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Authors: Reba White Williams

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BOOK: Angels
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Coleman clapped her hands. “Oh, yes, let’s us do that. You’ll come, won’t you, Mr. Sherrill?”

He laughed and said he wouldn’t miss it for the world. I believe he’d do anything for Coleman. You can tell he likes her a lot, and she likes him, too.

It was good to see the last of the cartons and trash go out with Mr. Joseph, the garbage man; he’ll take it in his cart to the county dump. We aired out the house to get rid of the nasty mold smell that came in with some of the Fairways stuff and turned to cleanin’ up and making sure the house smelled good again. I cut roses and honeysuckle and magnolias—everything I could find that smelled good—to put in jars and bowls around the house. The Herb Lady must have heard about our smell problem, ‘cause she dropped off some of her potpourri that Miss Ida loves, and some scented candles. Pretty soon the downstairs smelled good again, not just the kitchen, which is always full of delicious cookin’ odors. What with soap and flowers and all, every room, even the ghost’y ones, smells good.

Miss Ida and Aunt Polly picked out a sofa and a pair of stuffed chairs from Fairways to make a sitting area in the library where we’ll watch TV. Aunt Polly and Coleman are making slipcovers and curtains out of dark red fabric from one of Miss Olivia’s boxes. That room’s going to look beautiful. The new kitchen things, and Coleman’s and my room fixed up, and now a brand-new sitting room—it’s like havin’ a whole new house! Every night and most mornings, I thank God for our many blessings, ‘specially for Coleman’s comin’ home.

Mr. Sherrill told us to go ahead with the yard sale, so we picked a Saturday, and some of the children in the neighborhood came over, and we made posters. We put ‘em up everywhere—all along the road and at all the stores. Sarah Ann and her friends are arrangin’ and pricin’ stuff. Sarah Ann says we should make sure we have plenty to eat at the produce stand on the day, so the last three days before the sale, Miss Ida and I cooked and baked from dark till dark—cookies, cakes, pies. Real early on the day of the sale, we made chicken salad and ham sandwiches. I never saw so much food. I thought we might have fixed too much, but Sarah Ann said not. “They’ll eat every bite,” she promised. “You’ll think a swarm of locusts has been through here.”

The big Byrd boys built an add-on at the back of the produce stand for our old freezer and refrigerator, and put Aunt Olivia’s nicer things in our kitchen. Wilbur and Jay Atkins, the electricians, hooked up everything. We froze chunks of ice and on Saturday mornin’ put it in washtubs for watermelons. We stuffed the freezer with frozen corn and peaches and strawberries and all kinds of vegetables and got throwaway freezer bags so people could take the food home without it thawin’. We fixed iced tea and lemonade and put that in the fridge, too, and some more in the fridge in the house.

The day of the sale was sunny and real hot; the radio said it would be in the nineties by noon. The cars started pullin’ up before we were ready, and they parked all up and down the road, and all the way into the drive and yard at Fairways. Sarah Ann had rounded up a bunch of boys to help with the parkin’, and they ran around like chickens with their heads chopped off. Peter got so excited and barked so much we had to shut him in the bedroom for a “time out.”

We worked like beavers all day, and we sold every single thing! At four thirty, Sarah Ann and her friends cut the prices on everything that hadn’t sold, and the last rags, tags, and bobtails went. The parking boys picked up all the trash, and by six, the yard was clean as a whistle. The produce stand was empty, even with folks runnin’ home and fetching stuff from their pantries and freezers all day. I’d never been so tired, and Coleman said she was, too. Aunt Polly helped us bathe and heard our prayers. I went to sleep so quick, I didn’t even get to listen to the frogs.

Polly

I haven’t been to a movie since Dinah’s father died, nearly seven years ago. The nearest theatre is miles away, we don’t have a car, and we’ve never had any money to spare. But we can watch movies at home now, and I’m as excited as the children.

The first picture show we watched was called
The Water of Life
. It sounded religious, and it was. It certainly confirmed everything Coleman’s said about the demon drink. It was about a man who’s an alcoholic. He ruins his life and his family’s lives with his drinking. When he has a car wreck and nearly kills someone, he repents, joins Alcoholics Anonymous, and turns to the church for healing and salvation.

Coleman never took her eyes off that screen. I’m sure it brought up painful memories, but what fascinated her most was the man’s baptism. In the film, the preacher immerses him in a tub behind the altar in the church—that’s how the show ended.

