The Beans of Egypt, Maine

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They blink their fox-color eyes. It musta lost its muffler. It rumbles along, and the exhaust exploding from all sides is doughy and enormous from the cold. He has a sweatshirt with a pointed hood so all that shows is his huge pink cheeks and a smile.


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The car pulls ahead onto the right-of-way and the two guys get out. The men look at each other and chuckle. The sweatshirt guy pulls on the feet.

Out comes a big Bean, loose, very loose, like a dead cat. His arms and legs just go all over the ground. His green felt hat plops out in the dirt. About five beer bottles skid out, too, roll and clink together. Both the guys laugh.

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I look around. No Beans come out of the mobile home. No Beans come out of the hole. I take a step. I cover my nose. I think he musta messed hisself. His green workshirt has yellow stitching on one pocket. They bring their spade and spoons, cans and a pail. Hey you!

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Wake up! His wide-open mouth. Big Bean nose. My quick hand goes out. Out of the open mouth comes a hiss. The chest heaves up. I look among their faces for signs of panic. I look down at the big Bean and his hand slowly drags across the dirt to his side to the torn fabric, a black place in the body, like an open mouth.

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And blood fills the cup of his hand. I see the blood has surrounded my left sneaker, has splashed on my white sock. I can hear the Bean kids shift in their rubber boots. The fox-color big Bean eye opens, the teeth come together, make a deep rude raspy grunt. He gets one of the chairs from the suppah table and faces it in the corner where he keeps his boots.

His face is white with afraidness. He pats the chair. I get on the chair facing the corner. I open my mouth. He sticks in the soap—hard, gritty. My mouth is almost not big enough. I take the soap out. I was in the middle! I sputter.

We hear the siren. I start to get off the chair. Daddy puts his hand on my shoulder. Listen to me. He puts his face close to mine. Every Thanksgiving is the same. Auntie Paula comes with her kids and Uncle Loren comes in his pig truck alone. I look out through the kitchen glass. His arms dangle down through his legs. He smokes hard and slow. I hum one of the songs Gram plays on the organ at church.


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Uncle Loren lives alone. We never visit him. When we drive by, only his kitchen light is on. Daddy says Loren sleeps in the kitchen. Uncle Loren wears striped overalls. When I look in his eyes, I get a shiver, which I like. I like scary things, I guess. Uncle Loren ignores them both. He looks over at me instead. They get right under the sheets with me and run around in there under the sheets. Gram snorts. People, good Christian ones, upset him.

The Beans of Egypt, Maine

Uncle Loren chuckles, sends his cigarette butt spinning through the rain. It hisses in the grass. They say the roads are greasy. The black dog watches me, the hair on its back raised. I draw nearer to the hole with the spoons and coffee cans ringed around it. The dog charges. It gallops sideways with stiff rocking-horse legs. Its bluish tongue flutters. No faces. The dog smells my small moving feet. The dog watches me pick up a trowel. I point it at the dog. The corridor of the hole is curved.

I feel soda bottles along the way. A measuring cup. A rock drops from the ceiling and thwonks my shoulder.

The Beans Of Egypt, Maine

A spray of dirt lets go and fills my hair. I enter a big warm room. In apple crates are what feels like Barbie clothes and Barbie accessories. More Beans come. Three or four carloads. The mobile home door opens, closes, opens, closes. The soft slap of sand is on my neck. Sounds like the Bean kids are throwing something for the black dog to catch. It sounds like a piece of tail pipe or some other gross thing. There is light again at the top.