Mr. Bill’s “shadow theory”

Excerpt Chapter 22:

Bill scratched his head through his paper hat and took long pull from his cigarette. Then, with a long almost burdened breath blew the smoke into the rain.

I figure… everybody’s life leaves behind a mark, a kind of shadow that hangs around long after we’re gone. The longer the life, the longer the shadow. Like ours does now when the sun gits lower in the sky.

Fer example, you’re just a boy, the sun’s still high on ye, shadows rather small. Me? Well… I’m a bit older, suns’ getting’ mighty low and my shadows got bout as long as it’s gonna git.

Now, in those shadows rest our story’s, the longer the shadow, the more story’s a bodies got to tell. He held his thin arms outstretched, proudly displaying his old tattoos’.

Ye see these pictures here? They’s a story behind each and every one of em. Some good, some not so good. Yes sir. I reckon I got myself a mighty long shadow by now. One of these days, I’ll tell ye bout em. He stared hard at the faded drawings. As he looked at each one, I could see the memories march across his face.  

Now if yer askin’ me what I think. Well…I believe the good Lords give each of us a limit as to how long he allows our shadow to git. But all too often, some unfortunate soul gits their shadow cut short, unnatural like. I figure that leaves some of em a might upset.

Now I cain’t tell ye if they’s a witch up there or not. But I can tell ye this, I figure if anything rests neath that stone, it was done wrong once upon a time. Good or bad, it ain’t much for sufferin’ any manner of company. A body might do well to steer clear of it.

With that, he smacked his hands on his knees. Then standing up straight flicked his cigarette into a puddle. But that’s just my two cents young man… just my two cents.

I reckon we got some work to do, we best be getting’ back to it. He turned and walked inside leaving me standing there with a confused look on my face.

I finished the rest of the day pondering Mr. Bill’s words. I wasn’t sure if he was telling me not to go, or, maybe, going was gonna be part of my story. I thought about the shadows. I thought about how long my papaws had to be, and how long my ma’s was meant to be. I even wondered how long mine… or my friends was gonna be. I left that ol’ man a heap more confused than when I first got there. But some-how I felt a heap better for it.

Before I knew it, the gloomy day had passed me by and it was time to go home. The rain seemed to have let up a bit, but still it soaked us to the bone. I looked down as I boarded the bus just out of curiosity… no shadow.

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