When it was over, Coleman looked puzzled. “They don’t do that duckin’ in water in the Methodist Church,” she said. “Do they do it in the Presbyterian Church, Miss Ida?”

Ida shook her head. “No, I don’t think we ever did. But some churches still do.”

“Why do they do it?”

“Some people believe that Jesus wanted his children to go through that ceremony — immersion — to wash all his or her sins away. But other churches just sprinkle water on a person’s head to symbolize baptism,” Ida explained.

Coleman seemed satisfied, but she looked serious. I wondered what she was thinking. I didn’t have long to wait for an answer.

Before we had time to settle down after the sale, or to get used to watching TV, or got the sewing room organized, or anything we’d planned, we had an upset. Coleman had a disagreement with Clara Hatley, who runs the children’s choir at the Methodist Church. Coleman wanted to sing in the choir, and Clara turned her down—she said Coleman doesn’t sing well enough. Apparently Coleman had something to say about that, and Clara is coming over tomorrow to talk to Miss Ida. She says Coleman sassed her.

I don’t like Clara—never have. She has the tongue of a viper and acts like she thinks she’s Queen Victoria—but if Coleman sassed her, Coleman will have to apologize, and I guess we’ll have to punish her. Drat Clara Hatley, anyway. Why couldn’t she have let the child sing? The Lord won’t mind if a child is a little off-key.

Dinah

I kept my fingers crossed that Miss Ida would see Miss Hatley in the sittin’ room or the kitchen because the big chimney in the center of the house goes right through our room, and if Coleman and I go up there and stay real quiet, we can hear what they’re sayin’ downstairs. We can’t hear a word if they sit on the screened porch, which they might, ‘cause it’s so hot.

When Miss Hatley rang the bell, I answered the door. She was wearin’ a dark blue church dress and a matchin’ hat. She must be real mad at Coleman, dressin’ up like that on a hot Tuesday mornin’. She has permed hair, and it stuck out funny-like under the hat, and she wears perfume that smells like Juicy Fruit chewin’ gum. We’re not allowed to chew gum—Miss Ida says it makes even the prettiest woman look like a cow chewin’ a cud—but I’d know that icky smell anywhere, because children at school chew it at recess, and in class, too, if they don’t get caught.

Coleman told me she doesn’t know why Miss Hatley took against her. She promises she didn’t sass her. “I don’t like Miss Hatley, but I wouldn’t shame Miss Ida and Aunt Polly and you by talkin’ back to her,” she said. Nobody likes Miss Hatley. She’s mean as a ‘gator and has hissy fits over nothing. She looks like a duck that’s mad about something. She has a long neck and a big nose and beady little eyes. She even waddles instead of walking like a person. But if she was nice, nobody’d care how she looks. There’s people living around here, plain as can be, maybe even ugly, and people love ‘em, ‘cause they’re so nice. That’s what Aunt Polly means when she says “pretty is as pretty does.” I believe it, too.

Miss Ida and Aunt Polly received her in the sitting room, not in the kitchen or on the porch, where they visit with friends, and they didn’t offer her anything but coffee or iced tea. If Miss Ida felt friendly toward her, she’d have served cake or cookies.

Coleman and I listened hard, but Miss Hatley only repeated what she’d told Miss Ida on the phone: she said she’d told Coleman that she couldn’t sing well enough for the choir, and Coleman had talked back.

“I’m surprised to hear that. Coleman is usually very polite. What exactly did Coleman say?” Miss Ida asked. She sounded sweet as pie, but I could tell she was annoyed.

“I don’t recall her exact words, but she was very rude,” Miss Hatley said, snippy-like.

We heard Miss Ida get up and come toward the door. She called up the stairs. “Coleman? Honey, would you come in here a minute?”

“Yes, ma’am, I’m comin’,” Coleman said, running down the stairs.

“Honey, come on in here. Say hello to Miss Hatley, Coleman, and then tell me what you said to her about singing in the choir.”

I tiptoed downstairs and peered through a crack in the door. Coleman was standing up straight, and her chin was up, but her cheeks weren’t red, so I didn’t think she was mad.

