“Bite the Bullet”
This here’s Liam, Liam Goodwell, proud member of the Denton County Goodwells.
And I’m near plumb through with this here doc-u-mention. I got me too many thoughts and feelin’s a’whirlin and a’swirlin’ ’round my cranium to set them all to paper. Who the heck’s (don’t tell Mama!) got the time nor the wherewithall?
‘Course, Miss Meadow, down the school, she did put me up to it, and she did say she was a’countin’ on my par-ti-cipation in the exercise.
And Holy Heavenly Days, Lord knows I ain’t keen on disappointin’ Miss Meadow….
So here I am and reckon I ought t’ put the finishin’ touches on our midnight visit to A-dair County to retrieve big brother Lawrence from the bowels of the ju-dicial system lyin’ therein.
He talked his way out, like he’s wont to do. And Grandpap, well, he talked his way in. But then, if it don’t beat all, Lawrence, he talked Grandpap’s way out again, halleluhjah and praise be to Jesus! Ol’ Lawrence, he’s good fer somethin’ after all!
Sun was jest slippin’ up over the shadowed hills yonder past the town square where we was waitin’ on the front steps of the courthouse. Sleepy town wudn’t even stirrin’, even the judge and the sheriff and the state po-lice done said they goodbyes. We was only us still left. But we was all free, and glad of it.
I will admit to my stomach doin’ some odd complainin’ at its inattention.
That back home Daddy’d been summoned by yet another member of them what’s swore to perserve and pro-tect us, to haul hisself the three hours over to A-dair County in the middle of the night to save his kith and kin from whatever befell us, well, let’s jest say that there’s what family does. At least it’s shore what all us Goodwells does.
But time shore was a’marchin’ on by.
First time was spent a’churnin’ over Lawrence’s runnin’ off to join the army. At age sixteen. We give that a good long span of spittin’ and hollerin’ and stompin’.
When we run out o’gas on that topic, we started in on Judge Jacobs’mar, how wudn’t he somethin’, and how he took the Lord’s name in vain and him claimin’ Christianity in his soul. And how he threw hisself some kind of fit and throwed Grandpap down in the hoosegow his ownself.
This here spot’s where we opted to chose a new subject. Still right raw in Grandpap’s view, we knowed better’n to get him all het up all over a’gin.
Well, then we summoned up stories how Grandpap knew so and so and did sech and sech, and he ain’t never seen the like, and so on and so forthwith.
That was all some time ago. We run out of words. We run out of gumption. We was plumb runnin’ on empty. All we desired, all us Goodwells, was jest to get on back home, however long it look.
These stone steps a’leadin’ into them hallowed governmental chambers, well, they left something to be desired theyselves. Switched this a’way and that, leaned back on scraped elbows and Lawrence, he even laid clear down, flat o’his back. Wudn’t nothin’ comf-terble longer’n a minute ‘r two.
So when Grandpap hollered “Hey!” and pointed a crooked ol’ finger off down the road, we fair jumped out our britches! Them two lights fer off down the line, gettin’ brighter, why that was fer sure our Daddy come to save us and take us back to the land of milk and honey and Mama’s biscuits!
And fer sure, it was! Daddy pulled right up purty as you please to the steps , brakin’ that International pickup him and Grandpap traded fer some time back real hard, leapin’ from the inside ‘fore the ve-hicle near come to a complete stop!
They was huggin’ and back slappin’ to who laid a chunk, ’cause that’s what we Goodwells do when we got us somethin’ to celebrate. And right this here minute, we had us bushels to celebrate! Big brother Lawrence been saved from military prison fer enlistin’ as an under-ager, Grandpap been saved from prison his ownself fer mouthin’ off to a cranky and ornery judge, and me, I was celebratin’ this night o’horrors was past and we’d be on the road straight away.
It did take us some time to simmer down. We is Goodwells, after all. Well, finally, it ‘ppeared time to turn that pickup’s nose back home. Lawrence offered to drive us all, feelin’ contrite, as well he should. But given his recklessness is what got us in this per-dicament, and given he ain’t got no license to drive, well, we took us a quick vote and Grandpap, he was chose to take the wheel.
My heart was full, and I was singin’ quiet praises to our Good Lord on High, so when I swung the side door of the truck open, I near to fell down dead.
Ol’ Brother Wendzel, weasly evangelist been fer weeks bringin’ down glory in Revival down to the church, why there he sit, ugly mug a leerin’ from ear to weasly ear.
“Well, hey, there, Liam,” his low voice slid slippery and slick, “Been a whall since we seen you at church, boy. Where you been hidin’, Son?”
That this here is the feller who’d be stealin’ from the offerin’ basket, (I eavesdropped down to the Feed and Seed, so I am fer certain), that this here is the feller who’d be per-tendin’ to be holy and wise, that this here feller ‘ppeared to in-sin-uate hisself into the private and personal business of the Goodwells and show up with Daddy on this night of all nights, well, that there was the last straw what broke the back of the camel.
Time’d come. Time’d come.
I reckon the Good Lord done plopped this vexation in my lap and here I must draw the line and speak my piece to this feller per-tendin’ to be God’s man. Fixin’ to say my bit, I opened my mouth wide, vicious words of lamblast-ation linin’ up to be spoke, fists clenched and ears burnin’ like far.
Then what? big brother Lawrence, he give me a hard back shove, “Get on in, Liam, let’s get on down the line!” and I tumbled headlong into the truck, squooshed right up along side this here affrontation to my spiritual bein’. Four us fellers packed in tight, like baby chicks what come in the mail.
Well, I figured the Lord was a’speakin’ to my heart once again. I’d bide my time.
Time’d come. It would. Time’d come.
But it wudn’t now.
And that bullet what we’s s’posed to bite when we’s holdin’ back? Well, consider that bullet bit.
And it shore don’t taste like nothin’ but blue black metal.