“Dang Me! Ought t’Take a Rope n’Hang Me!”

I’m called Punk Bole.

Been couple days now, since Daddy he brung me some eats and that jug o’ water.  My hands is free, I reckon I should be countin’ my blessin’s,  but he chain my ankle to the metal slats windin’ roun’ inside this place.  Some ol’ mine buildin’, from what I can figure.  If I was to pull real hard, shoot, the whole place’d come down in a heap o’rotted timbers, but these here rusted struts, they’d stan’ the test.  

Dang.  

Can’t be shore, but I’m planted out some’eres out to the quarry, but tossed here in middle o’the darkest night got my head twisted, and once I ‘llowed that was the case, my sense o’ di-rection went plum out the window.  Got me the sun, so got my easts an’ wests sorted.  But ‘cain’t hear nothin’ human, no trains chuggin’ nor horns a’blastin’.  I do hear some mysterious rustlin’ in them bushes yonder.  I get me the sweats thinkin’ what might be out there.  This here chain’s long enough I kin get out the door, do my business, but that’s ’bout all.  Brush and near dead ol’ trees hang theyselves heavy over this ol’ shack, doubt if even some keen-eyed hunter’d take notice.  

I’ll admit I am ‘fraid o’snakes.   These woods is full of ’em, copperheads, rattlers, filled will venom and vitrol.  

I stay inside.  And I ain’t slep’ much.

I am gettin’ hungry, howeve’.  Somethin’ awful, tell the truth.  Why I believe Daddy when he say he back soon, I don’t know, but I did.  Ain’t feelin’ no panic and pain’s most left where he manhandled me.  So here I sit, my insides eatin’ theyselves, water jug near empty. Waitin’ and hopin’ and imagin’in’ his promises to be ‘fore he drove off, jest what Texas, way aways away, what Texas will be like.

Sound little excitin’, and I picture me and him thick as thieves, gettin’ us cowboy hats and hittin’ it rich in them oll fields down the’eh.  Hear the sky reach clear down to the horizon, that they ain’t no lan’ a colored man cain’t buy and cultivate, ain’t no stoppin’ a man any color who want to work ha’d and wake hisself up early to do it a’gin.

I got me dreams, true.  An’ given I got all this time chained up out the middle o’nowhere, well, my dreamin’ gettin’ full o’ color and drama.  I meetin’ people in my head, give them names and houn’dogs and fav’rite movie stars.  In my mind, I spendin’ all that cash we get from workin’ that black gol’ shootin’ up to the top o’ the sky, and then some.  Bought me a right nice bay mare.  She get purtier ever’ time I think o’ her.

I ignore the man give birth to these here dreams, he be my long lost Daddy who I neve’ laid eyes on til month o’ two prior, when he introduce hisself to me with one beatin’ after another’n.  I put behind me the fac’ my Daddy, he lie to my Mama ’bout treatin’ me right.  I forget he kidnap me from the only place I got myself frien’s what brung me into they own fam’ly’s bosom.

I pay no heed he chain me up, leave me out alone, all them wood creatures eyein’ me as they own dinner.  

An’ then i comes back to my senses, and my hungry sense tops ’em all, don’t it?

So I sets my sights on what’d satisfy my empty belly best.  

Gold fried chicken, crusted up with saltine crackers?  My, that makes my mouth water.

Smashed ‘taters, swimmin’ in butter ‘n beef juices?  Law!

Bake beans latticed atop w’crisp cooked ham?  Take me home now, Lord Jesus!

Big fat fluffy white biscuits, sausage slice in the middle, steammin’ hot fresh from the oven?  Beat the drum, I goin’ crazy!

But the one thing, the very one and only one thing I loves the best on this whole of God’s earth, the onliest hunk o’ deliciousness what will set my head plum on far?

Dare I say it?  Dare I think it?  Fear I’ll fall to weepin’, but Lord, if you be up there an’ you be watchin’ over me much as you count the sparro’s flittin’ here and ’bout, well then, Lord?

