Wednesday, April 06, 2005

life of buddy don, chaptur 131: how the group ended

lookin back on the sprang n summer of 1982, tiz easy to see now whut i couldnt see then, witch thats how twuz the verr end of life as i had cum to know it since quittin carbide. up till then, even ifn i wuz a'goin to collidge, i wuz still a'wurkin in the real worl, witch the way sum of them graduwait students sed the wurds 'real worl' ye mite could thank they wuz talkin bout one of the lower rungs of hell. but after i quit carbide, i wuz in ackadeem n twuz a hole nuther way of livin.

thang is, i wuz jes a'gittin the swang of it n dint know i wuz in the best part of it n twuz about to end much quicker i coulda thought. even ifn i wuz a'studyin grate literchur lack nobidys bizness, i wuznt thankin much bout nuthin that really matterd, thangs lack whut wuz i a'gone do to git money after i graduwaited? that shouda been the mane topick of everbidys conversayshun durin them munths on a counta we wuz mosly all fixin to git our degrees n after that, ifn we dint wonta git to wurk on a docterut, we wood half to git jobs.

twuz easy to magine that ye coulda published a few stories or mayhap gut a novel writ while ye wuz a'goin to grad school n on that plan, ye mite could thank whenever ye cum out, ye wood be gittin royalties of sum kind or mayhap ye could say ye had dun showed promiss n orta be hepped out to git a'goin. twuz speshly so fer the mane two writers in the group, witch by mane two i mean the two that ye could count on to brang sumthin to read ever week, witch that wuz me n bud rankin.

i speck we bofus figgerd we wood half to be published befor we finished our masters n whenever we dun graduwaited we wood kindly live a life at home, purty much lack we wuz a'doon only without all them classes. twuz easy to magine how we wood write novels n git paid royalties n live well n mayhap after a while our wives could quit wurkin or goin to school or whutever.

lease i half to add mitt i wuz a'feelin thataway. i had dun writ a novel n durin the furst nine munths of 1982 i writ a slew of stories, a'writin new sumthin new ever week. i had jes finishd readin crap notes n red 'the witness,' witch whenver i writ thatn i thought twuz the bes i had ever dun but when i red it to the group, twuz embarrassin. so i started wurkin on short stories n twixt the meetin of januwairy 22 n the meetin of august 20, i had me a stretch whar mos everthang i writ wuz cheered on by the group, includin sevrul purty good stories: 'Big Wheels Roll,' 'Slave of Desire,' 'Burned,' 'The Bobbing Nose,' 'Blind Sales,' 'Cleaning Up,' 'Savage Romance,' 'Hooks,' 'Revenge on a Hot Afternoon,' 'Scattered Afternoon Showers,' and 'Egger.'

meanwhile, bud rankin wuz ritin new stories ever week n ye could see whar he wuz a'gittin purty good, a nuff to whar he n i wood take walks n talk bout whut we wuz a'gone do nex, witch twuz generly a trade-off twixt sum kinda job that wood leave ye a nuff time to rite n a job that wood make a nuff money to pay yer bills. lotsa them talks wuz moanin n groanin over how hard life wuz.

we jes dint know how good we dun had it, speshyl on a counta the group. fer that matter, deespite our badmouthin our busy life, we had plenty of free time. n we wuz loded with idees bout ritin. twuz easy to bleeve twood las ferever, even after everbidy went off n gut jobs, but twernt to be.

as ye know by now, we wood git together of a fridy evenin n read stories n poems n novels out loud to each other. twuz the soshul center of the lives of at lease twelve folk, witch everone of em is menchuned in that poem name of 'beyond tijuana' that i writ n read to the group on july 16. heres a lil rundown of em:

ye mite member how in life of buddy don, chaptur 122: how the group wuz born i writ bout how the group cummenced to meetin, sos ye member billy n lauren stewart, witch he wuz the jew frum secawkus new jersey n she wuz the poet frum appalachia. n corse i wuz jes recollecktin bout bud rankin, the feller frum mississippi. them three wuz the mane ones that cum ever week whenever we furst gut started.

