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Gump and Co. Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

Let me say this: Everbody makes mistakes, which is why they put a rubber mat around spitoons. But take my word for it – don’t never let nobody make a movie of your life’s story. Whether they get it right or wrong, it don’t matter.

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Problem is, people be comin up to you all the time, askin questions, pokin TV cameras in your face, wantin your autograph, tellin you what a fine feller you are. Ha! If bullshit came in barrels, I’d get me a job as a barrel-maker an have more money than Misters Donald Trump, Michael Mulligan, an Ivan Bozosky put together. Which is a matter I will go into in a little bit.

But first, let me bring you up to date on my sorry tale. A lot has gone on in my life in the last ten or so years. First, I am ten or so years older, which is not as much fun as some people think. I have got a few gray hairs on my head, an I ain’t near as fast as I used to be, which is somethin I found out straightaway when I tried to make me some money playin football again.

It was down in New Orleans, where I had wound up after everthin else happened, an it was just me there. I had got a job sweepin out a strip joint called Wanda’s, which didn’t close till about three A.M., an so I got my days pretty free. One night I was just settin there in a corner watchin my friend Wanda do her thing on stage when a big fight commenced up front. They was people hollerin, cussin, thowin chairs, tables, beer bottles, an knockin each other in the head, an women screamin, too. I did not think too much of all this, account of it happened about two or three times ever night, except this time, I thought I recognized one of the participants.

It was a big ole feller with a beer bottle in his hand, swingin it in a way that I had not seen since I was up to the University of Alabama way back when. Lo an behole, it was old Snake, the quarterback who one time had thowed the ball out of bounds on fourth down to stop the clock when we was playin them cornshucker bastids from Nebraska in the Orange Bowl twenty years ago. An that, of course, lost us the game an made me have to go to Vietnam an – well, let’s don’t worry about all that now.

Anyhow, I went over an grapped the beer bottle from Snake, an he was so glad to see me he punched me on top of the head, which was a mistake because it sprained his wrist, an he commenced to holler an cuss, an about that time the police showed up an hauled all of us off to jail. Now, jail is a place I know somethin about, account of I have been there at various times. In the mornin, after everbody else sobered up, the jailer brung us some fried bologna an stale bread an begun astin if we want to call somebody to get us loose. Snake is mad as hell, an he say, “Forrest, ever time I come around your big dumb ass, I wind up in hot water. Here I ain’t seen you in years and look what happens. We is thowed in jail!” I just nodded my head, cause Snake is right.

Anyhow somebody come an bail us all out, Snake an his friends an me, too, an this guy is not very happy, an Snake, he ast me, “What in hell were you doin in that dive anyhow?” When I tole him I was the cleanup man, Snake get a kind of funny look on his face an says, “Hell, Gump, I thought you still had the big srimp company over at Bayou La Batre. What happened? You was a millionaire.” An I had to tell him the sad story. The srimp company went bust.

I had left the srimp company an gone on my way after a while, cause I got tired of all the bullshit that comes with runnin a big bidness enterprise. An I put the thing in the hands of my mama an my friends Lieutenant Dan from Vietnam an Mister Tribble, who was the chessmaster that taught me the game. First, Mama died, an that’s all I got to say about that. Next, Lieutenant Dan calls me an says he’s gonna quit, on account of he’s made enough money anyhow. An then one day I got a letter from the Internal Revenue Service, says I ain’t paid my bidness taxes an they is fixin to shut me down an take all the boats an buildins an all, an when I went over there to see what was goin on, lo an behole, ain’t nothin goin on! All the buildins are about empty an weeds is growin up around the place, an they have done pulled out all the phones an turned the electricity off, an the sheriff has nailed up a paper on the front door sayin we are under “foreclosure.”

I gone around to see ole Bubba’s daddy to find out what had happened. Now, Bubba was my partner an my friend from the army over at Vietnam, which is where he was kilt, but Bubba’s daddy had helped me, an so I figgered I would get the real story from him. He is settin on the stoop of his house, lookin sad, when I walked up.

“What is goin on with the srimp bidness?” I ast.

He shook his head. “Forrest,” he says, “it is a sad and sorry thing. I’m afraid you have been ruint.”

“But why?” I ast.

“Betrayed” is what he answered.

Then he tole me the story. While I was assing around in New Orleans, good ole Lieutenant Dan had took Sue, my friend who was a ape – an orangutang, to be exact – an gone back over to Bayou La Batre to help out with some problems runnin the srimp bidness.

