Leroy Moffitt watches his wife, Norma Jean, building up her pectorals by lifting dumbbells. After injuring his leg in a tractor-trailer accident, he does not want to make any more long hauls. Considering what to do next, he builds things from craft kits, including a miniature log cabin. Leroy notices that Norma Jean often seems disappointed to find him at home when she returns from work. He wonders if it reminds her of their marriage before he went on the road and of their son, Randy, who died of sudden infant death syndrome. They have never talked about Randy’s death, but Leroy now thinks that one of them should mention it. Realizing that he and Norma Jean barely know each other, he wants to start fresh and create a new marriage. The cabin he constructed with ice cream sticks gives him an idea—to build Norma Jean a full-scale log house from a kit.
When Leroy goes to buy marijuana from Stevie Hamilton, a doctor’s son, he notices that subdivisions are “spreading across Kentucky like an oil slick.” He wonders where all the farmers have gone, and he thinks about Randy. If he had lived, he would be about Stevie’s age. When Leroy gets home, Norma Jean’s mother, Mabel Beasley, is there. She visits frequently, making sure that Norma Jean is keeping up with her housework. Mabel urges them to visit the Civil War battleground at Shiloh, Tennessee. After Mabel leaves, Norma Jean rereads Leroy a list of jobs he can do, while she goose-steps through the...
(The entire section is 473 words.)