tiz pure chants that lauren stewart ever gut to be part of the group, on a counta how mos everbidy thar wuz in graduwait skool n she hadnt never even been to collidge. but she wuz friens with sean smith n he invited her to a party n thats whar i met billy stewart, witch he wuz her husbin n soons he heard my idee bout the group, he innerduced me to lauren, witch furst thang i thought wuz how she wuz a lack a raven, a dark beauty. she looked to me almost lack a indian on tv n cum to find out much later how she wuz frum up in the hills near gatlinburg n had a fair share of native blood in her.

she wuz shy as a as a butterfly bout readin her poems to whar we had to beg her n lack as not she wood have her notebook of poems but jes refuse to read. even ifn we did cunvints her, bout ever third time she wood start in to a'pallgizing fer whut she wuz bout to read but she wood git innerupted by folks jokin round n remindin her bout the no pall gizin rules. sumtimes that wood make her mad to whar she woodnt read till next meetin. if then.

twernt lack she dint have the talent, but she dint have no bleef in herself. twuz odd on a counta how she wuz a natcherull poet. she dint hardly read no other poets n dint read no books bout how ye go bout ritin poems. she hadnt never studied poetry at school nor read the classicks. everthang wuz a new discuvry fer her, even the simple thangs lack differnt meeters n rime skeems, but she had a way of seein thangs frum a odd angle, almos the way a bee or a bird or a dog wood n she could put them images in wurds so sprizin till seem lack ye wuz that bee or bird or dog n thats a poetick skill ye caint teach. so we always begged her to read.

her husbin billy wuz a bigger part of the group than she wuz in lots of ways. he wuz frum a place name of secawkus new jersey but he wurked in man hattan n dint seem lack nobidy unnerstood whut he meant when he tride to splain bout secawkus, so he gut to whar he wood joke bout how he wuz that new york jew ye wuz always a'hearin bout in jokes n on the radio. he wuz a sharp copier salesman n twood make him mad ifn ye used xerox as a verb or even as a noun meanin a copy lack when folks mite say they had dun xeroxed thar stories or how they could give out xeroxes ifn folks wonted to have em. n he wood splain how ye 'copy' thangs on 'copiers' n whut ye git whenever ye do that is called 'copies'. n he wood splain bout how sharp 'copiers' wuz bettern all tutherns n everbidy wood kindly chuckle or laff till he wood tell a horrbull pun joke n they wood groan. he had im a passel of bad pun jokes n spoke with a thick new yawk ackcent, witch that wuz part of whut made ye laff n corse he knew it n wood put on moren he had to.

billy luved tennessee almos moren folks that wuz born thar. he wood talk bout how ye couldnt dream of findin no place lack his up in new jersey or new york or that ifn ye did twood cost ye a million dollars, witch we thought that wuz a lil stretch of the truth but later on cum to find out he wuz rite. he lacked to have parties out thar n twuz a verr nice place, two stories with a front porch kindly lack grandie had, so i alway lacked goin out thar. he rented a studio in fort sanders fer lauren on a counta how she needed a place to wurk on her art but dint much wurk git dun frum it. still we wood have meetins thar n after a while folks found out bout it n the crowds gut to growin to whar by october of 1981 after a total of fifteen meetins n eight in a row at her studio, we had to start movin the group frum place to place. twuz one of the furst group deecishuns n wuz made that nite at laurens studio. sum of the reglars cum early n billy had the idee of movin the group sos only them that cum ever week wood keep up. lauren wuz riled up over the deecishun but she had to agree bout how thay wuz too minny folks a'cummin when twuz always in the same place. twuz a nice problem to have, havin to hide whar we wuz a'gonna meet nex, but whenever we started a'movin, it hepped build up the core group.

billy n lauren n bud wuz all verr importunt in gettin the group a'goin on a counta how at the start, thay wuznt nobidy readin much ceptn fer me n bud n lauren whenever ye could git her to. but billy wuz jes plane good cumpny n it gut to whar the folks that wuz cummin in the early days jes lacked bein together. lack as not, once me n bud n maybe one or two poets wuz dun readin, twood still be early, so we gut to playin games lack the dickshunairy game, whar we wood find obscure wurds frum the dickshunairy n then make up sum definishuns to go long with the real one n have folks guess witchns witch. point is, we purty quick turnt into a soshul group that lacked to read thar ritins n even tho we started the group on a counta the ritins, we kep it a'goin on a counta the good cumpny we found thar.