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The problems was that we was runnin out of srimp to catch. It seems that everbody in the whole world wanted srimp. People in places like Indianapolis who had never even heard of srimp a few years before was now demandin that every fast-food restaurant serve them up big platters day an night. We caught srimp fast as we could, but there are just so many srimp to go around an after a few years, we wadn’t catchin half what we had when we started, an in fact, the whole srimp industry was in a panic.

Bubba’s daddy didn’t know exactly what happened next, but whatever it was, things went from bad to worse. First, Lieutenant Dan quit. Bubba’s daddy says he saw him drivin off in a big limousine with a lady wearin spike-heeled shoes an a blond Beatle wig, an Dan was wavin two big champagne bottles out the winder. Next, Mister Tribble done quit, too. Just up an left one day, an after that so did everbody else, account of they not get-tin paid, an finally, the only one left to answer the phones was ole Sue, an when the phone company pulled out the phones, Sue left, too. Guess he figgered he wadn’t bein useful no more.

“I reckon they took all your money, Forrest,” Bubba’s daddy said.

“Who took it?” I ast him.

“They all did,” he said. “Dan, Mr. Tribble, the secretaries and the crews and the office help. They was all luggin stuff out of there. Even ole Sue. Last time I seen him, he was peekin around a corner of the buildin, carryin a computer under his arm.”

Well, this was all very bad news. I just couldn’t believe it! Dan. An Mister Tribble. An Sue!

“Whatever,” says Bubba’s daddy. “Forrest, you is wiped out.”

“Yeah,” I said, “I have been there before.”

Anyhow, wadn’t nothin to do about it now. Let em have it then. That night I set there on one of our docks. Big ole half moon out over the Mississippi Sound come up an sort of hung over the water. I was thinkin that this wouldn’t of happened if Mama had of been here. An also, I was thinkin about Jenny Curran, or whoever she was now – with little Forrest, who is actually my son. An I had promised her my share of the srimp bidness so’s little Forrest would have some money to fall back on if he ever needed it. So what am I gonna do? I am ruint. Broke! An that’s okay when you are young an don’t have no responsibilities. But, hell, here I am more than thirty years old now, an I wanted to do somethin good for little Forrest. An what has happened? I have made a mess of it again. It is the story of my life.

I got up an walked down to the end of the pier. Ole half moon still just hangin right there over the water. All of a sudden I just felt like cryin, an I leaned over on one of the big pilings that holds up the pier. Damn if it didn’t bust right off into the water, rotten, an carried me with it. Shit. Here I am again, a fool, standin in the water up to my waist. I wouldn’t of minded then if a shark or somethin had swum by an eat me up. But it didn’t, so I waded on out an caught the first bus back to New Orleans, just in time to start sweepin up in the strip joint.

A day or so later, ole Snake dropped by Wanda’s about closin time. His hand was all bandaged up an in a splint from gettin it sprained on my head, but he had somethin else on his mind.

“Gump,” he says, “let me get this straight. After all the shit you have done in life, you are now the cleanup man in a dive like this? Are you crazy? Let me ask you somethin – you still run as fast as you did in college?”

“I dunno, Snake,” I said. “I ain’t had much practice.”

“Well, let me tell you somethin,” he says. “I don’t know if you know it, but I am the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. And as you might of heard, we ain’t doin so good lately. Like we is oh and eight so far, and everbody’s callin us the ‘Ain’ts’! We gotta play the goddamn New York Giants next weekend, and the way we are goin, we will then be oh and nine, and I will probably get fired.”

“Football?” I ast him. “You still playin football?”

“Well, what else am I gonna play, you idiot – the trombone? Now, listen here, we gotta have some kind of trick against them Giants on Sunday. And I think you might just be it. It won’t take much – just one or two plays, that’s all you’ll have to practice. You do okay, you might make a career for yourself.”

“Well, I dunno, Snake. I mean, I ain’t played no football since you thowed that pass out of bounds on fourth down to stop the clock an we lost the championship to them cornshuckers from…”

“Damnit, Gump, don’t remind me of that again – it was twenty years ago! Everbody’s forgotten about it by now – except apparently you. For God’s sake, here you are moppin up a beer joint at two in the morning and you’re turning down the opportunity of a lifetime? What are you, some kind of nut?”

I was about to answer yes when Snake interrupted me an begun scribblin on a bar napkin.

