Liam Goodwell here. Fear they ain’t many ain’t heard o’us Goodwells, but if you ain’t, well, we Goodwells, we be a grand, law-abiding (well, mostly) family o’ cousins an’ uncles an’ aints and hangers’ons who fuss and fight and feud and love each an’ ever’ one o’ us an’ will stake our lives defendin’ our own and these here U-nited States o’ America!
Pleased to meet’cha.
Me, I’m Liam, third son, thirteen years o’age, an’ so they say, family philosopher.
Well, that’s be Miss Meadow from down to the school who anchored me with that there. My folk, they jest claim I’m a big thinker.
Which would be true. There’s a pile needin’ parsin’ in this ol’ world, and I am to make what sense o’it I can.
On top o’that there, Miss Meadow, she tasked me with notin’ my thoughts. Says it’ll exercise my brain. Seems to me all it serves to do is waste a heap o’ pencil lead.
But it’s Miss Meadow doin’ the askin’, an’ ain’t no way in Hades I’ll be a’crossin’ her. Her soft spoke rebukes hurt a fair more’n a punch in the kisser from big’ ol’, dumb as ditchwater Junior Spunkner. This I know as fact.
On this day, I had me a thought I been chewin’ on in the back forty o’ my head fer some time.
Now you need to know I believe in the hereaftertime, that God Almighty is the be all and end all o’ this whole world an’ ever’thing inbetwixt.
So besides Miss Meadow, I ain’t plannin’ on crossin’ him no time soon, That ol’ Lake o’ Far don’t hold no interest fer me, I tell you what.
Still, the Good Lord put us a brain in these here noggin’s o’ours and I use mine right reg’lar.
So I got to thinkin’, one day not so long past. Chores was done, afternoon was fadin’ from sunshinin’ to sun hidin’, an’ I had me a lay down under the weepin’ willer left o’ the barn. Had Grandpap’s straw hat, well, what’s left of it, down over my eyes, a’chewin’ and a’worryin’ a long hank o’wheat.
I do my best thinkin’ whilst chewin’ straw. But I digress.
Well, this here thought ain’t nothin’ new to me, but I reckon I’ll keep it to my ownself till I got it reckoned and sorted for general consumption.
See I got me this idea. What if, consider this here, what if God done planned fer jest so many folk to inhabit his world? Too many gets problematic and too few jest ain’t much fun. Well, what if, now I say WHAT IF, mind you….what if them same folk comes back over and over ag’in, jest to keep things even.
Now, ain’t it the truth you seen similarities ‘twixt folks whose paths ain’t like to never have crossed? An’ yet? An’ yet? They shore have them likenesses what sometimes give you the willies?
Take ol’ Slim down to the garage in town. He sidled into town not more’n a year or three past. Walked right in to bossman Mr. Knapp askin’ fer a job, sayin’ he could fix him anythin’ what had a motor, bein’ it a dandy Studebaker ‘r a Massey Ferguson tractor. Lo and behold, he got him a job right now an’ ain’t looked back. Nor right nor left. Slim, he keeps his head purty low durin’ work time and keeps to hisself most o’ the rest. He got him these long sideburns, thick and greasy, comin’ to points on either side o’ his squared off chin. Keeps his hat on so low it makes his ears all sticky-outie. Hums a durned sight, but don’t have much to say other’n what’d be wrong with some feller’s broken contraption and what it’ll take to make the sucker run. He only grunts and waves a wrench when we boys pass by an’ holler greetin’s.
An’ try though as we might, he ain’t never goin’ t’shoot the breeze with the likes o’us.
But there’s somethin’ ’bout ol’ Slim. He got him some odd tics and twitches what give me pause. Me an’ big sister Luce. Ain’t but known only two folk whose left eye wanders all over, like it can’t find itself a place to land, but then pulls to center when somethin’ important is bein’ said. Ain’t but known only two folk who rubs they foreheads exactly four times real hard, then pulls both they ears to punctuate the moment, then gets on with what needs gettin’ on.
One o’them’s Slim.
The other’n is long dead Uncle Clete, Grandpap’s younger brother from jest this side my little childhood memory bucket.
Now, you might argue yourself that Uncle Clete, he might o’had him a child along the line. But Uncle Clete, he had hisself some troubles, physical in nature from what I can discern, most o’them hushed up when Uncle Clete come up by Mama an’ Daddy an’ Grandpap an’ the rest.
All I know is, Mama ‘llowed Uncle Clete couldn’t a bred no children, wudn’t physically possible.
An’ Mama? She knows ever’thing.
But me and Luce, whenever we come ‘cross Slim a’crossin’ the street down in town, or when we slip into the garage with Daddy or Grandpap to collect some ve-hicle needin’ collectin’, why, we gets us the shivers.
They got them too much in common not to be purposeful.
Now, Luce, ever fallin’ on the practical side o’matters, she figures Crazy Uncle Clete, as she’s wont to label him, even if he couldn’t o’had him any offspring, he could o’lent his manners and ways to some acquaintance ‘long life’s way, that someone bein’ Slim….Slim…whatever his last name might be.
But me, I get to thinkin’ a little more outside the worldly realm. What if, and I say WHAT IF, God got hisself a collection of bein’s. Like stars up in the night sky. Why, he’ll send one right down when the time’s right. Then when they’s time is up, he’ll gather that star right back, clean it up a mite all spit n’polish, then send ‘er right back down.
An’ when them tics and twitches is similar, why ain’t it possible some angel missed a spot?
Consider that’s what we’re a witnessin’ when we spies us a fallin’ star! Could be one life done and another returnin’ for a rehaul!
Well. I ain’t sure this here’s fer human consumptin’. Miss Meadow, she wouldn’t mind somehow, but if Luce got herself ahold o’ my ramblin’s in this par-ticular subject, ain’t no way I’d never hear the last o’this.
I reckon I’ll give this here a little more thought ‘fore I speak o’ it outloud. (This here paper may just find its way to the burn barrel, posthaste.)
An’ I reckon I’ll be watchin’ Slim just a little more careful in the days to come.