Bobby and Jesco
by Azure James (part of a series of Southern short stories)
The way I see it, Jesco Earnest had no good reason to do what he did that day. I’ll start from the beginnin’. Ol’ Jesco and Bobby Carson were good buds out ’round the woods where I grew up, in Eastern Kentucky.
Well, the both of them were married, had two wives and three kids between the two of ’em. They’d been friends since they were schoolkids in Pikeville. I miss that ol’ school. I believe I was maybe twelve when those two kids started kindergarten. Only saw ’em fer a year ‘fore I dropped out. I had too many responsibilities on the homestead to pay no attention to my schoolwork. Back then, we had ’bout twelve head of cattle. A big Angus/Hereford cross bull. If I’ve ever seen cows that make good dairy and beef at the same time, they had to have come from that bull. We named him Marb, since that was what my daddy smoked and it sounded like a good name to my lil’ head back at the time. Come to think of it, I suppose it still does.
Guess I’m gettin’ sidetracked. Jesco and Bobby grew up alright. Jesco broke horses and Bobby cut timber. Both of ’em stayed out of the coal mines, lucky for them. They grew up quick and got throwed out before they knew it. Stayed together close enough to stop at each others for dinner or some target practice or some drinkin’. That’s how this all started, actually. The summer of nineteen-sixty-two was turnin’ cold faster than normal. Got both of em’ a little ornery, but especially Jesco. He always wanted to move down to Flarida. Never got the money to leave, though.
Bobby was stayin’ over at Jesco’s fer a smoke before he got home from work. They were standin’ outside when Jesco took off to the woods to go to the bathroom. When he got back, Bobby was standin’ there daydreamin’ and one of Jesco’s horses was runnin’ out of the pasture, right through the open gate. How was that possible? The gate was closed just a minute before.
Jesco already was mad at Bobby fer stoppin’ over uninvited and because he thought he might have stole some of his eggs. And because of the cold weather of course, but this really threw him for a loop.
Jesco yelled at Bobby to high hell fer lettin’ his horse out, but Bobby said the horse must have untied the knot somehow or other. Jesco didn’t have none of it, so he ran in his house and shut the door.
Well, about a minute later, Bobby had the horse caught with some sweetfeed and a halter. He knocked on the door to apologize about what happened and tell Jesco he got the horse back, but when the door opened up, instead of a warm greetin’, Bobby got a shotgun blast to the face.
The real amazing thing about was how dern smart Jesco was after the killin’. He just dug up a hole and tossed Bobby inside it. When his wife came back from her shopping trip, she asked what the dirt marks on Jesco’s clothes were from.
“Just buryin’ a dead cat I found by the road,” said Jesco, real sly.
“That’s too bad,” empathized his wife.
Jesco must have thought everything was fine then, but the Good Lord knows who should be punished, and he always finds a way to do just that. Week later, and another one of Jesco’s friends shows up. While Jesco n’ his wife were busy talkin’, his friend walked around and happened upon that big grave, right at the border of the woods.
“What’s that fer?” he asked.
“Umm… one of my horses got colic a few days ago,” replied Jesco, lookin’ sideways.
“Grave ain’t big enough fer’ your horse, and I know you’ve always had three horses,” said the neighbor, gettin’ perty suspicious.
“You still do. Heck, that hole would better fit a person than a horse.” Jesco didn’t say nothin’.
A week later, A big ol’ group came over in the night and dug Bobby up. They knew it all along– people don’t just disappear fer’ no reason. Especially homebodies like Bobby Carson.
I think Jesco got what he deserved in the end. Wonder if he ever did get out of that prison…