(Ain’t no paper, ain’t no pen, jest me, Punk Bole ‘memberin’ this in my head for later, when later does come….)
Dang, i’s dark out here. Pitch. No stars, no moon, no beacon nowheres ‘t’all.
Trussed up like a stuck hog, wrists to ankles, tossed back o’ some ol’ pickup truck smell’s o’ manure, bounced over ever’ pothole n’ mud pit n’ burrow n’ trench n’ cavity ‘n crater till I got no feelin’s whatsoever lef’ in my backside, much less my fingers ‘r toes.
For Daddy, he come foun’ me. Took my eye off the ball, ‘t’s what Liam’d circumcise. I’d plumb settled in, got me engaged and settled with the Goodwells, n’ was actu’lly not payin’ no ‘ttention what was over my shoulder.
Gettin’ up ever’ mornin’, like reg’lar folk.
Doin’ my part with the chores needin’ doin’ ‘roun’ the place, then settin’ right there with the Goodwells for breakfast near’ ever’ mornin’.
Kneelin’ down to pray, holdin’ hands and squeezin’ our eyes tight, like the Goodwells are wont to do ever’ mornin’ ‘fore dispersin’. Liam’s Grandpap has hisself a way with talkin’ to God, let me tell you. Reckon even God hisself pays attention to what Liam’s Grandpap has to say.
Didn’t nobody send me to the schoolhouse, figured I’d be safe from harm stayin’ put on the farm, but things was quiet, I’d settle in to them books and papers Liam’d stick in a burlap sack and tote on back fer me. Readin’ got right better, writin’ some, too. Never did get me a challenge when it come to numbers, but I made up problems my ownself, like figurin’ the kernels o’corn out to the field, then sortin’ the ‘mount of fertilizin’ it’d take to grow them ears to a proper size, and what percent o’growth to ax-pec’.
Parsin’ like that. Liam’s Daddy was particular impressed.
Once the family was all in once piece a’gin, come evein’, we’ll all haul ourselves back out and set to more chores, or jest shoot the breeze, which ain’t all bad.
Dinner’d come and go. Didn’t once did we ever have us beans from a can, like I been used t’. Nor Vienna sausages from a can. Nor corn, nor beets, nor okra from no can. Goodwell dinin’ was a plumb joy, a plumb joy.
Fam’ly’d then set t’ settin’ ‘roun’ the special livin’ room and share stores, old ones and new, Goodwell chil’ren tossed all over the place. Why, they’d once or twice asked me to share a thing ‘r two, and once or twice, I did.
Then Liam’s Grandpap, he’d stretch real long and loud, endin’ with “Mercy!” Then he’d hoist hisself from his creakin’ bentwood rockin’ chair. ‘Twas the same signal ever’ night. Time t’ retire, which was my fav’rite, near. Them sof’ blankets and quilts Liam’s mama give me that first night, what, two or three or four weeks ago now? They become like ol’ frien’s, smellin’ like me, and wadded up jest the way I like ’em. I’d lay down careful, take me inventory o’ all my parts. First, my legs and feet, they’d set to twitchin’, then they’d get heavy and tired. Then my middle and my shoulders, they’d push hard down into the covers, ‘long with my arms, then my head. Feelin’ like I was heavier than a couple bushel o’ dry grits, but at the same time, light as them puffs o’air comin’ from Liam’s brother Lincoln sleep breathin’.
I never in my life felt more at ease.
I never in my life was such a fool.
How he done it, I don’t know and I ain’t aimin’ to ask, but he stole hisself into the leanto we boys slept in, quiet as a church mouse. Hand pushed hard over my mouth and nose, I couldn’t breathe no how, not one suck in nor suck out. LIke a sack o’ taters, Daddy, he wisked me out the back door, silent, not a footfall, not a breath, run me all the way down the lane, stuff some ol’ rag plumb down my throat, then tie me up and toss me back o’ this truck.
I tried hard to look in his eyes durin’ all this turmoil, determine my likelihood of livin’ ‘r dyin’. He never once, not once, look me full on in the face. I be countin’ my blessin’s, ‘spite my pains and jostlin’ back here, I ain’t bein’ bullied nor beat. He ain’t belted me one, not yet.
But we been drivin’ fer what seem like ages and hours, and I’m feelin’ my chances o’ comin’ out unscathed slidin’ some’eres ‘tween slim ‘n none.
I be leanin’ toward none.
The truck, we be comin’ to a stop.
Best play possum till I sorts this thing out.