but we also had sum grate riters cum thru, speshly a feller name of joe cooper. i dint mentchun joe in the poem beyond tijuana on a counta by the time that poem wuz writ, joe wuz long gone. i reckun i woodnt git much argument frum nobidy in the group ifn i wuz to say he had the mos talent. he read all them terp jackson stories, witch terp wuz the redneck hero of most of his stories. because his stories wuz so funny, it gut everbidy to trine to be funny, so even tho joe cum n went purty early in the groups histry, he wuz a verr importunt inflooents on how it deeveloped n the kinda ritin we dun.

part of that had to do with the fack that we wuznt a workshop. our group wuz more of a soshul club with innertainment in the form of folks readin sum of thar ritin out loud to one a nuther. we dint ever critique nuthin but ye could tell a lot bout yer stuff by how folks reackted. after all, twuz mosly a bunch of grad students that lacked to make fun of 'ole tuff shit eliot, himself,' as bud rankin wood say. ifn ye aint gut respeck fer the man that writ The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, ye aint a'gone resurve too much respeck for a poem or story that jes bored ye till yer ass wuz a'tinglin or ye needed to pee. so ifn ye read sumthin funny, ye could tell how folks lacked it on a counta whuther they wood laff.

a nuhtern that cum rite reglar fer a lil while n then disappeard wuz sam johns. sam wuz a'wurkin on his phd so dint minny of us know him the furst year we wuz thar n ifn we wuz in a seminar with him, dint nobidy thank to invite im rite away, but sumbidy finely did n he cum to the meetin on october 16 at laurens, witch we went back to her place after havin one meetin at ourn. sams furst time wuz durin the time i wuz a'readin crap notes to the group. i bleeve twuz the chaptur bout whenever gregory gurley is deevorced n a whinin roun his house n gits a visit frum his mama. innywho, i red it n whenever twuz dun thay wuz a moment of silents on a counta twuznt funny in the end even ifn folks had been a'laffin befor. sam looked round at the circle of folks, stuck his hands up in the air n cummenced to clappin. corse everbidy else had to join in. ever after that one time, jes after ever story wuz red, twuz time to see whuther ye folks wood clap.

over time, that turnt into a problum n even led to the group a'dyin out, but i bleeve the clappin wuz mosly good fer the group. ye could tell ifn yer jokes wurked while ye wuz a'readin n ye could tell whuther folks lacked whut ye had read at the end by whuther they clapped. n twuznt lack the clapped ever time. ifn ye bored em much, ye dint have no chants. we had a cuple of members over the years that wuz verr borin n it made folks to whar they woodnt clap nor even pay a tenchun, witch that wuz rong.

the nextn that becum a reglar wuz johnny mayhew. johnny wurked at tva n we made friens whenever we wuz takin the same shakespeare class. i never had no frien lack johnny befor nor since. seem lack he held me in too high regard n i wuz always a skeert i woodnt be able to live up to his pinons of me. sides that, he lacked to give me thangs on a counta how he had im that good job n i wuz jes scrapin by, too poor to play ms pacman without a fuss n fite with emily, witch ye wood be amazed how quick yer friens mite witness sumthin lack that. so he give us a typewriter that wuz bein scrapped frum whar he wurked n he give me the bes softball glove i ever had. he wuz always rite genrus no matter how i tride to ast im not to give me nuthin. we gut to be such good friens to whar we wood do sumthin near everday. we wurked out ever other day fer moren a year n he had a huge influents on my life, as ye will see by n by.

