Sunday, October 19, 2003

life of buddy don, chaptur 70:
a tale of two sisters

as ye know already frum at lease chaptur 19 a lil fambly histry, i had two bruthers n two sisters, witch i talk a lot bout eli n brew, but i dont hardly mentchun roena may n maisie. twernt fer havin nuthin agin em, but fack wuz, i dint have much to do with roena may much ever, n tho i saw lots of maisie, she wuz still too young to be doin much with us. by the fall of 1977 that had all changed. they each had em a big life change.

furst wuz maisie. she was the baby of the fambly, witch she wuz whut daddy called a acksident n mama called a luv child. thang wuz, they wuznt plannin on havin a nuthern but mama cum up pregnunt sumhow n thats how maisie gut started. she wuz born in may of 1960. i wuz eight at the time. main thangs i member wuz how mama lost lots of blood n had to stay in the hospital fer a cuple extra weeks.

the day she cum home, i wuz playin baseball across the street with lil buddy, witch he had the same name as me but i wuz three years older. i wuz pitchin frum about ten feet away n he smacked a baseball right into my nose. i started in to bleedin lack a stuck pig n run home to tell about it but befor i could say nuthin, thar she wuz, maisie lynette, a tiny pink bundle in black ethyls arms, witch we called her black ethyl on a counta mama had a nuther frien name of ethyl only she wuz white ethyl.

maisie wuz everbidys favert frum the instunt she wuz born. since i wuz the oldest, i had to take care of my lil bruthers n sisters bout three times a week, n seem lack maisie always looked up to me. i wrote bout sum of that stuff back in chaptur 38 the short life of becky turner.

innywho, by the summer of 1977 maisie wuz cumin out to the farm purty reglar. she n i had us a closer relayshunship than ever after whut happened with becky turner n bout ever chants she gut, she wood git a ride out to the farm with me or susannah.

she had her a boyfrien for the longest, one of a set of twins, witch his fambly wuz one of the biggest in oak ridge. he wuz a short stocky fella name of kevin karnes n he wurked at big ed's pizza. kevin n maisie went together fer years in hi skool but whenever maisie gut to lackin to smoke theevil weed, they gut to fussin n fitin on a counta kevin dint wonta git hi n maisie felt odd whenever he woodnt git hi with her. so maisie gut to lookin fer folk that lacked to git hi n we had a bunch of em hangin roun the farm.

that summer we gut a long visit frum a cuple of our cousins frum up north in massachusetts n one of em wuz maisies age. he wuz a yankee with a thick bahston acksent name of john paul mize, witch everbidy always called him jp. he had im a car n twuz only natcherul that maisie wood show him roun n seem lack that hole summer whenever ye saw one of em, ye saw tuthern. then summer wuz over n he wuz gone n by then, maisie tole kevin she dint wonta go with him no more.

long bout the end of september, eli give me a call n sed we had to do sumthin bout maisie n i ast whut wuz the matter n he splained how she had dun cum up eggspecktin n he n brew had dun deecided twood half to be tuck care of. i ast did he mean he wonted her to git a aborshun, n he sed twuz thonly anser. i ast whut did maisie wont, but he sed that dint matter on a counta she wuz too young to know whut she wonted. i ast who wuz a'gone pay fer it n he sed the three bruthers. i sed i wood thank bout it n call him back.

in sted, i called up maisie n ast did she wonta go ridin on my motorsickle, witch virgil used it mosly, but he kep it wurkin n i used it now n then. so we tuck us a ride out to melton hill n set ourself down by the lake n burned a number n i ast her did she really wonta have a aborshun. n she cride n we talked n i ast whut did kevin thank. n that caught her by a nuff sprize that she ast whut did kevin half to do with it. n i reminded her how i had dun writ that letter bout how fathers should have rites when it cums to aborshun n all n she sed, mayhap by miss take, how kevin dint have nuthin to do with it.

twuz quite fer a long stretch. we watched the clouds floatin overhead n a boat go by n then i tride to ketch her eye but she woodnt let me. then i put my arm roun her sholder n pulled her a lil closer n sed, twuz jp? n whenever she gut to crine i knew twuz so. she finely gut her breath back n ast me never to tell nobidy n i sed i wood try but thangs lack that tended to wonta be known by folks. but i promissed i woodnt say nuthin.

