Lillie Jean Buckner

By by Luke Boyd

"Y'all remember Lillie Jean Buckner?"

“Sure do. Sure do. She was the scandal of the community there for a while.”
“What ever did she do with that baby that was born on the other side of the blanket? I think it was a boy, wasn’t it?”

“Yep, I think it was. Well, they just raised him as one of her little brothers and he probably never knew the difference. They had a whole bunch of kids which Miz Buckner produced on a regular basis. And she was so fat no one could tell if she were pregnant or not. Ever so often another youngun’ just sort of appeared. They didn’t have no place to send Lillie Jean off to, so when she started to show, they laid her in and wouldn’t let her go out or no one see her and one day there was another little Buckner at the house.”

“But everybody really knew?”

“Sure they did. But you know, nobody was goin’ to say anything public like. They were nice folks and didn’t nobody want to hurt their feelins.”
“How old was she when this happened?”
“Oh, I think about 16 or 17. Somewhere about there.”
“Well, what ever happened to her?”

“Well, you know none of the local boys would court her, so after she got out of high school, she went to McComb and got a job in a drug store. Met a travelin’ man who called on the druggist. Sold drugs for some big company. Wasn’t too long before he married her and took her off to live in Memphis. I’d say she done pretty good after all. She musta really been partial to travelin’ men.”

“Why do you say that?”
“Well, that’s where the baby come from.”
“Aw, you don’t know that. I heard she never told no one who the daddy was.”
“She didn’t. But I know it was that drummer who came through the summer before, sellin’ all sorts of beauty aids.”

“I remember him. He had that fancy buggy. Had leather fringe all around. Had a curved dashboard with the design painted on the front with leather paddin’ on the top and that fancy black mare pullin’ it.”

“That’s right. All the girls just fell in love with that rig and that drummer would let the girls put on some of his sample cosmetics and then take them out for a ride in that buggy. Sold a lot of stuff that way. Lillie Jean just let him take her for one ride too many.”

“How do you know that’s what happened if Lillie Jean never told nobody?”
“It came out at the birthin’.”
“But you wasn’t at the birthin’.” And I know old Doc Peters wouldn’t talk to nobody about what went on.”

“You’re right about Doc Peters and you’re right that I wasn’t there — but Nub Carter was.”
“Nub Carter?”

“Yeah. You remember him. Doc Peters would get Nub to drive for him when he had to make night calls. Doc never got enough sleep, so Nub would drive the buggy while Doc slept on the way out and on the way back. And Nub didn’t mind talking if you caught him in the right mood.”

“And you got the story from Nub Carter.”
“That’s right. When Lillie Jean’s time came late one afternoon, they sent for Doc Peters and Nub drove him out to the Buckner place. She was going strong by the time they got there. Doc got things organized and worked with her for the longest, but the baby just wouldn’t come. Lillie Jean wasn’t cooperating much and Doc got pretty exasperated with her. Nub said that on the way back into town, Doc was still upset and said that he lost enough sleep because people were always getting sick or hurt through no fault of their own, but he sure hated to lose a night’s sleep birthin’ a bastard.

“Anyway, Doc had Nub fetching stuff and he was in the bedroom a lot. Lillie Jean was floppin’ all about the bed and moanin’ and not doin’ what Doc was tellin’ her to do and Doc finally just got real put out with her. He almost yelled at her, ‘Dagnabit, girl! If you’d get yourself in the position you were in when you got this baby, we’d get somethin’ done.’
“Nub said Lillie Jean raised her head, looked Doc straight in the eye, and yelled, ‘I would, Doc, if I had a leather dashboard to put my feet up on!'”