one of the bes thangs bout the group wuz how everbidy in it gut along purty good n even spent time together outside of the group. me n billy stewart wood play racket ball mos ever week. me n johnny n billy all played on the same softball team. fer that matter, after we had throwd our arms out the furst year, we deecided to git to practicin early the nex year, so whenever the weather wuz nice, ye wood find me n johnny n mayhap billy a throwin that softball round, pickin up grounders n such. johnny bleeved twuz importunt to wurk out, so me n him n bud rankin gut to whar we wood be huffin n puffin over them weight machines purty reglar down at the stokely athletick center.

so we had it real good fer a long while, but nuthin last ferever. lots of folks figgerd the group wuz a'gone die on a counta sum thangs jake dawes dun, witch he writ sum stories gut strong reackshuns n sum folks dint real eyes how thats a good thang fer ritin to do.

jake cum to the group after the new skool year brought in a nuther class of english graduwait students to campus. he wuz amung em n cum to group bout the furst week he wuz in town. he wuz a verr slight -- skin n bones -- pasty faced feller with a awkward laff but grate skills whenever it cum to ritin. seem lack he dint take to my bein the leader n lacked to attack me fer it witch i could deefend myself speshly by sayin i never said i wuz the leader n that it had to be only in his mind. that wood make im mad n we wood joust at meetins, witch all them years with daddy give me jes the skills i needed to make that situwayshun wursern it orta been. but i wuz too yung to know much better n reckun i made a enemy outta jake. lack i say he wuz one of the best riters in the group fer bof poetry n stories. he wuz a verr importunt part of how the group grew n all. taint lack we dint try to git along n we wuz civil. i even rode to meetins with im, but he couldnt hep but hate me fer bein underservin of whut folks thought of me. he wuz rite bout that n he knew i knew it, so no matter whut, we gut along even ifn other folks dint unnerstand it. bud rankin gut to be good buddies with jake so fer years i wood keep in touch with him through bud.

jake wuz the sorce of a cuple of the groups biggest fuss n fites. furst time wuz whenever he writ a story bout a feller that wuz forced to eggspoze hisself in publcik. bud rankins wife ginny tuck offents toot n tole im twuznt one of his bes, witch he reackted lack she had poked im in the chest with her elbow n knocked his breath out. he couldnt say nuthin n then with his comick timin billy sed sumthin bout how twuz the furst time innybidy had ever gut jake to shut up n the hole room busted up a'laffin.

jake tuck it hard, witch he gut his revenge the nex week. when it cum time to read, he volunteerd to go furst n sed he had a new story name of Blown Away by Passion, witch he dedicated it to bud rankins wife ginny after sayin she had deserved it by bein the bes critick in the group, jokin that everbidy else wuz riters n not too critickull on other riters sos them otherns woodnt git thar revenge. folks wuz hopin thangs wuz patched up twixt ginny n jake, so they laffed a lil at that. but then he red us the story. it featchurd a woman who wuz bein forced to have oral sex by a strange man she had met n seduced in a bar. as they wuz leavin the bar, he wuz nice, even openin the door for her n stoppin to kiss her back when she pulled him close before gittin in. but when they gut to his place, he turnt ruff n then forced her to her knees. n tho the woman fought back at furst, by the time the man had unzipped and eggspozed his self, she couldnt hep bein aroused n cummenced to doin whut the man had ast. jake emphasized how even tho she wuz ashamed n humiliated n mad, bein forced made her eggcitement better, sumthin to that effeck. whenever the man wuz jes bout to climax, the woman stabbed im in the heart with one of them ginsu stake knives.

jake wuz more poeticull than graffickull n twuz a well-writ bit of trash. but twuz cruel in purpus n verr well-aimed. it hit the mark n the damage wuz eggstreme. nobidy sed nuthin. we jes sat lookin at our hands. whut coulda bin sed?

then ginny went outside for a smoke n everbidy gut to talkin till twuz time to read agin. ginny never cum back in. after a cuple stories wuz red, bud went to look for her n found out she had lef with thar car. jake offerd bud a ride home n wuznt nuthin more sed.

at lease, nuthin wuznt sed at the meetin that nite, but durin the week folks gut to whisperin n sayin how they wuz so mad at jake they felt lack they orta quit cummin to group over it. that wood show im. i herd the same, even frum johnny n martha n kristina. of corse, edna polk had plenty to say, witch ima gone tell ye bout kristina n edna direckly.

