“She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain….”
This here’s Liam. Liam Goodwell of the Denton County Goodwells.
Ain’t nothin’ meaner’n a wet hen. And if you’ve been on the wrong side of that hen, you do know the truth of what I speak.
Well, sir, I’m here to tell you right now, that jest ain’t always so. Let me tell you a story…
The Good Lord laid upon my heart a struggle. Now, bein’ thirteen years of age, I ain’t had me many spiritual struggles my ownself, but down to the church, durin’ testimony service come Wednesd-ee evenin’ service, I hear plunty.
Some are right juicy, let me tell you! ( I do enjoy me a rollickin’ testimony service! The longer the better!)
But now, I have my own. Struggle, that’d be. I overheard, by my own sinful subter-fusion (fer which I prayed through and got me fergiveness), someone I respect and who I reckon I’ve known since I was purt’near conscious of the world around me, well, I heard with my own ears that beloved stalwart of our community commit hisself a sin. One beyond the magnitude of any’thin’ I though possible of this God-lovin’ man.
Did I mention the feller in question is our own Brother Beane, preacher and man of God down to the Pentecostal Church of Saints?
And did I mention I heard in no uncertain terms him and this other feller, our right now evangelist Brother Lyle P.T.Wendzel (who come to guide and di-rect us in the follerin’ of our Lord Jesus Christ and to encourage our livin’ daily by His Word), collude and, with strategizin’ intent, hereby plan to loot, pilfer and purloin the hard-earned offerin’s of the Saints to the work of the Lord?
They said it, right out loud, so’s I could hear it clear from where I was bent over a’tyin my bootlace back behind a stack o’some huge to near burstin’ sacks o’feed.
That was three weeks prior to this day, and I been fightin’ and frettin’ til’ I cain’t fight nor fret no more. I’m feelin’ led to do somethin’, tell someone, search out an answer and put a stop to this underhanded poachin’ of God’s due.
I decided this very mornin’, after Mama’s biscuits and gravy, today was the day. I couldn’t bear this burden alone.
So once my mornin’ chores was done to Daddy and Grandpap’s satisfaction, I took off. I had me an i-dee.
I hit the dusty road, hitchin’ my dungarees up, stompin’ with righteous de-termination, the three ‘r four mile down the lane to the church, and the parsonage what was built behind.
Now, it was a bit of a hike, I’ll ad-mit. But I figur’d time to concoct me a strategy fer jest whut I’d be a’sayin’ and a’doin, well, it wouldn’t hurt me none.
No, sir, I didn’t have me a plan.
Didn’t have one once I arrived, neither.
But here I was, and here I’d say till I done what I told myself and God I’d do.
Wipin’ my soggy forehead with my sleeve, I stood out to the front of the little white country church fer some time, ponderin’.
It was a peaceful place, tucked down a little lane, double-sided with oaks and weepin’ willers. They’s a little cemetery, purty and quiet, off the the back. Other side has a couple o’ outhouses left from the olden days. We got us indoor plumbin’ couple years back after Elder Reginald Ever’t Smoot passed over the Jordan. Left the church near his whole fortune, hear tell, ‘nough to give us toilets back behind the Sunday School rooms in the cellar.
His family don’t ‘tend here no more.
Then, back even further, near to the tree line, they’s a sweet little cottage for Brother and Sister Beane, moved here from the ol’ Sloan property. White with a fence al’round, purple blossomed Rose o’ Shar’n bushes tangled in and through.
I felt me a tug. That’s what I’d do. I’d take myself in for a visit with Sister Beane. She plays the pi-anner real nice ever’ Sunday, leavin’ the playin’ the rest of the reg’lar services to her music students. Big sister Livvie’s one. Ain’t got a lick o’ talent. But she does give it her all, when she ain’t thinkin’ ’bout boys. Yes, sir, she’d be the one to know what to do, bein’ she’s a saint in her own right.
I spit in my palm, slickin’ back my spiky straw hair, hopin’ I was pre-sentable. And hopin’ she’d ask me in for a lemonade and a store bought cookie.
Sister Beane’s the only woman I know gets her cookies from the store down to town. Them orange refrigerator cookies, cool and sweet, they’d be my favorite. She brings them ever’ Easter to the Sunday School classes. I do love Easter.
