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A Good Man is Hard to Find – is a story about three women struggling with love and relationships.
Charlene, a faithful Christian and Bruce her cheating, alcoholic, abusive husband are in the worst relationship imaginable. She sat in the middle of the back seat with John Wesley and June Star on either side of her. The old lady settled herself comfortably, removing her white cotton gloves and putting them up with her purse on the shelf in front of the back window. She said she thought it was going to be a good day for driving, neither too hot nor too cold, and she cautioned Bailey that the speed limit was fifty-five miles an hour and that the patrolmen hid themselves behind billboards and small clumps of trees and sped out after you before you had a chance to slow down. The grandmother offered to hold the baby and the children’s mother passed him over the front seat to her. When the children finished all the comic books they had brought, they opened the lunch and ate it. Red Sammy was lying on the bare ground outside The Tower with his head under a truck while a gray monkey about a foot high, chained to a small chinaberry tree, chattered nearby.
Inside, The Tower was a long dark room with a counter at one end and tables at the other and dancing space in the middle.
Red Sam came in and told his wife to quit lounging on the counter and hurry up with these people’s order. His wife brought the orders, carrying the five plates all at once without a tray, two in each hand and one balanced on her arm. The children began to yell and scream that they wanted to see the house with the secret panel.
After they had turned around and were headed toward the dirt road, the grandmother recalled other points about the house, the beautiful glass over the front doorway and the candle-lamp in the hall.
The children were thrown to the floor and their mother, clutching the baby, was thrown out the door onto the ground; the old lady was thrown into the front seat. Bailey removed the cat from his neck with both hands and flung it out the window against the side of a pine tree.
The road was about ten feet above and they could see only the tops of the trees on the other side of it. It came to a stop just over them and for some minutes, the driver looked down with a steady expressionless gaze to where they were sitting, and didn’t speak.
Bailey turned his head sharply and said something to his mother that shocked even the children. The Misfit pointed the toe of his shoe into the ground and made a little hole and then covered it up again.
The grandmother reached up to adjust her hat brim as if she were going to the woods with him but it came off in her hand.
The Misfit kept scratching in the ground with the butt of his gun as if he were thinking about it.
The grandmother noticed how thin his shoulder blades were just behind his hat because she was standing up looking down on him. The fat boy blushed and laughed and caught her by the arm and pulled her off into the woods after Hiram and her mother. Hiram and Bobby Lee returned from the woods and stood over the ditch, looking down at the grandmother who half sat and half lay in a puddle of blood with her legs crossed under her like a child’s and her face smiling up at the cloudless sky. Without his glasses, The Misfit’s eyes were red-rimmed and pale and defenseless-looking. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind. She had her big black valise that looked like the head of a hippopotamus in one corner, and underneath it she was hiding a basket with Pitty Sing, the cat, in it.
Bailey and the children’s mother and the baby sat in front and they left Atlanta at eight forty-five with the mileage on the car at 55890. The children’s mother still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief, but the grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print.


