“Ahhh, my aching head.”
Rolling my eyes I told him, “You fake it really well Sawyer.”
“Huh? You don’t think this stuff gives me a headache same as you?”
“I think that you were going to college and are a lot smarter than you let on. Now if you are going to be a goofball you might as well go listen to that football game or go clean out your truck or something.”
“Well aren’t you in a fine mood. What lit your tail feathers today?”
I almost lied but then didn’t. “I’m tired of getting calls from people wanting to know who I think I am causing problems in the family and not sharing the way family is supposed to.”
Sawyer suddenly stopped playing and got angry. “Are you saying …?! Who the hell thinks they are so big in the pants they can do that?!”
I shook my head and started gripping. “Jamison’s brother Samuel and his wife … who I told I didn’t know existed until they called since Jamison had never once mentioned them. Someone claiming to be Bud who proceeded to tell me that if I thought that I’d be able to turn his dad against him I had another think coming. Bud’s father in law who said if I thought I was going to have the family run Jamison off he’d have something to say about it … though what the heck Bud’s inlaws have to do with any of this I haven’t a clue.”
I drew breath to keep going but Sawyer said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa … first off you don’t give a jack crap about what they say, understand me? And two, how the hell did they get your phone number?”
“I don’t particularly care what they say if you say I don’t have to. And I haven’t a clue how they got the number except someone gave it to them … more than likely Jamison who it sounds like must be trying to do a CYA.”
“Well all he did was uncover his ass. When did this happen?” I told him and he went out on the porch and called Uncle Mark of all people.
They were talking back and forth and I couldn’t really understand what they were saying because I was grinding some rice to try my hand at making rice flour until I heard Sawyer snap, “I don’t give a flying ****. I was willing to play it your way and let it go once I was sure that Jamison wasn’t the one that tried to get into the storage tank but I’ll be damned if I’m going to put up with him trying to stir up trouble and upset Kay-Lee. And you can tell the whole damn family whoever passed her private phone number along better hunt a hole and crawl in it because that is totally out of bounds. If they have trouble with the way I’m handling my part then they come to me. They mess with my wife one more time and Gramps or no Gramps there is going to be one God**** big feud.”
I yipped, “Sawyer!”
More at his language than anything else but still.
“Hush Kay-Lee," he said turning briefly in my direction. "I mean it, I am done. They can take care of their ownselves come trouble … and it’s coming even if I have to bring it to ‘em myself. The day a man can’t even leave his house and not have to worry that his wife is going to be attacked is the day he better get his ass in gear and take the war to them.” Turning his back to me he said, “I ain’t fooling Uncle Mark. Bud and Jamison may be family but they seem to think they can have the benefits without the work involved.”
I heard Uncle Mark say something then Sawyer said, “Hell yes I know I had help getting started. Every one of us has. What ain’t my fault and what I will not allow to become my problem, is if the others took that help for granted and expected it to just keep being rolled out at everyone else’s expense. I notice they ain’t gone to you or any of the others and demanded some of what they didn’t take care of. Oh no, they came straight to me like I could be pushed around and didn’t deserve the same consideration they seem to think they are due. Whose house has been used for all the canning days? Who’s been here on those canning days to cut wood and to haul it from the other properties? Well that’s been me and Kay-Lee and we’ve still made time to work the fields and help them get their places built. None of them were here to help us, only you and a couple of the uncles. I worked my butt off to get all that extra furniture and those household goods so’s Gramps could piece it out to whoever needed it. And Kay-Lee has been working like a dray horse trying to get people to come get the extra fruit we have this season but it’s only been the aunts, Linda, Jeannie, Cindy, Sharon, and Beth who have taken advantage of it on any day other than a canning day.”
Some rumbled words.
“Is that my fault? I’ve been hunting work the same as the rest of them. When I couldn’t find it in town I did what I had to to find it where I could. And it’s been piece work paid mostly in barter.”
“Is it my fault if they have wives that want the world and to have it delivered to them on a platter too?! I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been able to take Kay-Lee on anything that even half way looks like a date and even then it was usually while we were running other errands for the family. You know what it feels like to only be able to take your wife to the library to pick up a movie to watch or run through the Micky D’s drive through for a damn milkshake and call it a date night?! Hell no it ain’t fair but that’s life right now but you don’t see me running over to Donovan’s or Jimmy’s place saying I deserve part of their paycheck that they are still managing to bring in from their jobs!”
I heard more words then saw Sawyer run his hand through his hair in frustration.
“Knock it off Davis. We already talked what happened through. You, Cutter, and a couple of the others. We’re square. I dropped it. But would you put up with this kinda shit happening to Cindy? Hell no you wouldn’t. And I ain’t going to see it done to Kay-Lee. If your mom was still around you know what your dad would do if someone talked shit like this to her.”
There was some more talking but since Sawyer sounded like he was calming down I started the grinder back up. About five minutes later Sawyer came back in. “That’ll stop that or there’s going to be trouble.”
Shaking my head I said, “I told you to be honest, not to start trouble.”
“You aren’t the one starting trouble. And don’t bring up that Yoko whatever crap again. That shit is too stupid for words. Uh … sorry. I … didn’t mean to curse at you.”
“It wasn’t at me and I know it.”
“No buts. I’ve heard that kind of talk my whole life and I know unless someone wants to talk some other way they won’t. I just know you can and it makes me feel bad that telling you made you feel like you had to talk that way when you normally don’t.”
