Sunday Stories: “A Story About Ruby That Will Shed Light on Her Character”

A Story About Ruby That Will Shed Light on Her Character
by Scott McClanahan

I didn’t want to see her after the operation, but she said I had to. Ruby had her gallstones removed the day before and now she was at home sitting up in bed with this plastic pill bottle beside her on the table. I walked slow and scared to her. I walked with a little-boy walk and she propped herself up on the bed. I moved sideways with a slow step and then another slow step and then another. Then she took her plastic pill bottle and shook it in my face. It rattled like a rattle except it was full of something strange.

“What is it, Grandma?”

She shook them again and said, “They’re my gallstones. All 21 of them. Doctor cut them out of me and let me take them home. He wouldn’t let me take home the biggest though. He said he wanted to keep it on his desk.”

Then she shook the pill bottle in my face a rat a tat tat. She said, “I’m going to make a flower bed with them.”

Then she handed me the pill bottle and told me to put them in the flower bed. “Don’t you eat them now, Todd.”

I shook my head like she was crazy.

Then I went over to the window and opened the pill bottle and I put the gallstones in the bottom of a flower pot. “Nothing is growing,” I told her. She told me they would. I didn’t believe her.


The next day a flower was blooming.


And now…

A Second Story That Will Shed Light on Her Character
by Scott McClanahan

I don’t know who named AIDS cat AIDS cat, but Grandma always hated him. She always said, “You better stay away from them hogs,” but AIDS cat never listened. He was AIDS cat. He had big patches of hair missing and he was all bony and skinny and looking like he was going to die any minute.

So one day we were outside feeding the hogs and she told AIDS to stay away from the hogs just like usual, but he wasn’t listening.


Of course, AIDS cat used to go around and steal slop off the hogs. There was a knot hole in the slop bucket this big bad daddy hog used to eat out of. And so the big daddy hawg was standing at the trough eating the slop, and AIDS cat just kept sticking its head through the knot hole and eating some of that grub. AIDS cat did it once. And then he did it twice. Then he did it three times. He stuck his head through and scooped up some of the slop with a paw.

“You better watch it,” Ruby warned him one last time.

He did it again and looked at us with a greedy grin.

So finally the big daddy hog had enough and reached up and bit AIDS cat’s head plumb off—gulp. The cat’s body fell back and jerked and jimmied and jerked some more, and the big daddy hog stood gobbling it on down. Ruby didn’t say anything. She kept feeding the hogs and the pigs and then we went and sat on the front porch and watched the hummingbirds hum around. It felt peaceful.

Scott McClanahan is the writer of Stories V! and The Collected Works of Scott McClanahan, Volume 1. Crapalachia will be published by Two Dollar Radio in 2013. His book Hill William will be published by Tyrant Books in 2013. He is co-partner of

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