was unseasonably cold, and the red Alabama earth was hard as asphalt
. Donny and his dad and gramps had to wear an extra jacket, but as a family of hunting enthusiasts, a bit of cold was more refreshing than uncomfortable. Donny's dad had a look on his face that was uncharacteristically somber
, the thin lines that were so often pulled into smiles hung sadly like a bulldog's jowels
. No matter, Donny kept up a decent conversation with gramps.
The speed of their walk was a bit slow because gramps had been in a car struck by a train. His left leg was entirely useless but he refused the indignity
. He would lean into his right leg and then swing his hip so that the left leg would go forward, and then lean on it to swing the right leg, and on and on. One of the things that Donny most admired about his grandfather was his old world
As they approached the forest of thin trees that quivering with sick anticipation. Donny asked, "Where's grandma? She likes to take walks like this."
"Well, Donny, what we gotta do out here today is man stuff. You left the house a boy, Donny, you're gonna come back a man. Ain't that right, Ray?" He looked to Donny's father, who gave a somber nod of consent.
They approached a well-kept shed that Donny hadn't ever really noticed before. He had always figured that it kept extra rope and gutting knives for the deer.
Even with his limp, gramps got to the shed first. He opened it up and turned on the little kerosene lamp within. There was enough room for the three of them to fit well enough, but not quite comfortably.
As gramps begin to undo his belt, he said, "Well, let's get to it then."
Donny looked up at his grandfather, at this monolithic hero, with confusion.
"Well, drop your britches boy."
He looked to his father who, with a calm but firm tone told said, "Do what grandpa tells you."
With the frightened discipline of a reluctant soldier, Donny unbuttoned his overalls and felt as the few little hairs on his thighs stood at attention to the cold.
Grandpa, his britches had been dropped as well, took his cold calloussed hand gently against the back of Donny's neck and pushed him into a leaning position against a table. Ray, Donny's dad, arms folded, watched.
As the vile act played itself out, as the sacred hollows within him were made impure, he began to scream. That thick, calloused hand was placed over Donny's mouth as his grandfather leaned in. "Relax, boy, it hurts more if you fight it." Donny looked at his father, whose teary eyes cast away with memories of the same grainy hand over his own mouth. "Here, I'll give you a little present."
With his other hand, cold from the September air, he began to run the head of Donny's penis. He hated himself for what was being done to him, he hated his penis, that most trustworthy friend, for so easily obeying his grandfather's touch. In moments, Donny felt, he would die.
And then the oddest thoughts came into his mind. Thoughts of great armored soldiers, like the ones he'd seen in his ancient history books running in and saving him. He thought of Gandalf the Grey and how if he were there, this atrocity would be irrelevant. And as the divine world of fantasy surrounded him, he relaxed, and his grandfather's body seized - once - twice - three times. As Donny heard the sound of dripping on the cold cement below them, his grandfather patted him on the head.
Donny's grandpa stepped back, pulling his pants back up as Donny shivered, bare and cold against the table. His father looked somberly onward as grandpa said to him, "Well, Ray, he ain't a man yet."
And again, Donny felt a cold, calloused hand against the back of his neck.