thang wuz, that talk bout not cummin back to group fer a protest wuz all jes piss n vinegar. thonly one that quit a'cummin to group wuz ginny. everbidy else couldnt hardly wait to see whut wood happen next. bud dint seem to be upset with jake nun on a counta how he n jake gut em sum acid not long after n tripped together, witch the mane thang i gut frum that wuz bud a'tellin me how twuz a mystry to him why george harrison wood have eric clapton play the lead guitar tracks on While My Guitar Gently Weeps. whut wuz the artistickull morivayshun fer that? twuz eggzackly the kinda lead slide-guitar george harrison wuz known fer playin. bud ponderd that questchun fer years after that, but dint seem lack he wuz the lease curious bout why jake wood rite such a spiteful story bout ginny. he figgerd jake wuz a artist n art is cruel but true.

the verr nex week, jake red sumthin that nearly gut the group to quit fer real. we met over at arthur james aunts house way out on alcoa hiway. arthur wuz friends with mark kendull n twuz a big a nuff place fer everbidy to be cumfterbull. we chatted fer a while till we had mos everbidy thar n then we gut off to a good start. mark kendall red sum fine poetry n kristina follerd em with sum jes bout as good. johnny mayhew sed how he wonted to read while everbidy wuz on a role n 'before the doctor gits to operatin,' witch that wuz the kinda lil compliments he lacked to give me. he red us a story name of 'The Last Disciple' n that wuz so good bud rankin ackted lack he wuz a'skeerd to foller it, but he dun it innywho.

i had brung a new story name of Egger n deecided i woodnt wait till last to read, lack i dun reglar. way i figgerd it, twuz untellin whuther innybidy wood wonta hear no story after jake red his. folks wuz sprized whenever i sed i wonted to read nex, but bud lit a joint n sed, 'Do it, Doctor,' n befor jake coud objeck, i cummenced. the story gut a good a nuff reackshun n folks talked bout it fer a bit till i turnt to jake n sed twuz his turn.

jake lacked to have water whenever he red, so he gut it all reddy n tuck a sip. ye could see whar he wuz nervus n wonted to pall gize but finely he red the title, Batter Up. then he gut into the story n as folks figgerd out whut twuz bout, they started to git riled to whar thay wuz a edge to the room. the story wuz good, verr well-writ, almos poetry, but the subjeck wuz too awfull to cunsidder n it made folks uncomfterbull to here. martha n emily went outside befor twuz over. kristina huff n puffd n kep a mean smirk on her face the hole time. mark kendall looked lack he wuz bein bored by a testy child.

but seemed to me lack twuz a fine bit of ritin n thays sumthin to be sed fer a story that hits so hard. the group dint see it thataway. sevrul spoke up -- kristina, edna, johnny, billy, even mark -- n sed they gut to feelin lack jake wuznt trine to rite the bes stories he could but jes trine to git a reackshun frum folks. he fought back a'sayin how everbidy is trine to git a reackshun. that riled kristina olsen. she tride to deefine fer jake the differnts twixt trine to git sumbidy to laff at terp jackson or gregory gurley n trine to git folks to vomit. jake tuck offents whenever kristina mentchund gregory gurley, witch hes the mane care ackter in Crap Notes. he lit into me by sayin how everthang i ever writ wuz jes autobiograffy ment to make me look good. i pled mosly guilty but ast how he could say the story i red that night, bout a talkin cat, could be autobiografficull. he claimed twuz on a counta he could tell i ment fer the cat, Egger, to be a parody of him n that ment twuz autobiograffy n a personull attack on him. i tole him that such logick wuz so illogickull twuz impossibull to refute, witch that made everbidy laff n he jes got madder at me, only by then folks wuz fixin to leave n had all dun quit payin im inny tenchun.

no, twuznt jake that ended the group, even ifn sum folks thought he wuz a'trine to. twuznt really nobidy, but edna polk gits the credit or blame.

