“By Hook or by Crook”
This here’s Liam. Liam Goodwell. Of the Denton County Goodwells?
And I’m still among the livin’, but I shore don’t know how much longer that’ll be the case.
My destiny rests in God’s hands, and them of Sister Beane, Eleanor Lucille Beane, newly discovered fearsome better half of preacher Zebulon Magruder Beane, down to the Holy Pentecostal Church of the Saints. Been a whit closer to a week than not since I ‘pproached her with the learnin’s from my sinful eavesdroppin’ down to the Feed and Seed nigh on one month past.
That she took after me with her gardenin’ shears leads me to believe she wudn’t jest then a’practicin’ Christian charity. How-some-ever, fact is, may truly be she is now, as I ain’t seen hide nor hair of neither her nor Brother Beane nor E-vangelist Lyle P.T. Wendzel, them last two being the ones from who I heard them a’schemin’ to split the generous offerin’s of the believers.
I’ll admit to discoverin’ I had me this rash, a small one but it come in handy for my purposes. (The thin coughin’ spell I manufactured didn’t set well with Mama) Much as I struggled to join the family this here past week at the revival down to the church ever’ evenin’, I found I jest wudn’t up to it. Mama, she’s been lookin’ at me sideways, but she ain’t questioned me. My honest-to-goodness pained appearance, while prob’ly not the result of any rash, give her pause. She’s laid the back of her hand more’n once to my forehead checkin’ to see if I’d a temper’ture. She seemed satisfied when she ‘llowed me to stay home from the doin’s down to the church.
I been satisfied, my ownself.
But this cain’t be over, can it? I sneak peaks over my shoulder reg’lar, but truth be told, reg’lar is gettin’ more and ir-reg’lar, and as time is a’passin’, why, I get to thinkin’ jest maybe my confessin’ to Sister Beane got the wheels a’ rollin’ and may how she put the kay-bosh on whatever tomfoolery them so-called “Men of God” had them hatched.
Or, not. And I look over my shoulder yet another time.
Now here’s a quandry fer you: Can a bein’ say “I tol’ you so” to his ownself?
‘Cause if I can, I shore am, I kid you not!
Not even one hour prior to this here moment, not even one, I’d jest come in from some hoein’ out to the garden, ’round Mama’s tomaters and greens. We got us some robust black soil, but just below the surface lies hardened red Missouri clay. Got t’keep after it. Needs loosenin’ ever so often to keep them roots a’diggin’ deep, keep things a growin’ and keep dinner on the Goodwell table.
Well, here I come in, happy as one o’ them clamdiggers, done worshed up from the pump out by the smokehouse, well my arms up to my rolled sleeve. Seemed sufficient. I seem to recall I was a hummin’ a little tune from the Grand Ol’ Opry Hour from Saturday night’s broadcast. That Roy Acuff at the War Memorial Auditorium out there to Nashville does have hisself a way.
So I’m a’walzin’ in from the back porch into the kitchen, a’hopin’ there might me some o’ Mama’s biscuits basketed on the oil cloth-covered table, left from breakfast or from midday dinner, and clearly my attention was NOT over my shoulder. Well, over my shoulder was not where the trouble had landed. No, sir. Where my attention should o’been was in the livin’ room up front of the house, where Mama received comp’ny and visitors and the like.
I’m slidin’ my eyes ’round the kitchen, distracted from anything but searchin’ for myself sustenance of any kind, bein’ as I AM a growin’ boy and Mama and Daddy and Grandpap near always chuckle at my heapin’ dinner plates.
What to my wonderin’ ears doth resound but a po-lite little Mama cough. She got herself a visitor and she wants me to know it.
I stop dead in my tracks. Time and the tickin’ of the grandfather clock on the wall plumb stopped dead, as well.
Now, it ain’t like we live in a mansion. Ever’body clear to the next county would o’heard me a’stompin’ up the back steps and heard the slammin’ of the patched screen door and heard my stomach a grumblin’ for a bite.
It was step up or lay down and die.
Well, being a Goodwell, it was only step up. No other option.
But that don’t make it easy.
Girdin’ my loins, and knowin’ the probability of a tongue-lashin’ and worst lay in my future, I suck in a big ol’ gulp o’ air and step through the threshold to the front room filled with all the finery Mama sees fit to share.
But none o’ that catches my eye. Only thing grabs me is the white-worshed look on Mama’s face….
…..and the weasely sneer on that of Lyle P.T. Wendzel.
“What do you say, there, Liam? ” his voice oily, next to a whisper.
“What’s new with you?”