Friday, February 16, 2007

life of buddy don, chapter 147: a lesson in looseburg

long tords the end of august in 1983, we tuck us a lil trip to looseburg sos emily could see all her folks ere the fall quarter wuz in full swang. we had spent our time readin n watching baseball on tee vee n in my case wurkin on a reevishun of crap notes n playin racketball everday over at the y n seein sum of the folks that we wuz in graduwait skool with. i seen a lot of bud rankin n billy stewart on a counta bud needed lots of talk bout his marrg brakin up n billy couldnt never git a nuff racketball to suit im. we all missd johnny mayhew sumthin awfull n bud vowed he wood move on up to new york city lack johnny dun. i dint thank nuthin much wood cum of that on a counta how he had gut hisself sined up to teach three classes over at ut, but i kep my mouth mosly shut.

we wuz packin up our stuff the nite before we wuz a’gone drive across the state whenever sharon worth cum by fer a visit. she had dinner with us n stayed till bout 10, mosly talkin bout cassandra. odd thang wuz how emily wuz jes as innerested in the topick as i wuz, speshly whenever sharon sed she hated to say it, speshly in frunt of miz duncan, but she bleeved cassandra wuz in luv with mr d, witch thats whut all em students wuz a’callin me by then. she even sed cassandra had dun tole her she hoped mr d wood be the one to ‘deeflower’ her, witch wuz jes the way she sed it n ye wood swear she wuz blushin only ye couldnt tell fer sartin.

that putt me to wundern bout how could she have been raped ifn she still wonted to be deeflowerd n later on emily splaind how she had tuck cassandra to the gynacallgist fer a checkup n they couldnt do no pap smear on a counta they couldnt git nuthin in thar she wuz so tite. i ast emily how could all these facks add up to innythang n emily sed she figgerd twuz lackly that a rape dint count as no deeflowerin, witch that wood be sumthin a woman gives willinly, not that emily wonted me to be the one to take it, n mayhap after the rape cassandra gut so skeerd to whar she sealed rite up sum kinda way.

nex day emily gut to wurryin bout leavin the apartment fer so long n how twood be possibull that sumbidy could brake in n go thru all our thangs n sumhow figger out witch book of the two thousund we had that she had hid our certificate of deeposit on the cee dee we had bought, so i ast her could she find it, n after a lil search she did. i tuck it over to the bank n gut us one of them safety deeposit boxes n putt it in thar. corse that ment we gut a late start, witch that ment we wuz late gittin to looseburg n couldnt pick up maureen frum her wurk lack we wuz spozed to have dun. in sted, we had to stop in nashvull n search fer a fone booth sos we could call to splain how we wood be late.

but maureen wood fergive mos innythang n turnt out they wuz plannin to go shoppin at the mall, so we gut her n drove out to columbya to the mall whar emily turnt her nose up at about fifty differnt parr of shoes, so we give it up n drove on into looseburg. twuz a fridy evenin, so bout as quick as we gut home, along cum milton n his wife n daughter, witch we spent the evenin drankin n laffin n fer them, smokin so minny cigarettes to whar ye could see the air.

nex day we wint over to see nanny. she had cooked a big ole lunch of fried chicken, sweet taters, fried corn, green beans, fried apples, home made cole slaw, macaroni n cheese, corn bread, sliced tomaters, iced tea n a deesert of peach cobbler. nanny gut her feelin hurt ifn ye dint have two plates, so i wuz one stuffed lad by the time we wuz reddy to leave. i wish i could say thonly thang i member bout that visit wuz the grate food, but whut i member most whuz how nanny ast me did i ever half to touch my students on the skin. twuz such a odd questchun that i dint ever fergit it.

i dont member whut i ansered nor even ifn i did. i do member feelin a lil awkwurd till she ast me could i git rid of sum waspers that had dun built three nests round her house. she give me a long broom n ast could i run fast. i sed i coult but that i wood be rite back. i drove down to the otasco hardware store n gut a can of that vigaro stuff that kills waspers n sprayed it on them nests n then knocked em down. twuz a blessin to have that to do whenever i wuz feelin so odd bout her questchun. corse i had dun touched my students on a counta i had this habit of shakin thar hands n hi fivin n such. but whut gut me mos bout it wuz how i had such fantasies of makin luv to cassandra, dreamin of touchin her all over her bidy. i hate to add mitt it, but that gut to be one of the mane fantasies that wood hep me with my evenin handshake on them nites whenever emily wudnt in the mood fer luvin.