“I’m mad Kay-Lee. This crap is going to stop. And one way it is going to stop is that I was supposed to go over and help Donovan clear that junk out of the gully beside his place that the county issued the citations on. Well I ain’t gonna. Donovan’s place and Jamison’s are side by side, they both got ticketed but only Donovan was trying to do something about it. Well Donovan, since he is so tight with Jamison, can work it out with him or he can talk some of the others into giving their Sunday up to clean that gully out. I’m taking you foraging like I told you I would.”
“No," he said in just about the most stubborn tone he'd ever used. "They want to play their little petty games they’re going to find out what it costs ‘em. And something else I got today I was gonna share with the family but the whole lot of them can take a flying leap. C’mon, help me get this stuff in from the truck. I was going to take it to Gramps to share out but that ain’t happening now.”
I’d learn that there were times when there was no turning Sawyer out of a direction he had decided to go so I kept my mouth shut and followed him out to the small trailer that he’d paid to have licensed since no one else had wanted it from all those months ago when we’d gone shopping with Linda, Jeannie, and the guys.
Sawyer took the lock off the back and opened the door and then said, “I never asked but you ain’t allergic to seafood are you?”
He pulled out one of the generic looking brown boxes and then used his pocket knife to slice the tape and open it up.
“I had to get fuel for the truck so after I left Uncle James’ place I drove to the truck stop there by the Bait ‘n Tackle. Burt saw me and called me over to his warehouse when I was finished. He had me pull around back and pull into the warehouse. I didn’t know what was up when he dropped the doors and then he did that weird little Irish jig thing he does when he gets a good deal.”
“The one that looks like he is having some kind of epileptic fit?”
Sawyer chuckled for the first time since his mad had started up and said, “Yeah, that one though he calls it the Snoopy dance. Anyway he said he was paying me back for putting him onto that reclamation job. Seems like he got a finder’s fee for eight of the nine trailers that had been parked in that warehouse but no one ever claimed the ninth one and he’s thinking that it may have come from as far away as Canada but without tags or vin #’s there is no way to really prove who it belongs to so the contents came to him and he sent the trailer itself off to the truck yard for parts since one set of axles were locked up. That’s thousands of dollars … at least two grand for each of the eight trailers since they were intact and every bit of that for the ninth one between parts and reselling the inventory.”
I was still trying to process getting that much money just off of one tip from Sawyer when he flipped up the lid and I swallowed my spit down the wrong pipe. When I was finished coughing I asked, “Are you serious?!”
“Yeah. I ran in to the store on the way home just for kicks and giggles to price out what these cans cost each and if we could sell them it would be a long time until we had to roll pennies to make sure we had money to fill the gas tank with.”
“How many cases are in here?!” I asked looking at the trailer. Though it was small, it was completely filled with the cardboard boxes.
“We’ll have to count them as we bring them in because Burt just kept pushing boxes on me until no more would fit but at a rough guess we are going to get sick of tuna long before we run out of it.”
“Tuna too? But that was clams in that box you just showed me.”
“Tuna, clams, shrimp, crab, oysters, lobster, salmon … there’s also some canned tilapia in some funky flavors so I hope you can do something with it or we’ll trade it to someone for something. And there’s some exotic stuff in there too, the kind Dad and I used to dare each other to eat when we went fishing down in Pensacola every year. And Burt also sent you that stuff you wanted … dried milk and something else I forget what. That’s in the cab and I’ll carry it in after we get these cases inside. Instead of you trying to walk them up the steps just set them on the porch and I’ll get them from there while you figure out how to store the milk … oh yeah, the other stuff is powdered eggs.”
“How to store the milk? And eggs too?! But … oh my gosh.”
It felt like I had fallen into a dream, the kind where all your wishes come true including never running out of wishes.
“Yeah, it’s in a couple of big bags. Burt says he thinks you should be able to vacuum seal it in some gallon jars and save the canned stuff we already have for when this gets used up … assuming the expiration dates work.”
“The expiration dates on the canned stuff is a year out. I made sure to check before I put it in the grocery buggy. I learned you have to watch that kind of stuff. As for … gosh … I was only hoping that Burt could pull off getting us some; I’m not sure I really thought he could do it.”
Sawyer nodded and said, “Burt has his talents and he likes a challenge. For instance, that green coffee bean stunt the two of you pulled. That had Gramps thinking long and hard about what he might have missed a way of getting around a problem, that’s for sure.”
“But … gosh …”
Sawyer grinned and said, “And my buddy? He said they’d even do the canning if it meant trading for more fruit. They’ve got the containers from where they used to operate a private cannery before the local health department shut them down.”
“You keep saying that.”
“What else am I supposed to say?! Just … gosh.”
Sawyer laughed, happy once again. I was happy too. No, stupified was probably a better term for what I was feeling. The day had been really difficult and then to end it on such a positive note was almost surreal. For a moment I thought about how lucky we were but then stopped and remembered something Linda has said. “Sawyer makes his own luck by working at it.”
Yeah. He definitely did that. But I was also feeling blessed. Brother Don talked about being blessed a lot and having to learn to not just take the blessings for granted but to actively feel blessed and be actively grateful and being generous with the blessings that came our way. I was definitely feeling blessed so I made a note to talk to Sawyer about being actively grateful and maybe backing off his hard feelings about not sharing all the bounty. But it was definitely going to wait until he was in a different frame of mind. Yes he was happier than he’d been when he was talking to Uncle Mark but trying to push him right now was likely to send him in the opposite direction than I was hoping that he would go.