Get up and go!
This here’s Liam, like near ever’ other day.
I been here before, like as not, jest like you.
(Don’t lose it’s wonder though, does it?)
I begun a tale yester-dee, and I reckon it needs pushed a little further down the road. Last we knew, Grandpap was hellbent (Don’t tell Mama. Don’t want to spend my eternal life in the Lake of Far. Nor do I have the wherewithal to face up to the switchin’ she’d be bound to lay on me.) and sassafrass driven to meet up eyeball to eyeball with the honorable Brigadier General hissownself, Du’Wight D. Eisenhower. Who, it happens, is crossin’ the country on the Zephyr via our neck o’ the woods, straight through to the county seat where he’ll be spendin’ the overnight at the boardin’ house in town, some 15 mile from Goodwell land.
I’m a Goodwell, you see, from the Denton County Goodwells. Maybe you heard of us.
Look here, Grandpap spent the day holed up in his room, sittin’ as his table on his three-legged stool, built by big brother Lawrence in his childhood, built for one long-legged cow, I tell you what. Grandpap didn’t have the heart to disappoint the giver, choosin’ to claim it fer his own.
Grandpap’s like that. Good as gold deep down in his darkest, deepest insides.
Today, though, he coughed and chewed and sang and hollered and wrote and crumpled paper and swatted at imaginary flies with his swatter, preparin’ just what to say when he encountered the good General. Ain’t one of us, not us kids nor Mama nor Daddy, doubted Grandpap would get hisself an audience. Grandpap’s one of them fellers, stands tall, gets near ever’thin’ he’s a’wantin’. Pillar o’ our community, it’s said. Du’Wight D. Einsenhower would not only grant Grandpap his audience, he’d liable give him the keys to the White House, we was all certain.
But Grandpap, he shore wanted to get things right, just for the look of things, you see. We tiptoed past his door, then tiptoed away again real quick, bein’ he was a little volatile for all his confidence. And armed with that swatter.
But when evenin’ rolled ’round, and we was all gatherin’ for supper, graspin’ hands ’round the table for prayer, who appeared at the kitchen door, beams of joy and heavenly light emittin’ from his prickly head but Grandpap! Hallelujah and praise be, he’d sorted his words and his plea. Satisfaction would be his! The General Du’Wight D. Eisenhower would have no choice but to accept my Daddy’s Daddy’s offer to do his patriotic duty and help save these here U-nited States from the tyranny and overtakin’ of them durned Germans and Japanese, and I-talians.
Follerin’ a boomin’ prayer, thank you Jesus, he gave us the ups and downs and ins and outs of his plan. Didn’t not one of us just want to burst our buttons. Grandpap, ‘spite his age and decrepitute, he was the man for the time. Didn’t that ol’ thorny Hitler nor Hy-rohito stand them a chance against the power that was my Grandpap.
Then he dropped the hammer.
“I reckon I’ll be a’needin’ the truck tomorr’ night, Son.”
Daddy nodded. We all did.
“And I reckon I won’t be gettin’ back till late, seein’ as the train ain’t due to pull in till…., ” here he checked his ancient pocketwatch for effect, “8:27 pm.”
Daddy nodded. Grandpap had the eyes of a hawk. Drivin’ in the dark was one of his many spec-i-alities. Why, huntin’ with him left near nothin’ left fer the rest of us. Weren’t no worry there.
“But, ” he slid his words slow now, notin’ anticipation buildin’ ’round the supper table. “But, I reckon I’ll be a’needin’ comp’ny. Jest to help me bide the time ’til the train arrives to the depot down to Halesburg.”
Daddy nodded, hadn’t stopped, from my recollection. “Well, Pap, you know I’m happy….”
Grandpap snorted loud and long. “Not you this time, Son,” Daddy looked crestfallen. This here was what Miss Meadow down to the school called, “High Drama!”
“No, ” he shook his round spiky head slowly, “This here trip I’d like Liam and Luce to join me.”
My throat closed and my head got the spins! Hallelujah and Praise Jesus! I was going to have me an adventure!
Well, me and Luce. I choose to think I’m the luck, Luce is purely for protection. Snort!
And, once Daddy overcome his shock and disappointment, and the rest all settled they issues with the sins of jealousy and envy, why, me and Luce, we was bein’ beat on the back with “Congratulations” and “This’ll be a fine time!”
Grandpap jest set back in his chair, tipped back on two legs, content like he’d delivered the wealth of the world into our hands.
And he jest might’a. He jest might’a!
I found myself gettin’ worked up all over again. Lord have Mercy on my soul!
We kept up a’jiggin’ and a’whoopin’ till finally we run outta gas.
“Best get you’all some shut eye,” Grandpap finally drawled, pretending a yawn and exaggeratin’ a stretch. “Tomorr’ is a’comin’! Tommorr’s going to be a grand one for us Goodwells!”
Our Grandpap was a’goin’ t’do his part to save the world for Democracy! And none better, no sir! And we, me and Luce, we was going to be there for the first salvo!
God bless Du’Wight D. Eisenhower right down to his socks! And Grandpap, too!
And Luce, I reckon.
Daddy put the icin’ on the cake, only pride and exultation in his voice now.
“Best you two get yerselves bathed and tucked in, fer tomorr’s a big one….and jest fer good measure, I got me two silver dollars, one for each, to tuck in yer pockets jest fer some spendin’ money ‘case they’s sellin’ soda pops down to the depot that late.”
Could this get any better? I think not!
Then, an afterthought, Mama chimed in, “And lay yerselves out some clean clothes. Best you look tidy ‘fore you meet the General. Make yer Grandpap proud.”
Yep, it was time we got up and went.