Ole Mac

Mike West

I live close to a town called, Hot Coffee, down by the Mississippi River with my family on a small farm. I have two brothers and one sister.

When we come home from school we have chores waiting for us. My errand is to feed chickens and collect the eggs for Mama. My older brother Bobby, chops wood for our heat and cooking. Mike, the youngest brother is ten and the smartest of us kids. Well at least we thought he was. His job is feeding the mule Ole Mac.

Ole Mac is nine years old and the best mule Daddy ever had. Daddy talked well of Mac, about how strong he is, and how easy he is to plow. Daddy is always saying best dang mule in the county. Mac stands 14 hands tall and 4 feet across the back. He is the biggest mule I've ever seen, and according to Daddy he is also the smartest.

One day Mike came by the chicken coop coming from the barn with a big smile.
"Why you smiling Mike?" I asked opening the coop gate heading for the house too.
"Oh nothin, nothin at all." He said with that big grin.
"Oh come on what is it?"
"Nothin I said and leave me alone." He said running ahead of me toward the house.
"Here you are Mama." I said handing her the ten eggs I'd collected.
"Not bad Jimbo." I loved my Mama more than anything, but I wished she would stop calling me Jimbo. If she kept it up everybody would start doing it. She stirred my hair seeing my frown, she beamed and said, "Sorry I mean James." I smiled at her, "Thanks Mama."
"You go wash up for supper now. Your daddy will be in from the fields soon."
"Ok." I said going down the hallway to the bathroom.
I could hear her talking to Mike.
"Boy, what in the world are you so happy about."
"Nothin Ma, I'm just smilen. Can't I smile?"
"Boy, when you smile, I get worried."
"Oh Ma, I ain't done nothin for you to worry about." I could hear the smile in his voice. I don't know what Mike did, but I knew it wasn't good. Mike was a smart kid, but sometimes he was too smart for his own good.

Bobby was the oldest, at 14 an a half as he called himself. He wasn't the brightest boy you'd want to meet, but at 14 and standing 5'10" all muscle, and let me say this nobody at school said a cross word to him. His size also helped Mike and me, because they knew Bobby would come to our aid.

On the weekends we'd go to the fields with Daddy, and hoe the corn. That time of the year Kekulebusrs were bad. The Kekulebur is a plant that twists around the corn and kills it. So we had to make war on them every week during the growing season. Bobby would do twice the work of Mike and me. Daddy was proud of us all, which he told us all the time. We knew he had more pride for Bobby, because of the work he could do. I heard Daddy tell Bobby one day he'd make a good farmer. He never said that to Mike or me, but Mike was good at his school work as I was. Bobby could hardly read or write, but he was a born farmer and he loved it.

We heard Daddy coming in because Ole Mac was making his usual hew hawing sound knowing he was about to be fed. I went out onto the porch and watched Daddy taking the harness off Ole Mac. Daddy waved for me to come to the barn. I knew what he wanted me for. Twice a week Ole Mac gets a brush down. Daddy said brushing help keep the flies off Ole Mac's rump. We always laughed when he said that. It wasn't what he said it was the way he said it. That was one thing Daddy can do, he made us all laugh.

"James, you get through brushing Mac put him in his stall. Don't take too long brushing him or he'll bite you. Ole Mac's hungry and ain't going to wait long."
"Ok Daddy I'll be quick." With a smile Daddy said,
"You better or Mac will take a