We live in cabin two and my best friend, Sloth, lives in cabin one. Do not be fooled by the nickname though. Six years ago Mr. Michaels shot clear through his right foot cleaning his rifle and all that is left are two toes like a sloth. Two-toed Sloth stuck although Momma still refers to him by his real name.
Sloth is about the bestest friend anyone could be lucky to have. We go on all kinds of adventures whether working in the garden or hunting squirrels. I hardly ever see him mad. Just the other day I pulled out a carrot thinking it was a weed and he did not yell or hit me. He merely replanted it then showed me the difference. Momma says he has the patience of Job.
We all live on the Sutton place but Sloth, Momma and I are not sharecroppers. Jack pays rent to Mr. Sutton for Momma and me when he is home from working on the crew of the Cauy Tucker Rodeo. Sloth shares his vegetables and game caught on the place.
Speaking of Jack, he is part Choctaw. This is the reason we do not live with Momma’s folks. They put Momma out as soon as they heard about me. It is okay, but it sure does make Momma sad. Well, that and the fact that Jack is mean.
I was sitting up in Sweetie, our Sweet Gum Tree, having told Sloth I wanted to think instead of go fishing with him when I noticed Jack’s truck spitting up gravel and smoke getting to cabin two. Within seconds he is out of the truck and up in Momma’s face, choking her with the pot roast she was making especially for him. I turn away from the kitchen window.
He is making little sense and I climb a little higher in Sweetie. I bet he has been drinking. I hear Momma rush through the screen door and I am staring again at the violence as Jack trips her from behind and begins to kick her. Within another minute, Momma is unconscious and Jack is in the truck heading back towards town.
Next morning I tell Sloth all about Momma who is now laid up in her bed. I end my story by telling him I should have gone fishing. He looks me dead in the eyes and says, “Millie, when faced with fishing or doing something else, choose fishing.”
Into the Free is written by Mississippi resident, Julie Cantrell. She fills it with historical references such as the gypsies who traveled the south but buried their own in Meridian’s Rose Hill Cemetery. This Depression Era story is not to be missed.