Let ‘er Rip!

These here are the true tales of the kith and kin of generations upon generations of Denton County Goodwells, of whom I am the third son of this here generation of the same.  Liam Elias Ephriam Goodwell, freshly turned thirteen years of age, I am longin’ like the dickens (Pardon my French.  And don’t tell Mama!) this here war in Europe, and even the one over to Japan, don’t finish up till I’m able to do my part.

That don’t sound quite right, does it….still, this here worldwide con-flag-ration is a durned sight easier to parse ‘tween the good fellers and the bad, a mite easier than the durned War Between States we be fightin’ and arguin’ since time memorial at ever durned Sunday social!  Got us cousins and kin on both sides o’that battle, and it don’t show much sign of abatin’, I tell you what!

Now, when Miss Meadow, down to the school, when she coralled me int’ documentin’ my thoughts and daily happenin’s (she always says I have me a way with the tellin’ of a story), I’ll ‘llow she never thought once it’d grow to such monu-mountainous heights.  Filled me three Big Chiefs jest since school let out last Spring, and we ain’t even due back fer weeks yet!

Reckon she’ll be pleased.

I do hope she’ll be pleased.

Well, this day, I got me a dilemma.  It goes like this:

They be skills, and they be plain ol’ gifts.  Now, I fall on the side o’skills, bein’ with hard work and de-terminations they can be wrought and discharged in a satisfyin’ manner.   It’s them gifts what have be addled.

Look here.  Take Mama.  Plays the pi-anner ever Sunday morning for service and Wednesday night’s, too.  She makes them chipped ivory keys fairly dance on them Gospel songs, and makes them fairly weep durin’ the Hymns.  An’ all that without never havin’ no lessons, no teachers, no music, ‘cept what spins ’round in that curly auburn head o’ hers.

Did I never mention my Mama, she was once known as the purtiest girl in Denton County, fairly all o’ Northern Missour-uh?  She’d still qualify, I reckon.  My mama is a looker, and I don’t even think she knows it.  Makes her all the purtier, to my mind.  And Daddy, he’s right proud.

Well, now take my littler sister Loreen.  She’s ten years old, head and nose and fingertips always in some book’r other.  Well, that girl made her the mistake some time back of askin’ Mama, once upon a time, if she her ownself could learn her to play the pi-anner?  Now Mama, she knew ain’t no way she herself could do such a thing, cain’t teach no gift.  But now somebody with skills, that there could be done, sure.  So she got her ladies group together, who then got they heads together and found Miss Loveral Bean of Halesburg, she had herself a niece what went to a music teacher one summer over to St. Joe.

She’ll do, exclaimed Mama, and durned if the Sunday School pi-anner what lived in the cellar of the Pentecostal Holiness Tabernacle didn’t find its way to our back porch, and durned if that niece of Miss Loveral Bean’s, ol’ whats’er’name, durned if she didn’t show up ever Saturday morning and teach Loreen a thing or two.  Still to this day does.  That Loreen plunks away, staccatoin’ and legatoin’ fer her regulatory thirty minutes each and ever’ day, well it goes to prove some got the gift, some got the skill, and some ain’t got no hope a’tall.

We don’t mention, bein’ closest in temperament and kindred spirit to my Mama, I got some of that music in my own head.  Loreen might cry.

And look here.  Take my biggest brother Lincoln, who reigns oldest and who claims wisest.  Linc, he’s built wiry and strong, ‘lot like Daddy.  An’ like our Daddy, he got him some special gift with the horseflesh we trade fer and raise.  Linc, he can tame the wildest, wiliest, wiggliest, wildcat of a beast known to man.  He don’t take no guff, not one iota.  He’ll look them eyeball to eyeball, darin’ that creature to do him harm, then durned if he don’t go off and leap, no saddle, no saddle blanket, no nothin’, up to the back o’that walleyed rascal and ride him till that beast, he fair wants hisself to be rid!

