Breath and Britches (Temporary Title)

Breath and Britches (Temporary Title)

A Story by Carol Cashes

I can't proceed, so it's now a Choose Your Adventure story


“He weren’t nuttin’ but breath and britches.”  Granny nodded her head and “heh-heh’ed” before going on.

“Daddy usta say he’d musta been takin’ those No-assitall tablets.”  I laughed at the corny expression, never mind I’d heard it many times. 


“The child wuz so skinny…we all thought he might be sickly or sump’n, but Lordy! He could eat as much as any grown man.  His mama wuz as fat as he wuz skinny�"we usta wonder if he mighta been ‘dopted, ‘cept’n for those big brown eyes.  Jus’ like his Daddy’s.  Justin wuz his name, after his granddaddy.”


She paused, rearranging her generous behind on the old rocker. 


“Go fetch me one them pillers, baby.  My ole rump is feelin’ this hard wood chair, ta-day.”


I jumped up from the porch step I was perched on at Granny’s feet, swung wide the old screen door and grabbed the first throw pillow I could grab from the faded, butt worn couch.  I managed to scoot back outside before the screen door shut, and handed Granny the old cross stitched pillow.  “Home Is Where The Heart Is”  barely held together by a few stray threads..  She rose from the rocking chair just enough to push the pillow under her, and sat back with a sigh.


I remained standing, leaning against the four by six post that served as a column for the porch.  It was old and splintered, and I tried not to move much to avoid snagging my old tee shirt.  The vinyl feed store logo on the top right corner was peeling and the stains from play and meals adorned this much loved piece of clothing.  It fell near to my knees and hid my faded, frayed denim shorts.  My legs were thin and tan from the southern sun, and the chipped, almost gone pink polish on my toenails appeared translucent in the hot noon sun.  I thought briefly about redoing the polish, but the heat and the promise of Granny telling me another story squashed that.  Sighing, I resumed my seat on the porch step and waited for her to continue.


“His Daddy owned the junkyard.  It usta be right past the ole Methodist Church on 531, you know where I’m talkin’ ‘bout?”


I nodded and so did she.


“They cleaned all them ole cars out a few years back, called it some kinda envir’mental hazard, or some such.  Well, back then, it wuz a sprawlin’ piece o’ land, ole cars, trucks and tractors from property line ta property line.  Daddy usta tell us kids ta stay outta there, that it wuz dang’rous.  Didn’t stop us none, we usta sneak over there and go through them ole cars for treasure.  Found some playin’ cards and a few ole Zippos, sometimes some ole paperback books, and we hid ‘em under our beds so’s he wouldn’t know we’d been out there.”


Her wrinkled face went slack for a moment in memory, then tightened up as she resumed her story.


“Anyways, one time when we wuz out there messin’ around and goin’ through a new batch of ole cars, Justin snuck up on us and like ta scare’t us silly.  We jus’ knew we wuz in big trouble, but he didn’t say nothin’, jus’ stared at us with those big ole brown eyes.”


“I asked him if he wuz gonna tell on us and he just shook his head.  Said that if we wuz lookin’ for stuff, he knew where some ole beers and cigarettes wuz.  I asked him if they wuz any snakes around, and he just shook his head again.  I wuz the oldest and ever’body always did what I wanted to, so’s I told Olie and Greta to come on!, we wuz gonna check this out.  Justin he turned and headed off for the back o’ the property and we followed him jus’ watchin’ those skinny legs marchin’ like he wuz in some kinda parade.”


Granny heh�"heh’ed again. 


I could tell by this time that I was going to hear a real story, not just a memory, but a story that was seldom told, and my gaze never wavered from Granny’s face. 


“Well, we followed him all the way to the back o’ the property.  There wuz cars on top ‘o cars back there and the idea of climbin’ up to the top wuz makin’ me a little fearful.  Justin, though, he went right up to one these ole car mountains and stuck his foot in the winder, grabbin’ door handles and tires, whatever he could use ta climb with and before we knew it, that skinny boy wuz at the top of a five car mountain.  I ‘member thinkin’ that there weren’t no dang way I wuz gonna follow him up there, but Olie walked right up to that mountain and started to follow him up there.  I yelled at him to come back down, that he wuz gonna get kill’t and Daddy wuz gonna whup me for it, but he didn’t pay me no never mind, jus’ kept climbin’ like some little monkey.  When he got to the top up there with Justin, they both jus’ sat on the roof o’ that top car, Olie jus’ smilin’ like he done won a prize at the State Fair, and Justin just starin’ at us.”


