Episode VII: You Must Sleep But I Must Dance
What Happens to the Kid
1. They Ain’t Nobody Done It Yet
In Chapter XXIII, the Kid is a forty-five-year old man, adrift on the plains of north Texas.
The year is 1878 and like the land he travels through, our protagonist has seen better, brighter (and bloodier) days. The Great Plains were once home to gargantuan herds of bison: now, only bones remain. In this skeleton land, the Kid (the narrator refers to him in this final chapter as “the Man”) encounters a group of orphaned boys, scavenging the bones1.
These “bone-pickers” approach the Kid and question him about his life and travels. They want to know if he’s headed to the brothels of Fort Griffin. They want to know about his past. They want to know about the necklace he wears—the scapular of Apache ears he took off the hanged body of David Brown. One of these boys, a surly fifteen-year-old named Elrod, becomes hostile. He insults the Kid several times, makes racist jokes, seems to be trying to goad the Kid into a fight.
The Kid tells Elrod he used to be like him; he tells Elrod he’s trying to keep from shooting him.
This enrages the fifteen-year-old.
"Set there and talk about shooting somebody,” says Elrod. “They ain't nobody done it yet.” (335)
They ain’t nobody done it yet. This line stops us in our tracks. We've read that before, haven’t we?
In Chapter I, the Kid is hanging around the East Texas town of Nacogdoches. The year is 1849. The Kid is (you guessed it) fifteen. He meets Toadvine for the first time and the two of them gets into a knife fight.
Fortunately, for both of them, Toadvine and the Kid are knocked unconscious by a shillelagh-wielding passerby (only in Blood Meridian are you fortune to be KO'd) and they wake up the next morning in much more amiable moods. Toadvine asks how the Kid's doing.
The Kid says he thinks Toadvine broke his neck. Toadvine says he never meant to break his neck: "I meant to kill ye."
The Kid responds, "They ain't nobody done it yet." (10)