Linc, he got hisself a topdrawer full o’silver buckles from his forays into the county rodeo.  And Daddy, he’s right proud.  Here his oldest is follerin’ in his very own footsteps.  Daddy, he was a champeen hisself in his day.  Linc, he wants to quit his last year o’ high school and hit the circuit, don’t see no future in learnin’, but as burstin’ with pride as he his, Daddy put his foot down there.  Linc’ll have to bide his time till he graduates from high school clear next spring.  Linc, he ain’t hep on that, I tell you what, but he does know bettern’ to cross our Daddy.

I’ll ‘llow I got my own way with horses.  Mine leans more to-ward understandin’ than conquerin’.  That there’s where me and Linc part ways.

And look here, and here’s where-to-for my dilemma, it lies.  ‘Thout soundin’ braggi-do-si-do, I got me my own fair number o’gifts.  I see things clear, I speak my mind and most listens, I got me a fastball don’t nobody can hit, ‘cept sister Luce.  Folks cain look my way and don’t throw up.  I can sing fair and clear, and even with this new changin’ goin’ on in my vocal chorus, I got me even more notes on the low end I can hit more’n not.  Folks say I’m smart as a whip, and true, schoolin’ does come easy.

But there’s this girl, Juanita Suzette somethin’ r’other, her own daddy, he was some judge or sheriff or something up to May County up near the Ioway border, she’n her family jest moved onto the ol’ Stonemiller place.  A purty thing in her own right, she done took a likin’ to me.  And well, me to her, it ‘ppears.  Sunday mornin’ last, jest after the final altar call and the singin’ of the Doxology, I foun’ her waitin’ at the bottom of the cement gravel and limestone stairs ,built and rebuilt by them same generations of Denton County Goodwells,  presentin’ herself  all sunlit and curly-headed and smellin’ of sweet honey.


“Liam,” she sang my voice so’s I sounded like an angel in God’s own heaven.  I secretly plead with the Lord she’d deign t’say it ag’in.

“Liam,” Lord answers prayers, He does!  I’m smit.

“My Daddy, he got me a bran’ new sketchin’ book, two as a matter of fact.  I was wonderin’ if later’n the week, you’d min’ takin’ me to some place real pleasant so’s I can draw him a picture?  I don’t know me many places what are purty ‘nough to draw.”  Then she batted them eyes, what color are they?  Cain’t be rainbow, can they?

Gol’ dang, you bet I will! (Pardon my thinkin’ in French.  An’ don’t tell Mama!)

..cough…”Why shore, I’d be happy to, Juanita Suzette, why shore!”


And therein lies my troubles.  I ain’t got no gift, I ain’t got no skills, not a sniff o’neither one.  Can’t paint, nor draw worth a lick, nor a plug nickel neither.  I’ll embarrass myself, for sure, and Lord, Lord, we cain’t have that!  Not if I’m escortin’ Miss Juanita Suzette Somethin’ r’other!


“Liam?”  I snapped to, right now.  “Liam?  Oils or pastels?  Which do you prefer?  My daddy, he got me both.”

Don’t right know the dif’urnce, thought I, gettin’ lost once more in that sugarpie voice.

“Don’t right care,” said I, with a cool cat flip o’my hand,  then I quick-like filed me away a thought.  Fin’ me a teacher, forthwith!  I got to be gettin’ me some drawin’ skill right now, r’ at least before “later in the week!”


For I’m a goin’ sketchin’ with Juanita Suzette Somethin’ r’other!



“One For the Money, Two For the Show….”

..Three to get ready, now, go, Cat, go!!!

Goals are like rules, meant to be agonized over and pondered and parsed and pummeled and pounded and discarded and then, darn it, plucked right back out of the bin and dusted off for a rethink!


So let’s get after it!


One for the Money!  Practically, Blogging gets me in the game and having folks not just read, but critique and think and offer their own thoughts, and even head down their own new paths, well, that’s the best sort of currency (albeit, maybe more of a barter system…!)  Comments (good or bad or offhand) are my way of keeping score!  As for a concrete amount, I’m flummoxed, as clearly, some (again, good or bad or offhand) have way more value than others…..and THAT depends on the day!


