“Come Hell r’ High Water”

“Don’t turn ’round, boy, mind yer own business,” the low voice went on, barely above a whisper.

How I could hear him so clear still befuddles me.  The auction corral was echoin’ to the sky with shouts ‘n hollers, and the silence of the stompled veternarian splayed bend and bleedin’ upon the dusty ground.

This ain’t no place fer heroes.  That’s what he said, be it to me or Daddy.  Heaviness weighed down my insides, it tasted somethin’ awful,  and I feared if I was to slip a look Daddy’s way, I’d see somethin’ I wudn’t wantin’ to see.

So I set.  And I did not turn left nor right nor ’round.  Daddy managed to touch my fingers, what was grippin’ tight upon the top fence rail where we was set, froze.  I swallered hard, hopin’ he’d see my Adam’s Apple a bobbin’ in response.  He an’ me, we was in this together.

The mayhem and confusion and wailin’ and flailin’ was rampin’ up.  Men and boys and cattle was runnin’, tangled in their indecision.  Still don’t know how long we was still, could’ve been seconds, felt like hours.  But Daddy, I could feel him decide before he leapt off the rail and hauled it to where the vet, he lay still.

Still.

I hauled my ownself, on his tail, lookin’ over his shoulder as he knelt beside the damaged man, that notebook clutched tight even still in his hand.  Folks made a wide circle behind us, givin’ room and settlin’ the panic.  Only a bit.  Some flash, some sound would send this little world into chaos again in a New York minute, but for now, there was breathin’ room.

Ain’t no place fer heroes, the low voice said.

But then, said I, there’s Daddy.

There’s Daddy

 

*********

“Come Hell ‘r High Water”

Hey.

Ho.

Liam here.  Missed you all somethin’ fierce.  Now, we ain’t been fightin’ no fars, nor we ain’t done floated down the river in the flood.  We done been right busy, though, we Goodwells.

I mention my folks and me, we’re the Goodwells?  The Goodwells of Denton County?  Yep, I got no doubt in my mind you heard somethin’ o’ us.  Grandpap, he practically owned him most o’ Denton County back in his day.

Now, his day done came and done went, but he made his mark, I kid you not.  An’ he’s still a’ huffin’ an’ a’puffin’ an’ a’makin’ hisself known all ’round!

But I digress.

Me’n my family, we near had to up and move, clean away from our home fer generations upon end here in Denton County, and the story ain’t quite seen its end.  I’m needin’ to set it to paper, thanks to Miss Meadow down to the school,  her remindin’ me some stories need to be tol’ before the endin’s been writ.

So here goes.

Me’n Daddy, me’n Daddy and Linc and Lawrence, and sometimes me’n Daddy and Linc and Lawrence and Grandpap ‘n Uncle Sedgwick, we all up an’ visit the livestock auction down to Polo ever’ month ‘r two ‘r six ‘r so.  This time, howsomever, it was me ‘n Daddy goin’ solo an’ we was havin’ us a fine’ ol’ time.

Got up ‘fore dawn, which ain’t unusual for us farmin’ folk.  Got us in the ol’ International pickup, cold breakfast at our feet and hot coffee steamin’ in our mugs.  We took precious care, I tell you what, in not lettin’ it slop over them fat white mugs.  Daddy makes his coffee hotter’n the far it takes to perc it!

My face, I’ll have you know, was grinnin’ from ear lobe to ear lobe.  Me’n Daddy, we don’t get time jest the two of us much often, bein’ we’re eight Goodwell children in our family alone, not countin’ cousins, second and third cousins, and kissin’ cousins what woosh they was real Goodwell cousins!

An’ Daddy, he was a grinnin’ his ownself, both at me an’ the world in gen’ral.  It was stretchin’ out to be a grand day for us Goodwell men.  An’ off we went.