“Look, here’s the address of the practice field. Be there tomorrow at one sharp. Show them this note, and tell them to bring you to me.”

After he left I stuck the napkin in my pocket an went back to cleanin up the place, an that night when I went home I laid up in bed till dawn, thinkin about what Snake had said. Maybe he was right. Anyhow, might not hurt to try. I remembered those times back at the University of Alabama all them years ago, an Coach Bryant an Curtis an Bubba an the guys. An when I did, I got kind of misty-eyed, account of they were some of the best times of my life, when that crowd was roarin an yellin, an we almost always won all our games. Anyhow, I got dressed an gone out an got some breakfast, an by one o’clock I had arrived on my bicycle at the New Orleans Saints’s practice field.

“Who you say you are again?” the guard asts when I shown him Snake’s napkin. He is lookin me up an down pretty suspiciously.

“Forrest Gump. I used to play ball with Snake.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet,” he says. “That’s what they all say.”

“I did, though.”

“Well, wait a minute, then.” He looked at me kind of disgusted like an went off through a door. Few minutes later he comes back, shakin his head.

“All right, Mr. Gump. Follow me.” An he takes me back to the locker room.

Now, I have seen some big fellers in my time. I remember them University of Nebraska players, an they was big. But all these fellers, they is not big – they is huge! In case I ain’t tole you yet, I am six-six an weigh about two hundrit forty – but these guys – they look about seven feet an three or four hundrit pounds apiece! One feller, dressed kind of official, comes up an says to me, “You lookin for somebody here, old-timer?”

“Yeah,” I says. “Snake.”

“Well, he ain’t here today. Coach made him go to the doctor on account of he sprained his hand hittin some idiot on the head in a bar.”

“I know,” I says.

“Well, anything else I can do for you?”

“I dunno,” I tole him. “Snake says for me to come by here an see if y’all want me to play ball for you.”

“Play ball? For us?” He got kind of a funny little squint in his eye.

“Uh huh. See Snake an I was on the same team back at Alabama. He tole me last night to…”

“Wait a minute,” the feller says. “Your name ain’t Forrest Gump, by any chance, is it?”

“Yup, sure is.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he says. “I heard about you, Gump. Snake says you run like a bat out of hell.”

“Dunno about that anymore. I ain’t run in a while.”

“Well, I tell you what, Gump, Snake asked me to give you a tryout. Why don’t you come in here and let’s get you suited up – By the way, my name’s Coach Hurley. I coach wide receivers.”

He took me back to the uniform room, an they found some clothes an shit for me. Lord it was different from back at the University. All them clothes have changed now. They got twice as many pads an pieces of rubber an stuff, so’s when you get all suited up, you look like a Mars-man or somethin, an when you stand up, you feel like you gonna tump over. When I finally get dressed, everbody else is already out on the field doin they exercises an shit. Coach Hurley motion me over to his group, which is runnin pass patterns, an say for me to get in line. I remembered this part from my playin days – just run out about ten yards an turn around an they thow you the ball. When my turn comes, I run out an turn around an the ball hits me square in the face, an it surprised me so much I tripped an fell on the ground. Coach Hurley shake his head, an I ran on back to the end of the line. Four or five times later, I ain’t caught a ball yet an all the other guys be kind of avoidin me. Like I needed a bath or somethin.

After a while, Coach begun hollerin an shoutin, an everbody gone on into the scrimmage. They was divided up into two teams an after a few plays, Coach Hurley motion me over to him.

“All right, Gump,” he says. “I don’t know why I am doin this, but you go on in there at wide receiver and see if you can catch a ball, so Snake, whenever he gets here, is not going to be a laughingstock – or, for that matter, me either.”

I run into the huddle an tell them I am there. The quarterback looks at me like I’m nuts, but says “Okay, eight-oh-three corner post – on two – Gump, you hit it straight for about twenty yards, look out once then look back in.” An everbody breaks an gets into their position. I don’t even know where my position is, so I go on out to where I think it is, an the quarterback, he sees me an motions me in closer. He counts an the ball is snapped, an I run out what I figger is twenty yards, do a little jig, an then look back, an sure enough the ball be headed right for me. Fore I know it, it is there, right in my hands, an I grapped it an begun to run hard as I could. Damn if I ain’t gone twenty more yards when two big ole guys slam into me an knock me on the ground.

Then all hell broke loose.

“What in hell was that!” one of the guys shouts.

“Hey – that ain’t right. What the hell’s he doin!” another one says.

