All posts by Steven Craig Hickman

First time author S.C. Hickman writes daily on his blog Southern Nights. He lives in between the sunny State of Arizona in Fall/Winter, and the mountainous regions of Wyoming in the Spring/Summer. Having lived in the South most of his life - raise up in Louisiana/Texas he writes within the Country noir and Southern lit traditions. He dovetails the Country noir in with his own brand of Southern humor and serious themes.

I Wake To Angels On My Lids

Well you get down the fiddle and you get down the bow
Kick off your shoes and you throw them on the floor
Dance in the kitchen ’till the morning light…
—Alabama, Lyrics

I wake, angels or demons flashing on my lids. I know not which… The dead float off on dark waters like sullen guests after a Saturday night dance at Bubba Tidoman’s back yard parley with the bow and fiddle played by the Devil himself. My mind is swimming out of that moonshine veil of paradise into the real world, where I smell burnt toast and rotten eggs being stir fried, along with ham and grits on an open griddle that must be Jezebel Montieth’s, my shack up partner’s, morning wakeup call; and I realize I’m in hell not heaven, rubbing the sandbars out of my shanked eyes.
+++++“Oh, Jeze, dearest,” I say, slightly mocking me Old Man’s style. “What you fixing that’s so deliciously scrummy, dear.” She’s looking askance at me, a cigarette dangling down out of the corner of her split lip, her snotty-nosed kid wrapped around her legs in my Red & Blue & Gray Confederate towel with her thumb stuck in her mouth like something I want even mention. I say nothing more. I know better.
+++++She continues looking at me not saying a blasted thing till the toast is scorched black as my Truck. She seems oblivious to such issues as burnt toast, and rotten eggs at this point, her eyes blank as spades, and her cheeks puffing away at that cigarette like she was the last train from hell and I was her next victim.
+++++I get up, shake my sorry ass legs out the wrong side of the bed, step on either a box of crunching cereal; or even worse, bird shit for her fucking parrot, below my skinny feet. I roll over and slide back to the other side, reaching for my smokes and lighter, and take a swig of what’s left on the nightstand; some rotgut piss juice I was drinking last night instead of my usual moon shine and whiskey combo, then I fire up that sulfurous delight in nicotine that warms my lungs with black death. I smile at the bitch with a big grin like it was the last one she’d ever see from me, which hopefully it will be.
+++++“Hun, would you mind handing me the morning paper,” I say so sweetly. She continues looking at me, blankly. Not saying a fucking word. I think she’s either pissed, or stoned cold drugged out of her gourd; or both… at this point all I can figure is I better get the hell out of dodge.
+++++I move to the edge of the bed, pull on my jeans, grab my dirty shirt hanging on the wooden chair, snare my boots and dirty socks from down below, and then slide on past the accident of her morning effete as I wink and smile into her pitch black eyes. She doesn’t move her body one iota, but turns her neck rotating it like that wind-up doll on the old exorcist movie; but luckily not backwards, but forwards, following me around I pass her toward the front of the trailer.
+++++Finally, she speaks: “Where you going?”
+++++Ah, the sweetness of that voice… “I got to meet Clay down at the Garage,  Sweety,” I say with that sugary bullshit I hate, and she loves: “We have a job to do on that ole Caddy of John Sitwell’s.” Except this time she’s not buying my crap.
+++++“You’re not going fucking nowhere till you fix that commode, moron,” She says, parenthetically.
+++++Emphasizing my goal to leave the trailer, I give her that big hands up, the ones that say, “Oh, sure, baby, you know me, I’m own it like yesterday.”
+++++I can see she’s not buying that ticket either, shouting at me: “If you don’t get your ass in gear, boy, and do something around this crummy joint, then don’t expect me to be here when you get back.”
+++++I think to myself, “Finally, I’m going to get rid of the bag lady, for good… never wanted her or kids anyway. She can’t even fry bacon, for crying out loud.” All the time I’m smiling, placating, looking at her like I’m hurt that she’s laid a low blow on me, trying to charm her and disarm her with the ole “but baby” routine: “But sugar plum, you know you don’t mean that,” I feint, but she cuts me off at the pass…
+++++“Don’t you fucking say it,” She’s frowning now, holding that pan of rotten food up like she’s about to use it on me like a gun.
+++++So instead of saying another word I look from her to the door, where the kid has just gone out and left wide open. “Now’s my chance,” I think… I dash out the door, and hear the squelch and pop of grease froth surging behind me, following me out as I tumble forward end over end, holding onto my britches, boots, and hat, sprawling and tumbling, till I sit up in the dust, turn back and she’s at the door with a big pot of coffee in her right hand, about ready to chase me down and pour that boiling acid all over me. I get up and make a dive into my old Chevy truck, slam that sucker into neutral, pop the clutch, pitch back the driver’s door and run it till I can let that clutch go, and zing —we’re off to the races… the engine fire’s up, I hop in, and like a sling shot I’m on my way.
+++++I look in the rear-view mirror and realize the dust devils I see in the fumes behind me, like shadows floating there in the sun’s mote, remind me of that portal nightmare world I woke from this morning into this daytime world… driving onward I wonder to myself, which one is which…