The Book of the Three


What did you find for us? the others asked. We told them what we found. That aint nothing we can do nothing with. It don’t count if everybody and their cousin can see our ringer’s a grown-up shirtless man. We knew this man we found could not be our ringer but we just left it alone. It was not worth an argument. We felt like we were on to something. We went back. We were boys. Boys go back. One day after another we hid behind trees and watched the hut. The man inside made himself scarce. Then we hit pay dirt. The little boy jogged down the hill from the other side. He walked into the hut just as easy as you please. We had believed we were on to something and here was proof. We were. We were onto something for sure. Their dealings were queer. They spent time outdoors. They tended the small garden behind the hut. It did not seem like they talked. Still they moved together like it was a dance. It was like they had planned it all out. It was like the one always knew where the other one was going to be. It was like they did not talk because they did not need to talk to know what the other one was thinking. Our simple minds raced. Was the man the boy’s daddy? But the boy did not live there. He came from up over the hill. He came from the direction of the Temple’s, the lake neighborhood. We thought we knew everyone and everything within twenty miles of us. What this was was a mystery. Ringer or no ringer. We wanted to find out some answers. The others grew restless. Come out there with us and see, we said. So they did. We got the idea we could circle around the holler rim to the other side. We could intercept the boy before he got to the hut. Then we might get some answers at least. All of us were out there. We tried to hide. We made a racket. Birds and such scrambled. The boy appeared at the rim of the holler. He saw us or heard us, one. He stopped in his tracks. Come out, he said, I can tell y’all’re down there. The boy talked just like us. All of us materialized. We had the numbers. We should not have been scared. But we were scared. We did not look him in the eyes. Come on, he said. Follow me. And we did. He took us into the hut and sat us down. The man of the hut was not at home. The boy was thinner than you might think. Shorter, too. He offered us some tea. The hut smelled like the underneath of a rock half-buried. We did not know what to say or do, so we did not say or do a thing. Let me show you something, he said. We let him. He took out a big pad and two pieces of black chalk. Then he started with the chalk to the page. He used both hands at once. Sometimes he peeked up at us. His hands were quick. They each moved like they knew where the other was going to be. They moved as a team. It had been some time. He showed us what he had. A perfect fish. He drew some more. A perfect school of fishes. By now we were lost in it. One of us said, Who are you? He bent down to the pad and let his hands go wild together. He stopped and looked at what he had been working on. He held it up. It was us, staring back at us.