Let that filthy son of a buck of a Daddy o’ mine, let him bring me ICE CREAM!  

I reckon I forgive him chainin’ me up like some two-bit dog, he come back bearin’ me ice cream! 

An’ even more so, I reckon I forgive nigh AN-thin’, he come bearin’ ice cream flavored pink star-berry...!

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“Dang Me! Ought t’Take a Rope n’Hang Me!”

To:  Who it May Concern

From: Punk Bole (Punkett Boyle, fer them as is not my friends nor kin), aged fourteen

Well, I foun’ m’self w’thout love nor money nor di-rection.  Didn’t even give m’self time to em’ty my cubbie hid be-hind my covers out to the backporch.

Now that there, that’s important.  I never once say’d I was lost, now did I…

‘Foun’ my pockets and my belly was em’ty, likewise.

More’n an’thing, ‘foun’ myse’f fed up and done with my Daddy.

For my Daddy, sad to say, he ‘foun’ me….fer the las’ time.

Thought he’d give up on the skinnin’ he’d give me early on.

Thought he’d be provin’ to Mama he could change his ways.

Thought wrong, I did.  Scabs and cuts and tears and possible broke things not even healed for they was broke and cut and scabbed all over a’gin.

‘Foun’ I’d took all I could.

‘Foun’ I’d took all I would.

‘Foun’ I had me more gum’tion ‘n I thought I did.

‘Foun’ I had me more’n my haid than numbers and countin’ and parsin’ to push away the hurtin’.

‘Foun’ there was no danged, hanged reason to be beat black and blue no more.

‘Foun’ there was no reason to wait fer my Mama to come to her senses and save me, ‘stead of jest washin’ off the blood, till the next time when she do it all over a’gin.

I lit out.  Lef’ ever’thing back at the old shack.  Mama’n him, they kin have it all, ‘ssumin’ they kin theyse’ves find it.

“Foun’ myse’f hoofin’ it ninety t’nothin’ out the other side o’Halesburg.

‘Foun’ my love for skimmin’ cross the countryside, feet flyin’, servin’ me well.

‘Foun’ myse’f, come darkness fallin’, alone an’ losin’ steam, but not courage.

‘Foun’ myse’f not even considerin’ doin’ nothin’ but aimin’ on ahead.

‘Foun’ the colored flavors o’ the horizon, gray and black and darker black then that there, then ‘foun’ myse’f a light,a way off yonder.

‘Foun’ when you follers a light, ‘r an’thing else what beckons and comes closer with the pursuin’, why, you get yo’se’f somewhere.

‘Foun’ my somewhere was the red dust lane up to Liam’s family land.  Goodwell land.  Been here ‘couple times.  Had me pie right at the dinner table.  But have Me’cy, I forget it be so beautiful, it be the Garden o’ Eden, even here in the darkness of night.  Lights on through the winders shown gold and warm and invitin’.

‘Foun’ my insides near wrung insides out, fer the hunger chewin’ its way through.

‘Foun’ that feelin’ trumps all hesitatin’ I might have fer announcin’ myse’f so late come evenin’.

‘Foun’ myse’f marchin’ right up to the front door and ‘fore I could knock, which I woulda, I know, couple white-headed white boys what look like both sides o’the same book, they press they noses to the screen, eyes wide, like they ain’t never seen themse’ves a colored boy on they front porch.

“Liam!”  Them boys, they even shout with one voice.  Then they run off into the house.

‘Foun’ myse’f planted. What come next, I ain’t got no idee.

Then right there, framed by the gray slats o’ the door, here come Liam, he come hustlin’ right up to the door, big ol’ grin near coverin’ his speckly freckly face, then push that screen door open wide, wide.

Have Me’cy, Have Me’cy.

Best of all,

‘Foun’ duly and truly, I ‘foun’ me a frien’.

(Who once more give me a pencil and paper.  Boy has him one tune, he does!)

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