“He liked you,” Old Jack said suddenly.
“What?” I said.
“Your daddy. He liked you. He was proud a you. An’ he was worried about you. That was jest about the last thing he said to me, probably the last thing he said to anybody.” He took a sip from his cup. “He come over here with a jug; guess that’s the last jug of Moses Washington Black Lightning left. He come in an’ we talked for a wile. He was talkin’ about you. Said you was too much your mama’s child. Said he was worried you was gonna end up being a preacher or a sissy or somethin’, on accounta the way that woman carried on around you, fussin’ with your clothes an’ fixin’ you food an’ things that a man oughta be able to do for hisself. Said he wasn’t worried about your brother, there wasn’t enough woman in him for it to be dangerous. But you was different. He said there was a lot of woman in you. He didn’t mean nothin’ bad by that–jest meant that you were the kind that trusted people. Kind that believed there was always gonna be somebody to help you get through things. It ain’t jest women that thinks this way–there’s a lotta panty-waisted fellas runnin’ around these days, get into trouble an’ all they know to do is to pray to Jesus or the government–but women’s the only ones that can afford it, on accounta they know that there’s gonna be a man around somewheres to haul their wagon outa the mud, and that when the whistle blows they get first crack at the lifeboats. I ain’t actually sayin’ it’s wrong for a man to believe that, but it’s damn dangerous. On accounta he can’t afford it. A man can’t carry hisself, folks laugh at him. The women won’t have nothin’ to do with him. ‘Cause what they want is a man that can haul their wagon outa the mud.”
Excerpt from ‘The Chaneysville Incident” (1981) by David Bradley