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Coward of the County (Rogers Kenny)

Ev'ryone considered him the coward of the county. He'd never stood one single time to prove the county wrong. His mama named him Tommy, the folks just called him yellow, But something always told me they were reading Tommy wrong. He was only ten years old when his daddy died in prison. I took care of Tommy 'cause he was my brother's son. I still recall the final words my brother said to Tommy: "Son, my life is over, but yours has just begun. Promise me, son, not to do the things I've done. Walk away from trouble if you can. Now it won't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek. I hope you're old enough to understand: Son, you don't have to fight to be a man." There's someone for ev'ryone and Tommy's love was Becky. In her arms he didn't have to prove he was a man. One day while he was workin' the Gatlin boys came callin'. They took turns at Becky.... n' there were three of them! Tommy opened up the door and saw his Becky cryin'. The torn dress, the shattered look was more than he could stand. He reached above the fireplace, took down his daddy's picture. As his tears fell on his daddy's face, he heard these words again: "Promise me, son, not to do the things I've done. Walk away from trouble if you can. Now it won't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek. I hope you're old enough to understand: Son, you don't have to fight to be a man." The Gatlin boys just laughed at him when he walked into the barroom. One of them got up 'n met him halfway 'cross the floor. when Tommy turned around they said, "Hey look! ol' yellow's leavin'." But you coulda heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and locked the door. Twenty years of crawlin' was bottled up inside him. He wasn't holdin' nothin' back; he let 'em have it all. When Tommy left the barroom not a Gatlin boy was standin'. He said, "This one's for Becky," as he watched the last one fall. And I heard him say, "I promised you, Dad, not to do the things you've done. I'll walk away from trouble when I can. Now please don't think I'm weak, I couldn't turn the other cheek, 'n Papa, I sure hope you understand: Sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man." Ev'ryone considered him the coward of the county.