“Hurry up and get your shoes on. We’re going to Mr. Grady’s house. You can play with his grandkids.” Daddy called behind him as he headed for the truck. “I ain’t waiting for you!”
I was near frantic as I tore through the house looking for the shoes I’d kicked off the last time I’d been made to wear them. Shoes were for school and going places. I’d never have worn them voluntarily. “I gotta find my shoes so I can go with Daddy. He ain’t waiting!”
Mother didn’t show proper concern. “You’re supposed to put them under your bed. Did you look there?”
I don’t know why she said stuff like that. I never put things away! This time, I was saved. They were tucked neatly under my bed where Mother had put them when she swept. “I found ‘em. Bye!”
”Don’t kick ‘em off and leave them somewhere. That’s your only pair. Are you listening?”
”I won’t! Bye!” Daddy was waiting in the truck with the engine running with Billy next to him. “I thought maybe I was gonna have to leave you.”
Mr. Grady and two identical-looking boys greeted us at the gate. “This here is my grandboys, Big Boy and Little Boy. Now, all you younguns go play while we go git a cup of coffee. Boys, I’ll skin you alive if I catch you chasing the calf again.” The four of us took off. I liked these kids, already.
“You want to see the armadillos?” one of them inquired.
”Okay.” I’d seen plenty of armadillos, mostly flat on the roadside, but never had the opportunity to get to know one personally. We trooped to a fenced in area back of the house where a herd of armadillos of all sizes rushed us.
”They think we gonna feed ‘em, “ one of the boys explained. “Pap’s always got a mess of armadillos shut up back here. We gonna fool ‘em today, though. We gonna eat one for dinner today. Want to help us catch one.”
The race was on. We chased those fast little rascals all over that pen but never caught one. Eventually, we gave it up for wheelbarrow rides. Two kids pushed the barrow while the rider claimed the privilege of riding till dumped over. I could have done that all day. Eventually, Daddy concluded his visit and we headed home. I was very disappointed to miss the armadillo dinner, but Daddy said we had to be moving on. Though I spent hours with them, I never did learn which was Big Boy or Little Boy.
When we got home, the first words out of Mother’s mouth were, “Where are your shoes? You’ve got to go to Bible School tomorrow.”
I wore sixty-nine cent flip flops for the rest of the summer.