Four Bits by Gale Acuff

I’m going to die someday and then I’ll
go to Heaven or Hell, Miss Hooker says,
she’s my Sunday School teacher and I love
her and want to marry her one day, that
should probably be before I die or
she does or both except she’s 25
and I’m only 10 but in a few years
I’ll be a man or almost and doing
what men do, whatever that is, most men
I know don’t do very much except work
and then not a lot of that but I mean
they shave and drive and shave and drive some more
and don’t sleep alone but with their wives but
sometimes Father likes the couch or if he
doesn’t really like it I find him there
some mornings and watch him sleep and hear him
snoring, too, even from my room, upstairs,
but anyway he mows the grass and buys

the Mogen David for Mother and Schlitz
for himself and for me a couple of
pickled eggs or some Raisinets and last
Friday evening I got both along with
my fifty-cents allowance. Anyway
last Sunday morning when he woke up on
the couch and I was headed out the door
for Sunday School I asked if he thought
he’d be going to Heaven when he died
and he said, Bring me a cup of coffee
and I’ll answer that–better yet, bring me
a beer, but there wasn’t any left so
I brought the Mogen David and a cup
and poured it for him, it’s made of grapes but

they’re special, they make Mother silly and
sometimes sad. So Father drank it down fast
and I poured him another and he said
Thanks, don’t tell your mother, here, have a sip
yourself, which I did, I always do but
he and Mother don’t know it–it’s the blood
of Jesus but in church all we get is
straight juice. I wonder if I’ll go to Hell
for tasting it, wine I mean, for tasting
it also because I’m young and didn’t
ask permission, which is like stealing, which
is a sin, too. I put the bottle up
but added a little water to it

to make it seem substantial still, then said
goodbye to Father. Pray for me, he said,
which he never said before, which is why
I’ve been thinking about death nowadays
but anyway after Sunday School class
this morning and before I traipsed home I
asked Miss Hooker if she’d marry me when
I’m old enough, 16 maybe, and she
said that we’d have to wait and see so I
said, Well, I can’t wait forever, you know,
and she laughed and said, If you love me, then
you must. This is one thing good about death.

 

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