They must’ve dropped Eddie on his head, the kids said.
He was in high school and only three feet tall, so it must
have been something his mom and dad did, they thought,
since his brothers were fine. Some said his mother had fallen
down stairs when she carried him.When his older sister repeated
that notion, their mother said they were not to talk about it.
He was a midget, and would grow up to be a little man, that’s all.
That was all there was to say, and to discuss it any further would be
“common,” which they knew was a crime in their mother’s mind.
Eddie was in the older sister’s class, and was smart;
he could go to college, she said. But what would he do
when he grew up, the boy wondered. He couldn’t drive–
could he? He couldn’t see over the counter in a store.
He’d have to use a grade school desk if he worked in an office.
Maybe he’d work in a little back room with an adding machine,
toting up figures on a long tape, longer than he was tall.
He pitied Eddie, and yet other than the look of an anxious adult
he carried on his face at all times, Eddie seemed—happy.
The boy would watch Eddie when he saw him in church
or downtown. He wondered if a midget would be friends
with someone like him, much younger. They were pretty
much the same size, so maybe they could play together.
Eddie wouldn’t want to date a girl who was twice his size, so he
wouldn’t waste money on corsages and perfume and jewelry.
He wouldn’t be better at baseball like the older kids, so maybe
he’d want to make model cars, or whittle, or do woodburning,
or other things that took small hands to get right.
He wondered whether Eddie was thinking the same things he was,
whether he should try to say “Hi” to him some time, even
though their two families didn’t speak except to say hello,
didn’t get together even at church. They lived on opposite
sides of town, too far to walk, across a four-lane state highway,
miles away from each other along another state highway.
He wondered if Eddie looked out his window at night
and wished he knew someone his size. They could ride go-karts,
that would be perfect, he thought; little men in little cars.
From “Town Folk & Country People.”