Two or three more come up an begun hollerin an cussin an wavin their arms at Coach Hurley. I got up an run on back to the huddle.

“What’s wrong with them guys?” I ast the quarterback.

“Hell, Gump, them guys are so dumb they don’t know what to do when they see somethin they ain’t seen before. They were expectin you to do what I said – go out twenty, jig, and then corner post. You did half of that – and even that was backwards. It ain’t in the playbook. Lucky I spotted you. But that was a nice catch, anyway.”

Well, rest of the afternoon I caught five or six more passes, an everbody ceptin the defense was happy. Ole Snake had come back from the doctor by then an was standin on the sidelines, grinnin an jumpin up and down.

“Forrest,” he says, when the scrimmage is finally over, “we is going to have us a time next Sunday afternoon against them New York Giants! It is a lucky thing that I went to your strip joint that night!”

But I am wondering if this is so.

Anyhow, I practiced the whole rest of that week, an by Sunday, I was feelin pretty good about mysef. Snake had got his hand out of the splint an was first-string quarterback again an was playin his heart out during the first two quarters, so’s when we went into the locker room we was only behind 22 to 0.

“Okay, Gump,” Coach Hurley said. “Now we gonna show em somethin. I think we have lulled them New York Giants into a false sense of security now. They gonna be lookin for a easy ride. You will not give it to them.” Then he an some other coaches say a bunch of other bullshit an we gone on back out to the stadium.

First play, somebody on our side fumbles the kickoff an we are back on our own one yard line. Just like Coach Hurley say, we have lulled them Giants into a false sense of security. Coach Hurley pat me on the butt an I went into the game. The crowd all of a sudden got sort of quiet, an then a kind of low mumbling begun – I guess because they ain’t had time to put my name into the program.

Snake, he look at me with eyes flashin an say, “Okay, Forrest, now’s the time. Just do it.” He called the play, an I went out toward the sidelines. On the snap, I hauled ass downfield an turn around, an the ball ain’t there. Snake is being chased around in the backfield by five or six Giants men, back an forth, back an forth in our own end zone – he must of gained a hundred yards, but it was the wrong way.

“Sorry about that,” he says, when we get back into the huddle. He reached down in his britches an pulled out a little plastic flask an took a long slug from it.

“What is that?” I ast.

“A hundrit percent pure orange juice, you fool,” Snake says. “You don’t think I’d be runnin around out drinkin whisky at my age, do you?”

Well, they say some things never change, but they also say wonders never cease, an I am glad ole Snake is doin the right thing.

Well, Snake calls the same play to me, an I run out again. By now the crowd is booin us an throwin paper cups an programs an half-eaten hotdogs onto the field. This time I turn aroun an got hit in the face by a big half-rotten tomato that somebody in the stands had brought along to indicate their displeasure, I guess. As you can imagine, it thowed me off just a little, an I put my hands up toward my face, an lo an behole, Snake’s pass catches me right there – so hard it knocked me down, but we is at least out of the hole.

Now it is first an ten on our twenty, an Snake call the same play again. I am tryin to wipe the tomato off my face when Snake says, “You sort of got to watch out for them folks thowin things from the stands. They don’t mean nothin by it. It’s just their way down here.”

I am wishin they would find another “way.”

Anyhow, out I go, an this time before I line up I hear all this real vulgar cussin an name callin directed toward me, an I look across the line an I’ll be damned if there ain’t ole Curtis, the linebacker from my Alabama days, wearin the uniform of a New York Giant!

Now, Curtis had been my ole roommate at the University for a while, at least till he thowed the outboard motor out of the athletic dorm winder onto a police car, which got him into some trouble. An later I gave him a job at the srimp company at Bayou La Batre. Long as I had known him, Curtis did not say nothin without startin it with about ten sentences of profanity, an so it was sometimes hard to figger out just what he wanted – especially when you only have about five seconds before the play starts, which was now the case. I gave him a little wave, an this seemed to surprise him so, he looked over at somebody else on his team, an that’s when our play went off. I was past Curtis like a shot, even though he tried to trip me with his feet, an headed downfield, an Snake’s ball was right there. I didn’t even lose a step – went right on into the end zone. Touchdown!

