‘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!

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That there? That’s a Thing o’Beauty!

Hey, Ever’body!

Let me introduce myself once ag’in.

This here’s Liam Goodwell.  Third son o’the es-teemed and re-deemed Goodwell clan o’ Denton County, northern lands o’ the state of Missouri!  (An’ if you pro-nounce my state with an’thin’ other’n a “uh” at the end, why, I’m doggoned you ain’t no native, and shore ain’t no kin!)

I been tasked by Miss Meadow, down to the school, to keep writ track o’all my comin’s and goin’s and ponderin’s.  So you give me a new idea, and here I am, puttin’ pencil to paper yet one more time.

Now, you set my mind t’thinkin’.  What in all my thirteen years have I been missin’ to the point o’makin’ a list so as to achieve them things?

My Mama, and my Daddy and Grandpap besides, they all taught me and all us Goodwells to count our blessin’s rather’n harp on the things what come short.  A feller’s got to have somethin’ on the horizon, way I see it, so let me lick this here lead and get after it….

Liam’s Inventory of Things He Wishes Would Come to Pass (or: Things I been longin’ fer, pinin’ fer, plyin’ fer, dreamin’ on, cravin’, and let’s lay in on the line, downright covetin’!)

………by Liam Goodwell.

  1.  I long to all o’Heaven to be saved from sin an’ when my time comes, be rescued from that ol’ boilin’ Lake o’ Fire and blessed by God and let into them Pearly Gates with open arms and have me a mansion right down the line from all the Goodwells what come before.  I got me some questions. (The Good Lord’ll understand why all the rest o’ my “wish fers” ain’t necessarily Biblical.  I did, after all, put Him first.  I’m purty sure He’ll understand.  He knows my heart.)
  2. I yearn beyond all believin’ Grandpap’d let me use his special “give to him by HIS Grandpap” silver workin’ tools.  He’n Daddy, they make mean saddles, all decorated and shiny and slid on equines fer parades near all over Missouri and down even to Texas. (I’ll confess he give me some lesser grade tools, so I ain’t bein’ ungrateful, Grandpap, if you was to read this here.)
  3. I fair dream o’bein’ able to move my family, all us Goodwells and the Michelwaits and ever’body what’s kin and I claim, back to the top o’ Shiloh Mountain, right up there where I kin still see the tip tops o’ the big white family home Grandpap’s Grandpap built in the olden days.  (I determined long ago we Goodwells, we be made fer the mountaintop, not dealt to dwell at the bottom. An’ Fergive me, Lord, if you sense some resentin’ in my spirit.  I’m jest longin’ fer restoration.  An’ to live on land what was once family.)
  4. I crave Mama’s chocolate cake an’ apple pie.  With cheese.  The pie, I mean.  An’ in any order you please.
  5. I wish like heck (fergive me my French) big brother Lincoln would concentrate less on the rodeo and more on helpin’ out with the plantin’ and the tillin’ and the harvestin’ and the feedin’ and the buildin’ and all them things I been doin’ fer him since he won him that first big ol’ belt buckle!
  6. An’ I’ll ask fergiveness right up front on this here.  I hope, I do know this is wrong, but the war over to Europe, an’ even the one over to Japan, don’t end ‘fore I get my chance to fight ‘longside General Patton an’ save the world, and Denton County, fer democracy!  God Bless America!
  7. I wish my brain’d slow down to a crawl ever so often.  It runs and gyrates and opinionates to who laid a chunk. Mama says she and me, we ain’t like ever’body else,  we figure things ‘fore other folks.  Then true, we gets a little itchy whilst they do they own figurin’.  Guess what I really wish was I didn’t have to wait so long fer other’s to ketch up.
  8. I wish my Uncle Kenny, Daddy’s younger brother, would come back safe from over to Italy.  Soon and unscathed and w’thout damages.  An’ tell us stories an’ tales like he used to do.  His letters stopped some time back an’ we’re chompin’ at the bit, leastways me and big brothers Lincoln and Lawrence (he’s the one what tried to run off and join the U.S.Army ‘fore he was of age) are.  Mama jest commences a’hummin’ when I bring it to conversation.
  9. An’ there’s that fine feisty Tennessee Walker the Judge, he said’d be mine, were I to do some favors fer him an’ his crew in an’ ‘roun’ the county, visitin’ folks, pickin’ up packages and such.  I don’t reckon that’d be covetousness, jest payment fer a job well done.  Feels a little prickly, an’ I ain’t mentioned it none.  But it IS a Tennessee Walker, purtiest steed in five counties, fer that there’s all I seen.  I’ll give that there some thinkin’.
  10. An’ ‘thout a doubt, I hope and pray more’n near ever’thin’,  more’n hope its ownself Miss Meadow down to the school approves what I writ.  Fer to date, she been plumb the only member of hu-manity I let read any o’these missives.  She ain’t judged, not yet an’how.  An’ I do want to please Miss Meadow.  She’s a lady an’ she taught me plenty, and she believes I’m worth the time.  Now, bein’ a Goodwell, I know that already, and so’s most o’ the county and near ever’body beyond.  But It does feel special bein’ called out fer musin’s and gifts only me an’ my Mama know we got.

