Dixon Hearne: Duty (short fiction)

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and raised along the levees and river traces in northern Louisiana. It was an idyllic time, a Huck Finn boyhood. I moved back home two years ago, after many years living where my career took me. How I missed gracious southern living.


She had twins and both of them was ugly, what with her looking like a squirrel and their daddy with a face like Lincoln. Reminds me of my cousin’s two boys—both of them twenty-one, neither one married, and no prospects on the horizon. They ain’t identical, but they both homely. One sits on the porch all day scraping his dirty bare feet on the wood planks as he rides his rocker, and the other one always killing, gutting, or skinning some kind of local game. Folks in these parts just take them as they are—all four, and each one pathetic as the next. I ought to be ashamed of myself to talk about them so, but I ain’t. What I am is mad. Mad at my sister and my cousin for having them kids out of wedlock and branding them with the hateful mark of sin.  Billy Graham died today, and that’s a blessing far as I’m concerned—won’t have to lay his holy eyes on none of them. It’s all up to Jesus and his true believers what happens to them. 

They claim they Catholics, but they ain’t. Ain’t Christians neither. Of course, Catholics call themselves Christian, but Jesus didn’t get baptized Catholic—he was baptized by John the Baptist. That made him officially a Baptist, and that’s why there’s so many Baptists here in the South. If Jesus wanted to be Baptist, then that’s good enough for us, too, amen. 

Everybody thinks its politics, but that damn sure don’t fix nothing. Ain’t a Republican nor Democrat or any other party can fix sin. It takes God-fearing men. Men that know what’s got to be done. It ain’t my place to right other folks’ wrongs. I can only be responsible for my own. I still take flowers to my baby son’s grave every Sunday. I like to think he’s forgiven me for my duty. My sister and cousin never did.