This is the fifth e-mail I received, almost three months later. Strange, but for the first time I wondered why I hadn’t received anything in the nature of a “thank you” or “how are you doing” by the authors of the posts – or Ms. Brown. Frankly, I felt a bit hurt, and not unlike an automated machine programed to send messages from one to the other. Still, I didn’t want to rock the boat by asking. I liked the story. /// This piece is un-edited, the names were changed, and the State is intentionally omitted.
Dear Ms. Brown,
Hi. I’m not sure if you’ll remember me, what with all the e-mail you must get every day, but I’m Betty Jo Sprigger, from a small town in –. Of course, this is about needing some advice, ‘cause right now I’m feeling like one of those puppies you might have seen on TV news, the one stuck tight in a drain pipe?
I’m guessing Bobby Lee wrote you by now, though I can’t be sure as I haven’t had a chance to snoop in his journal (my momma still won’t let me have anything to do with him). So you probably know about the fight he had with Jug Sweeney. First off, I’ve got to say: good gracious! How romantic…with BL fighting for my honor and all? Truth is, I’m still gushing like water from a broken well-cap. Fuzzy Winkle, Bobby’s friend, told me about it. He also told me that he saw Dale Teeter push BL into Jug’s fists that night. So, Bobby never attacked Jug at all. It was all a lie!!! Fuzzy even told his father, a roly-poly man who’s the Mayor of our town, as well as a part-time Elvis impersonator (he has to wear a wig). But he didn’t do anything about it. Like most of the town, he’s afraid of Jug’s dad, Sheriff Del, and didn’t want to take sides. Apparently, there’d been bad blood since high school between Del and Bobby Lee’s father…
Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Oh, I better let you on to something, something BL doesn’t like to talk about. And I don’t feel I’m letting the pig out of the pen by telling you, as I know you’re pretty special to him, Ms. Brown. You see, Bobby’s father is dead four years now. And since then, his momma, a waitress, has had to work a lot of overtime at Ruby’s Diner to make ends meet. Maybe that’s why BL likes you so – he can talk to you, especially when I can’t. Well, it was a rainy night when Mr. Hendricks came down the mountain into the valley, and there’s this tight turn, see, about halfway down. They say he wasn’t sipping shine that night, but no mind anyway as his car brakes failed. At the speed he was going, he took the turn too fast and ran smack-dab into Ol’ Luke. Not a person, but a prized big buck with a bunch of antler points, of which Mr. Hendricks took five in the chest when he flew through the front windshield. The thing is, Sheriff Del’s been hunting that buck for years and took it personal when Bobby’s father went and killed him. I think that’s the reason Del and Jug Sweeney have a special dislike for Bobby Lee. By the way, regarding that tight turn in the mountain? It’s now called Dead Man’s curve, sort of in honor of Mr. Hendricks.
But I’d better get back to why I wrote. School’s started, and I can’t help but see Bobby Lee now and again in the halls. Ms. Brown, my heart about breaks to see him shuffling along, that special energy that used to light him up like a Fourth of July sparkler gone missing. As though his life-battery just up and died.
The whole point to this is that the Hog High homecoming dance is coming up. Jug, the quarterback of the football team, the “Fighting Swine,” who is always nominated homecoming king, asked me to be his date (he did apologize for telling lies about me kissing him, but he doesn’t know that I know about BL being pushed into his fists at Creedy’s lot). I still haven’t given him an answer, because more than anything, I want to go with Bobby Lee. But that can’t be because I’d get into a peck of trouble, especially with my momma (she likes Jug so much that she didn’t believe me when I told her BL didn’t attack him). So, here’s where I need your advice.
1) Should I go to the dance without a date? Maybe with my friend Mary Sue who never gets asked? 2) If I dance with Bobby (assuming he shows up), will Jug get jealous and maybe start trouble? 3) Do you think Jug and his friends will start trouble anyway, maybe prank BL if he shows up (I’ve heard some rumors)? 4) Why do I cry at night when I think about Bobby Lee? Is it because I love and miss him? Or is it because I worry about Jug hurting him again? Or is it both?
Signed: A Stuck Puppy in Hog Swallow, —
What advice would you give?