These here is the honest and true stories of me and mine, me bein’ Liam Goodwell, jest fresh thirteen and the third proud son of the Denton County Goodwells.
No doubt you heard o’us.
Well, now, I’m here to share an enlightenment from my day. Ain’t ever’ day I get light beamed down into my soul, pure golden sunshine sent down from the God’s Heaven, but this day, I shore found myself a’planted right smack dab in the middle o’one o’them lights. All warm and comfortin’ be the colors of the sky and the pasture and ol’ Bessie the milk cow staring and a’chewin’ her cud all soft and fuzzy. Like one o’them flannelgraphs from Sunday School lessons.
Why, I’d lay certain I had me a vision, as pure and as real as I be puttin’ pen to Big Chief tablet.
An’ now I got me some work to do.
Here’s how it went. There I was out to the ol’ gray barn, tuckin’ and tossin’ hay an’ oats into the horse stalls, one o’my after-school chores, and one I don’t half mind, no sir. Horses, our horses partic’lar, we got us a language. I understand them, and more than that there, they understand me. I ain’t their buddy, no, the Lord God made us two-leggers dominant over the fours, but I ain’t no threat neither. Mutual respec’, as it were. Way I see it, they be put on this earth to be a help and a helpin’ hand, be it pullin’ the plow when the tractor needs o’l (which is too durned often), or when we need a ride down to town, or when we jest need us a kind listenin’ ear. We got us an understandin’, we do. An’ judgin’ from their ex-pressions, I reckon they figger they’s in charge jest as much as I. Way they see it, I was put on this earth to supply them food and shelter and kindness. They gives us back frien’ship and strong backs. Long as I toss ’em they feed, brush down their coats and wipe the foamy sweat from their backs after a long ride, why, they opt to cooperate.
An’ like I said, they like to think the same ’bout me.
Like I said, we got us an understandin’. Either way, fine by me.
Well, however we see it, it’s an enjoyable chore, one I can fair do with my eyes squished shut, so off I went ’bout my business, not even notin’, not even hearin’ I was a hummin’, then a’singin’, then fair to shoutin’! Tex and Buck, the two big bays, they give me a glassy eye, both of ’em, and they durned if they didn’t nod they heads to my melody, and well, Lord, I jest couldn’t stop!
I crooned me some o’ that Sinatra feller, I belted me some Billy Holiday, I sang melody and harmony both on some Grand Ol’ Opry favorites. I’ll tell you what, THAT there, that ain’t easy!
Tell the truth, since my voice ceased and terminated it’s cracklin’ and cacklin’, not only could I reach them high notes way up past high C, why, I could dig down deep and get them low ones hoverin’ down by low C, as well. I foun’ myself consumed with joy!
And the horses, well, they seemed to like it, too. Didn’t hear no complaints.
Well, there I was, trillin’ and findin’ my vi-brato, swayin’ and sashayin’ and raisin’ my hands, singin’ ever’ verse and ever’ chorus to durned near ever’ song, I ever did know! No tellin’ HOW long I tripped and jiggled to my own melody-makin’. Had me a pitchfork handle fer a micro-phone, had me livestock fer an audience.
That then, though, then’s when, lo and behold, what to my surprise, jest after wailin’ a particular rousin’ solo rendition o’ Chattanooga ChooChoo, punctuatin’ the endin’ with a jiggity smack, I hear me, what was that? A little girly gasp, follered by a delicate llittle polite handclappin’.
I plumb froze, pitchfork microphone flung out in my outstretched arm, back to the barn door.
Who? Was it Luce? Well, nothin’ delicate ’bout her. Livvie? She was like to be at the library down to town. Loreen? Nah, she’d be pickin’ flowers ‘r climbin’ up some tree savin’ a baby bird somewheres.
“Why Liam, that was just, just wonderful!”
Have mercy on my soul. And please, Lord Jesus, send down yer Heavenly hosts and snatch me back up right now.
I lowered my microphone before turnin’, “Well, hey, Miss Meadow.”
It was Miss Meadow, from down to the school.
She strode right up to me, near eyeball to eyeball, “Why Liam Goodwell, I never once knew you could sing!”
I’ll admit to a little blushin’ an’ a mite unccomfortableness in my belly.
Lookin’ for an escape, I wiped my brow with the back o’my sleeve, prickly with hay.
“Well, It’s jest somethin’ I do out here to the barn. Horses seem not to mind none,” Humor did not, not one iota, ease my unease.
But Miss Meadow, she’s a fine one and didn’t leave me to suffer too awful long.
“Well, Liam, you do have yourself a fine voice. Like a gift to the world, you need to use it. You near brought down heaven to my ears!”
Now Miss Meadow, she don’t never, not never ever, say somethin’ she don’t completely mean. And that then, that then’s when the light come down from Heaven and plumb bathe me in it’s glitterin’ glory.
God up in Heaven, He wants me to sing his praises! I got me my callin’! Right then and there in the faded gray barn with Miss Meadow and Tex and Buck in attendance, I heard down from the good Lord jest where he was a’leadin’ me!
Hallelujah and praise be! Felt that glow, felt that beam, knew my callin’d been laid upon me! Me and Miss Meadow. I was seein’ the future and it was pleasin’!
Miss Meadow, she fair to glowed, punctuatin’ the moment with, “And, Liam, we’ve got us a barn dance comin’ up this weekend, and the planning committee would surely appreciate you comin’ down and singin’ some of your swingin’ tunes!”
That there, well, that was a little bit of a comin’ back down to earth. Shore wudn’t singin’ the Lord’s praises like some stylin’ traveling evangelist.
But law, if Miss Meadow believed in me, I was willin’ to begin with a barn dance. Could be God’s plan jest as easy as Miss Meadow’s.
I give her a meek smile, and she give me a pat on the shoulder, then she swept herself through the double barn doors and marched off to see Mama , tossin’ somethin’ back ’bout needin’ pies or somethin’ for the dance.
The Lord had spoke to me clear, that I was certain.
And on a’top o’that, I was smit.