“Good mornin’, ma’am,” she said to Miss Hatley and turned to Miss Ida. “I said the Bible tells us we should make a joyful noise unto the Lord and praise His name—part of worshipin’ is singin’. I said Granny Byrd told me that, and Granny said God made every voice, and He doesn’t think
any
voice is bad. I said I didn’t know a children’s church choir was like a New Orleans nightclub, where you had to aw-dish-un to get a job. I thought a child who wanted to give the time to choir practice was welcome, because it’s another way to serve the Lord. That’s what they said in Sunday school in New Orleans. I ‘pologize if I said anything wrong. I didn’t mean to sass.”

Aunt Polly and Miss Ida stared at Miss Hatley, and nobody said anything. Finally, Miss Ida said, “Is that what offended you, Clara?”

Miss Hatley stuck her nose in the air. “I don’t think it’s a child’s place to preach to a grown-up. You should teach that child to respect her elders, not talk back to them.”

Miss Ida stood up. “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but I don’t think Coleman was impertinent. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that. Have you discussed the situation with Mr. Galloway? Or would you prefer that I speak with him?”

Mr. Galloway is the Methodist minister, and I could tell Miss Hatley didn’t like his name coming up. She knows Miss Ida
will
talk to him, and he’ll prob’ly fuss at Miss Hatley for causing a problem. I don’t think she liked Miss Ida standing up like that, letting her know it was time for her to leave, either. But she didn’t have much choice, so she stood up, too.

“No, I have
not
discussed it with Mr. Galloway, and I see no reason why you should, either. The choir is
my
business. Thank you for your time.” She waddled out without saying a word to Aunt Polly or Coleman. Well! Talk about
rude
.

“Did I do wrong, Miss Ida?” Coleman asked.

“No, honey, you didn’t. You just forget all about this.”

But I knew Coleman wouldn’t forget it. When Miss Ida told Coleman she’d spoken to Reverend Galloway, and he’d ‘pologized, and said she’d be welcome in the choir, Coleman smiled, and thanked Miss Ida and asked her to thank Mr. Galloway, too. But she reckoned she wouldn’t join the choir just now. Well, I wouldn’t, either. I can imagine how that Miss Hatley would treat her. When I asked Coleman if she was mad at Miss Hatley, she said she’d been mad at first, ‘cause Miss Hatley reminded her of that Gloria, tellin’ her she couldn’t sing. But then she just felt sad ‘cause Miss Hatley didn’t feel like Granny about a child singin’ in the choir. “I’m fixin’ to pray for her,” she said. Miss Ida heard her say that and hugged her. “We all will,” she promised.

Miss Ida and Aunt Polly fixed up a beautiful memorial service for Aunt Olivia, and since she was Coleman’s granny, they asked Coleman if there was anything special she wanted at the service. She asked that Mr. Guthrie read the Twenty-Third Psalm. For hymns, she wanted “Rock of Ages,” and “Nearer My God to Thee.” The women of the church arranged the flowers, and they used all white, with a lot of magnolia blossoms and cape jasmine. The church looked and smelled lovely. It was the first time Coleman had been in our church. I don’t know what she thought of it. To me it’s perfect: plain and white and simple. I think it’s a place God would like.

The church was full, and a lot of people cried. After the service was over, everybody came back to our house, where the Presbyterian Church ladies served lemonade and iced tea and iced coffee and cookies. Aunt Polly had made white dresses for me and Coleman to wear, and we passed the cookies. I was glad we’d fixed up the house, but most people didn’t go inside. They sat on the porch, or stood in the shade under the magnolia trees, talkin’ about Aunt Olivia and other long-gone Fairgroves. Everybody said nice things to Coleman, and she was real polite. But she looked sad. Aunt Olivia was her only family besides us, and she never even got to meet her.

Miss Ida says after all we’ve been through, we need a holiday, and Coleman has never seen the ocean, and it’s ‘bout time she did. So Aunt Mary Louise is drivin’ us in her station wagon to the beach to spend the day. We’re leavin’ real early in the mornin’ to miss the traffic, and we’re goin’ to eat lunch in Southport, which is the prettiest town I ever saw. And on the way home we’re goin’ to visit our ancestors’ graves in Moore’s Creek National Battlefield, which is a park. I’ve only been to the beach three times in my life, and Southport once, and never to that battlefield. I can hardly wait.

