Word just came in last night, via email, that Belle Bridge Books wants to use one of my short stories in their upcoming Sweet Tea Anthology, May 2012!
The only guide lines were: twenty or so pages, Southern, and food oriented. Easy enough, right? I pulled out an old unfinished piece, Funeral Food, which is good … the story, the concept. But I couldn’t get the humor to work right.
I wound up going back to one of the early chapters in A Confluence of Rivers, my finished novel. It needed editing to make it work as a stand-alone short story, and to build up the food aspect. Three day later, lord help us all, we are having a pig-picking!
Here is a sample:
By noon there was a crowd. All of Cut Bank came. The cooked boar hog was moved to just off the veranda at the store, set on a hastily built plank table. The keg of beer on the shaded end of the veranda.
“Has this food been blessed?” the young preacher asked.
“No,” Papa Thomas said. “Would you do the honors, reverend.”
“Let’s read some verses from the gospel of St. Matthew,” the preacher said, opened his bible.
There was an uneasy silence.
When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.
he read …
And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”
But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”
He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.
So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children
The roasted pig were carved up. Francis sliced off slabs of ham and shoulder. A ring of people three deep circled the table. Food seemed to materialize from wagons and buggies, from canvas sacks hooked over saddle horns. Roasted potatoes, pots of cooked greens, corn bread, whole bake yams … a cauldron of baked beans.
“I’ve had beef jerky was easier to chew,” Otis Butterbaugh announced to the gathered crowd. He held a carrot sized chunk of pork shoulder in his left hand, filled his mug from the keg. He glanced to be sure the young preacher wasn’t watching too closely.
There were pies, a pound cake with the requisite pound each of butter and sugar, and a dozen fresh eggs. The four cups of flour seemed almost superfluous.
“We better cook us up another batch ‘a these peanuts,” Mr. Otis told JJ in the deepening afternoon. There was a steady line of takers for boiled peanuts. When the second round was dumped onto the plank floor, Torie, standing in the doorway, straw broom in hand, asked, “All right, now, who’s gonna sweep up these hulls?” There was no shortage of volunteers.
Earl Dupree’s seventy-seven year old mama, down on the Row, said, “Toughest meat I ever eit.” She stripped another thumb sized piece off the hanging hind quarter, worked it into her nearly toothless mouth. They would ate pit roasted pork for the better part of a week.