Two for the Show!  Using the format and clever prompts so graciously served up by the Happiness crew, my aim is to play with words, play with style, and be satisfied I crafted something worthy of carrying forward.  So practically, I aim to write five days weekly, produce a piece of a puzzle or a complete picture.


Three to get Ready!  Moments abound.  Ripe and ready for the picking, and poised for the telling.   The prompts decide which story to tell, but that weird bubbly feeling in my belly tells me I’m flush with a few!





(Decided my Blog Title this go’round is “Let ‘er Rip!”  Who knows WHERE that will take us?!)



Belles and Whistles (Pobre Tomat)










“Don’t Set Under the Apple Tree With Nobody Else but Me”

Ain’t seen hide or hair nor a whiff of a sniff of Liam all afternoon.  Blindsided by the horses loosin’ themselves from the pasture, he skedaddled right now, leaving these folded up sheets of Big Chiefs tucked under his plate when he jumped to it from the noonday meal.  Mama didn’t bat an eye when I slid them into my dungaree pocket whist I helped her clear.  She knows all about my tendency to “collect” odds and ends.  She also knows about the certainty I return them all once I’ve investigated and perused them.

So she didn’t give me no nevermind.

Now, all us kids know Miss Meadow, our young and glamorous and just a little too shiny teacher from the Raymore School, a white-washed, one-room, crowded little building snuggled in an elbow of  Mill Creek.  We all know she has high hopes for him, like bein’ a judge or a business man or a general, challenging him to write down his thoughts every single day.   We all know she’s partial to Liam, smart as whip, he is, clever, too, and quiet-like, and everybody’s friend.  We’re all, all us kids, partial to Liam.  Not a lick o’nonsense or cruelty or avarice or low-minded skunkiness in him whatsoever.  He speaks clear and true and is honest as the day is long.  Me and him and our cousin Marie-France Mickelwait, we always call ourselves the Three Musketeers and share and share alike, thusly.

All us kids, we go to the Raymore School.  Even Daddy, he went there.  I think Grandpap helped build it away back in the olden days.  Mama, she grew up on the other side of town.  They had their own school, but it burnt down some time back.

So all us Goodwells, we’re well acquainted with Raymore School, visitin’ on a daily basis.   Well, excepting Livvie and Lincoln and Lawrence.  They take the truck half an hour to Os-burn to the high school there.  They come home of an afternoon all decorated in orange and black and hollerin’ “Tigers!” most days.

I surely cannot wait until my turn comes.  I’ve been labeled, and rightly so, I suppose, as the mean-spirited desperado of the Goodwell family.  Smiles don’t come easily for me, nor do kind words.  Nor do friends or birthday parties or all-round happy days.  My jumping off place, my changing of the tide, comes in a year or so,  when I aim to pile in the ol’ truck with the big kids, singin’ and smilin’ and wearin’ pretty dresses and plantin’ Victory gardens with the spirit squad and shoutin’ “Go Tigers” to one and all.

My name’s Luce.  Luce Goodwell.  Lucille Madeline Mickelwait Goodwell.  I’m older by one year of dear brother Liam, on whose tablet paper I am documenting this.  I will swear him to secrecy, and vow to break his pitchin’ arm if he spills one word.

I have faith in Liam, and trust him to the ends of eternity.  But secrets, we all got ’em.  (We, us three, we got a big German one hid out the other side of the bridge and then some.)  And these secrets, well,  I’m trusting Liam, and you, with mine.


Best I haul on out and help with them horses.  Daylight’s a’wastin’.




“Don’t Set Under the Apple Tree With Nobody Else But Me”

He ain’t bein’ mistreated, I seen to that.

Cousin Marie-France, she ain’t got it in her, though once she’s a daydreamin’, she be plumb lost to this world and fully stepped in the that.   But now Luce, she is a whole ‘nother case in entirety.  That she got into this here sit-ia-tion, well, I got to keep my eyes peeled!  I made her swear (and Lord help me if Mama finds out! She’d like t’tan my hide!), she ain’t touched him nor bully-whipped him, nor even spit his di-rection.