Quick as a lick, I found myself on the front porch, just to the left of the double-wide hangin’ swing, raisin’ my fist to knock when,
“Woohoo?” a high-pitched tinny ol’ lady voice hollered, “That you, Liam Goodwell?”
Well, it was and ol’ lady, sure, ’twas Sister Beane, though I doubt she’d take kindly to me a’thinkin’ her old. I know Grandpap don’t like it, neither, and they was schoolmates. Heard me some stories.
But I digress.
“Hey there,Sister Beane,” I hopped from the porch over the three concrete steps to where she was kneelin’ by the flowerbed, snips in gloved hand.
She shaded her eyes, lookin’ up at me, “You here for Brother Beane? Him and Brother Wendzel left this mornin’ for a men’s prayer meetin’ over to Richland.”
Then I coughed, realizin’ I ain’t said that out loud.
She looked at me, then laid down her snips. For that, I’ll admit to feelin’ some relief.
“No ma’am, Sister Beane, I reckon I come to have a chat with you.”
Now she stood clean up, all 4’10” of her.
“An awful long walk, young man. Must be a chat of a serious nature.”
I swallered and nodded hard.
“Well, ma’am, it is.”
Sister Beane motioned to the swing back up to the porch.
“Let’s us have us a sitdown, then, Liam. Tell me what’s on your mind.”
No lemonade nor store bought cookies today. I sighed.
Bein’ a gentleman, and knowin’ I’d hear it later if I wudn’t, I gestured she step on up first, which she did, after she retrieved her snips and laid them close at hand on the edge of the stair. Once seated, she patted the swing beside her, and I set.
I planted my feet hard on the wood planks, figuring what I had to say didn’t warrant no re-creational swingin. My hands was clasped and I leaned over them, quick prayer in my head.
Sister Beane, she jest waited.
Another swaller, and I begun.
She sat in silence whilst I related my sad and sordid tale, how I’d sinned my ownself by a’listenin’ to a conversation wudn’t mine, how I’d heard what I’d heard, how I’d struggled my mind and heart near to explodin’ ever’ wakin’ minute with what to do, how I couldn’t even pass the offerin’ plate, nor go to the altar for prayer durin’ the Revival we’d been enjoyin’ the last near three weeks r’ so.
I laid it all on the line. Didn’t leave nothin’ out, and I’m real good at rememberin’. Too good. The tellin’ took longer’n I’d hoped. But there it was. The tellin’ was done.
And Sister Beane, she sat stone cold and silent, still.
Lookin’ back, I ain’t quite sure jest what I was aimin’ to accomplish, with the tellin’. Best I can figure, I needed to unburden myself to someone who would know what to do and not compromise Ol’ Brother Beane ‘case I was mis-taken. Which, you know, I wudn’t.
Well, we sit there. And we sit there. Sister Beane, if she moved, it was jest her eyeballs, peerin’ out toward the back of the church or down the lane. ‘Course my work bein’ done, and feelin’ the burden lift ever’ so slightly, I was gettin’ itchy to move on down the line. I sort of needed dismissin’, though. Seemed po-lite.
So we sit.
Took some time, but Sister Beane, she stirred, ever so slightly. Pursin’ her lips, she took to peelin’ off them garden gloves, one finger at a time. Slow and steady. I was beginnin’ just the front end of a refreshin’ sigh.
That was when she jumped up like one o’ them Jack in the Boxes, all 4’10” of her, landin’ square front o’where I sat in the swing, dumbfounded and wide-eyed. She pointed all ten of them fingers in my face, like t’scratchin’ my eyes out but fairly crossin’ ’em in the meantime, shreikin’ loud a banshee hollerin’ in the middle of the night.
“You Devil! You Devil, you! You git yerself on home ‘fore I get me a switch! You ain’t welcome back here, you hear me?! You understand me?! You git!”
Don’t have to tell me twice, I plumb got! Last I seen o’Sister Beane, she’d gone and retrieved them snips and was a’wavin’ them threatenin’ like in my di-rection as I hauled my carcass fast as I could down the lane and up the four mile dusty road to home.
They’d be consequences, sure. And I’d carve me out some time for sincere prayer.
Fer now, though, I knew I was safe, seein’ as I could run faster’n her, anyhow.