Polo, little spot in the road next county over in DeKalb County (an’ don’t you go an’ get catched pronouncin’ that “l” in DeKalb!  Local’s like to hogtie you an’ tar’n feather you jest fer bein’ foreign!).  They ain’t much there to speak of.  Blink yer eyes and you’re like to miss it.  ‘Cept come auction day.  Some ol’ bird years ago name o’ Pike Pearson, he built him a barn with offshoots and corrals and even an’ indoor arena o’ some size, with benches built up like a three ring circus.  Even built hisself a snack shack outside with giant sized hamburgers and such.  His boys run the place now.  Law, I love me a cattle auction.

Daddy always buys us burgers.  Twice.  Law.

Drivin’ next to an’ hour, we made it ‘most unscathed, only one miniscule burn on my left shank when Daddy took a corner tight to miss Judge Huger’s big ol’ shiny black Cadillac takin’ its half plumb outta the middle.  Burned somethin’ fierce, but only fer a minute or ten.  I spit in my hand and rubbed it a time’r two fer good measure, sure.

We done ourselves some wanderin’, even some wonderin’, but Daddy’d done pronounced we wasn’t there to do no buyin’, nor no sellin’.  We was just notin the lay o’ the land fer the big Spring sale.  Fine by me, said I, munchin’ on burger number one. I jest relished the sights o’ the fresh brushed livestock, the smell o’ new hay, and the shoutin’ and wheelin’ and dealin’ o’ the farmers and stock traders.

We been there ’bout a hour, maybe a couple, my shiny boots dusty and my belly full.  Me ‘n Daddy, we was a perched upon a corral rail watchin’ a couple veternarians sashayin’ about, examinin’, then writin’ on their tablet.  Now, I know me somethin’ ’bout diseased livestock.  These here, they looked purty good to me.

Daddy’n me, we jest watched.

Why, time done slowed so much an’ we was so lost in the watchin’, no tellin’ how long we’d stayed perched when law!  Jest to my left hand, a writhin’ black steed, a’snortin’ with Hell’s own fury (Forgive me, Lord, but that there was a moment!  An’ Lord, please don’t tell Mama!), rid by some cowboy black hat low over his eyes, sailed over the fence upon which me’n Daddy was a’sittin’, so close I could feel the sweat a’flyin’ and the hair on the flank brush my cheek!  I near toppled and tangled in them flailin’ legs an’ but fer Daddy a’grabbin’ my shirt back, there’d like to be a mangled mess o’ me in that corral!

As it was, one o’ them vets, he had not a chance, couldn’t even blink an eye ‘fore that beast landed feet first on his shoulders, forcin’ him to the cowpied dust, then for punctuation, landed on his lower regions with his back two feet an’ kept on a’goin’, racin’ through the doe-eyed cattle and dumbfounded farmhands, leapin’ out the other side and headin’ lickity split toward the horizon!

I do not remember breathin’.  I do remember heavin’.  I recall jest the infinitesimal movement from my Daddy next to me,  I knew he was a’fixin’ to dive in an’ do what he could, I reckon.  The only other recollection was a low voice behind and betwist us two sayin’,

“This here is no place for a hero.”

…..an’ there be more to this story….

‘Tween a Crock an’a Hard Space

Hey, ho!  Here we be goin’!

Liam here, Liam Goodwell, amongst a passel o’ Goodwells an’ Mickelwaits, sweatin’ shoulder to shoulder and thigh to thigh in the bed o’ Grandpap’s big ol’ International pickup!  We’re a’bouncin’ and bumpin’ over ruts and potholes deep enough to sink a fat sow, (Grandpap don’t aim t’miss a’one!) an’ we’re a’beamin’ and a’screechin’ fer joy, pure and true!

‘Cause we Goodwells, and near all the Mickelwaits), we’re off on a vay-cay-tion!

Ain’t never been on one o’them before this!  Oh, sure, we go off on the odd fishin’ trek over to the Mississippi, or closer to the Big Platte, an’ we’ll camp under the stars fer the night, build us a far, smoke us some marshmallers and brewtime coffee in a tin can.

But this here time, this here, this is a fer real, durned tootin’ actuality of a git-away gone!