after that i tuck emily home sos she n her mama could drive back up to the mall in search of shoes whilst i wint over to miltons to drank beer n watch the cubs on tee vee. milton wuz in rare form, as they say, tellin jokes n lettin me know jes how much he add mired me fer teachin over at that nigger collidge, witch he couldnt hardly git thru a sentence without usin the wurds ‘goddamm’ n ‘nigger.’ once wurk wuz over his wife cum home n she wuz steamd to find milton drankin on a counta we wuz all a’gone over to maureens that evenin fer a big dinner party n she dint wont him acktin out, but he sed he wuz fine.

then his daughter charnell cum home n tole im she wonted to brang her boyfrien to the party. he ast her who he wuz n she tole im twuz sum feller name of keith or kevin or sum name startin with the letter k. then he ast her wuz he a white boy n she sed, ‘daddy! whut do yew thank?’ so he tole her he had been a’thankin bout sumthin he had been meanin to tell her n me bein thar putt im in mind of it, witch he wonted her to know thay wuz two goddammed thangs that wood brake the hart of ever daddy in amurka n thay wuz ifn thar chile wuz to git involved in drugs n ifn she wuz to git herself involved with a nigger, witch whenever he sed that he turnt to me n tole me he dint mean no offents.

i wisht i hadda known whut to anser back, but i wuz fresh out of wurds fer once. twuz the secunt moment in that trip whar all i could thank bout wuz my fantasies n how i wuz dun involved n fer that matter, in a odd sorta way, so wuz emily. ye mite could be wundern why wood i spend inny time with a feller lack milton, witch i wuz wundern the same thang long bout then, but fack wuz, twuz eggspeckted on a counta him bein such a frien to the fambly. he had ‘been thar’ fer emily durin sum awfull times n had ‘been thar’ fer maureen when thangs wuz rocky whenever she n pete wuz brakin up n had even gut between the two of em whenever pete wuz gittin a lil too ruff, so twernt as simple as sayin ye dint wonta sit down n drank beer with such a feller.

but thay wuz more toot than that n tiz sumthin bout me that i cant say whuther tiz good or bad n that is how i have verr often been in places with folks that minny a nuther person wood not find wurthy of thar cumpny, but i couldnt never git to whar i could judge nobidy all that well. wurser, i always lacked watchin em n storin up the memries of how they wuz acktin on a counta thankin maybe sumday i wood use em in a story or whutever. so minnys the time i wuz thar but more lack a specktater than a participunt.

or mayhap i am makin eggscuses. but it dont matter nun on a counta ifn i hadnt spent the afternoon watchin baseball n drankin beer with milton, i wuz a’gone be spendin the evenin with a hole bunch of folk over at maureens: milton n his wife jackelin n savannah n keith or kevin n red wilson n his wife miko n a frien frum japan name of yoko (lack in yoko ono only twudnt her) n maureens bes frien polly. we had stakes n baked taters n salads n dinner rolls n all the iced tea ye could hold. then twuz time to pore the whisky n putt on sum musick n dance a lil n laff n tell jokes n stories n such, all the while drankin n everbidy but me smokin a steddy stream of cigarettes till i had to go outside ever now n agin jes to breath.

everthang wuz fine till pete smith showed up. he wuz a stankin mess, still wearin his orange huntin vest n drunk as yer proverbyull skunk. he made a kindly scene whenever maureen dint wonta dance with im n rite then i seen why milton wuz such a friend to maureen on a counta pete wuz gittin to whar he lackly wooda hit her but milton stood up n tuck out his eye n ast pete did he wont it. pete ast im whut wuz he spozed to do with his bes friens glass eyeball. he sed mayhap twood hep im see whut a fool he wuz makin outta his self. now ye mite could thank pete wooda flew mad bout that, but he jes kindly laffed n sed he reckund twuz time fer im to be gittin home innywho.

