VIOLET: I ever tell you the story of Raymond Qualls? Not much story to it. Boy I had a crush on when I was thirteen or so. Real rough-looking boy, beat up Levis, messy hair. Terrible under-bite. But he had these beautiful cowboy boots, shiny chocolate leather. He was so proud of those boots, you could tell, the way he’d strut around, all arms and elbows, puffed up and cocksure. I decided I needed to get a girly pair of those same boots and I knew he’d ask me to go steady, convinced myself of it. He’d see me in those boots and say, “Now there’s the gal for me.” Found the boots in a window downtown and just went crazy: I’d stay up late in bed, rehearsing the conversation I was going to have with Raymond when he saw me in my boots. Must’ve asked Momma a hundred times if I could get those boots. “What do you want for Christmas, Vi?” “Momma, I’ll give all of it up for those boots.” Bargaining, you know? She started dropping hints about a package under the tree she had wrapped up, about the size of a boot box, real nice wrapping paper. “Now Vi, don’t you cheat and look in there before Christmas morning.” Little smile on her face. Christmas morning, I was up like a shot, boy under the tree, tearing open that box. There was a pair of boots, all right… men’s work boots, holes in the toes, chewed up laces, caked in mud and dog poo. Lord, my Momma laughed for days. My Momma was a mean, nasty old woman. I suppose that’s where I got it from.