Grandma Awful was never seen outdoors, but I saw Grandpa Awful twice a day on his walk toward town. Mother warned me never to speak to him, but she could have saved her warning. Had he spoken to me, I’d have run like a rabbit. He was a little scary looking with red-rimmed eyelids and continuously watering eyes. His lower lids stretched out of shape like the elastic in droopy underwear and gave me the creeps. I was convinced his bright blue eyeballs were about to pop out, an event I dreaded but didn’t want to miss. I was also sure his pants would drop off sometime as he scuffed by our house. His behind had dwindled away to nothing and no one seemed have thought to buy him smaller trousers. If that wasn’t charming enough, as often as not he’d peed his pants and left them unzipped.
Mother told me he was nearly blind, so I felt free to stare to my heart’s content. I was mystified that he managed so well with his cane. A few hundred yards from our house, he left the red-dirt road and followed the railroad track to town. Though I’d never been fortunate enough to travel down the railroad track, I knew from the other kids there was a high trestle to be negotiated near town. I was always a bit surprised to see him pass our house again in the afternoon on the way home. Occasionally, on our trips to town, We’d see Grandpa Alford sitting in front of West’s Barber Shop or the Pool Hall. Mother made it clear hanginging out at the Pool Hall was bad, though she never actually said anybody was going to Hell. She wouldn’t have actually said Hell, anyway. She’d have said The Bad Place. The Pool Hall looked dark, mysterious, and spooky. I desperately wanted a peek inside, but it was not to be.
Grandpa Awful was reknowned for his incredible tales, multi-layer creations mostly concocted on no more than a teaspoon of truth. Despite has reputation, he could be very convincing, causing great embarrassment to anyone foolish enough to believe him. One morning Daddy was cleaning a large catfish when Grandpa Awful passed by. They discussed the fish, the weather, and passed a few minutes in conversation before Grandpa went on his way. Not too long afterward, a couple of fellows pulled up in a truck, hopped out, and asked to see Daddy’s catfish.
“It’s in the house in a sink of cold water. Why do you need to see it?” He asked.
“Old Man Alford said you caught a catfish so big its head weighed forty pounds,” one of them answered. “We wanted to see it before you cut it up.”
“Fellows, you’ve been shellacked. It was a nice fish, but it didn’t weigh but eight pounds.”