I couldn’t help myself.  “Granny, didja go up there, too?”


“Nope, and I held Greta back when she act like she wuz gonna follow ‘im up there.  She wuz too little and I knew for certain that it weren’t safe.  Olie hollered at me that it sure wuz sump’n up there and I hollered back that I didn’t care, me and Greta wuz stayin’ on the ground, Thank you!  Olie jus’ laughed like I tol’ him some dang joke and Justin jus’ kept starin’ us, not sayin’ nothin’.”


“I hollered at Justin askin’ where wuz these beers and cigarettes.  He shrugged his bony little shoulders and pointed down, said they wuz in the bottom car.  Well, climbin’ in the bottom car of that mountain didn’t set too good with me either, but I didn’t want Olie to think I wuz chicken, so I walked real slow up to that crazy ole car mountain.  I looked inside the winders, all’s I could see wuz weeds growin’ and it looked like snake and spider town to me.  I yelled up at ‘em that I didn’t see no beers or cigarettes and had already turn’t to walk away when I felt sump’n grab my arm.  Well, I like to had a heart ‘ttack, right then, and I screamed as loud as I ever did in my life.  When I look’t down at my arm, I saw a wrinkly ole dirty hand with long fingernails.  Well, that scare’t me even more and I jerked away, runnin’ to where I left Greta.  When I looked back, this dirty scary lookin’ ole man was climbin’ out tha winder and I wuz about to take off a’runnin’.  I grabbed Greta’s little hand and turn’t to stat a’runnin’ and Justin yelled down that he weren’t gonna hurt us.  I didn’t believe that for a second, but I turn’t back around to look at ‘im.  The ole man’s clothes wuz all raggedy and torn, and he look’t like he hadn’t had a bath in long, long time.  His hair wuz gray and brown, his scalp wuz showin’ through on the top o’ his head.  After he got climbed out the car, he stood starin’ at me and Greta and we wuz starin’ back at him.  Justin started climbin’ down that car mountain and when he got to the bottom, he patted the ole man on the back and then look’t at me with those big ole brown eyes.”


“Who was he, Granny?  Was he a murderer?” 


“Jus’ hol’ on, child, I’m getting’ to that. 




© 2017 Carol Cashes

Author's Note

Carol Cashes
I have typed and deleted...typed and deleted...*sigh* I have so many scenarios for this story and I don't know whether I can't choose or none are "right". So, dear readers, you tell me....

My Review

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Could the old fella be Justin's Daddy who had taken to drinking and homelessness in the old junkyard ? And could Justin have been bringing him food and helping him all along? I love the Southern-ness of this story, the detail, the characters and the wonderful dialect. Granny rocks!

Posted 1 Year Ago

Carol Cashes

1 Year Ago

Your review made me laugh out loud! I'm thinking since Granny mentioned Justin's daddy without any .. read more
A folksy, charming, authentic-sounding tale.
But, no matter, how you shade it, you've left us in the lurch.
Only you, Carol, can finish this story.
Kindly resume the narrative.

Posted 1 Year Ago

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I found this story quite enjoyable...the unique narration and charming dialogue with its realistic dialect. very engaging write. you're quite the story-teller (:

Posted 1 Year Ago

You sure fired up the dialect for this one, and now my tongue aches. Out of practice, I guess, since that used to be my language. "Five car mountain"--boy, I'd have climbed that! Now, what's granny about to say?

Posted 1 Year Ago

Carol Cashes

1 Year Ago

So many directions. Like having too many options at the buffet...
Still cypherin' on this, b.. read more
Well, was he a murderer?

I like this style of narration, a story within a story. The rough pronunciation of the grandmother seems fitting for the times and setting, and the scenarios seem okay to me.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Carol Cashes

1 Year Ago

I like to try my hand at "dialect" writing. Read LIttle Girl in a Big Storm. It's my most ambitiou.. read more

1 Year Ago

I'm not good at coming up with ideas for other people's writing. But what I was thinking while readi.. read more
Carol Cashes

1 Year Ago

Yaaasssss. One of my potential "plots" was that he was a disowned uncle, hiding from the family tha.. read more

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6 Reviews
Added on July 16, 2017
Last Updated on July 16, 2017
Tags: fiction, southern dialect


Carol Cashes
Carol Cashes

Biloxi, MS

I'm very cynical, jaded, just this side of bitter and the only reason I haven't crossed that line is a good man loves me. I am extremely empathetic, but seldom sympathetic. I can be a ferociously lo.. more..