Issue 11, December 2013
{ Confederate Gil }
by Nin Andrews

In the town where I grew up, folks were still fighting the Civil War. They blamed the North for all their problems, including taxes, old age, the economy, the rising murder rate, even the tomato wilt and the raspberry blight. My friend, Gil Simmons bragged that his great-grandpa was wounded in the Battle of Cedar Run. The Simmonses lived on the outskirts of town in one of those old plantation homes with white pillars and lace curtains and acres and acres of green fields with thoroughbreds grazing. Gil was an only child, and whenever I visited, he gave me a tour of the bathrooms. All nine of them, not counting the servants' bathrooms. Rumor had it that Mrs. Simmons, or Violet, as my father called her, planned to have an ample family, but Gil was the only child she carried to term. Gil, my daddy said, never looked fully here. He was so pale and thin, he was almost see-through. The town doctor, Dr. Repolt, said Gil was bitten by a spider when he was a bitty thing, and barely survived. My father said Gil looked like he'd been dipped in Clorox. But rumor had it Mr. Simmons wasn't his daddy. People joked that he was the son of a Confederate soldier, so he was part-ghost. On Halloween Gil's mama dressed him like a ghost in a gray suit with a Confederate flag in one hand, a trick-or-treat bag in the other. Ghosts aren't gray, I told him, and they don't wear uniforms. Yes, they do, too, he said. In the South, they do. Casper is a Yankee ghost.

Nin Andrews is the author of six chapbooks, and five full-length collections. Her next book, WHY GOD IS A WOMAN, is forthcoming from BOA Editions.