“Great Day in the Mornin’!”
Hey. This here’s Liam. Liam Goodwell. Of the Denton County, Missouri Goodwells? Like to certain you all may’ve heard tell o’us. We got us kin nigh to ever’where!
And, law, we do have us a history these parts! But truth be tol’, my story this day takes a whit and spit of a di-version.
Fer this day? This here day?
Mama’s made her a Chocolate Cake!
Now lest I mislead the lot o’you, Mama’s known far an’ wide fer her Chocolate Cakes. She done won county fair ribbons like to paper her bedroom wall. That she’s papered her little closet hung with them dresses done with flour sacks and purty little flah-ers, well, at least she don’t hide them under a bushel, NO!
She’s whipped up Chocolate Cake with Sugar Roses. She’s erected Chocolate Cakes with skinny little layers and slathers of deep rich chocolate icing what grew so tall it leaned a tad, like that I-talian buildin’ over to where our boys is fightin’ fer Democracy and against the Devil’s heathenry. She’s built her Chocolate Cakes sprinkled all over with bitty coco-nut slivers like tiny rai’road ties.
I’ll admit I ain’t particular partial to coco-nut. One of them few thing’s I’m like to turn my nose up to, can smell it a mile away, cain’t he’p myself. Grandpap, but Daddy mostly, they’ll take umbrage and then take it right personal when one o’us kid’s shy away from not jest Mama’s cookin’, but anybody’s anytime. Includin’ some of them unknown dishes brung to the monthly potluck down to the church. (Some looks like pig slop, but if I was to utter them words, my skin’d be tanned, sure!)
“Eat what’s set before ye,” Daddy’ll say. And ever now and then, he’ll only need level them black-pool eyes to-wards the o-ffender. Don’t take us long to straighten up, I tell you what!
But this day, THIS day, Mama’s made her a Chocolate Cake with no bells nor whistles nor sugar flah’ers nor coco-nuts nor swooshes of purty designs. Jest a plain, ol’, delicious, heaven-sent, mouth-waterin’ three layers of luscious deep cocoa delight. Then, slathered in between and a’top and all-round comes next to ‘n inch of sweet billowin’ clouds of succulent, melt-in-yer-mouth icin’, to who laid a chunk!
So good? So ever-lovin’ good it makes you want t’reach right out and slap yer mama!
(That there? Now, don’t get yer dander up nor nothin’. That’s jest a sayin’ these parts, meanin’ whatever ’tis is so wholly and holy a-MAZ-in’, y’jest cain’t he’p but set up and take notice! Ain’t nobody in they right mind would ever do such a thing as a’slappin’ none o’they kin, specially not they mama, an’ ‘specially not one who bakes Chocolate Cake like MY Mama!)
Well, here’s how it happened. Grandpap and Daddy, they headed off early to market, ‘fore sunrise. Had a few head finished ration, made sale weight, and off they went to the sale down to Kansas City. Cattle prices was a premium down there, but the trip’s like to take all day and late into the blackened darkness of night.
So they ain’t near.
Linc, the oldest of we Goodwell children, he lit out after breakfast (an’ he ain’t likely to never miss hisself a meal!) down to the county fairgrounds. Hear tell, Judge McClintock, who ain’t a real judge but did study law over to Columbia and has his own office down to the Denton County Courthouse, well, he got him some wild ponies what may be showin’ up at the next rodeo. Brother Lincoln, he’d be there the whole day through, gaugin’ his ride and a’countin’ his prizes at the next doin’s.
So he ain’t near.
Big brother Lawrence, the biggest of we Goodwell children, him and his buddies, ‘long with Livvie who jest likes to sashay ’round Lawrence’s buddies, they had them a picnic planned down to the river. Lawrence, handsome and devil-may-care, he’s always bein’ invited to some shindig ‘r other. And Luce, she follered ‘long behind, seein’ she’s jest nosy.
So they ain’t near.
Little sister Loreen, she’s rode the Goodwell hand-me-down bicycle down to the library in town, a’helpin’ mean ol’ librarian Miss Crow sort child’erns books and such. She’s took a shine to Loreen. Reckon it’s since Loreen, she’ll wrap up some flah’ers in a wet rag and tell Miss Crow how she admires her collection.
So she ain’t near.
As fer Lawton and Louis, why, at aged seven, they jest don’t add up to a hillock o’beans. They’ll liable not to show up fer hours, pokin’ a stick in some hole down to the crick hour upon hour.
So they ain’t near, least I can tell.
So whilst I was a’doin’ my chores out to the barn, I all of a sudden smelt me the aroma o’ that Chocolate Cake a’burblin’ and a’bakin’ , waftin’ out the winders and driftin’ all the way to where I was pitchin’ hay. Well, and I kid you not, I hightailed it to the back porch right now!
Out o’ courtesy, I worshed my hands quick as a lick out to the pump, even stuck my head under the icy flow fer good measure, then took them back steps in a solitary leap and burst full on through the screen door.
And there she sat, purty as a picture, fresh from the oven and hardly cooled at all, three foot-wide rounds of purely heaven on earth. Mama stood off to the corner, a’stirrin’ a big ol’ bowl o’ that prize-winnin’ chocolate icin’, she’s known fer, little smile on her face.
I kin’ hardly breathe. The aroma’s doin’ somersaults in my head, and my mouth and my stomach, they’s screamin’ fer a piece!
Mama, she’s always said we was kinder-ed spirits, and she knows from the beginnin’ o’ my beginnin’ my preference is warm cake ‘fore the frostin’ commences.
That don’t always set well with the rest o’ the Goodwells when a piece goes missin’ ‘fore the frostin’ been slicked on, so it don’t happen too often.
But this day, THIS day! I’m all there is!
Could it be Mama’s done this here jest fer me?
Now. It ain’t my birthday. (That comes jest follerin’ Christmas. Ain’t never no big doin’s that day, seein’ it’s Jesus’ birthday time, too and he counts a heck o’lot more’n me, pardon my French.).
An’ I ain’t been particular good. Nor bad neither.
But when Mama widens her smile, bobs her head to-ward the fork a’restin’ solo on a paper napkin on the table, I reckon it’s jest because….
And that there? That’d be good enough f’me!
And reckon the rest o’ the Goodwells will be enjoyin’ themselves a two-layer cake ‘stead o’three!