Betsy approaches Zero and the South falls again


Georgia is a red state in the South. Hal lives in Georgia. He carries a shotgun in town. Hal is a mechanic but he used to be a factory worker. Once, he was even a plumber. He chews tobacco in his mouth. He lives in a one room truck. The truck is next to a strip mall and a gas station.

Darla and Hal eat fast food. They look orange and yellow. Hal gets Darla pregnant. Darla is sixteen. They have a daughter. When she is born she is round and has fat fingers. Darla says Cu-cu little girl. Darla cuddles the girl and smiles. Hal walks out of the hospital. We had a fucking girl, Hal says. Darla names their daughter Betsy because Hal doesn’t care what they name her.

Later, Hal decides to marry Darla. He finds a ring at a rest stop in Alabama. The Bulldogs are playing the Tide. Hal gives the ring to Darla. We won the game, Hal says to Darla. She is my precious, Hal says. He is talking about Darla. But he is looking at his Bulldog mascot. Darla wears a t-shirt that says Best Mama. She says that Yankees are snobs and slobs. We don’t like those northerners down here, she says.

We had a fucking girl, Hal tells Jimmy. Jimmy works at the hardware store. He already has two daughters. Daughters are no good Hal, Jimmy says. He continues to stock his shelves. Do you see either of them helping me here Hal, Jimmy asks. They are four years old Jimmy, Hal says.


At school, the other children call Betsy Peach. She will go to a university with a mascot like a Tiger or a Bull or a horse, the guidance counselor says. The guidance counselor is twenty-six. She has never had a man, Darla says. Don’t trust her, Hal says. I have a boyfriend, Betsy says.

Betsy is dating a boy from the North, Darla says to Gracie. What is his name, Gracie asks. Holden or Clay or Brad—I can’t remember, Darla says. Darla has her face in her hands and she has been crying. Your make-up will run dear, Gracie says. Oh dear, Darla says. Darla scurries into the bathroom.


Dad, this is Clay.
Is he from the North?
Yes, dad.


He talked about golf and yachting, Hal tells Jimmy. Jimmy and Hal are at Lou’s. Lou’s is a bar that has been opened for 65 years. There is a picture of General Lee on the wall. Lou’s grandfather Lou first opened the bar. Lou’s grandfather passed the bar to Lou’s father. Now Lou owns the bar. Maybe I should sell the bar, Lou says. Why, Hal asks. I don’t know, Lou says and continues washing glasses. At the end of the bar, a girl on a cell phone is laughing. She wears open-toed shoes and a tank-top.

Give me another Bourbon, Hal says.
Me too, Jimmy says.


Excuse me, can I have another Cosmopolitan, the girl on the cell phone asks.


A few years ago, there was a war between the men in the North and the men in the South. The men in the South wanted to start their own country. A tall man in the North said that the South was racist and backward. He said that the South couldn’t start its own country.


Betsy has sex with Clay in the backseat of Hal’s pickup. Betsy twists and turns in the backseat and her body tingles and she thinks that she floats. I feel like a boat, Betsy says. Me too, Clay says. Will we live in the North, Betsy asks. This is about the Union, Clay says. This is not about you and me.


I won’t free any slave at all if it is better for the Union, the man in the hat said.


Jesus looks white on the cross.


Betsy turns into a balloon. She will not go to a school with a tiger or a bull or a horse. Now the kids at school call her Big Betsy. She cries in the bathroom in the afternoon and her make-up runs down her cheeks.

Soon, Betsy gives birth to a boy. Betsy names the boy Stanton. He looks like Clay, Hal says.


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