That there, that’s it.  Cain’t think o’nothin’ more I ain’t already got.

So, now I reckon I’ll spin t’other di-rection and get t’fixin’ to count my blessin’s once ag’in.  An’ tendin’ to the horses.  It’s a heap more gratifyin’!

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“Tween a Crock an’ a Hard Space”

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.

Durned tootin’!

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“Tween a Crock an’ a Hard Space”

Hey Ho!

There’s here’s Liam, like reg’lar.

Liam Goodwell?  Of the Denton County Goodwells?

I reckon even if you ain’t heard tell o’me, nor the Goodwells (though that there is hard for my imagination), you shorely heard o’Denton County.

Denton County?  Denton County, Missouri?  Up near St. Joe? Bledsoe River run near north to south right down to the Big Mo?

No?

I have been plumb selfish, then, sure.  I been spinnin’ tales ’bout me, all true.  ‘Bout we Goodwells, all, too, true.  ‘Bout Miss Meadow down to the school, fer sure true, seein’ she’s the one encouragin’ me to contineeue this exercise.  She maintains with certainty I have words floatin’ ‘roun’ in my head what need to be writ, stories what need to be tol’.   She give me a stack o’ Big Chief tablets (baby paper, but they was give me and what’s give is give) and pen, no e-racin’ ‘llowed nor possible,  and had me set to it.  Been doin’ it, seems like, forever, but I reckon it’s only been since the summer begun an’ school was done, day after Decoration Day, as Grandpap likes to say.

Me, too.

So, I got it in my head, selfish though I have truly been, I think I’d take t’tellin’ you all who’s readin’ jest about where we live and who we are, we Goodwells.

An’ I think I’ll start right here t’home.

Generations heaped on generations o’Goodwells been livin’ on or near Denton County, Missouri since nigh on the beginnin’ o’ time.  Come from England, our forebears did, got them land from the King his ownself, back in New Jersey.  First Goodwell, hear tell, was the King’s own surgeon and was gifted thusly.

Well, we Goodwells wudn’t meant fer livin’ so tight, we get t’itchin’, so we lit out for the broad and wide, some droppin’ off in Virginey, some landin’ in Kentucky and Tennessey, but them with wherewithal to keep on a’goin’, well, they landed in the rollin’ green hills and on the red rich fertile soil of Northern Missouri.

Didn’t consider the skeeters.

But I digress.

Now, we Goodwells, we been up.  And sure, we been down.  But we ain’t never been called out, no matter how many strikes we get ag’inst us.

An’, well, right now, we jest might be considered on the low end o’up, as our fortunes done diminished some since we Goodwells laid claim to a slew o’Denton County, livin’ fine up to the top o’ Shiloh Mountain yonder.

That we live, all us, at the bottom of the Shiloh now, well, it don’t mean we be down, just means we be down here!  An’ we got us a right purty view.

An’ personal, ‘tween you an’ me’ an’ the fencepost?  I reckon I’ll be a’livin’ high on the hill come some day, I kid you not!

I kid you not!

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

Let ‘er Rip

This here’s Liam.  Liam Goodwell.  Denton County Goodwells.

Hey.

Well, here’s the thing.  The thing about my Mama is there ain’t one slice, not one durned iota, not a shred nor a hair nor a nugget o’ woulda, coulda, shoulda in her.  Nosiree.  I tell you, she’s a woman who gives ever’ moment her complete and whole an’ good-hearted attention, then moves on to the next moment, givin’ it the same.   My Mama, she ain’t reckless or feckless nor wild, thing is, she just don’t toe no line.  

She’ll tell stories how some o’ them ladies down to the church, they give her some trouble early on, as her spirit ‘ppeared to them to be a right bit free, not to they likin’ a’tall.  How she won them ol’ biddies over I’ll never know, but long’s I kin r’member, they jest give her her head and let her be.  Once upon a time, I reckoned bein’ a Goodwell, an’ ‘fore that a Mickelwait, give her a pass.  Although the Mickelwaits, the bad times hit them harder than it did us Goodwells.  They all still tryin’ to make a livin’ down in the river bottoms, floods and bugs and critters accost them reg’lar, but they be hardworkin’ and honest.  And most say them Mickelwaits raise the purtiest chil’ren in ten counties, all fluffy and yeller-headed and freckle-free and strong features what cain’t be tamed.  Big white smiles and friendly to a fault don’t hurt none.

