A Life of Crime
Guns. Graft. Grits. Writer Ace Atkins ’94 serves it all up with Southern flair in his signature
by Ben Bartley ’10
Photography by Joe Worthem
The town of Taylor is about 15 minutes from Oxford, Miss., down Old Taylor Road, which twists and bends through pastoral greenery and tilled fields. Might be best to say Taylor’s a village—population’s right around 500.
The main street, such that it is, is a 100-yard bend in the asphalt that incorporates a single house, two abandoned buildings, a brown-brick post office, a restaurant and what might be an antique shop. Standing in the street, it’s hard to tell the difference between what’s in use and what’s out of service. Of course, standing in the street isn’t something one should do, as it’s 103 degrees here in mid-summer: breezeless, cloudless, the sun radiating hate for all flesh.
The black text on a sign reading Taylor Gro. & Restaurant (taglined “That Catfish Place”) is bleached nearly white; two “Enjoy Coca-Cola” ads emblazoned on either side are spotty with flakes of rust. The whole façade’s sun-faded and paint-chipped. There’s an empty church pew under a single naked light bulb so folks can make themselves comfortable.
Taylor Grocery is something of a local landmark, the kind of place where the tea is very, very sweet. “Hey pretty girl,” says a smiling man sporting a “Semper Fi” hat and sandals with socks, indicating a table of two. “Your daddy’s ugly as heck. You know that?” A waitress asks the cashier—a girl of 15 or… read more