All the way to St. Louie!  Saint Louie!  Clear to the other side o’ our blessed state of Missouruh!  Why, if we play ar’ cards right, we may get us across the Ol’ Miss and his Illinois!  Law!  Law!  We’re movin’ on down the line, all us Goodwells ,and near all the Mickelwaits, on the road right this very minute caravannin’ three ve-hicles off to a new adventure!  We aim to drive till we git there, ’cause when we do?   When we do?!!!!

We’re, all us Goodwells, and near all the Mickelwaits, we’re checkin’ ourselves into a MOTEL!

A Blessed Hallelujah Praise Jesus MOTEL!  With indoor plumbin’ an’ wood on the inside walls an’ a swimmin’ pool with painted blue tiles under the water!

Lord!  Lord!  Fergive my blasphemation, but Jesus, Lord God, you shore are blessin’ us Goodwells, and near all the Mickelwaits!

My e-magination, it’s fairly takin’ over my brain with light and joy and visions o’ swimmin’ in a hole jest meant fer that there!  Ain’t no horse been slobberin’ in it, ain’t no fish been feedin’ in it, nor floatin’ dead on the top.  Ain’t no skeeters buzzin’ along the hazy slip o’ air skimmin’ jest above.  Ain’t no mud on the bottom, ain’t no green slime on the top.

Ain’t gotta watch fer no copperheads, neither.

We all got us swimmin’ at-tar from the Montgomery Ward down to Kansas City, brung to us special seein’ as the catalogue order would take too long.

We are some lucky ducks, ain’t we?

An’ more’n that?  As if we could handle the un-abated de-light of any more’n that?!

We ain’t payin’ fer one bit, not one iota!  Not a’ one!  Even the swimmin’ at’tar, it was a gift.

Grandpap, he been makin’ hisself scare of late, since Daddy an’ Leston Pike been conspirin’ on the down low, come stompin’ int’ the kitchen week before week before last, fair shoutin’.

“I’m a’doin’ it!  I’m a’doin’ it!  We takin’ this family away fer a spell!  We’re takin’ us on a sojourny jest fer the fun o’ the doin’ it!”

Why, he went on an’ on’ an’ we all, well, we was all jest froze in our tracks.  Well, we was froze until we lept out our skins in un-di-luted rapture!  

Hallelujah an’ Hark the Herald an’ Hosannas to the High!  We be takin’ ourselves, all us Goodwells, an’ near all the Mickelwaits, on a va-ca-tion!  Law!

 

‘T’wudn’t till some time later we was to chance upon the fact this here was orchestrated by, and paid in full by, the Judge.

 

But Katy bar the door, we wudn’t figurin’ on no conspiracy, no how!  We was a’singin’ and a’wavin’ at passersby and bein’ as gleeful as a pig in a mud puddle!

Any menace a’brewin’ in the real world didn’t mean much to us Goodwells, and near all the Mickelwaits this day!

We was goin’ swimmin’ in a pool meant jest fer that there!

**********

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Tween a Crock and a Hard Space”

Hey ho.  Liam here, still sticky’n still wedged low ‘neath the gray porch.

Did nobody never ponder themselves paintin’ the underneath side o’ these ol’ weathered boards?  Truth is, I been under here plunty, thousands or hund’erds o’ times, chasin’ cats, pullin’ out rapscallion twin brothers, buryin’ treasure.  But hidin’ down here for nigh on least a hour or a half, why, what’s a feller to do but contemplate him the conundrums what lay before, or above him.

An’ paintin’ these here boards would o’been a sight more pleasin’ to the eye o’all us who shimmy down this way.

I may mention this to Grandpap, once I find myself ready to confess to what end I was lyin’ down here in the dirt.

Leston and Daddy, they be up above, nursin’ they iced sweet tea an’ rockin’ to who laid a chunk in a couple o’Mama’s rockin’ chairs.  They shore ain’t sayin’ much, least not ’bout much but the weather an’ the price o’beef over to St. Joe.  But Leston, he been a reg’lar on the porch the last few days and I’m aimin’ to find out jest why.

