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Forrest Gump Chapter Twenty-Four

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Chapter Twenty-Four

Well, finally, i done come home again.

The train got into the Mobile station bout three o’clock in the mornin an they took off ole Sue in his crate an lef us standin on the platform. Ain’t nobody else aroun cept some feller sweepin the floor an a guy snoozin on a bench in the depot, so Sue an me walked on downtown an finally foun a place to sleep in a abandoned buildin.

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Nex mornin, I got Sue some bananas down by the wharf an found a little lunch counter where I bought a great big breakfast with grits an eggs an bacon an pancakes an all, an then I figgered I had to do somethin to get us squared away, so I begun to walk out to where the Little Sisters of the Poor home was located. On the way, we passed by where our ole house used to be, an it wadn’t nothin lef but a field of weeds an some burnt up wood. It was a very strange feelin, seein that, an so we kep on goin.

When I got to the po house, I tole Sue to wait in the yard so as not to startle them sisters none, an I went in an axed about my mama.

The head sister, she was real nice, an she say she don’t know where Mama is, cept she went off with the protestant, but that I might try axin aroun in the park cause mama use to go an set there in the afternoons with some other ladies. So I got Sue an we gone on over there.

They was some ladies settin on the benches an I went up an tole one of them who I was, an she looked at ole Sue, an say, “I reckon I might of guess it.”

But then she say she has heard that Mama was workin as a pants presser in a dry cleanin store on the other side of town, an so me an Sue went over there an sho enough, there is po ole Mama, sweatin over a pair of pants in the laundry.

When she seen me, Mama drop everthin an thowed hersef into my arms. She is cryin an twistin her hans an snifflin just like I remembered. Good ole Mama.

“Oh, Forrest,” she say. “You have come home at last. There wadn’t a day gone by I didn’t think bout you, an I done cried mysef to sleep ever night since you been gone.” That didn’t suprise me none tho, an I axed her bout the protestant.

“That low-down polecat,” Mama say. “I should of knowed better than to run off with a protestant. Wadn’t a month went by before he chucked me for a sixteen-year-ole girl – an him bein nearly sixty. Let me tell you, Forrest, protestants ain’t got no morals.”

Just then a loud voice come from inside the dry cleanin stow, say, “Gladys, have you done lef the steam press on somebody’s pants?”

“Oh my God!” Mama shout, an run back inside. All of a sudden a big column of black smoke blowed out thru the winder an people inside is bawlin an hollerin an cussin an nex thing I knowed, Mama is bein hauled out of the stow by a big old ugly bald-headed guy that is shoutin an manhandlin her.

“Git out! Git out!” he holler. “This is the last straw! You done burnt up your last pair of pants!”

Mama be cryin an weepin an I stepped up to the feller an say, “I think you better be takin your hans off my mama.”

“Who the hell is you?” he axed.

“Forrest Gump,” I says back, an he say, “Well you git your ass outta here too, an take your mama with you, cause she don’t work here no more!”

“You best not be talkin that way aroun my mama,” I says, an he say back, “Yeah? What you gonna do about it?”

So I showed him.

First, I grapped him an picked him up in the air. Then I carried him into where they was washin all these clothes in a big ole oversize laundry machine they use for quilts and rugs, an I open the top an stuff him in an close the lid shut an turned the dial to “Spin.” Last I seen of him, his ass were headed for the “Rinse” cycle.

Mama is bawlin an dawbin at her eyes with a handkerchief an say, “Oh, Forrest, now I done lost my job!”

“Don’t worry none, Mama,” I tole her, “everthin gonna be okay, cause I have got a plan.”

“How you gonna have a plan, Forrest?” she say. “You is a idiot. How is a po idiot gonna have a plan?”

“Jus wait an see,” I says. Anyhow, I am glad to have got off on the right foot my first day home.

We got outta there, an started walkin towards the roomin house where Mama stayin. I had done introduced her to Sue an she say she was pleased that at least I have got some kinda friend – even if he is a ape.

Anyhow, Mama an me ate supper at the roomin house an she got Sue a orange from the kitchen, an afterwards, me an Sue went down to the bus station an got the bus to Bayou La Batre, where Bubba’s folks lived. Sure as rain, last thing I saw of Mama she was standin on the porch of the roomin house wipin her eyes an sobbin as we lef. But I had give her haf the five thousan dollars to sort of tide her over an pay her rent an all till I could get mysef established, so I didn’t feel so bad.

Anyhow, when the bus get to Bayou La Batre we didn’t have no trouble findin Bubba’s place. It’s about eight o’clock at night an I knocked on the door an after a wile an ole feller appears an axed what I want.

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I tole him who I was an that I knowed Bubba from playin football an from the Army, an he got kinda nervous but he invited me inside. I had tole ole Sue to stay out in the yard an kinda keep outta sight since they probly hasn’t seen nothin look like him down here.

Anyhow, it was Bubba’s daddy, an he got me a glass of iced tea an started axin me a lot of questions. Wanted to know bout Bubba, bout how he got kilt an all, an I tole him the best I could.

Finally, he say, “There’s somethin I been wonderin all these years, Forrest – what do you think Bubba died for?”

