Trouble Down South Art Challenge
Painting No. 12
Here is a painting on the theme of romance for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge with Leslie Saeta. My paintings are reflective of the stories in my Trouble Down South and Other Stories short story collection and my novel Bootlegger Haze (Books One and Two).
“Courting” was a term I had heard many times while growing up. It was my grandparents’ old-fashioned term for dating. And a lot went into a date or courtship back in the day. Horace, the main character in my short story, learns this lesson the hard way when Miss Margaret confronts him on their dating status in “Grandpa’s Courtship (A Short Story.)” This painting was inspired by my short story “Grandpa’s Courtship (A Short Story.)”
It was early on a Saturday morning, and Horace, Jason, and Buddy were working in the corn fields. It was late spring, and they were planting the season’s corn crop. A mule led the plow, which Horace navigated, making furrows. His grandson Buddy came behind him, dropping corn in the furrows, and Horace’s hired farmhand Jason would follow, covering the corn, all of them continuing this process for the next row and the next and the next until a huge field of corn was laid, time-consuming work that would make Horace consider giving up the trade every season when he’d think about how much work it would take to plant a field of corn.
They had just finished setting a row of corn, trying to finish by mid-morning, and were heading toward the other end of the row near the road that led to the local colored Baptist church when they saw a stout figure, distorted by jagged rays of sunlight, heading toward them. They stopped abruptly, wondering who it was, a hand waving in the air, the figure talking to the wind as it barreled down the corn row, a fireball of dust trailing behind it. As the figure got closer, Horace recognized it. It was Miss Margaret, and she was fired up mad.
“Horace Johnson!” she yelled. “If I ain’t never seen a man so hard-nosed set in his stubborn-as-a-mule and mean-as-an-ass ways, I would never in my lifetime see it!”
Jason and Buddy were stunned at first, but they knew why Miss Margaret laid into Horace. Horace had no warning, so he couldn’t get away before he was barraged by verbal assaults from the irritated colored woman.
“You are the stubbornest, orneriest, crankiest, belligerent, ill-tempered, crabbiest, cantankerousest, grouchiest, old negro—,” Miss Margaret added before being cut off.
“Miss Margaret…now… Miss Margaret, I ain’t gone be no more of your negroes,” Horace interjected.
“Loud-mouthed, quarrelsome, grumpy, tetchy, surly…,” she continued.
“Now, Miss Margaret, you better tell me what’s got your panties in a pinch,” Horace said sternly.
Jason and Buddy burst out laughing, which only angered the irate woman.
“You dirty, old letch!” Miss Margaret yelled. “How dare you use such devilish, sinful, vile, despicable, wicked language with me?”
And as quickly as Miss Margaret came down the corn row, she turned on her heels and left in a blur, leaving Horace speechless. Jason and Buddy bawled over in laughter.
“What y’all laughing at?” Horace said irritably, watching as Miss Margaret made her way angrily down the corn row, her floral print dress swaying from side to side in unison with the determined stride of her hefty hips.
“You!” Jason retorted, letting out a deep guffaw.
“Hush up, you fools!” Horace yelled. “Get back to work!”
Jason nudged Buddy in the side, both of them still overcome with laughter.
“I said, get back to work!” Horace repeated angrily, slapping the mule on the hind parts and shouting, “Gitty up! You stubborn ass!”
Jason and Buddy burst into another fit of laughter, annoying Horace even more.
“I don’t know what the hell you two find so damn hilarious,” Horace snapped.
“Now, Horace,” Jason said, trying to hold back a snicker. “You know good and well what that was all about.”
“I don’t know what you talking ‘bout,” Horace said, turning his back to Jason.
“Oh, you don’t, huh?” Jason mocked. “You know Miss Margaret been waiting for you to ask her to that church picnic all month long. And you stood around and acted like you didn’t have no idea. The picnic is this afternoon, and I think she’s trying to give you a hint. A big hint.”
Horace paused, blinking his eyes and frowning, turning to Jason and asking, “You serious?”
“You mean you didn’t know?” Jason asked, surprised by Horace’s reaction.
“No,” Horace replied.
“She been telling my wife about it all month. I guess that was my cue to tell you about it,” Jason said, now realizing how angry Miss Margaret must have been.
Buddy said softly, “She mentioned it to me, but she never said to tell you anything, Grandpa.”
Horace, irritated and needing someone to blame, snapped at Buddy, “Boy, why didn’t you tell me?”
“Don’t blame the boy,” Jason said, defending Buddy. “You know she been sweet on you, and you been acting like you can’t see it. Everybody in the whole county could see how she feel about you. But you. And this picnic was your chance to make your move.”
Trying to regain his composure, Horace paused and then said, “How the hell that woman think I can read minds? She act like I’m supposed to know that’s what she wanted. A woman gotta tell a man something. Women can’t expect us to know what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.”
Jason and Buddy stood quietly as Horace went on his own tirade, slapping the mule again on the hind parts.
“And another thing,” Horace added, “she can’t just come up to a man and fuss him out like he ain’t nothing….”
Jason and Buddy followed behind Horace, snickering under their breaths.
Horace continued, “…talking to him any kind of way and expecting him to know what she all up in a tether about. Womenfolk. They so confused. And they trying to confuse everybody else.”
“Horace, you know what you gotta do,” Jason said, still smirking.
“Humph,” Horace grunted and continued down the corn row, slapping the mule again on the hind parts to make it move.
Prints are available for purchase of the painting “Grandpa’s Courtship.” Prints are available in sizes 8 x 10, 11 x 14, and 16 x 20 inches (unframed). Email Katrina Williams at stepartdesigns at hotmail dot com for prices.
Check out the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge with Leslie Saeta–http://www.lesliesaeta.blogspot.com/.
I am an artist and an author of southern and historical fiction and short stories. View all my artwork on my artist page at Daily Paintworks.
Check out more of my artwork at my Art Blog–KPWms Art Studio.