“Don’t That Beat All?” (musin’s from a country boy)

Daddy tol’ me, and his daddy tol’ him, and so on and so forth on back clear to the beginnin’s of history and I reckon even before that,

“Son,” he said real serious, “Son, if you ain’t a’movin’ forward, even if you’re jest a’standin’ plumb still, durned if all you’re a’doin’ is movin’ backward.”

I take him at his word.

My Daddy don’t lie.

Didn’t neither his pap, nor his pap before him.

Truth be told, I come from a long line of truth tellers, and that’s why I’m here.

My name is Liam, Liam Goodwell, of the Denton County, Missouri Goodwells.

And I been here before.

I am comin’ up on fourteen years of age come next December.

I got me seven brothers and sisters, and with me, they’s eight all told.

Lincoln at seventeen is oldest and rides the rodeo.

Lawrence, sixteen, he cain’t wait to join the army and fight them Germans.

Livie and Luce come next, both girls.  They be as diff’urnt like dead o’ dark night is to orange and pink stripe-ed dawn.

Fifteen-year-old Livie is all ribbons and pink flowers and googly eyes.

Luce, fourteen and my Irish twin, runs faster, climbs higher, and punches harder than any feller down to the schoolhouse.

‘Cept me, o’course.

Then comes me.  Folks say I’m the thinker.  And I throw a mean fastball.

Follerin’ me comes Loreen.  She’s ten, all legs and freckles.

Last come the twins, Louis and Lawton.  At seven, they still talk they own secret language ever’ now and then, comin’ up a’ laughin’ and lookin’ sly-like.  They will be trouble, I gar-un-tee.

And Mama and Daddy, they loves us all.

We live, with Grandpap, at the bottom of a big ol’ hill, one what used to be Goodwell land.  We come down a little in the world, says Grandpap, but we got us our health, says he.  We all chuckle, jest like he ex-pects, ever’ time he orates.  Better’n the alternative, says I.

So, seein’ as I been blessed with a stack o’ Big Chief tablets, left from the youngsters down to the schoolhouse and brung to me personal by our teacher, Miss Meadow, well, I figure now’s the time to get after it.  Long since near my first rememberences, I get these notions. I tol’ Miss Meadow as much, and how I glean some slice o’ wisdom from each and ever’ one.

And sometime, all them thoughts and learnin’s swirlin’ around my brain, well, things get crowded up there in my head.  Miss Meadow, she says I have me a way with words and please, would I write all them things down. Clear the spin.

Legible-like,too, says she.  No chicken scratches.

(Miss Meadow, she may like they way I sling a phrase, but she does have somethin’ to say ’bout my handwriting.)

And she DID bring me these tablets, and Daddy’s admonition rings right loud.

So here’s the deal.

“I, LIam Wendell Goodwell, of the Denton County Goodwells, I am commitin’ right this moment (I’d swear, but Mama’s come after me with a switch), I am commitin’ right this very minute to take partic’lar note of the world and the ways spinnin’ ’round me, then acceptin’ and recognizin’ my obligation to take them observations and put pen to paper and leave them for them comin’ after me.”

And Miss Meadow.

So help me God.”

(And I don’t plan to cross Miss Meadow, neither, believe you me!)


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