This here’s Liam. Ag’in. An’ ag’in.
And this here is gettin’ powerful tiresome, this tale-tellin’. Fairly makes me relive all the troubles and tribulations we Goodwells been sufferin’ the last week ‘r so.
Well, really only the one.
Mama bein’ snakebit.
Mama bein’ snakebit by a devil of a ol’ nasty deadly copperhead.
An’ Mama bein’ comatose and unresponsive down to Doc Allen’s place the last three days.
Grandpap, he fair killed his ownself a tryin’ to suck that poison from the ankle spot where that rascal bit her. Couldn’t breathe and mouth swelled up so bad he couldn’t barely speak. An’ Daddy, he blames hisself fer not runnin’ to her aid when he heard her yelp in the chicken yard. Linc and Lawrence, they did their own part tryin’ to keep her comfortable ‘long the way, an’ we’re all a’doin’ our part , all us Goodwells, tryin’ to keep the farm a hummin’ and the livestock fed.
But it ain’t nothin’ like havin’ Mama here. Never knew she was the center sunshine an’ we was all the planets a’swirlin’ in circles ‘roun’ her.
Miss Meadow, down to the school, she taught us that last school year. Never figured I’d need the knowin’ but somehow it does apply.
Truth is, ever’ minute seems an hour. Or a day. Or a week. Daddy ain’t left her side, till today, that is. He drove up the lane not half hour ago, International so covered in dust wudn’t a speck o’the underneath red paint to be seen. When he got out, hat in hand, his face was the same, no color nowhere to be seen, just dusty and sad.
Slappin’ his hat on his thigh, he run his hand through his black hair, and he caught me a’lookin’, almost acted surprised, but then, not.
“Hey there, Son,”
“Been a long day.”
I shore wanted to run up, give him a big ol’ hug, like when I was five or ten or twelve. But these thirteen years held me back some, and the moment got away from us, and he ambled, shoulders slumped and feet draggin’, up the back steps up to the porch, and into the lonely empty kitchen. I stayed put under the shade tree out to the yard.
Afternoons can go on f’rever. When it’s hot an’ dusty dry, the stillness makes it even worse. Dogs even mopin’ and sad. Chores needin’ doin’ was done, those not needin’ doin’ wudn’t. Couldn’t none o’us get our thoughts aimed towards nothin’ but Mama. Ol’ Doc Allen, he come up to the house once or twice, fillin’ us in on her condition. He let us even go down to see her, all us kids at the same time. Somethin’ ’bout surroundin’ her bed, her all purty an’ still, hair combed jest so by Doc Allen’s wife Mrs. Allen, white sheets and white covers and white flowers on the bedside table, she seemed near peaceful.
Doc said, all the swellin’ was near gone, an’ the poison mostly dispersed, as well. Her heart seemed sound , said he, and the mottlin’ ‘roun’ the wound was near invisible. I heard him talkin’ low in Grandpap’s ear how he wudn’t quite certain why she hadn’t woke up, though, it was a dilemma. When he shook his head, I quick looked t’other way, fearful what would come next.
Well, here I set, nothin’ but nothin’ to be done, else I’d be doin’ it. I could feel that jumblin’ rumblin’ feelin’ a growin’ in my belly, though. Somethin’ was comin’.
Luce plopped her rangy self down beside me underneath the tree where I set.
That wudn’t it, but it’d do.
Nice to have the comp’ny.
“Reckon he’s hungry?”
“Loreen and Livie’s got it.”
“Scares me a little.”
An’ so we set, me ‘n Luce. Sun didn’t move. Wind didn’t blow. Didn’t no trucks nor horses nor wagons nor bicycles nor mangy beasts pass by down to the road.
So we jest set.
Just then, Luce stirred.
At the same time, me too.
“Reckon we oughtta….?”
“Oughtta go? Right now!”
An’ that there, that was that! We tore out like a screamin’ pair o’ wild Whirlin’ Dervishes! We whipped up our own breeze hightailin’ it to the barn, startled ol’ Buck from his afternoon respose in his stall. I grabbed me a harness and sweet-talked him into lettin’ me slide his bit into his stubborn mouth, and Luce, she tossed a ol’ blanket cross his wide back.
We burst out that barn like a house a’fire!
Somethin’ tol’ us both our Mama, she needed us! Felt near like she was a callin’ to us! Right now!
An’ even with me an’ Luce upon his back, ol’ Buck, I’ll coulda swore (if I was to swear, don’t tell Mama!) he was next to flyin’!
We’re a comin’, Mama! We’re a’comin’!