“I See That Hand!”

These here are the true and verified and value-fied daily chronicles of one Liam Goodwell, third son this generation of the Denton County Goodwells, God Love Us Ever’one!

 

 

Now, comes a time when a feller, he’s got to make hisself known.  Comes a time when that feller, has to speak up against when he knows for heck certain somethin’s plum in error. To say nothin’, that there’d be livin’ a lie and I’d be cast down to the Fiery Lake o’Blazes with not a drop o’water to moisten my parched tongue.  Ol’ Devil’d torment me clean through to Eternity and back.

Least that there’s what Ol’ Brother Zebulon Magruder Bean down to the church preaches.  An’ I believe him.  Purtin’ near.  Either way,  I ain’t aimin’ on takin’ no chance, that’s fer ding dong sure.

I ain’t known fer speakin’ my mind, leastways not loud ‘nough to cause some commotion, and I’ll true stand tall ‘gainst them dishin’ on the low and downtrodden, but when Miss Meadow, down to the school, when she speaks, well, I take it as plumb Gospel.

Fer Miss Meadow, down to the school, she’s a mighty fine teacher, young and fresh, only a few years from the Dees Moines Ioway Teacher’s College up to Dees Moines, Ioway.

She ain’t never done nothin’ to steer none o’us kids wrong, not never.

And she sings like a night’gale, ‘course we don’t have none o’them here in Northern Missouri.  She, hallelujah and praise to Jesus, shore don’t sing like no Great Tailed Grackle, an’ we got us a’plenty o’them!  Birds and otherwise.

Well this day, this here day, I near to gnashed my teeth for the wrongness of Miss Meadows teachin’s.  Didn’t want to say nothin’.  Didn’t have to neither.  Durned tootin’ problably shouldn’t have.

It all started jest like a normal history period, Miss Meadow, all dewy and dreamy, sashayin’ to and fro ‘cross the front, tiltin’ like she was hearin’ voices from the past, teachin’ all us kids, kinny-garden on up to eighth grade, and them what was held back, regalin’ us with mind pictures of France over to Europe, days gone by.  Her voice fluttered up and danced ’round the ol’ peelin’ paint walls when she described the giant castles ol’ Louie the sumpteenth lived in, them grand all-week parties, folks dancing and spinnin’ fine, and them splendid men and kings and such dressed up in short pants and stockin’s over they knees.  Miss Meadow, she fluffed her hands like she was a strokin’ all them roses in them maze gardens.  She lifted her pert little nose like she was a’sniffin’ they perfume.

Law, Miss Meadow, she could spin a tale, makin’ them olden days come plumb alive, she could.

Law, I could watch and listen to her near all the day long.

But then, well, she come up short, she did, and while I longed to wish her right, prayin’ she’d find the correction in her head and sort the truth, specially for the young’ins, she plugged on ahead, makin’ the same mistake over’n over ag’in.  Them big boys, them what was held back and them what was too big for they britches, they come to snortin’ and guffawin’, and bein’ right disrespectful.

Miss Meadow, she shot them a look ‘r two, but off she’d go, pushin’ out that one little wrong fact.  And while it was a little one, by gum, them fellers wouldn’t let it go.  I could feel the red start a’climbin’ up my neck and overtakin’ my ears, burnin’ and churnin’.  Clinchin’ my fists, I shore wanted to lay into ’em, but proclivity and proximity precluded that behavior.

Still, I needed, felt called, to save her, save Miss Meadow from her folly.

I raised my hand.

On a roll ’bout hun’erds o’some purty mirrors surrounded by flowers carved out pure gold and carved birds and extry large rugs hung up the walls ‘stead o’laid neat on the floors, she continued in her revery.

She didn’t pay me no mind whatsoever.

And them fellers what sit ‘long the back wall o’our little one room school, they snorted all the more.

I coughed, near to had a fake fit, and finally, finally, her eyes, they focussed my way, an’ I meekly raised my hand once more.

“Liam?”  her voice was like cotton candy from the county fair, “Liam, do you have somethin’ to add?”

I quick took a deep breath, stood to my feet, knuckles of my fists pressed hard on the top o’my desk,  proppin’ me up.  Had to do this now, save Miss Meadow from the derision of them fellers and po-tentially from all them youngin’s what would tell they folks how Miss Meadow, she done got somethin’ wrong.  That there’s just not acceptable.

“Well, Miss Meadow,”  She waited patiently, fer she respected all us kids, Miss Meadow did.  “Miss Meadow, you been talking ’bout France n’all….”

“Why yes, Liam, it’s a magical place and one day I shore hope all you can see pictures.  I’ll get a book down to Kansas City and bring one in…”

I interrupted, butt right in.   I was taught better, but I needed to remedy this ‘fore I lost my fortitude.

