Let ‘er Rip!

Hey Ho and Hideehooo!

Liam here!  Liam Goodwell!  Of the Denton County Goodwells!

And this here?  This here is a red letter day!  Thinkin’ a buntin’ be-decked dancin’ horses parade!  Thinkin’ apple pie and cheese, if you be pleased!  Thinkin’ all them things pale in comparison…….

Mama, she’s a’comin’ back home!

So all we Goodwells, Grandpap and Lincoln and Lawrence and Livvie and Luce and me and Loreen and Louis and Lawton, all us, ‘ceptin’ Daddy who’s took the International down to Doc Allen’s place to fetch her back, plus all the Michelwaits, (don’t even get me started with that clan!), and neighbors and townfolk, and Miss Meadow from down to the school, we’re all us gathered, feastin’ yet to begin, a’waitin’, hippity hoppity excited to welcome our Mama home.

She ex-caped dyin’, you know.  Snakebit, she was.  Ugly mean dueced devil of a stinkin’ evil copperhead reared up and nailed her ankle whist she was a’gatherin’ eggs fer our breakfast.

Sheer evil. Five foot long if it was an inch.

Let me tell you, Louis and Lawton, them two seven-year-olds, they foun’ and kilt that sucker, smashed it’s ugly shinin’ mug to a pulp, an’ since then, we been steppin’ lightly, I tell you what!  Hung that carcass on the back fence to learn any other them eager suckers jest what we do to their kind, they come onto Goodwell land.   

Now, we still gather eggs from the henhouse, out to the chicken yard, but we stomp, an’ wear knee high rubber boots Grandpap left by the back porch screen door and swish branches and make our presence known.

An’ we’re scared plumb to death ever’ time we do it!  But a family’s, rightly so, gotta eat.

Today, though, we ain’t givin’ that no nevermind.  We’re celebratin’, for after nigh on a week without our Mama, without the sunshine and the joyful noises she brings, why, she’s a’comin’ home, triumphant over death and the grave!

It was push and tug, I tell you what.  She didn’t even see the light o’day with her own eyes till couple days ago.  But the Lord Jesus decided it jest wudn’t time to bring her home to Heaven jest right then, and fer that we Goodwells, all us, plus the Michelwaits an’ all the neighbors and townfolk, and Miss Meadow from down to the school, we’re makin’ our own joyful noises!

Tables is laden with pies and fried chicken and green beans and watermelon and cottage cheese and them little weiners with bacon wrapped roun’ them and stuck with a toothpick.  We got “Red Rover” a’goin’ out to the barn yard, we got the horses festooned with clover chains (that was the girls’ idee.  Sure wudn’t the horses, from the sags on they faces and the steel in they eyes), we got ol’ ladies rockin’  ruts in the grass clean down to the red Missouri clay out under the big maple, we got streamers hanging from stuck sticks up an’ down the dusty lane down to the road.

Fer Mama, she’s comin’ home today!

Hark?  Hark?  Do I hear an engine, the sputter and whine of the ol’ International?  Am I imaginin’?  Could it be?  I took to lookin’ fer Luce, fer she got eyes like an eagle and ears like a prairie dog.  

But then Lord A’mighty, I don’t need no confirmation nor affirmation nor consolation nor speculation!  See that there?  See that puff o’ dust way off down there?  No?  Wait jest a second, there it is agin’ comin’ over that rise!

“There they be! There they are!” I cain’t get the words out fast enough, my brains shoutin’ louder’n my mouth, “Here they come!  Git ready!  C’mon!”

I’m fair giddy, bouncin’ and runnin’ here’n there, flailin’ and happy drunk with joy and anticipation!  Law, an’ I ain’t the only one!  The “Red Rover” stopped ‘afore sendin’ anybody over, the ol’ ladies ceased they rocking, standin’ slow-like and straightenin’ the wrinkled laps of thur floweredy dresses.  Grandpap, he shanghied some o’ the cousins, had them lead the horses down the lane.  For you know it, lickity split and hippity hip and snappity snap, the whole dusty lane, quarter mile all told, was lined with child’rn an’ mamas an’ cousins an’ neighbors an’ aints an’ uncles an’, why, there’s the judge, an’ the sour an’ dour ol’ library lady, an’ Miss Meadow, from down to the school!  

Law, my Mama is beloved!

Law, my Mama is loved!

And my Mama, she’s a comin’ home!  

An’ then, why, a song sprung to my lips, “Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!”

An’ you know it, you do! 

I “Let ‘er Rip!!”  

……..and so’d, praise the Lord, did ever’body else!

Mama, she’s a’comin’ home!

Let ‘er Rip!

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,”

“Hey, Daddy.”

“Been a long day.”

“Yes, Sir,”  

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.

“Daddy’s home.”


“Reckon he’s hungry?”

“Loreen and Livie’s got it.”

“Scares me a little.”

“Me, too.”

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.

An’ 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’!