Ogg finished the bowl of stew, tipping it up and sucking the last of the broth from the rim of the bowl.
“What’s your name, boy?” A voice directed towards him caught Ogg’s attention. He looked up, but kept his bowl tilted. The last of the thick broth oozed down the sides and bottom of the bowl toward the rim. Ogg glanced away to see where the question had come from.
“Ogg.” He said, deciding the voice came from the table with the cups.
“Ogg, you’re a big fellow, how old are you?”
Ogg ran his finger along the inside of the bowl squeezing the broth into a creek that ran onto his tongue. How old was he? Not very old. Not as old as his brothers. Not as old as his Daddy who had some white hairs on his head and in his beard and not nearly as old as the two men at the other table who had yelled “Shut the door” at him.
“Not as old as Queedle or Bosco.” Ogg replied. He eyed the two men at the cup table. They were older than him too, but not as old as Daddy. They looked different than most men he had seen either here at Keeper Twill’s or back in the scrub where he lived. Used to live.
“Who are Queedle and Bosco?” Again a question that seemed not to have a trap and one which Ogg was confident of the answer.
“My brothers.” He looked steadily at the two men. Did they approve of his answer? They seemed to. Ogg’s attention was drawn by Keeper Twill’s approach.
“How was that stew?” He reached for the empty bowl.
“Very good, sir.”
Ogg held the bowl and tugged it back from Keeper Twill.
Keeper Twill let go and stood for a moment. “You can have another if no one else comes in tonight. You’ll have to wait till the fire dies down and then we’ll see.” He turned and went back to his own table where he was shucking corn. Ogg nodded and set the bowl aside. He would surely like another, but wasn’t sure whether Keeper Twill would put more logs on the fire or not.
“What’s your family name, Ogg?” Again a question from the cups table. Ogg looked at the one who had spoken.
“Your family name, Ogg. What is it?”
“Ogg is what my family and everyone else calls me.” Ogg was again confident that this was the correct answer. His name had always been Ogg as best as he could remember.
“No, your last name.”
Ogg hesitated now. He had been pretty sure on the family name question, but the man was not acting like he got the answer he wanted. What did he want? “Last name?” Ogg responded, hopping for some hint to guide him. If his last name wasn’t Ogg, what name did he have last?
“He doesn’t know.” Said the other man at the cups table. “He probably doesn’t have much need for a last name.”
Keeper Twill looked up from his corn. “It’s Boggle.” He watched Ogg to see his reaction.
When Ogg heard the word “Boggle” spoken he looked down, thinking. Where had he heard that before? Yes, he had heard Keeper Twill say that word to his Daddy. He raised his eyes and looked at the two men. They turned back to look at Ogg.
“Well, pleased to meet you Ogg Boggle.” The first man said and he touched his fingertips together and pointed them at Ogg. Ogg stared. What was this now? The man waited holding the gesture, then dropped his hands.
“Not very friendly are you Ogg Boggle?” The tone changed from friendly to not friendly. Ogg knew it was something about the man holding his hands that way. He looked down. Had he seen this before? He didn’t think so.
“He don’t know nothing about the greeting.” Again Keeper Twill spoke. “He’s from the scrub, him and his folks. They stay out there away from everybody, raise their kids for work and have as few dealings outside the scrub as possible.”
Ogg listened to the words of Keeper Twill. He knew he was talking about him, about his Daddy and his brothers. Was this bad he wondered? Staying in the scrub. Working. Keeper Twill had a tone to his voice that Daddy used when he didn’t approve of something, but Ogg didn’t have a bad feeling inside himself. And what was ‘the greeting’?
“When you meet new folks…”
One of the men was speaking again. The one with the green jacket and long black hair tied up in a tail. He had spoken first and smiled a lot. The other one without a jacket, just a brown shirt and a face wiping cloth tied around his neck, he didn’t smile.
“…you do this.” He put the fingertips of his hands together again. “That means you are friendly, you intend no harm, have no weapon.”
Ogg knew he intended no harm and he certainly had no weapon. He liked this fellow who had called him his new last name. Ogg put the tips of his fingers together. His elbows were on the table, his fingertips pointing to the rafters. He followed the point and looked up.
The green jacket man laughed again. Ogg glanced at him to see what kind of laugh it was. It didn’t seem like a mean laugh. The brown shirt man shook his head and smiled. His teeth were brown, like Daddy’s. Ogg liked him better because of that.
“My name is Spar and this here is Box.”
Ogg repeated the names aloud. “Spar”, he looked at the man in the green jacket. “Box”, he looked at the man in the brown shirt. What was he supposed to do now? He waited.
“So you’re from around here?”
“Up the road.” Ogg nodded in the direction of the wagon road to his home.
“Anything up that way?”
Ogg considered. He didn’t live there anymore. “My Daddy lives there, and my brothers.”
“What does your Daddy do up there?”
This question confused Ogg. His Daddy did lots of things. Ogg knew there was always a correct answer and he usually didn’t get it right. “I don’t know.” Ogg looked down. Play it safe.
“He’s an idiot.” Said Box turning and holding his empty cup so Keeper Twill would see it.
“Hold on.” Spar replied and smiled at Ogg.
Ogg knew this word…idiot. He knew he would soon be in trouble. Spar leaned forward and spoke slowly. “What do you do Ogg? What things do you do?”
Keeper Twill walked up to the table with a pitcher and poured Box’s cup full. “He works with his Daddy and brothers. They cook this here poteen.” Box and Spar looked at Ogg. Box sipped from his cup. He closed one eye tightly. It wasn’t a wink.
“It’s good.” Box whispered.
“Do you make this with your Daddy?” Spar asked. Keeper Twill stood for a moment while Ogg sat without speaking.
“Says he’s left home, so maybe he don’t.” Keeper Twill offered a pour to Spar who shook away the offer with a slight jerk of his head. Keeper Twill turned and walked back to his table. Spar looked at Box. “What do you think?” Box sipped again. Again squinched his eye and replied, “I don’t know…maybe.”
“You don’t work with your Daddy no more?” Spar asked, again leaning forward.
“No, sir,” Keeper Twill said not, it must be true.
“Me and Box might be in need of an extra hand. What kind of things do you know how to do?” Spar’s voice had gotten very quiet and he leaned very far forward, toward Ogg.
Ogg leaned forward in response. This might be some act with meaning, like the ‘the greeting’. He knew Daddy never talked low and leaned forward but he was not at Daddy’s table now. Ogg hesitated a beat. He knew for sure of only one thing that he did.
“I hurt people.” Ogg said in his most quiet voice.
Spar leaned back. Now sitting normally he looked at Box again and raised his eyebrows.
Ogg was not familiar with this response, but he liked it. He did not feel like this answer was wrong. He wanted Spar and Box to like him. They looked at him and he felt like they might like him. Ogg took his face wiping cloth out of his shirt pocket and leaned forward again. Box sat and held his cup. Spar leaned forward like he did before. Ogg untied the cloth as it sat on the table and laid the cloth open.
Spar’s eye grew wide. He looked at Ogg and back to the two fingers in the bloody cloth.
“What’s that?” he asked in a whisper.
“Fingers.” Ogg replied, thinking it was a stupid question.
“Whose are they?” Box whispered. Now leaning a bit forward a bit too.
Ogg thought about this question as he tied the face wiping cloth and put it back in his pocket. “Mine.” was the answer he settled on. “They’re mine.” It made him sad, but he knew it was right.