TITLE: TRAIN WATCH
GENRE: MIDDLE GRADE HISTORICAL
Cleo & her brother, Otis, are living on a farm with their sharecropper grandparents, and Hattie, their 12-year-old aunt. Cleo is making funny faces while Grandma Jenny is explaining to Grandpa Lum what happened with their neighbor, Miss Ellie, and her well. Cleo had had a run-in with Miss Ellie a while back & didn't like her.
Grandma Jenny, with her back turned to Cleo, did not see the antics going on.
“Boy, you laughin’ at Miss Ellie’s problem?” Grandma Jenny asked, her eyebrows raised, demanding an answer. She wiped her hands on the apron she wore round her thick waist.
“Uh, n-n-n-no ma’am,” stammered Otis. “I’s just laughin’ at, um, Hattie,” said Otis. He hoped Hattie would go along with him. “Her, ah, hair looks funny, is all.”
Hattie stopped stirring the black-eyed peas and turned around from the stove.
“My WHAT looks funny?” Hattie said, glowering.
Oh no! Cleo didn’t like where this was going.
“Uh, your hair is, uh, a might bit hard, is all.” Otis winked, hoping she’d catch on and bail him out.
She didn’t. “Hard? Otis Hughes, are you sayin’ my hair is nappy? I”ll show you nappy!”
“Uh, Hattie, I don’t think Otis—” Cleo started, hoping to resolve the situation, but it was too late. Hattie’d already made up her mind!
Looking around the kitchen, Hattie’s eyes had caught sight of the oak-colored rolling pin she used to roll dough for her sweet biscuits and dumplings.
“Now, now, Hattie,” Grandpa Lum said. “The boy was jes kiddin’ ’round wit you. Your hair’s jes fine, jes.”
Before he could get his last word out, Hattie had picked up the rolling pin and clunked Otis over the head with it. Cleo couldn’t believe her eyes!
Otis stood up, opened his mouth, then closed his eyes and fell flat on his back.