A picture of Lila came to mind, and Otis remembered how it was.
When she was alive there were hot biscuits and savory stews. On days
when the weight of work bent his back, she’d rub his shoulders and ease
the pain. And in the dark of night when they were side by side in the bed,
she’d press her body close to his and it brought a feeling of completeness.
Were it not for Lila, he wouldn’t have Benjamin; were it not for Benjamin,
Otis would surely have one foot in the grave.
“It’s the God’s honest truth,” he said, sighing. “A man ought to have a
Denny’s eyes lit up. “Maybe if Ben was to meet up with Lucille…”
Otis laughed. “Benjamin ain’t one to have me meddling in his
“I ain’t saying we got to meddle, but they got a festival at Brotherhood
Hall this Saturday, and if you was to bring Ben and I was to bring
Otis nodded. “Saturday, huh?”
That very evening Otis told his son they’d been working way too hard and
needed to do a bit of socializing.
“Now we got everything in the ground, there ain’t nothing to do but
wait for it to grow,” he said.
Although Benjamin had planned to spend Saturday replacing a worn
belt on the tractor, he agreed to go to the festival.
“I’m thinking you ought to wear your uniform,” Otis said. He claimed
it was a prideful thing he wanted to show his friends, but the truth was he
had Lucille in mind.
The Brotherhood Hall was a wooden building smack in the center of town;
across the street was a dirt lot for parking. By the time Benjamin and Otis
arrived, the music and laughter could be heard for ten blocks in any
direction. When they walked through the door Denny was waiting. He
grabbed hold of Lucille’s hand and pulled her closer.
“Ben,” he said, “you met my daughter, Lucille?”
“Afraid not. Pleased,” he said and gave a nod.
Lucille was plain as oatmeal and shy as a scared turtle. She gave him
one quick glance, then ducked back into her shell.