n that gut us to talkin in a differnt way. she splained how she hadnt never luved nobidy the way she dun jp n fack is, i dont reckon she ever foun innybidy who she luved as well. but she sed thay wuznt no way she could risk havin a baby by her furst cousin n i couldnt go agin that.

so i called eli up n sed i agreed n he sed he dun knew that on a counta his mysticull will n i ast him did he know whut twuz that changed my mine n he sed i musta dun cum to my senses or sumthin since twernt rite fer her to have a baby outside of marrg. n he reminded me bout how mama had reackted to larnin bout a nuther cousin gittin pregnunt outside of marrg, witch that wuz krissy mize. n i sed mayhap he wuz rite.

i ast him whar wuz we a'gone git this thang dun, but he dint know n ast me wuznt thar places over by the universty that did such thangs n i sed i wood check. i ast suze whut she thought bout it n she sed she knew of a place that a frien of hers had used so i tuck the number n give em a call. they sed it could be dun fer $175, so i set up a pointment fer doin it.

i called maisie n tole her i had found a place, witch twuz planned parnthood over near the ut campus, n she sed she owed me n i sed she dint. then i ast eli did he half the money, but he had dun spent his munthly check , witch that wood be octobers check n twernt but the 4th day of the munth, but he sed he had found a grate deal on sum of theevil weed. so i called brew n ast did he have the money, but he sed he was a lil short on a counta havin to repair his car, witch he had im this datsun sports car that had to be repaired bout ever time he gut paid.

i wuznt about to ast susannah fer no hep with nuthin that tuck money, so i went over to ut n ast whuther i wuz a'gone git a check fer my student loan n i splained how i had a verr importunt paymint to make n they sed dint make no nevermind whut i had to make. ifn twuz time fer the check, then i wood git it, n ifn twernt, i woodnt. so i ast when wood it be time fer the check, n the lady looked into her files n sed sumthin lack 'whaddya know? you have one ready.' n twuz fer $433 on a counta the hole loan fer the year wuz $1,300 broke down into three parts, one per quarter.

so susannah n i tuck maisie over to the planned parnthood n went in with her n waited till twuz over. n then we tuck her out to the farm n called mama to tell her she wood be stayin overnite with us n twuz a normal thang fer her to do by then n fack is, she stayed fer sevrul nites till she wuz feelin more lack herself.

i wuz a lil mad at my bruthers fer not heppin with the money, speshly since it seemed to me lack they had more disposbull incum than i did, but a funny thang happened. i cum home one day n found a five dollar bill with a note round it in my sock drawer. i wuz sprized, but i opened that note n read it. twuz from kevin. he sed he wonted to apologize fer lettin me take care of sumthin he shoulda dun tuck care of, but ifn i wood be payshunt, he wood pay ever penny plus ten percent. n he sed i wuznt to mentchun nuthin bout this to maisie on a counta he dint wont her to thank he wuz trine to git her back or innerfear with her life in innyway.

i wonted to tell him twernt his to pay, but i couldnt tell who wuz the father, so the next chants i gut, i went over to big eds n found him n tole him he dint half to pay no ten percent. he thanked me fer that n ast did i promiss i woodnt tell maisie bout it, n i give him my wurd. n fer the rest of that quarter, i wood find innywhar frum $5 to $20 with a note that sed how much he had dun paid n how much more he had to pay.

n thangs wuz fine till one day maisie cum over n saw one of them notes n ast wuznt that kevin ritin? n she wuz reachin to pick it up, but i grabbed it n sed no, twuz a luv note frum susannah.

that made her git real quite, so i ast whut wuz rong, n she sed she wished thar wuz sumbidy that luved her lack that n then she wuz crine. n i sed thar wuz sumbidy that luved her lack that, witch i mint twuz kevin karnes, but she dint unnerstan n jes sed, taint the same, taint the same.

i wonted to tell her who twuz, but i had dun give my wurd to kevin, so i jes sed she had her fambly, n that made her cry all the more n she sed why did she half to fall in luv with a cousin? i dint have no anser to that n i wuz jes glad it hadnt happened to me.