“Miss Meadow, you been talkin’ ’bout that golden palace place, Ver—“

“Versailles?”  Lord.

Then the guffawin’, it growed right up to outright laughter, the mean shoutin’ donkey-brayin’ kind.  She looked ‘roun’ the room, perplexed but in charge.  She rapped her own knuckles on her own desk.

“I’ll have none of that!  Let Liam speak.”

Ain’t that nice….

But I digress.

“Well, Miss Meadow,”  I couldn’t meet her eyes, per-ferin’ to examine my boots as I was a’speakin’, “Well, Miss Meadow,  we know plumb all ’bout that there golden castle, ’twas named fer a town down south o’here some hun’erd mile then some.”

Glancin’ up, her eyes was on me, still perplexed.  That she harkened from over to Hannibal on the other side o’Missouri, may how that there was the reason.

“It’s jest, that, ma’am, the name o’ the place ain’t “Ver-SIGH.”  I could hear giggles cuttin’ under my words, “Ma’am,  we’re right proud they’s a fine palace o’gold named fer a right fine community jest down the road some, but, Miss Meadow,  it’s done always been “Ver-SALES.”  Long as we an’ our daddys and mamas and grands and great grands been ‘roun’ these parts.  An’ maybe them French kings, they got some confused, but I feel it’s right impord-ant you know how it is, bein’ we was first an’ all.”

There, I done it.  I corrected my very own teacher, and I felt like a worm, but then ag’in, some like one o’them knights she talked ’bout ‘while back, too.  I stood tall, lookin’ straight forward now. What was done, well, it was done.

Well, if tears didn’t well up in her soft brown eyes!   Look at her!   She was sorry and repentant as could be. A’cryin’ fer embarrassment, she was.    I’d saved her from mispronouncin’ a name we knowed since we was born, all us had kin livin’ there.  We KNEW!  And now, so’d she.  I stood a little taller then.  I felt some like I’d helped her restore her respect ‘mongst the youngin’s she was commissioned to educate.

Well, right then an’ there, if she didn’t wipe them tears what was now coursin’ down them rosebud pink cheeks and cover her mouth. She let forth with a couple o’little sobs, an’ wavin’ her other hand, if she didn’t send us all out, whisperin’ between them little cracklin’cries  that school, it was dismissed fer the day.

If that don’t beat all…..!

 

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“Dang me!”

Hey.  This here’s Liam, settin’ pen to paper yet a’gin, jest like Miss Meadow, down to the school, requested of me I do.  And so, I reckon I’ll give’er another shot.

One thing par-ticular she’s wont to admonish me over’n over.  “A-luminate the moment!” says she.  Don’t be too danged grand, jest pick you a minute out the hund-erds durin’ the course o’livin’, and di-ssect the thing inside and outwards, too.

Given Miss Meadow, she finds herself par-ticular enamored o’my ways with words, well, I’m likely to wrestle with it a mite.  Jest to prove it can be done.

Well, I picked me a moment.  It ain’t purty, it ain’t worthy of learning a lesson nor is it sweet as pie nor does it have a happy endin’.  Truth be tol’ it now and forever won’t leave the front of my mind, so to be rid of it, I’m puttin’ it down to paper.  Then I’m like to burn it.  And it that there don’t e-rase it from my head, I don’t know what will.

Here’s the deal.  All us Goodwells, while we’re cream o’ the crop when it comes to Denton County, Missouri, US of A, we come down a few pegs since Grandpap had to, years ago,  up and sell parcels o’and from the top of the hill where our fore-bears once lived in peace and tranquility and abundance.  We still got us a hund’erd acres or so, but we’re livin’ plum in the shadder of that same purty hill.  Ofttimes, Grandpap’ll snitch him a glance up thataway, and I’ll catch him and he’ll give me a toothy grin, but I know he’s a hidin’ some pain.

Well, we survive jest fine.  Some give, some take, family circles the wagon come hell ‘r high water, and we share and share alike.  Why, jest this very mornin’, come breakfast-time, I seen Louis and Lawton, the seven-year-ol’ troublesome twins of the Goodwell household,  they was each a’wearin’ a shirt I have recollections of a’wearin’ my ownself.  Back when I was half the size I am now.  Shirts been through Mama’s wringer more’n once, I tell you what, fadin’ to a nice color of runny blue.  Or is it green?

Still, they’s not threadbare and they got most they buttons, so they’ll work for another day.

And therein lies the backcloth of my moment.