edna cum to the group along with kristina olsen. ackshly, edna cum furst, joinin us durin the winter of 1982. i caint member how she found out bout the group nor who invited her, but she cum reglar once she larnt bout us. edna had two mane thangs that botherd mos ever other riter in the group. fer one, she wuz ritin pure fantasy or fantasy with a lil science fickshun. everbidy else wuz trine to rite grate literchur, sumthin mainstream, witch we figgerd twuz that much harder to git literchur publishd, witch that wuz the secunt thang that botherd folks bout edna: she had dun been publishd n to here her tell it, she had a number of differnt thangs in print. we all wonted to see em n ast whar could we buy the publicayshuns, but they wuz lil thangs that dint git wide distribushun n she wuz paid in authors copies. she kep meanin to brang in sum of em, but she never memberd, witch that made lots of folks thank she wuz a'lyin bout bein publishd. but lie or not, she wuz thonly one makin such a claim n it hurt almos as bad ifn twuz false as twood ifn twuz true.

ackshly, thay wuz a thurd reason folks dint much lack edna, witch her ritin wuz borin. ye kin git away with a lot at a group lack ourn wuz, but borin folks is sumthin that wont never win no clappin at the end. twuz always a lil uncomfterbull whenever edna wuz readin on a counta seem lack everbidy in the room but her knew thay wuznt nobidy enjoyin whut she wuz readin. eyes wood role, jokes wood be writ on lil scraps of paper n passd round, temptin folks to laff out loud n innerupt, witch mos folks could hold it in, but ever now n agin, sumbidy wood let out a guffaw n she wood finely look up to see everbidy wurkin to git thar face strate. finely she wood finish n woodnt nobidy clap n ye could tell twuz eatin her up. lookin back, i reckun twuz our way of gittin back at her fer bein publishd.

as ye mite member, a bunch of us wuz gittin near graduwayshun n that meant gittin jobs lessn we could git publishd n start makin money thataway. twernt lack edna wuz hordin nuthin. she offerd minny a time to git us in contack with the folks that wuz a'publishin her, but we wuz too snobbish to cunsidder ritin innythant we couldnt pertend wuz real literchur. shore, we sed, innbidy could git publishd by ritin fer a genre of sum kind, witch ye mite wunder why we never dun it n thays a simple anser to that, witch its jes as tuff to git publishd in one place as a nuther.

everbidy sorta lanked kristina olsen with edna polk in thar minds. fer one thang, edna invited kristina. fer a nuther, edna had been brangin a feller name of j ashton crane, witch he wuz a fan of george bernard shaw n wonted to rite big plays whar folks talk bout the big issues of the day. problem wuz how he wuznt no shaw n red in a monotone till folks wood openly innerupt n try to git im to quit, but he wuznt nuthin if not blind to inny negative reackshun to his wurk.

he wuz a verr tall skinny feller, probly six feet four inches n weighin in at no moren maybe 150, ifn that. so twuz a odd thang when he gut to hittin on kristina olsen bout as quick as she cum to a meetin. kristina wuz a large woman, not fat but big-boned or jes big. she wuz a fine poet who red her lil poems in a tiny voice, makin everbidy sit ford n listen as hard as they could. n twuz always wurth it. fer a persun that wuz so quite, twuz a oddity bout how kristina wonted to git into ever fuss n fite that cum along. i wuznt at the meetin whar thangs nearly cum to blows twixt kristina n mark kendall over the topick of whuter a black deefendent could git a fair trial frum a all-white jury. mark figgerd twood be fair, kristina that twernt possibull. i herd lots bout that fite, but caint give ye no deetails of the sides that wuz tuck.

folks wood wunder how could it be that sumbidy lack kristina could rite such good poetry n yet put up with j ashton cranes stuff. did she bleeve in it? did she jes look tuther way? wuz she that despert fer companyunship? thay wuz minnymore questchuns than ansers with kristina but everbidy luved to here her poetry. she also brought her daughter to minny a meetin n folks wuz amazed when she dint thank we had to hide thevil weed frum her daughter. kristina laffd when ast bout it, splainin that she found it better not to hide thangs frum marketa, as he daughter wuz named, on a counta then her daughter dint seem so cumpelld to hide thangs frum her.

