‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’

THE GRANDMOTHER didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her

connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind.

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Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy. He was sitting on the edge of his chair at the

table, bent over the orange sports section of the Journal. “Now look here, Bailey,” she said,

“see here, read this,” and she stood with one hand on her thin hip and the other rattling the

newspaper at his bald head. “Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the

Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people.

Just you read it. I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in

it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.”

Bailey didn’t look up from his reading so she wheeled around then and faced the

children’s mother, a young woman in slacks, whose face was as broad and innocent as a

cabbage and was tied around with a green head-kerchief that had two points on the top like

rabbit’s ears. She was sitting on the sofa, feeding the baby his apricots out of a jar. “The

children have been to Florida before,” the old lady said. “You all ought to take them somewhere

else for a change so they would see different parts of the world and be broad. They never have

been to east Tennessee.”

The children’s mother didn’t seem to hear her but the eight-year-old boy, John Wesley,

a stocky child with glasses, said, “If you don’t want to go to Florida, why dontcha stay at

home?” He and the little girl, June Star, were reading the funny papers on the floor.

“She wouldn’t stay at home to be queen for a day,” June Star said without raising her

yellow head.

“Yes and what would you do if this fellow, The Misfit, caught you?” the grandmother

asked.

“I’d smack his face,” John Wesley said.

“She wouldn’t stay at home for a million bucks,” June Star said. “Afraid she’d miss

something. She has to go everywhere we go.”

“All right, Miss,” the grandmother said. “Just remember that the next time you want me to curl your hair.”

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