Right after Christmas Mama insisted that I bring Mickey home for the
weekend. She wanted to get to know this boy I talked about all the time.
Christmas Day was on a Monday that year. Butch took me to the Boys’
Club on Wednesday and I asked Mickey if he wanted to spend the weekend
with us. School would still be out, so he could stay until Monday, New
Year’s Day. He said he’d have to check with his Mom, but he was sure
that would be okay.
On Friday Daddy and I picked Mickey up at his house. Mama wanted him to
be sure to bring his church clothes. Mrs. Jackson liked that.
On Saturday morning we got up for breakfast. Mama was in the kitchen.
Daddy was reading the newspaper and drinking his coffee. Sister was
It didn’t take Mickey long to start teasing Sis. He’d say, “Oh,
Caroliiiiine. Wudja’ bring me summo’ pancakes?”
She’d laugh and play like she hated being called Caroline. Nobody
called her that but Nana. Then she’d get him some more pancakes. I
warned Mama that he could eat.
After breakfast, Mama told me, “Why don’t you go show Mickey around
“Okay, that won’t take long. Maybe we’ll run into some kids at the
park or something.”
We put on our jackets and started walking toward town. Pretty soon we
were in front of the Phillipses’ house and Jane Ellen was playing by
herself out front. She came running out to say “Hi.”
“Hi, Jane Ellen. How’re you? This is Mickey.”
Jane Ellen looked Mickey over real good. Up and down. Then she pointed
at him. She told him, “You’re colored!
Mickey smiled. Then he took on a serious appearance. He looked Jane
Ellen over real good. Up and down. Then he pointed at her. He told her,
Jane Ellen laughed and jumped up and down. She said, “I like you.”
Then she ran up and hugged Mickey’s leg.
I told him, “Don’t get the big head. She likes everybody.”
Cherry Ann came out to say hello and met Mickey. We talked a while, then
headed on our way. I decided we should work our way toward the creek and
let Mickey see the Tonkaway version of the Brazos River.
We walked past the Carpenter’s house, but they weren’t home. I’d
hoped Alan might be around to tell Mickey about the Green Ghost of
Tonkaway Creek. Mickey said that was alright. He didn’t like ghost
Staying along the creek bank, we came up behind the Ellis’ house. They
weren’t home, either, so we kept walking. When we reached a certain
point I told Mickey we had to turn around.
He asked me, “Why?”
“Because we’re getting close to Shaky Man’s place,” I answered.
“Shaky Man? Who’s that?”
I told him all that I had heard about Shaky Man as we walked back up the
creek. I told him I didn’t know how much of it was true, but I just
knew all the kids in town were afraid of the man. I told him about
egging his house and how I didn’t think his dogs looked too bad.
Mickey said, “Okay, let me get this straight. This old man lives up
there by himself with dogs he abuses.”
“And he killed his family.”
“So they say.”
“And he eats kids.”
“According to what I’ve been told.”
“And he just gets away with it.”
Mickey said, “I think we should go back and go up to his house and
knock on the door.”
I said, “What! Are you nuts?”
“I mean it. We need to find out.”
“Find out what?”
“Find out whether he likes white meat or dark!”
Mickey laughed, pushed me and took off running. I didn’t even try to
catch up. I was laughing too hard.
I yelled at him, “You’re sick!”
That night we went to the Pawelek’s to watch Saturday Night at the
Movies in color. Mickey had never really watched a color TV. “African
Queen” was showing. It was a good movie with Humphrey Bogart and
Katherine Hepburn. We agreed that we could have done without the part
with the leeches.
Excerpted from "Shaky Man" by Mark S. Parker. Copyright © 2015 by Mark S. Parker. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.