Back in those days you didn’t shoot nobody unless they really needed shootin’.
So when someone showed you a gun, you knew there was a reason. You didn’t always know what the reason was, so the polite thing to do was ask.
“What’s with the hog leg?”
“Keeps folks from takin’ the cash box.”
“I just want a watermelon. You sellin’? Or just sittin’ here showin’ em off?”
The truck was a 1950 International Harvester that had been ugly since the day it was born and the boy was a 1955 Hatfield with a homemade haircut that wasn’t gonna win no prizes, either. He looked to be about eleven.
“We’re sellin’. Seventy-five cents.”
I dropped three quarters into the slot in his tackle box and heard the slosh of a hundred others when he slid it under the truck seat where he’d been sleeping.
“Take your pick.”
“They’re equal good.”
I flipped him another quarter and he dropped it in his pocket. Barefoot, he clambered to the top of the pile and reached to a spot behind the cab. It was worth the extra quarter.
“Truck not runnin’?”
“We always sell a few after dark and this is a good spot. Didn’t want to give it up.”
“Your daddy’s smart.”
“Don’t have a daddy.”
“Don’t have to be smart to stay parked in a good spot. Just common sense.”
“He’s smart for teaching you to flash that hog leg without pointin’ it.”
“Illegal to point it.”
“I know. And your granddaddy’s smart for makin’ sure you know.”
He held it out to me on an open palm. “Walker Colt. Belonged to my granddaddy’s daddy.”
I looked at it and nodded, “Nice one,” but I didn’t touch it. My granddaddy taught me, too.