The men sat in the backyard on stools, folding chairs, quarter cut tree trunks; stood ’round the barbeque grill, smelled that charcoal turning gray. Talked a little, mostly just sucked on Budweiser bottles. Opening em up one after another.
Women folk stayed inside out of the Sun, peeling potatoes, chopping slaw, making sauce for the ribs; drinking iced teas with lemon and sugar in em.
It was a typical Sunday after service day in Mississippi, families gathered, boys played football in the nearby lot, young ladies talked of one day bein’ his, all his. Hound dog drank from his water bowl.
J.T. brought up a notion ’bout the sermon that mornin’. Preacher talked on the subject of grace, God’s grace. Said you couldn’t get into heaven on good works like them Catholics do. Memorizin’ all those prayers, burnin’ candles, either Jesus died on that cross for our sins or it was just a waste of time, J.T. said.
The good ol boys were astounded by this statement of his. Pete Thompson nearly had a heart attack. You mean to tell me that the crucifixion was a waste of time?, Mr. Thompson said. J.T. assured him that was not the case. Well then, Pete said. What exactly are you sayin’?
J.T. opened up another beer. It’s his grace. He did all the work. Why I can have another Bud ’cause I’m washed in the blood.
So I can go ’round and be a complete A hole and that’s o.k. with Christ?
If you’re baptized yes.
Well hell. I’ll be, Pete said as the others shook their heads. Guess I better get on that.
Inside Bobby Sue continued pealing potatoes. Said, those boys get awful riled up on Saturday nights now don’t they? The women folk just smiled. J.T. wants to love me two or three times in one night, Bobby Sue said. He’ll sleep awhile then I feel him pokin’ me in the side with that thing of his, they all laughed. Ain’t like when we was dating. Men don’t know what to do when they’re young. Maybe they still don’t.
Henrietta began to cry a little. Said her man hadn’t touched her in years. Wondered what was wrong with her. She’d put on a little weight after the baby and never took it off.
It’s me, she said. I know it’s my fault. ‘ Least It feels that way. Bobby Sue walked over and gave Henrietta a nice hug. They looked out the window at the men.
Sounds to me like he’s forgotten how, they all laughed. Bobby Sue rang the dinner bell. Sunday lunch was served.