To: Who it May Concern
From: Punk Bole
Been nea’ a week I been livin’ with the Goodwells out to the edge o’ Halesburg. They been treatin’ me well, hardly asked hardly any questions, but I’ll admit, after a good meal and some quiet time, I offered up my own explanations to why I was so bruised and cut up that very first night.
Didn’t tell them the full extent. Tol’ them the truth, jest not the whole of it. They all, even the chil’ren, they all jest nodded and harumphed and the girls, they even wiped them a tear ‘r two.
Now, I don’t merit no pity, let me be clea’. I stood up fer m’se’f, didn’t always take Daddy’s vi’lence lyin’ down. Makin’ it worse on m’se’f was a decision o’ my own makin’. Somehow, though, it give me some equanimity.
Learnt that word from Liam jest this day. Mean’s “fair ‘n squa’e” and bein’ it rolls ‘roun’ the tongue right nice, I aim to use it of’en.
I’d come to these Goodwells late of an evenin’, but ‘stead of parkin’ me out to the barn, cushed up in the soft hay, hearin’ the snorts and snores of them horses inside and them cattle out, (which that there wouldn’t be the worse thing ever happened to me), that Mama o’ thern, she push by me whist I was eatin’ my fill o’ biscuits and cold fried chicken at the table, loaded to her nose with blankets and down. Her and her man, Liam’s daddy, they piled me down a pallet in the boys’ leanto, off to the edge of the front room.
I stick to the edge, near a em’ty corner, don’t want to be stepped upon nor in the way. But shore ‘cain’t say I ever been treated more like a king, or at least a prince o’ some sort.
Well, that there may be some exaggeratin’, seein’ as I ain’t certain how kings and princes, they be treated. But maybe they jest be treatin’ me with “equanimity.” ( I’d write me in there a smile, if I knowed how.)
Well, I been beddin’ down there comin’ up on a week how, an’ still, they ain’t condemn me, not once.
‘Pears I be jes’ part o’ the passel.
Now Liam, he been pressin’ and pushin’, get me down to the schoolhouse. Say Miss Meadow, that real nice teacher, she’d do me a worl’ o’ good. But I ain’t ready for that, not by half. Run off last time by them pasty fat white fellers, I’m pleased to hunker down right here fer the time bein’.
‘Course then, Liam, he lug hissel’f home as many books he can tote, an’ copies problems from the front board, makin’ me do near a whole day o’ schoolin’ come afternoon. The readin’ and writin’ and stories from long ago, they hang me up proper. But give me them numbers problems, and I scare m’se’f with the speed to which I can complete them.
Liam, he jest whistle and grin. And try to find me harder challenges.
I jest push him on the shoulder and tell him to go an’ try. Jest go an’ try!
Now, I make m’se’f useful roun’ here. I been he’pin’ with the chores, find I got me a way with them horses and the dogs, they all love me all to pieces, folleri’ me ever’where. Livvie, the purty one, she call me Mr. Pied Piper, whomever that feller is. The ol’ houn’ name Buford, he try to sneak in and sleep ‘side me on my pallet, but Liam’s mama, she shoo him out.
She don’t shoo me out, though. I am grateful, but the words do come hard.
I ain’t been off the land once, not once, since I come. An’ I feel certain to my bones ain’t none o’ them Goodwells plannin’ on tellin’ no body. They been treatin’ me not like a guest, but one o’them, which wouldn’t be to the likin’ o’ some ‘roun’ here. Jes’ yeste’day, even the stony one called Luce, she even push me out har out the way, she see me snitchin’ a warm cookie from the oven. They what she do? She go an’ she snitch it her ownse’f. Wouldn’t do that to no comp’ny, but to a almos’ member of the fam’ly, shore.
Got to say, that moment warm my heart, ’bout to weepin’. I ain’t clouded up in some time. I like that girl. She got beans.
I will not be takin’ ad-vantage of they hospitality much longer, howeve’. I fear my own Daddy, he been sniffin’ ‘roun’ from what I overhear Liam’s daddy and Grandpap heart-to-heartin’, an’ I fear he come to fin’ me, puttin’ the Goodwells in some kin’ o’fix. Cain’t put them in no pre-dicament, no how. They been faithful frien’s to me, an’ me bein’ undeservin’. Been doin’ nothin’ but considerin’ me like a real person and not a pushin’ nor a’askin’, jest lettin’ me eat and heal and settle.
But they comes a time, and I feel it breathin’ hard on my back. Time I was gettin’ on.
Got to get to makin’ me some plans.
For like to not be any frien’s he’pin’ me where I’m goin’.