close enough to see that his nails are short and caked with dark crescents of dirt. Thetendon on the underside of his wrist flexes when he plays. At just the right angle I can see thescaly greenish skin that grows there like a scab.Something rustles in the distance and my ears prick. When Half-Dan
fromthe deep undergrowth of the bog, and he has the smell of the swamp on him. His hair is mattedand muddy, and he wears his banjo strapped across his back. When he smiles, the gap betweenhis two front teeth is as wide and dark as a kicked in door.
“Well, hey there, Dolly,” he says, ducking out from under the strap of his banjo. “Your daddy know you’re here?”
Duke stops playing, the flat of his hand slapping against the strings. The buzz of steel onwood is short-
lived. He’s not looking at me, and his face is expressionless, but he’s chewing on
eed like there’s a prize inside and I know he’s listening for my answer, too.
I lift my chi
n like I don’t have a care in the world
“Would I be here if my daddy knew?”
Half-Dan shrugs, but seems satisfied enough because he hugs his banjo to his chest andgives the strings a quick flick of his finger.
be here soon
His lips split into a
grin. “If the swamp witch doesn’t get ‘em first.
Lucky Ludlow found one of her
by his house…heard he hasn’t been so lucky since. His chickens’ve stopped l
aying and his gator traps come up empty. Not that
”“Voodoo’s not a thing,” I say and
Duke just picks at his guitar, muffling and releasing thestrings so they hum and clap but never wail like I know they can.While we wait, the last rays of light disappear like the Lord is shutting a door on theworld. Around us, lantern bugs start to appear as small dots of light that flare and fade. When itgets dark, it gets quiet.