Liam Goodwell, here! Of the Denton County Goodwells?
Reckon you be chewin’ on jest where Ol’ Liam’s been these here last couple o’days!
Well, I ain’t been lollagagging nor morosin’ underneath some Weepin’ Willer, I tell you what, though cause and e-fect may aim one’s thinkin’ that di-rection.
See, Mama, my very own ever-lovin’, purty as a picture, stubborn as a Missouri mule, smart as a dingdong whippersnapper Mama, she come down puny. Plumb poor. Now, my Mama, she don’t get sick. She always been the one goin’ off to minister to the sick, or the weak and heavy laden. But law if yesterdee mornin’ she didn’t lay down her ladle gentle as you please atop the hot stove, bend herself plumb in half, and squeak out Daddy’s way, “Honey, I think I’m sicker’n a dog…”
Then what, hey? Durned if she didn’t right then and there, collapse in a heap o’crinoline and cotton on the fresh mopped kitchen floor!
Stopped in it’s tracks, time did.
Luce, first to move, first to assess what all us others was too froze to do, she near leaped the kitchen table, barely clearin’ the first heap of yeller scrambled eggs Mama’d been shuttlin’ to we her starvin’ family. Snitchin’ a dirty worshrag from ‘longside the sink midflight, that girl knelt sweet-like and wiped Mama’s face till the rest o’us woke up.
You ever hear Luce bein’ kind and lovin’? Me, neither!
Well, woke up we did, says I. We Goodwells, we got into action. Daddy, he lifted Mama, easy as pie, and carried her out the back porch, lettin’ the patched screendoor slam behind him.
Mama’d have a fit, were she to know.
Livvie and Loreen, they run to the big ol’ wood hope chest at the end o’ Mama’n Daddy’s bed, grabbin’ arm loads o’ Grandmama’s ancient quilts, fair sprintin’ to the International pickup to lay them in the truckbed.
Grandpap never once flinched, fer’s I could see.
Grandmama’d gone to Glory some time long ago, you see. Grandpap, lovin’ her to dis-traction, kept him a keen eye on her memory, and her belongin’s. We learnt long ago there was lines we did not cross.
They was no lines this day.
Lincoln and Lawrence, them two, they dashed out to the gray slatted cattywhomp barn, returnin’ with a big red gas can, sloshing and wet, for contingencies, and the keys and some hay to further soften up Mama’s ride. Leapin’ up to the truckbed, they sorted them quilts and fluffed that hay, and gentle and soft as cuddlin’ a babe, they give a hand to Daddy and settled Mama, cushed and pro-tected up there. Daddy, he jumped up ‘side her. Me, I run to the seat and turned the motor. Caught first time. I wrenched her int’ gear when the twins, them ornery, wretched trouble times two little brothers come racing out the back door, Grandpap got near run over.
An’ slamming that screen door again. Poor Mama.
“Look here, look here!” That’d be Lawton.
“Look a’here! Look what I got!” That’d been Lewis.
And Lord have mercy and bless my soul if he wudn’t a swingin’ a freshly dead copperhead snake carcass up ‘roun’ his head!
“Grandpap, look! I kilt it! Smashed one o’them heat bricks from ‘side the stove, smashed his head in!”
Never was right sure ’twas Lawton or Lewis what done the killin’
Never much cared. I floored that ol’ beast and busted, dust flyin’ an’d gravel sprayin’ like shrapnel, haulin’ fur flyin’ to Doc Allen down to town.
Mama’d been bit.