However, this Saturday, I'm going to share one of the more serious moments in the story featuring Darlene Higginbottom, the town bad girl with dreams of Hollywood, and Tommy Ray Petty, one of her slow-witted accomplices.
The short story take place one summer night in 1957 and the underlying theme of "Laid to Rest" is never give up on a dream because sometimes dreams come true.
“Thanks.” I slumped against the trunk of the Cadillac and hooked my arm over the fin. A couple of frogs and a hoot owl joined in with the summer chorus of katydids. Overhead, stars sparkled. They were little pinpoints of bright light. Granny Higginbottom always said the stars were stepping-stones to heaven and each one was home to an angel.
I gazed upward. “You ever wished upon a star?”
Tommy Ray shook his head. “Nope. Don’t reckon I have. Have you?”
“Yes. A long time ago. When I was little, I’d crawl up in the barn loft at night and look out at the night sky and make a bunch of wishes.”
“What did you wish for?”
I shrugged. “I wished for brand-new clothes instead of second-hand ones. Shoes, too. Once I wished for a doll with both arms and both legs.” I ran my hand over the chrome trim on the Cadillac’s rear fin. “And, I wished there would be plenty of food in the kitchen and that folks in town wouldn’t call us poor white trash anymore.”
After a moment of silence, Tommy Ray asked, “Did your wishes come true?”
“Course not. Wishes don’t come true. I found that out as I got older.”
“They never come true?”
“Never.” I pushed away from the Cadillac. “You can wish all you want on a star and never get it. But, I believe your dreams can come true.”
“You do? Sometimes, I have bad dreams.”
“I’m not talking about those kinds of dreams. I’m talking about something you really want or something that you hope to do in life. What’s your dream?”
“Oh, I don’t got no dream.” He shoved his hands in the pockets of his overalls. “Fellar like me don’t have dreams.”
“You must have a dream. I can’t imagine life without a dream.” I couldn’t think of anything emptier. “Surely, there’s something you’d love to do. Something you dream of doing.”
He studied on it. “I’d like to go to
Florida. I saw some pictures of Florida at the bus
station. They say the weather is always real nice and they never have a winter
there. I don’t like winter much,” he said. “In the pictures, the sand on the
beach was so white.” He smiled. “And the water was bright blue. Bluer than
anything I’d ever seen and there were big waves. I’d like to go to the beach
and let them big waves wash over me. That’s my dream.”
I started to point out a dream should be more than big waves washing over you. Then again, for Tommy Ray, it was his dream and everyone was entitled to their own dream.
“You can make a dream come true,” I explained. “Just look at Elvis. He came from a poor
family just like us. He had a dream. He loved his music and he didn’t give up
on it. You see, that’s the key. Not giving up,” I said. “Now, he’s the most
popular singer in America.”
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