Not that it matters one iota, ’cause it don’t, but I figure ‘tween Grandpap and Daddy and big brothers Lincoln and Lawrence, I ain’t never, ever, in the history of Liam Elias Ephraim Goodwell, I ain’t never had me a new shirt nor a new pair o’dungarees nor a new coat nor a new nothin’.

Least of which, I ain’t never had a new pair of boots, one’s what wasn’t pre “shot to smithereens” from the wearers what come before.  It ain’t scuffin’ what bothers me so much, it’s the holes in the toes and the soles and ever’thing in the middle.

I know what you’re a’thinkin’ even ‘fore you say it, “Count yer blessin’s, boy, they’s child’ern in China ain’t got no shoes at all, got feet with soles like leather they ownselves jest to git by.”

And you’d be dead on.  I reckon if I’ve a failin’, it’s the one where I long fer a new pair o’footware to call my own.  Call me selfish, call me self-servin’ and mean, but I got me bumps and lumps on my feet where they surely shouldn’t have to be, squeezin’ into boots and shoes what wudn’t never meant to fit the likes o’where my rubber hits the road.

Now, it prob’ly don’t matter much, and you’re like to not give a hill o’beans, but I’d settle fer jest some shoes, maybe ones with real shoestrings ‘stead of de-twists of rope from the barn.  Truth is, my dream would be boots, shiny to start, only my feet been in ’em, stretched to jest my par-ticular toe stretch.  but that’d be a stretch its ownself, and as soon as that thought crosses my mind, I cross it right out a’gin.

My wants are few, and I’m liable to live my life in hand-me-down ever’thing.  But this day, this day done took the cake.  I’m so without words I jest want to spit.  And I’m like to..

At that same breakfast-time, jest when I was notin’ the shirts the fronts of which Louis an’ Lawton was dribblin’ they eggs and some honey, well, I’d jest then come in from the barn.

“Mama?”  I’d hollered, “Mama?  I cain’t even push my feet into these ol’ boots!  Near had to do my chores barefooted, even got me some splinters.”

Mama looked up from where she was a’fryin’ another pan o’bacon, exter-crisp like I like.

“Listen here, Liam, you jest give them boots one more day.  Linc and Lawrence, they done lit out and I know they ain’t got no more shoes a’waitin’.  And Grandpap’s and Daddy’s, they’s way too big fer you jest yet.  Give ’em one more day, Son.”

This is where Mama give me “the look.”  The one what says I feel yer pain, bein’ the middle boy of all the children, but they ain’t a sliver of ‘nothin’ I cain do to he’p.

What she didn’t know was, the last month r’so, I been wrappin’ ol’ socks and tape round and round jest to keep them in attached to my person.  Don’t know if my feet had them a overnight growth spurt, like other parts of my bein’,  but they wudn’t a way in the world my feet would fit down ‘side them boots this mornin’, and the bindin’, why it plum disinter-grated, poof.

“Let me see ’em,” she tossed over her shoulder, “after you finish yer breakfast.”

Now the other kids, they didn’t give me no nevermind.  We was always borryin’ and makin’ do.  And I crunched myself through a platter of bacon, them had me some eggs and some o’Mama’s biscuits, all fluffy and white slathered with farm butter and honey.  Law, I felt good.  Mama’d take care o’ it.

That’s when Lawton hollered.  ‘R was it Louis?  Don’t matter much.  Result’s the same.

“Looky here what the dog drug in!”

And look I did.  They was what I thought must o’been what was left of the sole of my left boot hangin’ out the side o’ ol’ Buford’s slobbery jowls.  Law.  I was done fer.

“Git that mangy beast out my kitchen!” Mama hollered her ownself, and we done what was necessary, pushed ol’ Buford back out to the back porch.  But he would not give up his treasure.  And t’other, the right one, it was nowhere to be found, and it sure as shootin’ wudn’t where I’d left it.

Mama come to the door a’wipin’ her hands on her apron, surmisin’ exact what’d become o’ my de-lapidated footwear.

“Reckon it’s too late now to find the hole where the dog buried yer other boot, Liam.  You need to hightail it right now to school, ‘r you’ll be late.”

Lookin’ ’round the leanto kitchen, I seen the rest o’the child’ern, they was gatherin’ thur books and such and was headin’ out.

“But Mama, I ain’t got no shoes to wear.  They ain’t a pair to be found in the whole place, I checked ever’where!”

And I had.  Daily.  Fer weeks now.

“Well, Son, we’ll find you somethin’.  You cain’t go to school barefooted, that’s fer certain!”  And that’s when Mama got “that other look” on her purty face, the one sayin’ I’ll do my Goodwell best for you, boy!

I had faith.