corse it hit emily lack a baseball bat in the back of the noggin. she wint to her room a’crine n that wuz the end of the party fer me. seems lack tutherns kep on drankin n such, but we gut to bed n gut to talkin bout how she couldnt trust nobidy ifn her own daddy wood do her thataway. i sed it dint seem to me lack he wuz a’doin nuthin to her but more to maureen, witch she tole me i must not be able to understand the simplest thang. i sed twuz so but whenever she ast me to hold er, jes hold er, i knew a nuff to doot till she wuz sleepin, witch i eased er into the bed n tuck off her jeans n let her sleep in her flannel shirt n bra n knee socks. she had nitemares that nite n woke up maybe three times astin me wood i hold her agin, witch i dun it evertime till we drifted back off to sleep.

nex mornin i wuz up early to read n drank coffee n chat with maureen while she wuz cookin up a big brakefuss of country ham n fried eggs n biskits n sweet milk gravy n coffee n orange juice, witch i squeezed that to do my lil part. maureen kep pallgizin bout pete cummin by as ifn she had planned it. i couldnt thank of nuthin to say, so i let er talk n dint say how i dint see it bein sumthin she had dun. purty soon the brakefuss wuz reddy so she went to git emily n we et.

fer sum reason, emily tole me i had abandoned er n left er unperteckted by lettin maureen wake er up. that gut us into a lil fuss n fite on a counta i tole her twernt possibull fer me to know that she orten to be awoken by her own mother n that led her to tell me she had dun lost all the progress she had made with her counselor, witch she had been seein a feller name of jim buckminster, who he wuz a grad student a’studyin hed shrankin n she had er a kinda crush on im. she figgerd she had made a lot of progress durin thar meetins but that this horribull trip home had set er back to wurser than whenever she had started a’seein im. i dint hardly know whut to say on a counta it dint seem to me she wuz so bad off, but she dint see it thataway. i dint know whut twuz lack to have pete smith fer a daddy, she pointed out, witch that wuz the truth. i dint know whut twuz lack to have all these small minded cuntry racists fer her fambly n how she wuz shamed to brang me thar n putt me thru all that.

this hole fuss n fite kep up whilst we drove out to the cuntry, witch thats how emily putt it whenever we wint to visit her grandmother out at her uncle terrys in cornersvull. ye wood thank we wood burst frum all the food we et! they had been cookin since early lite n thay wuz fried chickin n ham n turnup greens n biskits n gravy n mashed taters n sweet taters n corn on the cob n fried okra n bof apple n chocklutt pie fer deesert n aint not doubt i missed sum of the food they served us.

after we had et we all sat out on the back porch fer a good three or four hours of sittin n talkin n such. the kids had em sum rabbits that they wuz feedin n playin with n they gut me to ride horses with em fer a while. i member cummin back with my legs so tired i could barely cross em whenever i herd grandmother splainin to emily n terry n sister how awful it had been in the hospitull, witch i reckun she had been in overnite not too long befor we cum to visit. i wonted to git up n walk away whenever she splaind whut wuz so awful: ‘they orta treat a bidy bettern that. that nigger nurse putt her hands all over me, jabbin me with needles n acktin lack she wuz jes a’doon her job, but i know she wuz bein ruff on purpose.’ i couldnt tell ifn this kinda talk bout black folk had always been a’goin on or ifn i wuz jes noticin it on a counta how i wuz teachin at knoxvull collidge. i reckun twuz always thar but i hadnt larnt to here it fer whut twuz.

on the drive back home to knoxvull emily tuck up the same fuss n fite of a topick we had been a’havin on the way out to the cuntry only by then twudnt no fuss n fite. insted she couldnt tell me a nuff how shamed she wuz of her folks n her home n how she hated bein two folks, the person she really wuz in knoxvull n the person she had to be whenever she cum back home. she ast me did i know whut she ment n i tole er i figgerd i mite could.

i wont never fergit that trip. we et a nuff to sank a battleship, witch twill give ye a idee of whut a bidy duz in looseburg other than drank n smoke cigarettes. ye eat till ye could burst, meal after meal, all of em as deelishus as ye could ever hope fer. but thay wuz a lesson fer me thar n i figgerd i wuz startin to larn it whenever emily ast me wuz i lookin ford to seein cassandra agin? i dint say nuthin fer a mint n she sed she knew i wuz n odd thang wuz, so wuz she.

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1 comment:

red molly said...

very nice bd...glad you are writing again!