Truth be told, however, I jest think my Mama is jest the best human bein’ ‘live and folks jest ain’t bound to argue.  Don’t nobody spend much time argu’in’ with my Mama, anyhow.  She’s liable to twist them ‘roun’ her little finger, get them to do her biddin’ ‘thout them even a’knowin’, them feed them a slice o’her apple pie to keep ’em sweet!

My Mama, she’s somethin’.

And she ain’t woke up in two days.  

Jest them teeny sips o’water Daddy give her through a straw from down to the drugstore  (Doc Allen brung straws when he brung us the salve and the medicines.).

Story goes, come to find out, ‘fore breakfast, day b’fore last,  early whist she was a’gatherin’ eggs for our mornin’ meal, (I cain’t even stop to think how my Mama knows I love my scrambled eggs come mornin’…) she was out to the brooder house, roustin’ them hens from they roosts.  Somethin’ she, or me or the girls or the boys or purtin’ near all us Goodwells done a dozen r’ a hundr’d times. The mist was jest a’liftin, still wettin’ the straw and straggles on the groun’, and the sun wudn’t even a orange sliver yet.  The gray of the morning near matched the gray of the wooded slats of the henhouse, but my Mama, I know, was a ray o’light.  Them rosy pink cheeks and them poppin’ brown eyes, she’s one heap o’color.  She cain’t he’p it.

Daddy was out to the barn beginnin’ his own early chores when thought he heard her give a little yelp, startled him some, said he.

“That you, Darlin’?” he recollects he hollered out, and he recollected he waited quiet-like till she hollered back, “Oh, it’s alright, Hon, jest pricked my ankle on a stick. I’ll live!”

Law.

Didn’t neither one think one more thing ’bout it.  Mama come in, ol’ splintered basket full with ‘enough eggs to feed a thrashin’ crew.  Or the Goodwells.  She bustled ’bout and hustled here and there, cuttin” stripe-ed bacon thick like we like it, whippin’ up the biscuits and cuttin’ them with an’ ol’ jelly glass, then slicin’ tomaters ’cause Grandpap loves him his tomaters, layin’ out the butter and jam, and whiskin’ them eggs.  Then with the girls she sat the table and hollered fer them twins t’get out her way and wiped her brow with the back o’her floury dusty hand, then worried them on the hem o’ Daddy’s threadbare shirt she was sportin’.

Mama don’t wear no apron, by the by.  She wears one o’ Daddy’s ol’ work shirts, y’see.  Says it keeps her housedresses nicer come company stop by.  An’ I s’pose it does, but I see the little smile she gives Daddy when we ask, and the little smile he’s purty sure he’s secretly givin’ her back.

An’ all them purty aprons what she sews and embroiders fer the girls’ hope chests, why, ain’t a’one for her.

Well, there we was, all gathered at the kitchen table, talkin’ ninety to nothin’, summertime jabber ’bout this and that and nothin’ parti’cular.  Givin’ no nevermind to Mama a’favorin’ that leg jest a little durin’ her fetch and deliver sashay back an’ forth from the black wood stove.

All the while never considerin’ once that stick what pricked her wudn’t no stick a’tall, ’twas a five foot copperhead lyin’ in wait, a’waitin’ his own turn to grab some o’them eggs, but Mama, she got in the way.  An’ the poison, it was doin’ its devilry, none o’us the wiser.

Law.  

Mama jest has to wake up.  My get up and go done got up and went and I barely got nothin’ left to say when I pray.  I know surely I keep a’sayin’ and prayin’ the same thing over and over again, jest like we learnt in Sunday School them heathens do.   Lord knows my thoughts, Bible tells me so, and I reckon I got to hang my hat on that there.

Lord, Lord, bring my Mama back.  I’ll gather the eggs ever’ day the rest o’ my life.

Amen.

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

Let ‘er Rip!

I reckon a feller shouldn’t never grow up ‘thout a mama.  Ain’t right, somehow, nor good.

Selfish, I am.  Got me sisters an’ brothers needin’ the comfort and guidance of a mama, an’ I ain’t aimin’ on denyin’ them, no, I am not.

Havin’ a mama in the house is like plumb havin’ a angel around….one who scrambles the eggs, who mends the holes in the knees o’ our britches, who wets the worshrag to hold against our feverin’ brows.  She’s the one who plucks the feathers from the fresh-slain chickens, and shucks, she’s the one who’ll wring they necks.  She’s the one who shoos the hounds from the cats’ food but will pick the ticks from under they fur an’ give ’em a hug and a ruffle jest for sittin’ still.  She’s the one who’ll worsh out our mouths with soap for takin’ the Lord’s name in vain, and won’t abide a lie, and who’ll make us cookies fer no reason a’tall.  She’s the one who always says she loves us last thing ‘fore bed and first thing come mornin’.  She’s the one who peeks in to check all is well, when we’re a’playin’ possum under the nighttime covers.