I’m almost, I say almost, find my eyes a closin’ ‘gainst the heat an’ the bugs.  No, I ain’t a’nappin’.  No time fer nappin’, and anyhow, I don’t b’lieve it it, not whatsoever.  Think o’all I’d be a’missin’ was I to ‘llow myself unconsciousness to overtake me durin’ daylight hours.  Too much goin’ on in this ol’ world fer me to give any up.

I will ‘llow I might jest rest my eyes once r’ twice ever’ now an’ ag’in.

An’ I know I ain’t foolin’ nobody, least of all my ownself, but there it is.  A feller’s got to draw him a line, even if it’s with his own person.

No nappin’.  Not fer ol’ Liam.

But I digress.

Once I snuck and stuck myself down here in my hidey hole I was committed.  I was silent as a church mouse an’ so dry I was spittin’ cotton but I’d made me my bed and I’d see this mystery through.

Gol’ DANG, though, I wooshed them fellers’d hurry themselves up.  Time’s a’tickin’.

Time’s a tickin ‘.

Tick.

Tick.

“You aimin’ to sell, then, Duke?”

Great Horned Spoon, whaaat?!

Tickin’ done stopped when the talkin’ done started.  Not sure I’m a’breathin’!  I pressed my top ear to the bottom o’the slat crack.

“Well, sir,” begun my Daddy, rockin’ straight atop me dead stopped.  My guess he’s balanced up front on them rocker rails, a posture reg’lar fer him when he’s contemplatin’ somethin’ of portent.  

My head, though, it’s plum banging through my eardrums, Sell what?!  Sell what?!  I’m ’bout to pop!

“Well, sir,” Daddy drawled slow-like,”The Judge, he made hisself quite an offer, looks like he done similar to next to ever’ owner in Denton County, least this side o’ the river.”

Say it ain’t so.

He went on, never once sending them rails back to center,”We Goodwells, we been livin’ on this land fer generations on end.”

Oh, no.

This is where Leston slid in.  “Now, Duke, you ain’t been on this here property longer’n forty years.  Yer Daddy lost the hilltop land back before the last war.”

Ah oh.

I could feel the contempt in Daddy’s black brown eyes,  knew they was narrowin’ an’ borin’ holes in ol’ Leston’s own faded-y ones.

Heavy foggy silence held sway fer longer’n I cared for.  My insides was turnin’ cartwheels, my straw hair was clumped wet with sweat and under-the-porch filth, I durned near come to a’hollerin’ or kickin’ or even cussin’, if it wudn’t a sin.

Daddy spoke.  Quiet.  Hard as a Bois d’Arc heartwood.  Lethal.  Deadly as a nine-foot copperhead snake.  Dangerous.  Menacin’ as a Missouruh cougar crouched up a tree.

“Well, Leston, I reckon you an’ me, we et’ up the afternoon.  Let’s you an’ me give it a rest fer this day.”

And thusly, Leston, he was dismissed.  Daddy, resumed his rockin’ jest once or twice. 

Then.  

“Liam.  You’n me, let’s us take a walk, Son.”

Law.  

Ain’t but two choices, scramble out or face the consequences o’ Daddy draggin’ me out.

‘Spose I’ll chose the first, though both’r bound for unpleasantness.

 

 

 *************

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Tween a Crock an’ a Hard Space…”

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.

 

Durned bugs.

 

 

‘Tween a Crock an’ a Hard Space…

Come ag’in?

 

Well, hey!  Been a long time!

This here’s Liam!  Liam Goodwell, scion ‘n third son  o’  us Denton County Goodwells!

You shore been missed!

Well, mostly….when I had me half a minute to think.  This here started a long hot bacon-sizzlin’ summer, I tell you what.  Been plantin’ an’ mowin’ and haulin’ an’ stuff like that there till I been fallin’ dead to rights on my bed come bedtime with my boots still hangin’ from my feet!  Now, my big brothers, they pummice me with pillers ’till I wake enough to kick ’em off…often in their di-rection.  Last ev’nin’, bam! Nailed ol’ Linc upside the head!  Boom!  Smacked ol’ Lawrence in the left elbow.

