The Death Of Tommy Grimes Analysis

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R.J. Meaddough, III,

The Death of Tommy Grimes (1962)

Tommy had become part of the ground. At least he felt that way as he watched the dew and the daylight make giant shiny cobwebs of the treetops. The sun had not yet risen and a mist lay over the ground, which made the forest seem rather spooky to him. His nose itched and he longed to scratch it, maybe just nudge1 it a little, but Pa said don’t move, don’t twitch2, don’t even breathe hard. Not one arm, one hand, even one finger, he said. “He knows the woods,” Pa told him; “you’ll never know he’s there; suddenly he’ll just be there looking at you, just looking.” It started so long ago, Tommy remembered, almost a year, when he was just eleven. That night, in the hen-yard, with the weasel’s3
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And he thought how it must be for Pa when the other men bragged about their boys, and him so scared to kill a weasel, and he knew what he had to do. “Pa,” he murmured, “think maybe I could go a time13 at that old buck?” “Boy, this ain’t no old buck, it’s a young one,” Pa said, making like he was14 surprised. “Boy, you might get hurt.” “Some time, I think I’d like to take my turn,” he answered, face even closer to the beans. “Well, I’ll think about it, boy,” Pa mumbled, but he couldn’t hide a gleam in his eye. Tommy slowly, ever so slowly, rubbed his forehead along his sleeve and watched the gloom in front of him. Somewhere out there Pa had circled around and was trampling through the woods, scaring everything away, away toward the clearing where he lay waiting. He laughed in his mind when he thought of the last time when Pa had gone down to the hut for a drink with the “boys”, as he called them. And when he came out his eyes were gleaming like the mischief15 and he wobbled16 in to the yard like he didn’t know how to walk. He had gone downstairs in his pajamas and they sat on the back porch and listened to the crickets17 and looked at the stars. Maybe afterwards Pa would let him go into the Hut and talk with the men and drink liquor. But right then he had to be satisfied with listening to Pa tell stories that he had heard at the Hut and then squeeze his arm at the end and laugh, oh my, how he would laugh. Then he filled his pipe and stared out across the backyard toward the north pasture. “Dawn in the forest is a beautiful thing, boy, beautiful. All the colors and wild flowers, fresh streams, cool breeze, you feel like, boy, feel it! Even though there ain’t a sound you feel it. You see a flash of white and you know some rabbit’s going home. Or you might see a chuck18 burrowing19 in. And the trees,” he whispered, “they just

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