Luce may be a load o’things, but she ain’t no liar, says I.

To date, that is.

Hey Lo.  Liam Goodwell here.  Third son of the Goodwells, the Denton County Goodwells.  You heard tell o’ me, I’m shore.

R’ at least, the Goodwells, I reckon.  (Lord, forgive me my prideful and elevated spirit, amen!)

As always, these here are true as true can be, the livin’s and dyin’s and shoutin’s and hollerin’s and eatin’s and singin’s and workin’s and playin’s of the Goodwells o’Denton County and furrer flung, my kin fer generations come and gone and them on ahead, as I live and breathe, so help me Lord Jesus. (An’ like I said, forgive me my shortcomin’s, like pride and arrogance.   Fer Lord,  I ain’t quite feelin’ the warmth of forgiveness jest yet.)

Well, here’s how this here story went….

Cousin Marie-France , she went and foun’ herself a soldier.  Now, being aged thirteen, and long-legged and lean and runs like a gazelle, I never doubted once she couldn’t ketch a feller, r’ hightail it from one, when the time come.  I jest never ‘spected the time was commencin’.

And yet, that there, it sums it up.  Marie-France, she went and caught herself a soldier.  It’s the furtherin’ of the tale is what confounds me, to this very writin’.

Out north o’town, other side from the Goodwell place, there lay an ol’ abandoned quarry, sheer cliffs and piles o’ gravel and chat.  Out on past, once upon a time a secret, is what’s been come to be called, a “Holdin’ Camp.”

What is a “Holdin’ Camp?” you ask? (That there, that’s a writin’ technique called personalization, made to engage the reader personal-like in what I happen to be sayin’.  Miss Meadow, down to the school, she encourages me to write more authentic and true, an’ while I shore do believe in my heart o’hearts that be what I BEEN doin’, Hellfire! I do want to please Miss Meadow, sure!)

(An’ Lord, forgive me fer my cursin’.  It slips ever’ now and then.)

I need a great deal of forgivin’, it ‘ppears.

But I digress.

This here “Holdin’ Camp,” why, it is a camp, and it shore is fer holdin’ somethin’.

Somethin’ like fellers!

Somethin’ like soldier fellers!

Somethin’ like GERMAN PRISONER O’WAR soldier fellers!

Ain’t many weenie roasts out there, I reckon!

Well, push come to shove, my wiry, head-in-the-clouds girl cousin Marie-France Mickelwait, out to pickin’ flowers over the bridge, she come across this big ol’ half man, half boy, half starved, and half lucid, hear her tell it.  Though truth be told, she only tol’ me and Luce, her ever’ready partners in adventure and crime.  Needed some help and comeraderie and someone to share her secret.  But by herself, ‘fore we even knew, she done subdued this feller, knocked him upside the head, tied him up rodeo-style and plucked him under a tree, ‘fore promisin’ to come back and look to his comfort and safety.

Marie-France, she ain’t got a bad bone in her.  But I ain’t found a day yet when I’m bound nor eager to cross her.

Suspicions arose, twixt Luce and me, though, when we caught sight of that girl a’sneakin’ slices o’ham’n cornbread into a bag at her feet durin’ dinner, the giant midday meal couple weeks back. Our families, bein’ family, we share all sort o’chores and plantin’s and harvestin’ and big ol’ giant repasts, they come along as a bonus!

An’ there we was, a ‘repastin’ to who laid a chunk, when Luce, she hauled off and kicked me somethin’ fierce under the wood plank table.  Lots of practice ‘llowed the upper half of me to remain stock-still and stone-like, while the bottom part of me writhed in pain.  Luce, she don’t hold no punches, nor kicks.  Law!