tiz a wunder the group lasted as long as it did. i dint keep notes to the verr end. ackshly, i quit keepin em in my diary n gut a new notebook to keep em, but not long after that, we dint meet no more n i lost that notebook. but we lasted thru the transishun to sum eggstent, meanin we kep meetin even when i wuz teachin at a nuther collidge n bud rankin wuz trine to git a job besides deeliverin pizzas n everbidy seemed to be pulled in differnt die-reckshuns.

but we kep meetin even tho folks cumplaind bout one thang in particlar. that wuz how bof me n bud rankin wuz wurkin on novels, witch tiz hard to read a novel thats in progress to a group of that kind. twuz a miss take, only we dint know it then. we knew we wuznt gittin nowhar with short stories n we wonted to git published. we figgerd our bes chants at gittin sumthin publishd wuz to rite a novel that wuz amazin. turnt out to be a tuff trick to pull off, speshly ifn ye wuz spozed to be a'wurkin full time n ritin part time n then cummin to a group to keep folks innerested in yer novel even tho ye wuznt shore whar twuz a'goin. sides that, we wuz bof ritin novels that wuz serious n not the lease bit funny. johnny mayhew claimd novels wuz a'killin the group. jake anserd twernt that but jes borin stuff. that hurt, but twuz as true as innythang.

but whut gut the group so riled that we couldnt meet no more wuz a essay edna red us all on the fourth of febuwairy 1983. the topick wuz 'the cycles all riters groups go thru' or sum such thang. fer the furst time since she had started, she had her audients innerested n sittin in the palm of her hand.

in the piece, she claimed our group had dun been diverted frum its originull purpus n had turnt into a soshul group whar we dint lissen with intrest to whut tutherns read n only had inny reespeck fer our own ritins, nun fer the writins of tutherns. she claimed we dint critisize openly n cunstructivly but spent our time muttern viciously behind everbidys back. lack i say, this readin gut everbidy all stirrd up to whar we couldnt hardly continue on a counta all the reglar members wuz reddy fer a group fuss n fite. everbidy started splainin how this warnt no wurkshop n had started as a soshul group of folks that lacked to entertain each other by readin whut they rite. but edna had her vershun n she stuck with it. as i recolleck, i writ a anser back to her splainin that the group hadnt never been no wurkshop n had always been a soshul group, but i caint find it nor proov whuther i writ it n i caint even be shore ifn i cum to a nuther group meetin. or fer that matter, whuther innybidy did.

the group had been the soshul center of mos everthang we did. thay wuznt hardly no party putt on by inny of the reglars that dint have ever group member invited. i dun menchuned how me n billy stewart n johnny mayhew played on the same softball team. emily n lauren n martha lacked to git together n run two or three times a week ifn they could. me n bud rankin gut to be friends when folks started lankin us together on a counta how we wuz the two members that generly had sumthin new n innerestin to read n then he wood tell me bout thangs folks wuz sayin bout me bein the leader n changes i should make, witch the wunder wuz that folks wood thank i wuz the leader since thay wuznt no vote n i had ast folks lack jake to take over ifn twood make im happy. thang is, the group wuz such big a part of everbidys life that ye couldnt magine it cummin to a end. but life changes n ye caint go to skool ferever n purty soon, ye dont keer so much bout the same thangs that ye lived fer at a earlier time of life. so we quit a'cummin.

mayhap edna had it rite bout groups a'goin thru cycles. she had missd our mane reason fer ever meetin in the furst place but her argument wuz proovd by the fack of her ritin it: a group kin only las so long befor folks fergits why they had started attendin in the furst place. lease frum ednas perspecktiv, we had dun that, but seems more lackly that twuz time fer mos of us to move on. corse fer all i know, edna coulda kep that group a'goin after we had dun left. dint nobidy i knew ever check that. but we had dun moved on, sum outta tennessee altogether, sum jes into jobs that lef em no time fer ritin. tiz sad to thank back on that fine group a'dyin lack it dun, but at the time, twuz mosly a releaf.

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