But me and MY Mama, we was always kindred spirits besides all that, always two of them podded peas.  She’d have these visions, premonitions or what have you, and they’d cross the front o’ my thinking at pre-cisely the same darned time.  Cain’t explain, nor could she.  We, both o’us, understood of livin’ what others ‘ppeared to not.

My Mama, she could slide me the side-eye an’ I could read her thinkin’ in a snap. An’ toe the line if that was the message….as it often could be.  We, both of us, could sing an’ spin an’ dance an’ holler, jest ’cause it was daylight.  Or nightlight.  Or Tuesday.  We shared thinkin’ on books an’ the war over to Europe an’ dreams of trav’lin’ once this war was done.

She’s the one taught me cryin’ was fine, done in private, but when the clouds cleared, ’twas time to move on.  She’s the one taught me God loves us even when we scratch him the wrong way.  She taught me to be sorry when I should be, and not when I’m not.

She taught me to forgive real things, not jest say ” oh, that’s alright…”  ‘Cause most time it ain’t.

So, Father God in Heaven, fergive me my lapsin’ o’faith.  My Mama, she ain’t woke since she been bit.  I put her in your lovin’ hands, but I be shrivellin’ wrinkled in fear.  My Mama, she be yours, but I reckon I’d shore ‘ppreciate if you’d see yer way to lettin’ her be ours a mite more, if you see fit and willin’.

Amen and amen.

Yer servant and son, Liam.  Liam Goodwell.  Of the Denton County Goodwells.

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“Don’t Set Under the Apple Tree With Nobody Else but Me”

Ain’t seen hide or hair nor a whiff of a sniff of Liam all afternoon.  Blindsided by the horses loosin’ themselves from the pasture, he skedaddled right now, leaving these folded up sheets of Big Chiefs tucked under his plate when he jumped to it from the noonday meal.  Mama didn’t bat an eye when I slid them into my dungaree pocket whist I helped her clear.  She knows all about my tendency to “collect” odds and ends.  She also knows about the certainty I return them all once I’ve investigated and perused them.

So she didn’t give me no nevermind.

Now, all us kids know Miss Meadow, our young and glamorous and just a little too shiny teacher from the Raymore School, a white-washed, one-room, crowded little building snuggled in an elbow of  Mill Creek.  We all know she has high hopes for him, like bein’ a judge or a business man or a general, challenging him to write down his thoughts every single day.   We all know she’s partial to Liam, smart as whip, he is, clever, too, and quiet-like, and everybody’s friend.  We’re all, all us kids, partial to Liam.  Not a lick o’nonsense or cruelty or avarice or low-minded skunkiness in him whatsoever.  He speaks clear and true and is honest as the day is long.  Me and him and our cousin Marie-France Mickelwait, we always call ourselves the Three Musketeers and share and share alike, thusly.

All us kids, we go to the Raymore School.  Even Daddy, he went there.  I think Grandpap helped build it away back in the olden days.  Mama, she grew up on the other side of town.  They had their own school, but it burnt down some time back.

So all us Goodwells, we’re well acquainted with Raymore School, visitin’ on a daily basis.   Well, excepting Livvie and Lincoln and Lawrence.  They take the truck half an hour to Os-burn to the high school there.  They come home of an afternoon all decorated in orange and black and hollerin’ “Tigers!” most days.

I surely cannot wait until my turn comes.  I’ve been labeled, and rightly so, I suppose, as the mean-spirited desperado of the Goodwell family.  Smiles don’t come easily for me, nor do kind words.  Nor do friends or birthday parties or all-round happy days.  My jumping off place, my changing of the tide, comes in a year or so,  when I aim to pile in the ol’ truck with the big kids, singin’ and smilin’ and wearin’ pretty dresses and plantin’ Victory gardens with the spirit squad and shoutin’ “Go Tigers” to one and all.

My name’s Luce.  Luce Goodwell.  Lucille Madeline Mickelwait Goodwell.  I’m older by one year of dear brother Liam, on whose tablet paper I am documenting this.  I will swear him to secrecy, and vow to break his pitchin’ arm if he spills one word.

I have faith in Liam, and trust him to the ends of eternity.  But secrets, we all got ’em.  (We, us three, we got a big German one hid out the other side of the bridge and then some.)  And these secrets, well,  I’m trusting Liam, and you, with mine.

 

Best I haul on out and help with them horses.  Daylight’s a’wastin’.

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