The grandmother ate a peanut butter sandwich and an olive and would not let the children throw the box and the paper napkins out the window. The Tower was a part stucco and part wood filling station and dance hall set in a clearing outside of Timothy. The monkey sprang back into the tree and got on the highest limb as soon as he saw the children jump out of the car and run toward him. They all sat down at a board table next to the nickelodeon and Red Sam’s wife, a tall burnt-brown woman with hair and eyes lighter than her skin, came and took their order.
His khaki trousers reached just to his hip bones and his stomach hung over them like a sack of meal swaying under his shirt. The old lady said that in her opinion Europe was entirely to blame for the way things were now. John Wesley kicked the back of the front seat and June Star hung over her mother’s shoulder and whined desperately into her ear that they never had any fun even on their vacation, that they could never do what THEY wanted to do.
The grandmother recalled the times when there were no paved roads and thirty miles was a day’s journey. The thought was so embarrassing that she turned red in the face and her eyes dilated and her feet jumped up, upsetting her valise in the corner. The horrible thought she had had before the accident was that the house she had remembered so vividly was not in Georgia but in Tennessee. His face was as familiar to her as if she had known him all her life but she could not recall who he was. I was buried alive,” and he looked up and held her attention to him by a steady stare. Monica, is a single woman who is struggling to find a good man and Charlene is a virtuous woman, married to the wrong man with the hope that God will change him. She didn’t intend for the cat to be left alone in the house for three days because he would miss her too much and she was afraid he might brush against one of her gas burners and accidentally asphyxiate himself. The grandmother wrote this down because she thought it would be interesting to say how many miles they had been when they got back.
Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet.
She rolled her eyes and screwed up her mouth and stuck her leathery thin face into his smooth bland one. When there was nothing else to do they played a game by choosing a cloud and making the other two guess what shape it suggested. A fat man named Red Sammy Butts ran it and there were signs stuck here and there on the building and for miles up and down the highway saying, TRY RED SAMMY’S FAMOUS BARBECUE.
She said the way Europe acted you would think we were made of money and Red Sam said it was no use talking about it, she was exactly right. Outside of Toombsboro she woke up and recalled an old plantation that she had visited in this neighborhood once when she was a young lady.
The baby began to scream and John Wesley kicked the back of the seat so hard that his father could feel the blows in his kidney. The dirt road was hilly and there were sudden washes in it and sharp curves on dangerous embankments.
The instant the valise moved, the newspaper top she had over the basket under it rose with a snarl and Pitty Sing, the cat, sprang onto Bailey’s shoulder.
Bailey remained in the driver’s seat with the cat gray-striped with a broad white face and an orange nose clinging to his neck like a caterpillar.
She was sitting against the side of the red gutted ditch, holding the screaming baby, but she only had a cut down her face and a broken shoulder. He had on a yellow sport shirt with bright blue parrots designed in it and his face was as yellow as the shirt.
In a few minutes they saw a car some distance away on top of a hill, coming slowly as if the occupants were watching them. One was a fat boy in black trousers and a red sweat shirt with a silver stallion embossed on the front of it.


His hair was just beginning to gray and he wore silver-rimmed spectacles that gave him a scholarly look. He moved away from the car and began to come down the embankment, placing his feet carefully so that he wouldn’t slip. Try their car and see will it run, Hiram,” he said quietly to the boy with the gray hat.
His eyes were as blue and intense as the parrots in his shirt and he remained perfectly still. Rachel, now with the big important job, frequents a fancier lifestyle than Clarence is accustomed to and wants him to acquiesce. But Charlene, old school, believes if she stays committed to the relationship Bruce will change for the better. He was sitting on the edge of his chair at the table, bent over the orange sports section of the Journal.
In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady. John Wesley took one the shape of a cow and June Star guessed a cow and John Wesley said, no, an automobile, and June Star said he didn’t play fair, and they began to slap each other over the grandmother. The children ran outside into the white sunlight and looked at the monkey in the lacy chinaberry tree. She said the house had six white columns across the front and that there was an avenue of oaks leading up to it and two little wooden trellis arbors on either side in front where you sat down with your suitor after a stroll in the garden. All at once they would be on a hill, looking down over the blue tops of trees for miles around, then the next minute, they would be in a red depression with the dust-coated trees looking down on them. He moved around on the right side of them and stood staring, his mouth partly open in a kind of loose grin. My daddy died in nineteen ought nineteen of the epidemic flu and I never had a thing to do with it.
They passed a large cotton field with five or fix graves fenced in the middle of it, like a small island. She said he was a very good-looking man and a gentleman and that he brought her a watermelon every Saturday afternoon with his initials cut in it, E. He didn’t have a naturally sunny disposition like she did and trips made him nervous.
He was busy catching fleas on himself and biting each one carefully between his teeth as if it were a delicacy. The car continued to come on slowly, disappeared around a bend and appeared again, moving even slower, on top of the hill they had gone over. The other had on khaki pants and a blue striped coat and a gray hat pulled down very low, hiding most of his face. She knew that Bailey would not be willing to lose any time looking at an old house, but the more she talked about it, the more she wanted to see it once again and find out if the little twin arbors were still standing. Jesus,” meaning, Jesus will help you, but the way she was saying it, it sounded as if she might be cursing. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest. June Star said play something she could tap to so the children’s mother put in another dime and played a fast number and June Star stepped out onto the dance floor and did her tap routine. Teagarden brought the watermelon and there was nobody at home and he left it on the front porch and returned in his buggy to Jasper, but she never got the watermelon, she said, because a nigger boy ate it when he saw the initials, E. Teagarden because he was a gentle man and had bought Coca-Cola stock when it first came out and that he had died only a few years ago, a very wealthy man.



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