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Milkman returns to Susan Byrd’s house to ask some follow-up questions, and guess what? It IS a creepy house after all! This time, Milkman notices that the paint is peeling on the white picket fence. The rope that holds the child’s swing is decaying. The cedar tree looks like an elephant’s leg.
Susan Byrd is much nicer this time around. And it’s because Ms. Flirty-McFlirt-Flirt isn’t there to steal gold watches and spin gossip.
Susan Byrd confirms the story behind the song that the Shalimar children sing: Milkman’s grandfather, Jake, ran off with his grandmother Sing on a wagon train going north. Jake was the youngest of 21 children. Legend has it that Jake’s father, Solomon, flew away to Africa, leaving his wife, Ryna, devastated with all of those children to take care of. Legend has it that Solomon tried to take Jake with him when he left, but dropped the baby as he was flying off.
Well, Milkman is pretty much floating at this point. Here he has some concrete affirmation that his family, his very own family, is the subject of a song and a legend.
Susan Byrd apologizes for her Grace’s flirtatious and thieving behavior, telling Milkman that nothing ever happens in Shalimar, and when a stranger from the north wearing a gold watch comes to visit, it’s pretty much the most exciting thing in the world.
We end the chapter somewhat flabbergasted. Nothing happens in Shalimar? Is it opposite day?