[Editor’s note: The following has been in my drafts folder for a while now—a year, actually. I can’t leave it there—the world must have access to it. They deserve it. I refuse to offer additional details. There will be no encores.]

[I added this to a discussion that seems to have been eliminated from the main page, but I found out about it in time and copied it. The discussion was about—you know what? I feel no need to provide context; I think it makes perfect sense on its own, and I want it to live—live, dammit!—on, on its own terms.]

My people come from farmland, and I grew up hearing about how my grandpa worked the cock fields day and night during the summertime. Sometimes he’d come home way after dark, with the filth of all those cocks all over him—on his clothes, on his hands, even in his hair—because if you don’t handle them just right, they make a right mess. Granny would try to get him to eat something, but he was too tired even for that. He’d just lay down on the floor and sleep for a while, then it was back out to the fields before sunup, because there were always more cocks to be pulled and six young ‘uns to feed.

Then he got down in the back and couldn’t work the fields any more, so they moved to town and he got a job in a factory. But that was okay, since the times were changing, and in a few years just about all of your cocks came from the big farms, designed by Monsanto and harvested by machine, and there’s just no room anymore for your small-time cock pullers anymore.

Still, I’ve heard tell that when he died, Pappy got all delirious in the night and kept on hollering, “Cocks, cocks! Everywhere cocks! Won’t nobody help me pull these cocks?” By the next morning, he was dead. Granny always said he done pulled himself to death in his sleep that night, but I never knew the truth of it.