Th' Water Man

July 2, 2009
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Yeah, boy I remember that day like it was right on last week! That sun was turning the sand diamond-like. You knows, does that when it’s hot. It was one of those mornin’s when everythin’ just moved a bit more slow. It had been like that for a while, now. The drought made everyone a little more lazy, I guess. There was nothing really anyone’d do. Moving meant money, no matter which way you looked at it, and that was something no one really had any of.

I remember I was sitting on that porch with Jimmy. That boy lived only next door and I swear it would take a good hour to get from one o’ our houses to the other. Momma told me I could never go see Jimmy unless it was way early in the morning, cause otherwise I’d be stayin’ there for dinna. I always told her that didn’t make no sense at all because I had to help Daddy with the farming in the morning, but she didn’t never have none of it. Anyway, sorry, I was sitting with Jimmy, Momma told me he could stay for the night. See, so Jimmy and I were playing with the wood on the porch. We used to do this thing where we’d both stand on the same board, ya see, and one of us’d jump and make the board go flyin’ up. Jus’ to see if the other guy’d fall over!

That mornin’, Momma had told me to wait for the water man. She told me he was magical, and that he would “get rid of any ou’ problems.” Alls Jimmy and I had to do is go in and tell Momma whens he came.

When I first saw him, he kinda scared me. Jimmy and I were playin’ on the porch like we always do and there he was, walkin’ towards us all slow-like. His hat gone near blocked the sun it was so big. All straw and dirty, like. And I remember he wasn’t wearing any shirt, neither. He was a skinny, boy, lemme tell ya. And pale as day light! I was about to ask Jimmy if he’d thought that poor man’d ever seen the light a’ day, when I saw that ol’ man’s leg. That was the scariest darn thing. There was nothing left of it. It was jus’ a piece o’ wood! This man wasn’t no magic nothing, he didn’t even have no leg! He walked like that leg was heavier th’n all o’ him put together! He swooped, sorta: brought his whole darn body about two thumbs from the ground and came all the way back up again with every step.

I heard Jimmy yell in to Momma. The whole porch would always shake like crazy when Momma came running like that. She stopped right next to me and looked out at the magic man.

“Mrs. Roy?” He spoke like ‘ne body else from here but he just gone look like he came straight from hell. “Let’s ge’ started.” Momma looked as scared as nothing when he offered her his hand to go out ‘n look at the land. Momma don’t take hands when she’s offered. By Jesus that woman thinks it’s a damn slur when a man does that.
Anyway, they’s two were off the porch fo’ no time. An’ he started smellin’ a little bit. Then he got real excited, like. An’ lifted his nose way up to the sky. I remember he closed his eyes real tight, like Daddy did when he ate lemons. “Right there, Mrs. Roy. Ya’ll just got to dig right there.”

Momma said that Mr. Stein wa’ the water man. He had a nose for it, I guess. He been all up ‘n down these parts and he just goes ‘n points to a spot and by Jesus I swear to you there’s a water there! He came that day and he… he witched it! Doggone it, I’ll be darned if we didn’t get that water. That made a believer out of me.





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