A Day in the Deep South

By E. A. Cook

The men formed a pack inside the equipment shed around a boiling fifty-gallon drum full of crawfish and salt water. They shared a flavor of humidity that can only be experienced south of the Mason-Dixon Line and they had A&P Beer, cigarettes brags and lies.
The women were up at the house prepping the potatoes, corn and andouille to go in the crawfish drum in the last twenty minutes of cooking. In the meantime, they made jambalaya, okra, butter beans and cornbread. The young ladies had their beer in glasses, the middle-aged moms had wine and Memaw had her rum iced tea.
Sophie was 36 years old, but she would curl up and die if she had to spend five minutes in that house of vipers. She was out by the levee with the teenagers, muddin’ through the bayou on ATV’s and later – checking crawfish traps in a pirogue.
The four picnic tables, it seemed, had always been in the yard and they had since Great Grandpap built them for a family get together 90-some years ago The 6,5 and four year olds laid newspaper over the tables and set rocks on the corners. Two three-year-olds got to pick the rocks. They were pretty small, so all the little people put a lot of rocks on the corners. A lot.
The big bell by the shed was rung, three times like always, and while the grown ups waited for the rest of the clan, the crawfish drum was lifted with big oven mitts by welded handles, carried over to the tables and poured out in a two-foot wide line down the middle of them all.
The jambalaya, okra, butter beans and cornbread were set on one end, sweet tea was poured and the whole family – some mud covered, drunk, high, grinning, giggly – sat down to pray. Sophie wished that Vern would have shown up.