Hey. Liam here. Liam Goodwell. Third son of the youngin’s in the Denton County Goodwell tribe.
(Miss Meadow, down to the school, she’ll like that! “Clever turn of a phrase, Liam, she’ll say. An’ I’ll like that!)
Well, I give myself a assignment, as such. Aimin’ to de-scribe and trans-cribe jest where we Goodwells live.
There be eight us chid’rn, plus Daddy and Mama and Grandpap. We, all o’us, live in a sideways shotgun clapboard dwellin’ up the top o’a mi-nute rise down to the bottom of Shiloh Mountain. Which, truth be tol’, ain’t really a mountain ‘t’all, but a right nice big green hill with a purty white gravel road windin’ its way to the top, a’peakin’ from the evergreens and oaks plasterin’ its shanks. Cain’t see it plain from here, but up to the top lies a grand ol’ Victorian mansion, hund’rd or fifty rooms al’ tol’. Goodwells built it and Goodwells dwelt in it up to right ‘fore I was born. Hard times, they call fer hard decisions, so we Goodwells, we sold. They’s bright white painted barns an’outbuildin’s an’ gazebos and a big ol’ bell front and center come clean from a plundered church down in Georgia.
Grandpap says we should continue prayin’ for the souls o’them Blue Coats what burnt and ravaged the Lord’s House. Hear tell Grandpap’s grandpap, who saved the bell for God and Country, said we should o’shot ’em.
An’ he was a Blue Coat his ownself.
Tough ol’ buzzard, Grandpap’s Grandpap.
An’ ain’t no cause cryin’ over milk what was spilt, and one day they’ll be Goodwells a’livin’ back up there. An’ I reckon it may be up to me.
Right now, though, right this here very split second, I only jest awoke, sunshine ain’t yet made a sliver on the horizon, from what I can see out the winder. Figure I got me a minute ‘er five so’s I grabbed my tablet and set to writin’.
Now, darkness ain’t pure, more like a gray haze in the leanto I share with big snorin’ brothers Lincoln and Lawrence. They be those heavy lumps breathin’ hard over in them two cots ag’inst the big wall, an’ me, well, I got the short wall, but I got it all to myself. We, bein’ the big boys, we got us our own room, built on the west side the house with our own hands, not a couple years ago, usin’ left over lumber from the new brooder house out back. Ain’t never got to paintin’ it, insides or outs, and say what you will, gray walls suits us fine, ‘cept fer the splinters. We even got our own little winder, screen an’ all, teensy tiny though it may be. We added us hard scrabble wood shelves near to the ceilin’ top, once upon a time stacked neatly with all our worldly goods. Still hold all them worldly goods, but the neatness didn’t take hold.
Squintin’ though I am, I kin jest make out the boots them boys set at the bottom o’their cots. Big black workboots, scuffed an’ run over, those’d be Lawrence’s. He’s goin’ t’be a big man, bein’ he’s a big man boy right now. At sixteen years, he’s jest over six feet, han’some as all get out, slick yeller hair, neat even in sleep. An’ that boy, he’s strong as a team o’oxen. His blanket, fer I cain’t see hide nor hair o’him as the early mornin’ coolness clean devours our little dwellin’, is clear afternoon sky blue. I know this fer a fact, as I seen it ever’ mornin’ fer a lifetime, , but sky blue presumes itself to be murky pond gray ‘fore dawn.
Them other boots, them shiny cowboy suckers with the silver tips and the varnished wood heels, them be the belongin’s o’biggest brother Lincoln. Bought ’em with his rodeo winnin’s, he shines them rascals near ever’ day, an’ when he don’t, he’ll hogtie me and make me do it.
Not that I mind much. Smell of saddle soap and oil’s downright pleasant, tickles my nose fine. But I don’t tell Linc that. He’d have me doin’ it more’n I care to. Besides, I got him thinkin’ he owes me a favor r’three, an’ I like havin’ that in my back pocket.
Grayness is liftin’ some, and I kin see a mite better. Lincoln’s lyin’ flat his back, not quite as han’some as Lawrence, nor as big, but if dash an’ sashayin’ counts fer an’thin’, he’s the bigger feller, sure. Arms flopped clean to the floor either side his narrow cot, he got his Indian stripped cover folded careful jest at his waist. He don’t make his bed, Linc don’t, as he pulls his cover up to his chin tight, then slides ever so careful out the side an’ to the floor. Then with a swipe and a howdydo, he wipes away any stray wrinkle and hey ho! He’d be done!
Mornin’s nearin’ an’ the rooster’s fixin’ to strut his stuffin’, so I reckon chores be a’waitin’. Me, I swing my long skinny legs out from under my own cover, orange and black striped, burn spot at the end when one time I took it out for sittin’ durin’ a weeny roast. Yep, one o’ them weenies went flyin’, singein’ my sittin’ and sleepin’ blanket, an’ my yeller red straw hair.
It’s jest a sleepin’ blanket, now.
The planks on the floor under my feet is icy, even here in summer, but they’ll warm up right quick when the sun shows up. I tippy toe over to my pile o’work clothes, grab me a shirt and pick my Feed and Seed hat from the nail by the door and tippy toe on out.
An’ britches? Why, ever preparred, I slep’ in ’em. Ever ready, ever pre-pared!
Liam Goodwell is up and at ’em. Got me a day ahead.