tell me about that, but then a man walked out of the feedstore. “Got what you need there, Richie?”
The man patted the bag of chicken feed on his shoulder and said, “Sure do. Anywhere else you want to go before we head back home?”
The man named Richie smiled at me. “How’re you?”
“I’m fine,” I said so dumbstruck by how much he looked like Tom Wilburman that I could barely speak.
“Richie Arlington meet Shaherazade Budreau,” Faith said.
“I don’t mean to be rude, sir, but do you know anyone in Biloxi? You got a cousin or brother or somebody there? Cause I know this man looks just like you.”
Mr. Arlington raised an eyebrow and looked real close at me. “I might have known someone, but I don’t believe they live there anymore. Since the hurricane.”
“Nobody lives there since the hurricane,” I said. Mr. Arlington didn’t tell me the name of his “friend” and I was too stupid to ask.
They said goodbye to me and I watched them drive off in Mr. Arlington’s pickup.
I can’t wait until Susie reads this to find out what she thinks about this coincidence.