Hot as a Three-dollar Pistol!
These here are the continued collections o’ recollections o’ one Liam Goodwell, that’s be me, who’s been put up to these here chronicles by Miss Meadow, down to the school an’ who will never never, no never know I jest may be enjoyin’ myself jest a little.
Here ‘n there.
Now, it’s the sticky heat of new summer. Steam comes up from the crick an’ the river further down, makin’ a little fog over the long grasses. Horses an’ tractors alike slip and slide over the dew, and near ever’thing looks jest a whit whilted, plant and animal and mankind alike.
So what the hay’m I doin’ tucked in the skinny space ‘tween the worn gray boards o’ the front porch an’ the leanto attached to the side? Believe you me, ain’t no stirrin’ o’ no breeze down here. Ain’t no relivin’ the itch o’ the puffs of black powdered dirt ‘ttachin’ clusters here’n there on my person. Ain’t no tellin’ how long I’ll be hidin’ out here, seein’ as I chose my ownself to wedge my thirteen year old gangly, rangy body down here to do myself some reconnaissance.
A feller’s got to what what a feller’s got to do. An’, fed up as I am wont to be, I need to know what’s goin’ on. Comin’s and goin’s o’ neighbor Lester Pike, dis-engagement o’ Grandpap in whatever matter’s bein’ discussed, the fac’ ain’t nobody shared none o’ this with nobody else, why, I vow I need to know!
So here I lay. A’waitin’. A’sweatin’. A’tangled up like some durned pretzel from the county fair.
Law, sneakin’ ’round shore ain’t glamorous like in the the-ater. Them fellers, both sides o’ the law, manage to stay slick and suave. Me, I’m just slick with sweat, and now some durned bugs ‘r findin’ my neck worthy of investigation.
I’m jest now thinkin’ it best I give up my investigatory sloothin’ for the day, when jest that minute, Leston’n Daddy saunter theyselves out onto the porch, footsteps punctuated by the slam o’ the screen door.
Mama’s no doubt cringin’ in the house somewheres. Ain’t no slammin’ nothin’ in the Goodwell household.
I shimmy a little further in my hidey-hole, seein’ there shadows through the slats in the agin’ gray slats. Leston chooses the rockin’ chair on the right, farthest away from me, and I note a sliver o’ discomfiture. Ol’ Leston, he’s a slow and low talker an’ I may miss somethin’.
But then he posits, “Hot day, ain’t it, Duke?”
An’ fore my daddy takes his seat in the rocker di-rectly over top o’ me, I hear the twinkle crinkle o’ the ice floatin’ in his iced tea glass, I find myself hearin’ almost as good, was I settin’ smack in the midst o’ them two.
I decide to ignore the dirt and the sweat. An’ the bugs. But likely not the heat. I’m figurin’ by now I got me dirt rings roun’ my nose holes from breathin’ in this dust. An’ I’m thirsty now as all get out!
I’ll give it my best.
Clink clink clack rattle swirl gulp. Don’t know which, but one o’ them’s takin’ his time with his iced sweet tea. This is as near tortureous as a boy can imagine, leastwise a boy’s who’s hunkered in the twelve inch crevice below the porch.
Now, there’s much to be said ’bout Mama’s sweet tea. I grown up guzzlin’ it for dinner and supper ever’ day o’ my life that I can recollect. Ain’t nothin’ like a long slow snort when the heats got to you, as well.
Mama, she has a kettle on the black stove near all day, steepin’ Lipton tea bags, hangin’ the strings outside and tyin’ ’em in a little one bow knot to keep ’em from fallin’ in an’ havin’ to fish ’em out. She keeps her a bottle o’ simple syrup (now a slug o’ that’ll grow hair on yer back!) made from boilin’ hot water and cups and cups o’ sugar in the icebox for sweetner.
We Goodwell children, all us kids, we count our blessin’ reg’lar Mama likes her sweet tea sweet! I mean, SWEET! It’s purtin’ near dessert in a glass, I kid you not!
Even Luce don’t complain, and that girl, she complains ’bout most ever’thing!
Clink clink clack rattle swirl gulp.
Long skinny glasses filled to the brim with ice, Mama then mixes her steeped tea with the simple syrup and pours it hot over the ice. It’s grand fun to watch the ice melt itself into the dark brown liquid, lightin’ it to amber, and let me tell you, that first few slugs, not quite cold, not too hot to chug, that there may be the most satisfyin’ part o’ my whole meal!
“Well, Leston Pike, I’d say for shore, it’s durned hot. Durned hot.”
Jawin’s beginnin’. Time fer me to focus in an’ pay me some attention.