Uncle Albutt Part 5

Quite often, our family and friends would gather for a late evening meal.  While the kids ran wild in the dusk and on into the darkness, the women prepared a filling meal of beef stew or chili and cornbread.  It would be near bedtime by the time they called us in, hysterical  with chasing each other in and out of the darkness.  Of course we’d been warned against running in the dark, but staying in range of the lights was for sissies.  I’d be in a delicious frenzy of terror till I stepped back into the light, where all horrors vanished.   They would be so many kids we’d be settled on the floor with our supper in a pie or cake pan.  This was before budgets stretched to include paper plates.  It was an honor to sit on the floor with the big kids.  Babies and toddlers sat at the tables where their mamas could keep a grip on them.  Two or three dinners were always dumped on the floor and there was squalling a’plenty as mamas cleaned up the mess and resettled the messy kids.  The kids finished in short order and tore back outdoors while the adults took their turn at the

After the meal, it wasn’t unusual for the men to load up their guns, flashlights, thermoses of coffee, and the dogs for a night of hunting, leaving the women and children to visit.  Mamas gave their kids a cursory wipedown with a washcloth before bed, since it wouldn’t have been possible to bathe that many children and settled them on pallets on the floor, sometimes as many as six to the bed.  Mamas rocked the knee babies and lap babies to sleep before putting them on a bed flanked by pillows once the settling down started, the women started their stories.  I loved these nights, especially if Mawmaw was there.  She believed in ghosts and could make our blood run cold.  Mother worried about nightmares, but lacked the courage to shush her mother-in-law, for which I was grateful.  I NEEDED those stories. Mawmaw thrilled us with tales of babies buried alive, girls who died of broken hearts when their dead sweethearts appeared to them, and big black ghost dog, and ball lightning rolling through the house. The kids didn’t dare move off the pallet, they were so terrified. Fatigued by their play, finally they drifted off to sleep, one by one.

As the women talked, they thought they heard an intruder trying to get in the front door. Someone else scurried to check the back door, unsure if it was locked.  .  Had there been an intruder, he’d have had a horrible shock breaking in on half a dozen  terrified women and a gaggle of children.  Meanwhile Mother hurried to the door.  Thinking she’d scare him away with a bluff, she called out.  “I’ve got a gun.  I’m gonna shoot through the door!”

Aunt Jewel stood right behind her.  Obviously terrified, she shouted out.  “Well, don’t just stand there!  Go git your gun.  You ain’t got no gun!”  Fortunately, there was no intruder, or he thought he’d better not break in, since nothing happened.

 

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It Couldn’t Be Helped Part 10

Kathleen, my octogenarian mother was snatched from sleep at three in the morning by the sound of hysterical screaming and pounding on her front door.  Through the peep hole, she recognized her neighbor, a frail, single mother clutching her toddler and tiny infant, begging to come in.  Mother was horrified to hear that Melinda had been raped at gunpoint, the lives of her tiny children threatened.  Nonetheless, Melissa called the police and an investigation was begun.

The next morning, the neighborhood was in an uproar.  Residents stood in the streets discussing the details and studying the composite drawing.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their son Jeremy stood on the edge of the crowd listening intently.  Mother had been meaning to go meet them, so as a friendly neighbor, she pulled them into the conversation.

Of course, the rape was on everybody’s mind, so Mother launched into her rapist defense plan, boasting of the shotgun under her bed and her plan to shoot to kill, not mentioning the rusty shotgun hadn’t been fired in thirty years, and never by her. She didn’t even know if she had shells. She was ready.  Eventually, tiring of the drama, the crowd dispersed and went about business as usual.

About two hours later, Mother was surprised to answer her door to Mr. Smith and Jeremy.  She had liked them well enough, but hadn’t expected them to accept her invitation to coffee so soon. After chatting a bit, Mr. Smith brought up the rape. Mother launched into her plan for the rapist, getting more excited as she continued, embellishing the agony in store for him should he be so foolish as to cross her path.  She wasn’t one of those namby-pambies who feared killing an intruder.  She’d go straight for the heart.  Should there be anything left afterward, she’d empty her gun in him just for fun.  Jeremy, a sullen teenager, rolled his eyes as much as he dared in the company of his father.  He was a little smart aleck, but Mother still thought it was nice of him to come down with his dad to check on her.

Mr. Smith was still very concerned about Mother’s safety despite hearing of her excellent rapist deterrent plan. Inspecting her locks for security, finding scratches on her back door, showing the rapist had tried but failed to gain entry there.  He asked to see her shotgun, and upon inspection, found the safety rusted shut.  When he asked her if she had a pistol, it caught her by surprise.  She had to admit she didn’t.  Mr. Smith pulled an heirloom quality pistol from his jacket, showed Mother how to fire it, had her demonstrate, loaded it and left, Jeremy in tow.  Mother was touched at his concern and generosity, realizing the pistol would be a lot more good to her than the ancient shotgun with no shells, at least theoretically.

A few days rocked by. The Smiths moved.  Little Jenny Whitmore who lived opposite the Smiths recognized Jeremy from the composite photo.  He was arrested, confessed to the rape and sent back to Wisconsin to serve the rest of his suspended sentence on his previous conviction for sexual assault.  Now Mother understood Mr. Smith’s concern for her safety.  Melissa and her babies moved away.

Life settled back down.  Relieved to have this business settled, Mother’s little neighborhood once again felt safe, secure and friendly.  The only fly in the ointment was when Mr. Smith came calling a few weeks later to reclaim Mother’s/his lovely pearl-handled pistol, not so generous after all.  She still feels bad about having to give up that sweet little pistol.  It was cute and old, just like her. (to be continued)

Y’all Got a Snake in Y’all’s Tree!

eve and serpentIt’s not everyday one hears a dynamic statement like this! Melvin was the ex-husband of Mother’s old friend, Maggie. A good man, he’d gone just a bit “off the rails” and Maggie, had reluctantly left him as a result of his increasingly fantical religious leanings. Mother and Daddy had long been faithful congregants of their church, only missing services if unable Continue reading

Y’all Got a Snake in Y’all’s Tree!

eve and serpentIt’s not everyday one hears a dynamic statement like this! Melvin was the ex-husband of Mother’s old friend, Maggie. A good man, he’d gone just a bit “off the rails” and Maggie, had reluctantly left him as a result of his increasingly fantical religious leanings. Mother and Daddy had long been faithful congregants of their church, only missing services if unable Continue reading

HO! HO! HO! Deer Season Doesn’t Come But Once a Year

Daddy took his hunting very seriously.  This was a man’s sport, an entitlement.  Real men hunted and fished.  A man’s outdoor gear was a reflection of him.  Daddy would have sooner worn lace panties than not follow the unwritten rules. His hunting gear was a necessity, not an extravagance like a dependable car, bills paid on time, and clothes for Continue reading