I done seen some thangs in my life, but da day I witnessed young Tommy Woodson clean dem Bradley boys in a game a marbles…well, son, dat dem day done outshine all da rest.
Now Tommy was a tall, spindly boy – no pudges a fat on dat kid. Probly ’cause his mama was poor, workin’ to keep her kids in shoes and a roof o’er dem heads. Dat kid had risk in his eyes – probly took it from his papa, who knew a thang or two ’bout goin’ after what he wanted. Dat’s a diff’rent story for a diff’rent time, tho.
So on dis day I speak ’bout, dem Bradley boys were crouched on Miss Mayson’s porch. Dat’s where all dem childs gathered in da afternoons when summer done roll around. Dey was playin’ marbles, beatin’ all dem other childs and makin’ a good pile for demselves. Mac Bradley liked to bring him a mason jar and plop each of dem marbles in dat glass while dem childs watched with sad eyes. Lordy, you woulda reckon you took dem families away when you seen dem looks they give.
Couple of us old men liked to watch dese childs hangin’ ’bout. ‘Minded us ’bout when we were childs, I s’pose. Young Tommy held back and watched dem childs lose dere marbles one by one. Didn’t say a word. He never played ‘gainst dem Bradleys before. Nah, he played dem other kids in da park sometimes, but he knew da racket dem Bradleys had goin’. So he kept to da back of da group ‘n just watched dem lil’ childs run cryin’ off dat porch when dem marbles clanged in Mac’s glass jar.
Mac reckon he had clean all dem childs out, so he goes to seal dat jar real good, but Tommy step up and say, ‘I wanna play.’ Joe Bradley eye him real good and say, ‘boy, you gotta have marbles to play us.’ Tommy pull out his shoota marble in one pocket and seven marbles in da other. ‘I got marbles,’ he says to dem boys.
Da other childs gathered ’round day playas as dey crouched ’round dere circle and begin da game. Dat Tommy was a real shark, comin’ outta nowhere, shootin’ straight ‘n collectin’ Mac’s marbles one by one from dat jar. Pride kept Mac ‘n Joe in da game. S’pose dey reckon Tommy was touched by stroke a luck, but us men could see dat Tommy was beyond dat. Boy knew how to play ‘n he had been waitin’ for da right moment to take dem Bradleys down.
His pockets done bulged wit dem marbles from Mac’s jar, which got emptier ‘n emptier as da sun crept down. Der ain’t but four marbles left in dat jar by suppa time, but silly Mac didn’t pay no mind to his loss ’cause he still reckon he could win. ‘One more go,’ he says ‘n Tommy shrug like it ain’t no big deal to him.
‘Cause dem marbles was already his before dat last game began. Mac’s shoota marble missed that last ball by an ant mile, ‘n all dem childs ’round the boys looked on in anticipation when Tommy crouched down to shoot. Everyone sucked in dere breaths real good, ‘n when his shoota knocked out dat lonesome marble in da center, childs cheered like dat Tommy was a war hero returnin’ home. And don’t ya reckon, dat boy reach in his pockets ‘n start handin’ out dose marbles to der rightful owners, keepin’ only a few for a tip to himself, before headin’ home to his mama. While dem Bradleys slinked away to sulk by demselves.
– Written by Miss A on April 28th and May 6th, 2012