AUGUST
Polly

The beach trip was a great success. We had room in the car for Freddy and two little Byrd girls, Bethany and Leah, as well as our two, and Peter, who acted like he had two tails. We left at seven in the morning, right after breakfast. The children, wearing their bathing suits under shorts and T-shirts, chattered like blue jays all the way to the beach. We’d decided to go to White Dunes, a beach that doesn’t have much of a town with it, unlike most of the beaches in this part of North Carolina, so it’s not crowded. It’s a beautiful beach, too, with white sand, and dunes with tall grass, and lots of seabirds for Freddy to look at.

Coleman’s eyes were big as saucers when she saw the ocean, which that day was as green as her eyes. She wasn’t a bit afraid of it (so far we haven’t encountered anything Coleman is afraid of), but she can’t swim, so I watched her like a hawk. We’ll get her swimming lessons as soon as we can. The other girls
can
swim, but they were timid about the ocean, because they don’t see it much, and they didn’t venture deep—just played in the shallow waves. Freddy didn’t go in the ocean at all, just walked around with his binoculars fixed to his eyes. The girls tried to catch tiny fish in pails Mary Louise gave them, and picked up shells, and made a sand castle, and had a glorious time. Peter rolled in anything smelly he could find and wore himself out chasing sand crabs and seagulls.

Mary Louise and Ida and I settled in chairs under umbrellas and basked in the ocean breeze, breathing in the smell of saltwater, seaweed, fish, and I don’t know what all—just a delicious beach smell. Behind us, the dune grass rustled, and in front of us, the waves splashed and pounded. Down the beach in front of the hotel, we could see a crowd, but no one was nearby. In the distance, a few swimmers swam out beyond the breakers, children laughed, and dogs barked. Pelicans and terns and skimmers flew by. It was a perfect day at the beach.

But the sun was broiling hot even under the big umbrellas, and by eleven o’clock, Ida and Mary Louise and I had had enough, and we didn’t want the children to get blistered. We rounded them up and sent them to the showers near the parking lot. Everyone rinsed all the sand off—even Peter, with Coleman’s help, which was a challenge, since he doesn’t like baths and treasures the horrible smells he picks up. We put all the wet bathing suits and towels in a big plastic bag, and the children pulled on their shorts and T-shirts. When everyone was clean and cool, we got back in the car and drove to nearby Southport. On the way, Freddy told us about the birds he saw—the skimmers and an osprey, and I don’t know what all.

Dinah

Southport is all big white houses standin’ under huge magnolia trees covered with lemony-smellin’ creamy flowers. Every house has hanging baskets of petunias or geraniums or impatiens, and swings or hammocks on their porches. The streets are lined with crepe myrtle trees, pink and lavender and white. In the harbor, boats sail and chug by, and flocks of pelicans glide back and forth.

The restaurant we went to was called The Sand Dollar. I found a sand dollar when we were at the beach and showed it to Coleman, who liked it so much, I gave it to her. Aunt Polly wrapped it up in Kleenex and put it in her bag for safekeeping.

Aunt Mary Louise had reserved tables outside under the big oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. Peter got to stay with us, but he had to wear his leash and be tied to a table leg. We gave him a bowl of water and his favorite treat: two carrots we brought from home. He had a huge drink, crawled under the table, and settled down to gnaw his carrots. I reckoned he was tired after all that runnin’ on the beach.

Aunt Mary Louise ordered seafood plates—grown-up size for her and Aunt Polly and Miss Ida, and smaller plates for us. Smiley college girls like Sarah Ann brought iced tea for everybody, and milk for some of us, and baskets of fried potatoes and hush puppies. Our plates were piled with fried shrimp, and fried flounder, and fried oysters, and a deviled crab, and coleslaw. I never thought we’d eat it all, but there wasn’t much left when we’d had our fill. And then we all had coconut cream pie for dessert. I thought I’d bust! We’d said the blessin’ before we ate, but after we finished, Aunt Polly said a special prayer of thanks for the food, and the day, and friendship.

Polly

We packed up what was left of the food for Mary Louise to take back to Granny, who only picks at meals these days, but she loves seafood and might eat a bite or two. The children slept all the way to Moore’s Creek National Battlefield, where Mary and Ezekiel Slocumb are buried, and where the Cape Fear Monument, sometimes called the Slocumb Monument, was erected in 1907 as a Revolutionary War memorial. Ezekiel Slocumb fought in the war, and Mary Slocumb tended the wounded. Ida and I aren’t pedigree proud, but we think the children can learn and remember history better if they can tie the history to stories about people with whom they have a connection. Anyway, the grave site is a calm and peaceful place. We said a prayer for those who’ve gone before and thanked God for our many blessings, including our glorious holiday.

