Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Buzbee is a seventy-seven-year-old man who has spent his entire life in a tiny community settled by his parents. Hollingsworth, his son, is only fourteen years younger; the two men have lived together primarily as friends for sixty-three years. One summer, Buzbee runs away to live in the thick, mosquito-infested woods alongside the bayou, and Hollingsworth posts an offer of a thousand-dollar reward for his father’s return.
Hollingsworth is lonely without Buzbee and has to fight down feelings of wildness, especially in the evenings when the two used to talk. The town was once well populated, but epidemics of yellow fever have killed everyone but Buzbee and his son. They have buried family and neighbors in cemeteries across the countryside and lost an edge of some sort because nothing again would ever be as intense as holding out against death. Even so, Hollingsworth is not sentimental about losing Buzbee. He does not offer a larger reward for his father because he does not want people to think he is sad.
Hollingsworth runs an old barn of a store, which attracts so little business that some cans of milk have stayed on the shelves for forty years. The Coke machine still has old-formula Cokes in bottles, and it is for these that a young bicycle racer named Jesse stops by. The first time that Jesse visits, Hollingsworth is speechless with excitement. He begins waiting for Jesse to appear, and even has the driveway paved to look like a snake in...
(The entire section is 963 words.)
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