Now, I’m a believer.  Ain’t no uncertainty there, none what-so-ever.  The Lord God A’mighty loves me like I was his own and I believe one day I’ll be brung through the Pearly Gates to live in a mansion along one o’them streets o’gold.

But right now, my faith, it was bein’ tested.

I begun my look again, layin’ flat to look under beds and cots and the livin’ room divan.  I heard Mama a’rummagin’ through somethin’ somewhere, and jest as I was a’losin’ the vict’ry, Mama, she cried out it triumph.

“Liam!  Liam!  Look here!  I found you some shoes!  They’ll get you through ’til the fellers get back tonight!  Look here!”

And she come through the door to where I was waitin’ with great expectations aglow on my thirteen-year-ol’ face, a shoe raised high in each hand.

My glow diminished some, right there.

“Mama.”

“Liam!”

“Mama, they’s Livvies ol’ shoes.”

“Liam.”

“Mama, them’s girls’ shoes.”

“Liam.”

“Mama….”

“Liam, look here, we’ll scuff the up some,” at which time she throwed them both to the floor and stomped hard on the sides, “They’ll look jest like men’s brogues.”

My breathin’ was comin’ short now.

“Mama, no….”

“Son, you have to go to school.  What would Miss Meadow say?”

I had no answer.  But I shore didn’t care to show up to school, sportin’ the latest in girls’ shoes, don’t care how scuffed they was.

“Son.”

Mama’s word was final, and ‘spite the sadness in her eyes for she knew exactly what I was in fer, I put them shoes on my big ol’ feet, and stared.  Now, they wudn’t covered in buttons or bows nor buckles or purties, but they was clear not shoes meant fer a boy.

There wudn’t nothin’ to be done.  I hung my head and trudged out the door and down the dusty lane, lookin’ ever’where but down at them shoes.

I knew what was comin’.  And I’d be right.  I was in fer the roughest day of my life.

Well, so much fer a-luminatin’ a moment.  Wudn’t purty, wudn’t no lesson to be learned.  Ugly as a sinful black heart.

And I don’t feel a heck o’ a lot better, pardon my French.

A-luminatin’ serves to do jest that.  I ain’t sure I’ll be a’doin’ this again.

Sorry, Miss Meadow.

“Don’t That Beat All!” (musin’s, confusin’s, refusin’s and elocusions of a country boy)

“This Little Light o’Mine”

 

This here’s Liam.  I reckon you all know by now I’m Liam Goodwell.  Of the Denton County Missouri, USA Goodwells.

And I s’pose by now I’m liable to be a’callin’ you all friends.  I reckon, too, you all know plenty ’bout me and mine and I shore hope I ain’t skeert none o’you away.  But seein’ as the good Lord give we Goodwells been a fine and high-mindedly good road in this world, with ad-ventures poppin’ up here and yonder, well, I figured somewhere on down the line, folks might jest find them an amusin’ and inter-estin’ dinner table talk-em’up.

And truth be told, I jest don’t want these here ol’ stories and memories and thoughts and colors and flashes and tweeks and what all to float away like them dandeline puffballs with tick tock time a’passin’.

Shore sounds pre-suptious o’ me, don’t it.

Why, I ain’t nothin’ if I ain’t humble.  B

But I digress.

Now, to anybody deignin’ to pay attention to my rattlin’s on, I don’t claim to have me no special powers, ‘ceptin’ maybe my mean fastball.  Miss Meadow, down to the school, she’ll tell me a’gin and a’gin how my thinkin’ paths and my word sortin’ is a sight to behold, ‘cept o’course, unless she got her special sight, she’d be a listenary, not a visionary.

Still, ’twas her give me these notebooks this summer, encouragin’ me to write what ever dusted itself ‘cross my thoughts.  I hope to heaven she’ll like what I writ here.

If I see fit to let her take a look.

Well, they’s lots of stories left untold, ‘enough to fill the holler out to the back forty, I reckon.  Tales still needin’ tyin’ up in a bow, as well.

Looks clear to my mind, I reckon Miss Meadow, she had herself one o’them ul-terior motives.  ‘Stead o’ a chore, this here tale tellin’, why, I feelin’ right shore down to my dirty toes in my hand-me-down holey boots this here exercise, it jest might itself be a callin’.

So them yarns needin’ spun?  Them endin’s needin’ writ?  Well, let’s jest say I ain’t plannin’ on puttin’ down this pencil any time soon.

And I got me ex-trees, besides.

 

So Miss Meadow, if you’re a readin’ this, if I get up enough gumption to ‘llow you to pee-reuse these pages, I hope I’m a doin’ you proud.

 

“This Little Light o’Mine?  I’m goin’ t’let it shine.  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”

 

Amen and amen and durned tootin’.

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