Dinah

We slept on the way back to Slocumb Corners and didn’t want any supper. Aunt Polly said we had to take hot baths with soap to make sure we got all the saltwater off. We climbed in the tub together, too tired to splash and play. I fell asleep in the tub, and Aunt Polly had to get me out, and dry me off, hear my prayers, and put me to bed. I never had such a wonderful day.

Polly

We took Peter to the vet to get his shots, and then it was Coleman’s turn to go to the doctor. I’d worried about her shots, because we didn’t know what she’d had, and she can’t go to school without proof she’s had everything required. But we had found her medical records from before she left Slocumb County in Olivia’s papers. She’d had shots from Dr. Mann, who’s still our doctor. And there was a letter from Jenny Byrd to Olivia, enclosing a record of the shots Jenny had made sure Coleman got in Richmond. Fortunately, she’s had everything she needs.

Dr. Mann gave her a few boosters, and while she was there, he checked her over to see about her general health. All her bruises have faded, but I worry about how tiny she is. When we were at the doctor’s office, I learned that Coleman is concerned about her size, too. She was dressed and ready to leave when she looked up and said, “Dr. Mann, am I a midget? Did somethin’ stunt my growth?”

“Goodness, Sissy, where’d you get that nonsense? No, ma’am, you’re not a midget and your growth is not stunted,” he said.

Dr. Mann is a fatherly sort and likes children, but he’s absent-minded about names. He calls all little girls “Sissy” and boys “Buddy.” I’d explained that to Coleman before we came so she wouldn’t be offended when he didn’t remember her name.

“Then why am I so little?” she asked.

“Oh, Sissy, your mama was a little bitty thing, and so was her mama, your granny. Your grandmother was a Coleman—that’s how you got your name—she was Olivia McLean Coleman before she married, and the Coleman women were all small-boned like you. I never saw a picture of your grandmother as a child, but you look a lot like your mother did at your age—there’s a photo of her on the wall over there. I was looking at it right before you came in.”

Coleman nodded. She’s seen lots of photos of her mama, and she knew Angela wasn’t very big. “Yessir. How tall did mama get to be when she was grown?”

He hesitated. “About five feet,” he said.

She looked at me. “How tall are you, Aunt Polly?”

“I’m five feet eight inches tall,” I said. “And before you ask, Ida is five feet seven inches.”

She sighed. “I reckon I’m just gonna be short. Well, soon as I can, I’m goin’ to get me some high-heeled shoes!”

We laughed, but I could tell she meant it. I hope she waits till she’s in high school. I don’t want to fight about
that
. Thinking about Coleman in high heels in the third grade distracted me so much, I forgot to tell her not to say “reckon.”

Dinah

Aunt Mary Louise invited Miss Ida and Aunt Polly and Coleman and me to her church—the First African Church of God in Christ—this comin’ Sunday. It’s their homecomin’ service, when everybody who can comes back to Slocumb Corners. So many folks come, they can’t all fit in the church, and they put up a huge tent and have revival meetings the week before. After church on Sunday, the ladies spread a potluck picnic on tables under the trees in the churchyard, and people sit around and eat, and visit, and have the best time. In the late afternoon, there’s a baptizin’ down at the river.

Coleman asked Aunt Mary Louise if she could go with her to a revival meeting. Aunt Mary Louise took her, and Aunt Polly went, too. I stayed home because I’ve been to revival meetin’s and I don’t enjoy them much—too noisy—and Miss Ida and I are going to watch
To Kill a Mockingbird
on TV
again, ‘cause we loved it the first time we saw it.

Coleman came home lit up like a Christmas tree. She said it was the best church service she’d ever been to, and they had the best choir she’d ever heard. I’m not surprised she liked the choir—that choir sings better than some I’ve heard on the radio. When Aunt Myrna Byrd sings “Amazing Grace,” everybody cries.

We all went to Aunt Mary Louise’s church on Sunday, and Coleman loved the choir, and the music, and Dr. Coker’s preachin’. People say Dr. Coker is one of the best preachers in North Carolina, but I’m partial to Reverend Guthrie. He doesn’t shout; he preaches like he’s just talkin’. Aunt Mary Louise’s church is much livelier than ours, but not as peaceful. I feel more like I’m in God’s house when it’s quieter, but some folks like to raise their voices and rejoice and praise out loud and clap hands and such, and that’s good, too.

