Feeling bulletproof, snug in my Redwings and Wranglers, I sunk the mattock’s iron tooth in the ditch wall, setting pace for the others. My meal’s plug pressed under my rib, my mouth thick with sweet tea and the cigarette shared behind the shed. I was just starting to glisten with sweat when, crinkling like cellophane, a buzzing clung to my face. My scream lifted a tree full of grackles. I stumbled, sucker-punched, stung. Then Rick, our captain, old sailor with blue-anchored arms, was telling me to hold still. He pried my hands from the sting, and digging out his chaw, smeared it across my cheek. His eyes bleared in their lizard folds. This close, he smelled like pine tar. He said nicotine would null the venom, one poison for another. The tobacco’s tang made my eyes swim, and I hung back the rest of the afternoon, afraid to wash off the salve, the spit and scald of Rick’s love.