The way to know whether the hum was them wicked cicadas or even worse them overhead power lines was to wait, Momma said. If the hum died like a breeze passing, it was them critters in the trees. Otherwise a line was like to blow and soon, like near a sneaky dusk last summer when one a the thick ones snapped and landed smack on Rudy’s car top, charring the green paint black and hot like Devil’s hell must feel at night. When the sparks was spewing, Momma wouldn’t let Rudy go near the thing until the men in the white truck arrived and the sparks stopped spewing all crazy all around onto the dried mud and rock.
Tonight, we all three of us waited and listened for the hum to die like a breeze in passing. Rudy’s car was way over by the willow now, alongside the porch. We couldn’t barely seen it from the porch cept for a shiny green butt, painted new only bout a week after the Lord had tried to take her from us. Rudy said he was sure he ain’t gonna leave his baby in the hands of the Lord no more. Momma rolled her eyeballs.
The dishwasher churned in the kitchen, covering the hum. And so tonight we listened real hard.
The cicadas killed three baby elms all by theyselves last summer, Momma said. She said it wasn’t no Dutch disease or no pesticides that did it. It was the bugs. I ain’t never seen one, but Momma showed me a picture on the computer and said they eat em in China, too. I said they must not have nothing good for foods in China if they eat them ugly things. Momma asked if I thunk a cow’s rear end was a pretty thing.
There ain’t no cows near our house no more. When Momma was young they was, she said. They was all along the north to the highway where the fence is. Momma said the highway wasn’t paved none and was just a road when the cows was round. Rudy and me was told not to play near the fence when we was younger on account of rust and nails and splinter woods. Rudy didn’t listen and he jumped over a splinter wood onto a metal rod that shoved clear through his foot and he couldn’t walk none for round a month.
Bit of fence are still out there on the parts of land that we ain’t sold because things slowed down so much in these years. Momma said it was because of the men in the cities who didn’t know how to build nothing. All they known how to do is steal things, Momma says. The dishwasher clanked stopped and we listened to the hum, which is more of a real quick drumming. A real quick thump thump thump thump on to infinity. They teached us that in science last year.
Momma said she’s saving up so I can go to a fancy school and learn how to steal things like the other men in the cities. She said there ain’t nothing worth building no more. It’s all been built and a person’s got to take what he can get now. That’s what Momma said. The hum didn’t stop and I looked over at Momma and she looked worried. She said to Rudy and me to go pack a bag each in case we need to go over to Aunt Rita’s again.
Them power lines is just temporary, Momma said. She said the man in the white truck told her they gonna take down the wooden sticks that holding things up and put in real strong metal poles. That was last summer and we ain’t seen no white trucks since. Momma said when she was a girl there weren’t no running water or no power lines but they been here long as I can recall. We shouldn’t be scared of nothing cause if a line breaks it falls on the earth and the earth eats up all the power. They teached us in science this is what is disbersion. Once the power coulda got to us, it don’t matter none cause it’s so small. I went got my bag from the floor of my closet. It was still packed from last time we went over to Aunt Rita’s. Aunt Rita lives in what’s now the suburbs, Momma said. She said it used to be big land like all of this, but now’s close houses and dogs that bark and fences you can’t see over at all. I don’t know why no one would want a fence you can’t see over, but Momma says that’s what people do when they live real close because they don’t like looking each other in the eyeballs. I gone out my room with the bag. When I was back at the porch, the sky opened downward and rain drowned out the sound of the hum. Momma said that settled it and we need go to Aunt Rita’s now. Rudy always been slower than me even though he’s three and two thirds years older. He gone out of his room with no bag and Momma ask him what you doing, boy. Rudy said he going to move his car in case a storm come. He don’t want the willow crashing or dropping nothing on it. Momma said to hurry up, then. Rudy run out into the rain and the mud splashed in his footprints. The rain come down like a howl. When Rudy almost to his car, a power line thwacked and fell and Rudy blowed forward into the tree. I started to run at him, but Momma grabbed me. Momma said the whole earth was electric, disbersion or no. Rudy stayed stuck at the base of the tree. He didn’t move none. He gonna be alright, Momma said. Momma and me stood on the porch and listened to the hum a the wire and the wire yelled into the wet earth.