The Byrds’ homecoming picnic must be the best in the world. I counted eighteen different desserts, but I was stuffed with scalloped potatoes with ham, and tomato aspic (Miss Ida doesn’t care for tomato aspic, so we never have it, but I love it and eat it whenever I see it), before I even looked at the desserts. I only had room for chocolate pecan pie—that’s Miz Coker’s recipe; she’s famous for it. But I tasted a Japanese fruitcake they said Aunt Delphine Byrd made. I don’t much like fruitcake, but that cake is not really a fruitcake, even if it’s named one. It’s dee-lishious! I’m going to ask Aunt Mary Louise to get me the recipe.

I don’t know who made the scalloped potatoes, but it was Aunt Ida’s recipe. Everybody around here shares recipes, and I’d know her scalloped potatoes with ham anywhere. They are the best ever, but we don’t have ‘em in hot weather; we eat ‘em in winter, only after we’ve had a ham, so Miss Ida can use up the last ham scraps. But I could eat her scalloped potatoes every week.

Polly

I took Coleman to the baptizing. I think she was expecting something like she saw in
The Water of Life
,
but this is big—maybe thirty people were baptized in the water hole downriver from where the children play. It’s a beautiful place with a sandy beach, and there’s no way to get there except a wagon track through the woods, so when you go there alone, it’s quiet and private. There are ancient cypress trees on both sides of the river, and the silence is unbroken except for the whisper of the trees, and bird calls. It feels like a holy place.

Those being baptized wear white cotton robes, and the choir, also in white robes, stands in a group nearby and sings “Shall We Gather at the River?” Coleman was so taken with it all, I was afraid she might jump in the river in her new green dress with daisies I hand-appliquéd on it. She didn’t, but I could tell she fell deeper in love with the idea of baptism, which already attracted her.

Being Coleman, she didn’t waste any time before doing something about it. As soon as the service was over, she ran up to Mary Louise and asked if she could be baptized in Mary Louise’s church. Coleman said she’d noticed that there weren’t any children being baptized and wondered why. Mary Louise explained that her church didn’t baptize anyone until he or she was at least a teenager.

“We believe the commitment and obedience that baptism requires can only be made by people who’ve had more experience with life than children have had. Most children haven’t been tempted by the kind of worldly choices they’ll encounter later. But Coleman, come back and talk to me about this again whenever you want to. And when the time comes, if you still want to be baptized, I’ll arrange it,” she promised.

I don’t believe Coleman noticed that no one being baptized was white; this is the Byrds’ church, and as far as I know, only Byrds are members. Or maybe she did notice and doesn’t care, which makes her a better Christian than most people. I’m glad Coleman has faith, but I wish she came to church with us and liked our kind of service. I’m too conservative for immersion, and revival meetings, and talk of the demon drink.

The Lord moves in mysterious ways, and He looked after Coleman and brought her home. How she worships is between Coleman and God, and not up to me to judge. But I felt a pang when she talked about joining another church, because after her problem with the Methodist choir, I hoped she’d come home to her family’s church—ours. I know the Presbyterian Church would welcome her to their choir.

Dinah

We start school later this month. I’ll be in the second grade and Coleman’s s’posed to be in kindergarten. But one day last week, Coleman declared she was goin’ to school in my class; she said she didn’t need to go to kindergarten.

Aunt Polly and Miss Ida and I all looked at each other, because we know how it is when Coleman takes a notion. But school is different from church and dogs: schools have laws and the people runnin’ them are what Aunt Polly calls “bureau cats.” (I know it’s really bureaucrats, but that’s what I thought Aunt Polly said when I first heard the word. She laughed when I said it that way and said there was truth to how I said it. She said sometimes bureau drawers get stuck and you can’t pull ‘em out no matter how hard you try. And you can take a cat off the sofa, and put it somewhere else, and it goes right back to the same sofa over and over ‘cause it’s decided that’s where it’s goin’ to stay. Bureau cats—and bureaucrats—do things
their
way, no matter what
you
want.) So I thought Aunt Polly and Miss Ida and I might be fixin’ to find ourselves between a rock—Coleman—and a hard place—the school Bureau Cats.

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