“Cause he got shot,” I says, but he say, “No, that ain’t what I mean. What I mean is, why? Why was we over there?”

I thought for a minute, an say, “Well, we was tryin to do the right thing, I guess. We was jus doin what we was tole.”

An he say, “Well, do you think it was worth it? What we did? All them boys gettin kilt that way?”

An I says, “Look, I am jus a idiot, see. But if you want my real opinion, I think it was a bunch of shit.”

Bubba’s daddy nod his head. “That’s what I figgered,” he say.

Anyhow, I tole him why I had come there. Tole him bout me an Bubba’s plan to open up a little srimp bidness, an how I had met the ole gook when I was in the hospital an he showed me how to grow srimp, an he was gettin real interested an axin a lot of questions, when all of a sudden they is a tremendous squawkin set up out in the yard.

“Somethin’s after my chickens!” Bubba’s daddy shout, an he went an got a gun from behin the door an go out on the porch.

“They is somethin I got to tell you,” I says, an I tole him bout Sue bein there, cept we don’t see hide nor hair of him.

Bubba’s daddy go back in the house an get a flashlight an shine it aroun in the yard. He shine it under a big tree an down at the bottom is a goat – big ole billy goat, standin there pawin the groun. He shine it up in the tree an there is po Sue, settin on a limb, scared haf to death.

“That goat’ll do it ever time,” say Bubba’s daddy. “Git on away from there!” he shout, an he thow a stick at the goat. After the goat was gone, Sue come down from the tree an we let him inside the house.

“What is that thing?” Bubba’s daddy axed.

“He is a orangutang,” I says.

“Looks kinda like a gorilla, don’t he?”

“A little bit,” I says, “but he ain’t.”

Anyway, Bubba’s daddy say we can sleep there that night, an in the mornin, he will go aroun with us an see if we can find some place to start the srimp bidness. They was a nice breeze blowin off the bayou an you coud hear frawgs an crickets an even the soun of a fish jumpin ever once in a wile. It was a nice, peaceful place, an I made up my mind then an there that I was not gonna get into no trouble here.

Nex mornin brite an early we get up an Bubba’s daddy done fixed a big breakfast with homemade sausage an fresh yard eggs an biscuits an molasses, an then he take me an Sue in a little boat an pole us down the Bayou. It is calm an they is a bit of mist on the water. Ever once in a wile a big ole bird would take off outta the marsh.

“Now,” say Bubba’s daddy, “here is where the salt tide comes in,” an he point to a slew that runs up in the marsh. “There’s some pretty big ponds up in there, an if I was gonna do what you plannin to do, that’s where I’d do it.”

He pole us up into the slew. “Now you see there,” he say, “that is a little piece of high groun an you can jus see the roof of a little shack in there.

“It used to be lived in by ole Tom LeFarge, but he been dead four or five years now. Ain’t nobody own it. You wanted, you could fix it up a little an stay there. Last time I looked, he had a couple of ole rowboats pulled up on the bank. Probly ain’t worth a damn, but you caulk em up, they’d probly float.”

He pole us in further, an say, “Ole Tom used to have some duckboards runnin thru the marsh down to the ponds. Used to fish an shoot ducks in there. You could probly fix em up. It’d be a way of gettin aroun in there.”

Well, let me tell you, it looked ideal. Bubba’s daddy say they get seed srimp up in them slews an bayous all the time, an it wouldn’t be no trouble to net a bunch of em to start off the bidness with. Another thing he say is that in his experience, a srimp will eat cottonseed meal, which is good on account of it is cheap.

The main thing we got to do is block off them ponds with mesh nets an get the little cabin fixed up to live in an get some supplies like peanut butter an jelly an bread an all that kind of shit. Then we be ready to start growin our srimp.

So we got started that very day. Bubba’s daddy took me back to the house an we gone into town an begun buyin supplies. He say we can use his boat till we get ours fixed up, an that night me an Sue stayed in the little fishin shack for the first time. It rained some an the roof leaked like crazy, but I didn’t mind. Nex mornin I jus went out an fixed it up.

It took almost a month to get things goin – makin the shack nice an fixin up the rowboats an the duckboards in the marsh an layin the mesh nets aroun one of them ponds. Finally the day come when we is ready to put in some srimp. I have bought a srimp net an me an Sue went on out in the rowboat an dragged it aroun for most of the day. By that night, we had probly fifty pounds of srimp in the bait well an we rowed up an dumped em into the pond. They be crackin an swimmin aroun an dancin on top of the water. My, my, it was a lovely site.

Nex mornin we got us five hundrit pounds of cottonseed meal an thowed a hundrit pounds of it in the pond for the srimp to eat an the nex afternoon we set about nettin-in another pond. We done that all summer an all fall an all winter an all spring an by that time we has got four ponds operatin an everthin is lookin rosy. At night I would set out on the porch of the shack an play my harmonica an on Saturday night I would go into town an buy a six-pack of beer an me an Sue would get drunk. I finally feel like I belong someplace, an am doin a honest day’s work, an I figger that when we get the first srimp harvested an sold, maybe then it will be all right to try to find Jenny again, an see if she is still mad at me.

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