Barbequed Oranges

Barbequed Oranges

It’s a strange little thing really.

Like me I guess. I get this from my grandfather who was a coal miner until the last cave in that he was in and they closed the mine and gave everyone severance and he became Benny the trash man.

You might know a guy like him or not. The trash man that had his own truck and he took stuff that the big county contract guys never touched or touched once a year. He’d haul it to his old place in the country and he’d tear it down or toss it into big bins for the scrap people that paid for stuff. Benny always was the first place you went for rebuilt stuff or used and he’d often give stuff away.

He was as poor as they came too, his place was only ever covered with tar paper and wooden slats nailing it down but he was so far out of the way no one cared enough to go after him because his house wasn’t pretty.

Heck he was the last place on a dirt road that barely ever seen snowplows so no one really cared.

He was such a generous guy though, even if he drank, drank a lot.

There was bad stuff too I guess, but when he was alive I never really seen it.

But he did stuff like barbeque oranges.

That sauce was thick with brown sugar and he had zest from the oranges right into it and he’d cook them in foil for most of it all cut into thin slices and you ate them peel and all then there was this kick of ginger there too.

He’d serve it up when we’d come over with fried whole fish in crispy corn meal and there’d be that and vinegar and there’d be just this good time.

Why is this so important to me?

Because he died shortly after I came out.

But I went to see him when I was really me but not even really into transition either. I’d had to get some hard stares and misgendered when I went to see him before he died and I’d never ever see him again.

It was right on the edge of the end of visiting hours and my Aunt’s and folks have left for the night. So the lights in the room were dimmed and he was sort of there watching the little swivel TV.

I stopped to watch scared with my heart in my throat.

Miners lung I guess, it’s what got him in the end and when I got to his room he was so thin, with the IV’s and the tubes and stuff and he seen me standing there at the doorway and he weakly gestured to me and gave me the come here wave.

I went over. “Hey Grandpa.”

He looked a second then smiled and pulled his misting-mask off enough to say. “Hello Princess.”

We sort of talked for a while and he didn’t bring up my gender or stuff like that but if I was doing alright, what I was going to do for school and where I was going to live.

And he asked if I was seeing anyone.

I wasn’t but still it was nice that he asked and he asked things like he did.

I didn’t stay too long because I knew that someone was likely calling my family because in a small shitty town that’s what people do when they refuse to open their hearts for people that are different.

I kissed him goodbye and I went down to the parking lot and through the stairs and the girl at the front desk that went to school with me a couple of years ahead calling out for me to have a good night while dead naming me in that sweet tone that you can almost feel the squinty evil eyes behind.

I didn’t even stop for that, I came and did what I had to do and that was that.

I got into my fifth hand Impala with the dings and the rust and all of the things that I owned and I drove out of town.

I went back a few times over the years just because I was passing through doing something else. Two times I never even got out of the car I was driving and nothing really changed just another shitty mining town that was slowly drying up after things closed and even the businesses that were there could only do so much.

And the people reflected that too.

But I got out and no my life’s not perfect but it’s okay.

And I’m not seeing anyone yet but y’know…if I find the right someone.

Someone that will say my name and mean it like my grandpa did when he called me princess.

I’ll likely cook them some barbequed oranges.

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