Everbody was jumpin all over me an huggin an all that, an when I was walkin off Curtis come up an say to me, “Nice catch, asshole,” which was about as high a compliment as Curtis ever gave. Bout that time, somebody thowed a tomato an hit him with it, square in the face. It was the first time I ever saw Curtis speechless, an I felt sort of sorry for him. “Hey,” I says, “they don’t mean nothin by that, Curtis. It’s just their way down here in New Orleans. Why, they even thow stuff at people off their Mardi Gras floats.” But Curtis wadn’t havin none of that, an so he took out toward the stands yellin an cussin an givin everbody the finger. Good ole Curtis.

Well, it was a interestin afternoon. By fourth quarter we was ahead 28 to 22, an I iced the game by makin a forty-yard catch that was thowed by the second-string quarterback who had come in for Snake, who was on the sidelines gettin his leg stitched up after a Giant bit a chunk out of it. All during the last part of the game the fans be chantin, “Gump! Gump! Gump!” an when it was over, about a hundrit photographers an newspaper reporters come up an mobbed me on the field, wantin to know who I was.

After that, my life done definitely changed. For that first game against the Giants, the Saints people gave me a check for ten thousan dollars. Next week, we done played the Chicago Bears, an I caught three more touchdown passes. The Saints people figgered out a way to pay me, they says, on “an incentive basis,” which was that they would give me one thousan dollars for ever pass I catch, an a ten-thousan-dollar bonus for each touchdown I score. Well, after four more games I got nearly sixty thousan dollars in the bank an we is now 6 an 8 an movin up in the conference standins. The week before the next game, which is against the Detroit Lions, I sent Jenny Curran a check for thirty thousan dollars for little Forrest. After we whup the Detroit Lions an then the Redskins, Colts, Patriots, 49ers, an Jets, in that order, I done sent her another thirty thousan dollars, an I am figgerin that by the playoffs I will be on easy street for sure.

But it was not that way at all.

We done won the conference championship for our division an next have got to play the Dallas Cowboys on their home turf. Everthin is lookin up pretty good. Our men are all very confident an be slappin each other on they asses with towels in the locker room. Ole Snake, he even stopped drinkin, and was in the prime of health.

One day one of the fellers come up to me an says, “Look here, Gump, you need to get yourself an agent.”

“A what?” I ast.

“Agent, you dummy. Somebody to represent you and get you all the money you ever wanted. You ain’t gettin paid enough around here. None of us are. But at least we got agents to deal with them bastids up at the organization. Why, you ought to be makin three times as much as you are now.”

So I took his advice an got me an agent. Mister Butterfield was his name.

First thing Mister Butterfield does is go an start an argument with the people at the Saints organization. Pretty soon I get called in an everbody is mad at me.

“Gump,” they says, “you has already signed a contract for one thousand dollars a pass and ten thousand dollars a touchdown for this season. Now you want to go back on it. What the hell is this!”

“I dunno,” I said. “I just got this agent to…”

“Butterfield! Agent my ass! That man is a crook. Don’t you know that?”

When I said I didn’t, they tole me that Mister Butterfield had threatened to hold me out of the playoff game if they didn’t give me triple what they were now.

“Let me tell you this, Gump,” the owner says, “if you miss just one game because of this ridiculous attempt at highway robbery, I will not only kick you off the team personally, but I will see to it you don’t never get another job playing football anyplace – at least for money. You understand that?”

I said I did an went on out to practice.

That week I finally quit my job sweepin up at Wanda’s strip joint. The hours was kind of gettin to me. Wanda said she understood, an anyway, she said she was gonna fire me anyhow account of it wadn’t “dignified” for me to be playin football for the Saints an be her janitor at the same time. Besides, she said, “Them people ain’t comin in here to look at me anymore, they is comin to look at you, you big oaf!”

Well, the day before we was fixin to leave for the Dallas game, I gone to the post office an there is a letter there from Mobile, Alabama. It is from Jenny’s mama. Now, I always get kind of excited when I hear from Jenny or anybody even connected with her, but this time, I dunno, somethin felt kind of funny. Inside the envelope was another letter, not even opened. It was the one I had sent Jenny with the last check for thirty thousan dollars. I begun to read what Mrs. Curran was tryin to tell me, but even before I finished, I wished I was dead.

“Dear Forrest,” she said. “I don’t know how to tell you this. But Jenny got very sick about a month ago, and her husband, Donald, did, too. He died last week. And the next day, Jenny did, too.”