Then Lawrence, he catched that boot ‘fore it hit the floor and usin’ his pitchin’ prowess, sent a fast and hard strike to my midsection.  Oooof.  Daddy hollered from the other room, “Hey, you fellers, put yerselves a stop to what’s goin’ on in there ‘r I’m a’comin’ in!”

Game over.  Lawrence smirked, victorious once ag’in.  His timin’, I’ll admit, rests on the edge of perfection.

Oooof.

But that ain’t here nor there.  You been missed and I ‘spect I best claim responsibility, as I ain’t writ fer weeks an’ days.  Seems plumb f’ever, somehow.

‘Ppears we Goodwells, however, we have us a sit-iation.  Over the course o’ the last seven days, or six, we been gittin’ these visits ‘most daily from our neighbor to the northeast, Leston Pike.  Scrawny son of a gun, long and lanky with stooped shoulders an’ long monkey arms what sway back ‘n forth near to his knees.  Ol’ Leston, he’s tanned to leather, with a skinny hooked nose an’ a straw yeller hairs stickin’ out his ears.  Good feller, but keeps to hisself, hence the mystery o’ his visits.  No family to speak of, lest you count his hound dog, Drum.  An’ his sister Wandette what lives over to St. Joe an’ who drives over most ever’ Sunday to cook him a proper dinner an’ who fixes hair fer a livin’.

‘Cept Leston’s.  That ol’ hair in his ears near always looks the same before she come to visit an’ after she takes off back home in her shiny green Buick.  Business must be brisk at her hair fixin’ place.

Well, as I was sayin’, Leston’s been hikin’ over jest past noontime dinner right reg’lar.  Him an’ Daddy, they set out on the front porch, sippin’ Mama’s sweet tea.  Grandpap, he ain’t a part o’ these here conversations, which I find odd and some disconcertin’.  He makes hisself scarce, busyin’ hisself in the barn out out to the garden.

He hums a little bit, too, jest like Mama when she’s a’hoppin’ mad an’ dancin’ with the point o’ no return.  This here gives me pause.

That them two on the porch, they never do really look to-wards one another, but talk out to the yard out front, that they talk in whispers, near, gives me yet another pause.

Never did like whisperin’, be it ‘tween goofy gigglin’ girls or fellers down to town on a corner, sizin’ up passersby.  Whisperin’ tells me one thing.  If what they have to say ain’t fer public consumption, it ain’t worth sayin’.  Hairs stand to attention at the back o’ my neck, if I’ve had me a recent haircut.  Mama calls it a sixth sense, says she’s got it too, and Law, I do believe her!  I could tell you stories.

An’ I believe she and me, we’re kindred spirits that way some, but when it come to soft talk an’ eyes what holler “hush hush” when me or anybody gets too close, well, I don’t speculate so much as jest get mad.

Luce, my next oldest sister, she says I’m jest feelin’ self-important, that I ain’t s’posed to know ever’thing ’bout ever’body.  An’ maybe she’s right.

An’ then, maybe she ain’t.

Either way, whisperin’ an’ a’talkin’ an’ sneakin’ ’round ain’t any part o’ what I claim is right.

(‘Cept when it comes, I reckon, to birthdays and Christmastime…but I digress.)

So this day, the burblin’ in my tummy set me in motion and I found me a quiet nook in the gap ‘twixt the porch an’ the leanto me an’ my big brothers call our room.  Cool soft dirt what puffs jest a bit when I git myself settled.  I give myself some deny-ability (That’s what Luce called it when she found me and tossed me a gunnysack to lay my head) were anybody to find me down in my hide-y hole.  Jest restin’ my eyes a bit ‘fore I head back out fer chores, I’d imply.

Now, while I’d imply,  I’d never lie.  Not out loud.  That there, that’d be a sin, and duplicitous in the eyes of the good Lord Almighty!  No sir-eee!  No sinnin’ fer me!

Jest eavesdroppin’.  Ain’t no commandment ’bout that I heard tell of.

 

 

I settle myself in an’ wait fer Leston and Daddy to saunter out with their iced sweet tea an’ tell that front yard a thing ‘r two.

 

************

 

 

 

 

 

This Little Light o’Mine!

Hey, Ho!

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.

 

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