i wonted to tell her that the one that luved her wernt no cousin, but i couldnt. in sted, i kep my wurd to kevin. n fer a while, i wuz glad i dun it n figgered twuz the rite thang.

but over the long haul, twuz one of the thangs i mos regretted doin in my hole life.

thangs wuz differnt fer my other sister, roena may. she wuz born whenever i wuz five years old. i member her cumin home with mama n how i wuz jes big a nuff to carry her roun now n then ifn i gut the chants. the two of us wuz a lot alike in sum ways. we both had brown eyes lack mama, witch eli had blue n brew n maise had hazel or green dependin on the lite n whut they wuz a'wearin. n lack me roena may wuz a lergick to mos everthang. n wurse wuz how bofus wuz easy criers n that made us natcherul bait fer daddy.

when we wuz havin dinner, daddy wood eethur use the time to quiz us all on importunt thangs lack whut happent in 1066 n why wuz it the mos importunt thang ever or whut wuz the capitull of montana or whar wuz the azores n so on, or he n mama wood fiuss n fite, witch they wuz masters of sar chasm n irony n the hole range of tools ye kin use in a curteeus fuss n fite.

n that mint twuz easy fer daddy to make sumbidy cry on a counta even tho he wuz way more edge-ucated than mama wuz, witch she only made it to the 8th grade n he had his docters of jurisprudents frum ut law skool, seem lack she wuz his equal in a fuss n fite, n that mint he had to turn on sumbidy else, witch twood be me ifn i fell fer it but more lackly roena may on a counta it seemed lack he hated her frum the momint he larnt she wuz a gurl.

a hole lot of them fuss n fites twixt mama n daddy wuz over how he treated roena may. sumtimes he wood try to make me cry furst n that wurked bout ever thurd try, but ifn he couldnt, he wood turn on roena may. fer the most part, tho, he wood jes go fer roena may furst thang, n purty soon he wood be makin smart remarks bout how the water wurks wuz a'gittin on his nerves n that wood git her to cryin more so he wood ast sumthin lack did the water main brake? n corse mama wood take up fer roena may n sumtimes the boys wood cum into it on daddys side on a counta we looked up to him the way we dun.

i aint sayin daddy wuz a fair man or that he warnt cruel bout sum thangs, but dint matter to eli, brew n me. we wonted to be lack him till we gut to be teenagers when we wonted to be innythang else. by then, tho, we had dun follerd after his way of pickin on roena may. we wood call her names n play tricks on her n cut her down ever chants we gut. n ifn we could make her cry, we wood laff n pile on. i aint proud of it, but tiz true n tiz one of them awful truths thats better to cunfess than lie bout.

but roena may wuz made out of strong stuff. i admit she had sum trubles with it whenever she wuz lil. she had her a bald spot on her hed on a counta she wood pull out her hairs n wrap em round her thumb n suck on em till she had swallerd em n then she wood git more till thar warnt hardly no more to git. n we wood call her names lack baldy n spot, witch nuthin wood hurt her wursen us a callin her lack she wuz a dog, 'here spot! cum on gurl!.' n we wood have sum dog food thar in a bag n be a shakin it.

n speakin of food, she wuz so hongry fer a lil luv n tenchun that whenever mama wood serve liver, peas or lima beans, we wood git her to eat ourn in eggschange fer half our dessert, ifn thar wuz dessert. ifn thar warnt, we wood offer other thangs. n whuts the verr wurse bout that is how all the kids wuz skinny as rales ceptn fer her n she had to fite fat all her life n to this day she eats when thangs hurts too much.

oh, roena may, ifn only i could take back whut i dun to ye!

but life is a one-way street n ye cant go back n ye cant make up fer nuthin, so ye gut to tell the truth bout it bes ye kin n hope them thats readin mite avoid makin the same miss take. not that innybidy ever larned much of innythang by readin or bein tole. seem lack they half to go out n make thar own miss takes to find out how awful they are. lease i did.

innywho, roena may grew up smart n dun good in skool n when the time cum, she went off to cookevull to skool at tennessee tech. n thar wuz started one of mama n daddys gratest fuss n fites of all time.

