Now, what you need to understand is, my Mama don’t never do no wrong. Not never. Not ever.
She don’t browbeat.
She don’t snoop.
She don’t box our ears ‘less we earn it.
She cooks up a storm, and our favorites, too, right reg’lar.
(Mine’s chocolate cake. Layered. With deep near black chocolate icing ‘tween all the slivers. I get me shivers when I think of it. Shiverin’ right now, I am! Have mercy, I can near to smell it comin’ out the oven right this minute!)
She worshes our clothes, even when they don’t hardly need it.
She makes sure all us kids got shoes and socks and ain’t got that dirt ring ’round our necks come bedtime.
And if it don’t beat all, she does all that and more, smilin’ all over her face, even in her eyes, from sun come up to sun go down.
Known all over this county and plum into the next as the gol’durned purtiest girl what ever growed up this parts, known as the dingdong smartest in her graduatin’ class by a county mile, why, she even graduated high school, gettin’ her a diploma with honors and gold gilted writin’. Daddy’s so proud, he keeps it hanging on a braided cord over the kitchen door, so’d we all us never forget what we can do once we aim our noses headed that di-rection.
Daddy don’t know, but Mama’s known to take it down and let us kids touch it.
Truth is, other’n Grandpap, my Mama’s near the only other man or woman in our family claiming’ such a accomplishment. Even Daddy, like near to half ever’ other a’dult I know, was self-satisfied with graduatin’ eighth grade, goin’ off right after to ride the rodeo circuit. Story goes, it’s how he swaggered up and met Mama. And true, Linc and Lawrence is close to completin’. But like ever’ other little brother, I have me my doubts. Mama, too.
Hear her’n Daddy talkin’ late into the night right often, reckon they forget I’m a light sleeper and just the other side Mama’s purty wallpapered wooden slats, how they pray for us kids and how the world, it’s a’changin’ since the War come. Mama worries particular for Linc, thinkin’ he may go the same way as Daddy, off to the bright draw of the rodeo. Or off to enlist, seein’ he’s near to eighteen. She always sings the same tune, and from the other side the wall, I can picture Daddy a’noddin’, in lockstep on how we kids need to prepared and ready. Even Linc.
Me, I always shrug in my head. Got no worries, least with me and Luce and Livie and the twins. We like learnin’ down to the school. And Miss Meadow, our teacher, she’s somethin’ else. She’s near clear up there with Mama. She knows ’bout plum ever’thing.
Don’t hurt she’s purty as a picture.
But I digress.
Like I say, Mama’s near to perfect in my book. And, I don’t know ’bout you, but ain’t anybody else crossed my path got all that goin’ for ’em.
But there is that one thing, that one disturbin’ thing.
My Mama, she has what she calls “visions.”
That’s not to say she falls down prostrate or writhin’, seein’ a movin’ picture show ‘fore her glazin’ eyes and forcastin’ the future. That’d be near demon possession, and my Mama, she’s a God-fearin’ Christian woman and leads the song service come Wednesday night prayer service. Even claps on the off beat, which seein’ as I have my ownself aspirations to the vocal arts, it plum toasts my marshamallow!
No, my Mama gets her these ideas, these interuptin’ thoughts she says is dappled with lights and golden rays o’ sunshine like my Sunday School papers.
Take last Sunday evenin’.
“Now Lawrence, ” He’d be my second oldest brother, just under Lincoln, “Now Lawrence, you best take yourself them clean dungarees I tucked under your bed. You may just need a quick change ‘fore Vespers tonight.” ‘Course, Lawrence bein’ Lawrence, and bein’ sixteen and thinkin’ he’s almost a man, he pronounced he would not do no such thing. Till he did.
And didn’t Ol’ Nellie throw him clean off whilst fendin’ off a mess o’ offended bees, landin’ him splat into a freshly laid, freshly made cowpie, side of the road?
Like I done said.
“Now look’a here, Livie,” Livie’d be my oldest sister, just under Lawrence. Luce comes next, but she’s a whole ‘nother story. Don’t you get me started on her. “Look’a here, Livie, that boy Nicky hangs down to the Feed and Seed, some kin’r other of Brady Holt? I jest don’t like the sway o’ his swagger. I reckon you best steer clear, darlin’ girl. Jest steer clear.” ‘Course Livie being Livie, fifteen and near as purty as Mama and full sure knows it, she fussed and fumed and claimed he’d always been right nice to her, even treated her to a soda pop once or twice.
And didn’t the Arnold Brothers, the owners of the Feed and Seed catch that boy a’stealing rye and clover seed and forgettin’ to pay for them soda pops from the red Coke cooler? Hear folks say ol’ slick Nick got himself an extended stay at the Youth Education Camp over to Dixon.
Like I done said.
It’s a mite worse, though, when them “visions” pertain too yours truly.
More’n a mite.
See, trouble is, Mama, she done always tol’ me I was special, had some thing in me, ‘r on me, r’ ’round me, hard tellin’. But whatever it is, Mama’s durned certain I got it. Which come to mean her “visions” ’bout me got singulary meanin’. Meanin’, forthwith and heretofore, I best pay close attention.
Today was one of them days, with one of them visions.
Hell’s Bells. I’d had me other plans.