There was a bunch of other stuff she said, also, but I don’t remember much of it. I kept lookin at them first lines, an my hands started tremblin an my heart begun to beat so hard I thought I was gonna faint. It was not true! It couldn’t be. Not Jenny. I mean, I had knowed her all these years, ever since we was in grade school, an I had loved her too – only person besides my mama I’d ever really loved. An I just stood there while big ole tears run down onto the letter an blot out the ink except for the last few lines, which said, “I have little Forrest here with me, and he can stay as long as I can care for him, but I’m not too well myself, Forrest, and if you can find the time between your football games to come and see us, I think we’d better have a talk.”

Well, I ain’t sure exactly what I done next, but somehow I got back home an thowed some stuff in a bag an caught the bus to Mobile that afternoon. It was the longest bus drive of my life, I think. I just kept goin back over all them years with Jenny an me. How she always helped me out of trouble in school – even after I accidentally tore off her dress in the movie theater – an in college when she sang with the folk music band an I screwed up by haulin the banjo player out of the car while they was makin out, an then up in Boston when she was singin with The Cracked Eggs an I went to Harvard University an got in the Shakespeare play – an even after that, when she was up in Indianapolis workin for the retread tire company an I became a rassler an she had to tell me what a fool I was makin of mysef…. It just can’t be true, I kept thinkin, over an over again, but thinkin don’t make it so. I knew that deep down. I knew it was true.

When I got to Mrs. Curran’s house, it was nearly nine o’clock at night.

“Oh, Forrest,” she says, an thowed her arms around me an begun to cry, an I couldn’t help it an begun cryin, too. In a little while, we went inside an she made me some milk an cookies an tried to tell me about it.

“Nobody knows exactly what it was,” she said. “They both got sick about the same time. It was very fast and they just kind of slipped away. She wasn’t in any pain or anything. In fact, she was more beautiful than ever. Just laid in the bed, like I remember her as a little girl. Her very own bed. Her hair all long and pretty, and her face was just like it always was, like an angel. And then, that morning, she…”

Mrs. Curran had to stop for a while. She wadn’t cryin anymore. She just looked out the winder at the streetlight.

“And when I went in to see her, she was gone. Lying there with her head on the pillow, almost like she was sleeping. Little Forrest was playing out on the porch, and, well, I wasn’t sure what to do, but I told him to come in an kiss his mama. And he did. He didn’t know. I didn’t let him stay that long. We buried her the next day. Out to the Magnolia Cemetery in the family plot, alongside her daddy and her granny. Under a sugar maple tree. Little Forrest, I don’t know how much he understands about it all. He don’t know about his daddy. He died up in Savannah, with his folks. He knows his mama’s gone, but I don’t think he really understands about it.”

“Can I see it?”

“What?” Mrs. Curran ast.

“Where she was. Where she was when…”

“Oh, yes, Forrest. It’s right in here. Little Forrest is sleeping in there now. I’ve only got two…”

“I don’t want to wake him up,” I says.

“Why don’t you,” says Mrs. Curran. “It’ll make him feel better, maybe.”

An so I gone into Jenny’s bedroom. There was little Forrest asleep in her bed, didn’t know nothin really about what was happenin to him. Had a teddy bear he was huggin an a big blond curl across his forehead. Mrs. Curran started to wake him up, but I ast her not to. I could almost see Jenny there, peaceful an asleep. Almost.

“Maybe he ought to just rest tonight,” I says. “They’ll be time in the mornin for him to see me.”

“All right, Forrest,” she says. Then she turned away. I touched his face an he turned over an give a little sigh.

“Oh, Forrest,” Mrs. Curran says, “I don’t believe all this. So quick. And they all seemed so happy. Things sure do turn out bad sometime, don’t they?”

“Yes’m,” I says. “They shore do.” We went on out of the room.

“Well, Forrest, I know you’re tired. We’ve got a sofa here in the living room. I can make you a bed.”

“You know, Mrs. Curran, maybe I could sleep on that swing out on the porch. I always liked that swing, you know. Jenny an I used to sit on it an…”

“Of course, Forrest. I’ll get you a pillow and some blankets.”

So that’s what I did. An all that night the wind blew, an sometime afore dawn, it begun to rain. It wadn’t cold or nothin. Just a regular ole fall night for around here where I grew up. An I don’t think I slept much neither. I was thinkin about Jenny an little Forrest an about my life, which, come to think of it, hadn’t been much. I have done a lot of things, but I ain’t done many of them very well. Also, I’m always gettin into trouble just about the time things start goin good. Which, I suppose, is the penalty you pay for bein a idiot.

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