why? on a counta daddy had dun tole all of us kids that ifn we wuz thankin bout goin to collidge we wood half to pay fer it our ownself on a counta mama kept daddy payment poor, witch that means she had credit cards n lacked to use em fer thangs lack skool cloze n more cloze fer her ownself than she could git to fit in a closet. n i had to pay my own way n daddy never sed a wurd bout heppin n i never speckted him to.

but mama went behind daddys back n signed a piece of paper promissin that all of roena mays skool eggspentses wood be paid fer by them on time with intrest. they fought over thatn fer years n truth is she had forged his signatchur so he had sum ground to stand on, but fack wuz also that roena may cum thru the furst two years of skool with grate grades n met her husbin, witch he wuz a drummer in a rock n roll band n majorin in biology. he had im a huge mustache n wuz a verr smart guy name of jim coates.

everbidy lacked him n wuz rite proud of roena may fer makin such a good match. she wuz at her mos beeyootiful on the day they gut marrd. she had lost all her wate almost as soon as she gut out of the house, witch that tells ye a lot bout how thangs wuz fer her. she looked lack a model fer a weddin gown cumpny, n whenever they wuz fixin to go away on thar honeymoon, she put on a green dress n a lil hat with a veil on it n twuz lack a beeyooty queen from the 1920s.

n ever after that, dint matter bout how much daddy carrd on bout how he wuz ronged by whut mama dun, all we could thank bout wuz how roena may had dun eggscaped to a better place. n jim coates went on to git his docterate n be a biology perfesser at lincoln memorial uninversity n ye never met a better man in yer life.

they lived out in the cuntry n had beagles n cats n a garden. n in the winter of 1977 we gut the news she wuz specktin a chile, witch that wood be lillian mize coates who wuz born on october 5, 1977.

n even then, seems lack roena may couldnt ketch a brake. whenever she gut close to her time, the docters tole her twood half to be a ceasarian seckshun, n how she cride to here it on a counta it mint all her babies wood half to be delivered the same way. but she dried her tears befor she gut reddy to go to the hospital n lillian wuz born with a hed of black hair n calmly suckin on her thumb, witch that made mama say she wuz the spittin image of me whenever i wuz born.

me n daddy n maisie drove up to visit the nex day n thar wuz roena may, direcktin traffic n in charge. she tole daddy whar to go to see his furst grandchild n she started to callin him granddaddy the instunt he walked in n yew could see he dint much lack that on a counta he wuz only 55 years old at the time. so he ast could she jes call him gran n bless her hart, thats jes whut she dun n ever after that, mos everbidy in the fambly called him gran.

corse mama wuz not a'gone be called no grandmother or grandie or grandmama or innythang grand atall. she insisted they call her nana n they did, witch eli ast me had she ever read that book by zola n i sed i reckond she hadnt or else she wooda tuck a differnt name. but it stuck to her n folks calls her that even today.

on the drive home, we gut into a talk bout whuther ye wuz born with yer hole persunalty set n daddy tole agin how he bleeved ye wuz. he splained fer instunts how maisie wuz born happy n wuz happy to that day. corse time wood tell a differnt tale. n roena may wuz born sickly but stoic n never cumplained, n thatn held up purty good. n brew wuz born contented n eli wuz born hyperactiv n scairt of everthang n i wuz born hyperactive n curious bout everthang. n he sed dint matter how he n mama had dun tride to train us on how to do, we wuz set frum birth.

so we ast whut he figgered bout lillian n he sed mama reckoned she wood be a model, n truth to tell, lillian turnt out to be purty a nuff, but that wernt whut she wonted. n daddy made a perdickshun that wuz a goodn. he sed she wood be a artist on a counta how she looked at him the furst time he held her. n we ast how could he tell frum that, n he sed that a artist is a victim of thar eyes, n hers wuz the eyes of a artist. how rite he wuz.

ye could see he wuz pleased with his new granddaughter, n i wundered if twere a nuff fer him to be pleased with roena may. so i ast wuz he proud of her but whenever i did, i looked at maisie in the back seat. she wuz sittin on her hands n tears wuz streamin down her face n i wisht i hadnt ast that questchun.

but it dint matter. befor daddy could say a thang, sumthin cum on the radio bout the tennessee-georgia tech game n he never ansered.

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