Well, whist I was fixin’ to stomp them girly feet with my hard-soled boots, she give me the look, slidin’ her eyes Marie-France’s way.  And sure as shootin’, that girl was a’stealin’ and a’stashin’ food!  Now there was plunty to go ’round.  We let it go till the watermelon spittin’ begun, then we grabbed that girl and her stolen loot, and wrested her behind the smoke house.

“You fin’ some new stray dog?”  Luce fairly hissed.  Marie-France was always savin’ some stray or injured animal.  An’ while that be a noble endeavor, says I, the loft  she shares with her sister and the Mickelwait twins (they got a set, too!) can smell like a pigpen, if she ain’t careful.

Marie-France scuffed the dirt some, “No, it ain’t like that.”

Luce hissed some more, “You tryin’ to put you on some pounds?”  Luce always did think Marie-France was on the frail side, though I ain’t never seen them go after it beyond a couple o’pushes and shoves and little kid dustups long past.  Don’t know just who I’d put my money on.  If I was to bet.

Which I don’t.

Hardly never.

(Lord Jesus, bless my soul, I am a sinnin’ fool!)

Them dark brown leather shoes with which Marie-France was shod, and what was once upon a time my sister Livvie’s,  was dirtied up so much now they was the color of Missouri red clay.  Her cheeks was gettin’ to be the same color.  She rubbed them real hard, took her a deep cleansin’ breath, then clinched her fists and pulled herself up to her full height.  Which was near as tall as me and Luce.  When’d she sprout up like that?

But then, she laid in.

She tol’ us ’bout the whole shebang, how she found this feller, feared this feller, then trussed him and promised to return and save his life.  Or his soul.  One and the same, I reckon.

An’ she aimed to keep her promise.  She also vowed she would not be returnin’ him to the “Holdin’ Camp.”  This here’s where the story broke down, fer this feller, he was the enemy!  He’d jest as like to kill us as look at us!

“Marie-France!” She near always listened to straight talk comin’ from me.  I, truth be told, am known for straight shootin’. “It’s the law!  You’re bound to return this feller, and posthaste!  This is harborin’ a fugitive!  This feller, he’s a danger to you and yer family, and us and the whole of Denton County!”

“It ain’t like that,” she first mumbled, then louder and stronger, “It ain’t like that, Liam!”

“Well, you best tell me what it IS like, then, ’cause I find this German feller, and I’ll haul is enemy backside back to where he belongs, I tell you what!”

She grabbed my arm and pinched inside my elbow till I squealed.  “You’ll do no sech thing, Liam Elias Ephriam Goodwell!  I mean it!”

Now, Marie-France, she has her these flashin’ brown eyes.  Filmy and sweet like them of a newborn foal of a normal day, but pointy and poppin’ when it ain’t, an’ this day it ain’t.

And why in the name of the Heavenly Father Luce stood by and let Marie-France go, why, I’m still abashed.  Even more so when, “C’mon, then, let’s us go see,” said Luce, marchin’ with purpose ‘out back aimin’ for the bridge and beyond.

Well, the rest o’that day’s story’ll wait for another day, I ‘spect.  We found the bugger, left jest whar Marie-France said, under a crab apple tree t’other side o’ the bridge.  Trusses loosed but not discarded.  Been there all night, but jest like them stray dogs and broken birds Marie-France saves and nurses to health and devotion, this German feller, more boy than man, he’d waited fer her return.

Been a couple o’weeks, now, an’ twixt the three of us kin, we been stealin’ out to beyond the meadow other side o’the bridge, bringin’ odds and ends of comfort, and bigger’n bigger stealin’s from the dinner table.  We built a leanto fer the feller, sat in silence, a’watchin’ the Choctaw river amble by, stood calm as Mama’s cukes when the sheriff come by, queryin’.

An’ still he stayed, quiet and mute now, bump from Marie-France’s cold-cock near fully undiscernible.

An’ still he stayed.

We, us three, are in a spot.

What DOES a body do with a ex-caped German soldier prisoner o’war?  One we hid in the woods and fed and made comfortable for more’n two weeks?  One who was satisfied to stay put, as his lot is durned near next to re-fined?

We, us three, we are in a spot.