Pa was dead, that much was for sure.
Pa was a grand man. When I was small fry, I'd poke my finger in the ratty holes of his tweed coat.
"I'm always watchin' over you, buddy. Even my elbow is looking at you. Never forget that."
Pa was going to be a big butter and egg man, he always told us. "We've nothing but the meat from the shin of a sparrow today, but tomorrow, we'll have the cream."
Beltaine didn't come early enough for pa. He was buried in his coat; no flowers. Ma said he had the dark eye, that's why she cared for him. Now his eye was closed, as the box would be. His elbow was still looking at me.
Ma got hard. There were a lot of us. She was like granite after that. She'd never sing the songs any more. No, that's not right. I'd hear her clatter in the sink when she thought we were asleep, and murmur while the cold tap ran over the plates:
I want my butter and egg man
From way out in the west
'cause I'm getting tired of working all day
I want someone that wants me to play
Pretty clothes have never been mine
But if my dream comes true
The sun is going to shine
When I find my butter and egg man
I sold the papers in the traffic. A man, with a real topper, pressed the coin in my hand. "Give me The Globe, you little arab."
My face was red with the warp spasm. I gave him the paper. His companion, with a topper too, gave me the bun he was eating. "You need this more than I do, I expect." They laughed together and drifted off the curb into the street.
I threw it at them.
I'm a butter and egg man now.