Miss Laura Mae had news for me when we showed up for coffee. “My grandson, Petey, is comin’ to stay for a few days. He’s about your age. Y’all can play together.”
Great! I was delighted. I was a friendly kid who’d have played with a rattlesnake, as long as it didn’t bite too many times. I played with Billy, but he was three years younger than I. I was always waiting when my sister Phyllis got off the school bus, but the prospect of a playmate at Miss Laura Mae’s house was thrilling.
Petey was a mean kid. He stuck his tongue out at me and pulled the corners of his eyes down behind Miss Laura Mae’s back before we even got out of the kitchen. He shoved me off the top step and the dog got my biscuit first thing. Laughing my skinned knees, he chanted, “Cry baby, cry. Go tell your mama!” I wasn’t the crying or the tattling kind, but made up my mind he was going to mess up and I’d be ready. I was insulted by his use of the word “gals,” a word I’d always despised. I knocked him off the steps, giving him a taste of his own medicine. He ran off to play with the Clarkston boys next door, which was fine by me. I wasn’t the crying or the tattling kind, but made up my mind he was going to mess up and I’d be ready.
I talked Miss Laura Mae out of a string and bacon rind for crawfishing. Crawfishing was simple. Just drag a bacon rind on a string through shallow ditch or creek and crawfish hang on. I had forgotten about Petey and had half a coffee can full before he slipped up on me as I admired my finest crawfish. As he tried to push me in the ditch, I dodged, swinging the big crawfish onto Petey. It grabbed a hank of his hair and hung on for dear life. You’d have thought it was a snake, the way he squalled like a little “gal” half the way back to Miss Laura’s house.
I snagged a few more before I made my way back with my can of crawfish, wondering if Petey had tattled, but he was nowhere to be seen.
“I brought you some crawfish, Miss Laura Mae.” She loved to put them in her soup.
“Bring ‘em here and let me see,” she said. “Ooh! That’s a pretty nice bunch. I think me an’ Petey might go back to the crick and get enough for supper,”
“That’d be good,” I said.