JD Clapp :: Morrells and Morals ::

Flash Fiction

Southern Legitimacy Statement–Born a Yankee, grew up a SoCal boy, did a stint in the midwest, but always more at home south of the border in CA, and south of Ohio when I lived there. Gimme a bourbon on the trial, or bourbon street. Hand me a rod and shotgun and a butter soaked meal down in Homa. Give me the Drive by Truckers and Lucero. Geography doesn’t determine the what the soul wants. Amen and pass me the bottle.

Morrells and Morals

Kayla Jo skipped down the game trail, her second-hand red Ohio State University sweatshirt near soaked from brushing up on the wet ferns, her green rubber boots caked in dank spring mud. 

Tracy struggled to keep up, but enjoyed watching her grandchild’s blond curls bounce ahead of her. After some walking, Tracy spotted three morels under a standing dead ash tree. “Child! Come on back here and look,” Tracy called.

 Kayla Jo turned and came to her grandmother’s call, stopping only once to jump in a puddle in a dip of the game trail.“See them tall honeycomb lookin’ mushrooms? They’re called morels and they are real nice eatin’. They taste like backstraps. Go on and pick them close to the ground.”

Kayla Jo broke the largest mushroom off where the stem met the moist rich soil covered by last fall’s composted leaves. Tracy held out her basket and Kayla Jo set it in like it was a fresh egg from the coop. She hummed as she picked the rest. 

It began sprinkling again, the fresh damp releasing the earth smells of the springtime holler. Further down the trail, they heard a nearby gobble followed by the distant shrill and scratchy caw, caw, caw of a hen turkey. Tracy shushed Kayla Jo. “Hear that child? Them are a boy turkey and a girl turkey fixin’ to make babies,” Tracy said. Kayla Jo giggled, then her face grew serious. “Is Paps gonna shoot ‘em?”

“Paps might could shoot the tom…that’s the boy turkey… once the season comes in a couple weeks,” Tracy answered, knowing Colton would shoot either for the pot, season or no season, if God graced him with the chance.

As they took the trail that split off to Colton’s cabin, Kayla Jo stopped and examined the ground under a dying elm. “Gramma! Here’s a moral!” Kayla held up the mushroom like a prize. Tracy smiled and held out her basket, and Kayla and set it in.

“Honey it’s called a morel. Morals is God’s rules.”

“Like the commanders?”

“Yes, honey. It’s commandments. Do you know the commandments?”

“Don’t kill no one. Love people…Don’t fight with lil’ Rhett…don’t steal nothin’ or you go to jail…and don’t never take pills.”

Tracy looked at her and smiled. “That’s right baby girl. Let’s go cook these up with some deer steaks. Paps is teachin’ Rhett to shoot a bow up there. We can all eat together…like a family.”