To: Who It May Concern
From: Punkett Boyle, fourteen years
Been avoiding Liam fer some days now, nigh on a week ‘r more. He been leavin’ notes reg’lar on the front screen, but I been abscondin’ wid ’em ‘fore Mama see ’em.
And ‘fore Daddy.
I been savin’ ’em, though, tucked in my hidey-hole ‘hind my sleepin’ blankets, out to the back porch. Hard tell when I may need rememberin’ I got me a frien’.
These here couple weeks, been ’bout that long Daddy, my own daddy, he been back. He been sleepin’ on the ol’ saggin’ di-van in Mama’s front room. He cleaned up and sweeped all them glass shards o’ Mama’s keepsakes. He cry some, he plead some, he ain’t had him a drop, so he claim. And I ain’t smelt nothin’.
So Mama let him stay.
Say Christian woman she is, she obligated to forgive.
I’d o’run him off, he don’t mean nothin’ to me. Mama forget he hurt me real bad. Scabbin’ jest now peelin’ off, blue and green on my face and neck and arms and middle ’bout faded, but my nose still swole and cain’t breathe me any air through it ‘thout it poppin’ and cracklin’.
‘Course, that there may be why I ain’t smelt no drink on Daddy’s person. Cain’t smell nothin’ no more to begin with.
And he ain’t mess wid me since that first day.
Time, it does pass, and I be hopin’ so, too, will Daddy. Jest ’cause I got his blood don’t mean I got his stock. Lookin’ deep in his creased and saggin’ face when he’s snorin’ on that di-van most afternoons, I shore don’t see no resemblence none.
An’ if I was a believer like Mama, I’d be shoutin’ Hallelujah.
But I ain’t, so I’m not.
But I stop short o’cursin’ him, jest in case.
I been layin’ low, be it known. I shore ain’t aimin’ to cause no trouble, so I jest go ’bout my business elsewhere, fa’ as I kin git from our little two room shack. Ol’ Lucky, cowboy down to the garage south o’town, big ol’ hat, big ol’ belt buckle, and big ol’ chaw side his cheek, he let me clean the grease pits, long as I stay out o’sight. Give me somethin’ to do. Give me some spendin’ money fer plunkin’ in my hidey-hole. Give me time t’sort my thinkin’. Give me time to count. Reached me 457 nails ‘long the back wall ‘fore Lucky me send me on my way.
But my thinkin’, that there’s why I’m puttin’ this down to paper. Sortin’ alone in my head don’t always make it clear.
See here, my idee, from long ‘s I kin recollect, I felt me some sadness when I see’d little chil’ren, or dogs, get beat. Not jest fer the beatin’. The hurt is bad enough. But that they ain’t got no idee’ why ‘r what for they been gettin’ beat, that’s the thing.
It was them not knowin’ nor understandin’ what distressed my heart.
But now, now I got me a diff’rnt idee. Them youngin’s, and them dogs, they ain’t got no idee and that there’s what in-solates them from the inside hurt. Just like they wet when it rain and be dry when it don’t, with a beatin’ they hurt on the outside and when they don’t get beat, they don’t. Either way, they got no idee of the why, nor don’t even give them a care, so they don’t hurt none on they insides with the thinkin’ and ponderin’ and wonderin’.
Jest a’rollin’ wid the punches, they do, (an’ I shore don’t mean that to make no amusements) n’then they goes on.
But me, Punkett Boyle, well, I ain’t one o’ them chil’ren, nor one o’them dogs. And me, I hurt plenty bad on the outside, let me tell you. Felt me pain like I ain’t felt never in my life, deep down as fer as my bones and them some.
But what grieves me the most is the powe’ful pain I got me on the inside where they ain’t no bone nor marro’, wonderin’ jest what I done, or what I will do, or when I’m like to have me another go’roun’. This my Daddy we talkin’ ’bout here.
Them little chil’ren, them dogs? They got it easy. It rain, they get wet. They get beat, they hurt some, then forget.
Me, I ‘llow I will not be forgettin’ any time soon.
Got me no forgiveness in my heart, not fer Daddy,’n not too much fer Mama.
She hurt my heart the worse of all.