I reckon it all started with my Paw. He was always mean and angry. A big strappin’ man with a yearnin’ for fightin’, and drinkin’. I remember the day he left for good. He bloodied up Maw real bad. Even laid on her gruntin’, and howlin’ like a dog that heard a noise that I couldn’t hear. But this time Maw, she didn’t recover for a long time. She was in the hospital for weeks. I know cause I counted. For a long spell thereafter Maw didn’t know if she was a comin’ or a goin’.
During that time, I stayed with Miss Pearl. She didn’t make me go to school or nuthin’. I sure like Miss Pearl an awful lot.
When we finally returned home all of our stuff was stoled. They took all of Maw’s sweaters, and her wigs, and even the pearl necklace that her daddy had given to her when she was even younger than I am now. That was the only time I ever saw Maw cry. They also stole my periscope that I sent away for with a coupon I cut out from in the back of my favorite comic book, Captain America, and Bucky. I remember Bucky bein’ froze in a block of ice. Just froze in a block of ice! And he was never put in another comic book ever again. Rumor had it they’d thaw him out oneday, but they never did. You’d think maybe he coulda had some kinda say about how he went out. Anyway, ‘cept a block of ice would have been fine. Poor Bucky!
After that we, that is me, and Maw, moved in with Aunt Mabel for a short spell. Aunt Mabel let us have the country shack that was adjacent to her real nice purty li’l home. Adjacent, I learned that word from Miss Pearl. She said, it means, right next to. Didn’t have to go, and say, right next to… just say adjacent, take the short cut, and you seemed a knowledgeable feller. Aunt Mabel sure hated kids though. All kids. I think she hated me the most. She was always reminding Maw that I was the spittin’ image of Paw. Maw never appreciated that much. She’d give me the once over, grit her teeth, and let me have it, but good. Aunt Mabel too! Especially whenever Maw wasn’t around. She’d just give me a look, and whap, really lay it into me . Smack the taste right out of my mouth. Knock me right into next week she would.
Why, I had my hide wailed almost every day of my life. If it wasn’t by him, who was now long gone. And it wasn’t by her, wherever she is now. It was my dear ol’ Aunt Mabel. I shoulda ran away. I shoulda just ran off, and gone. Probably would have if I had thought of it. I just never did think of it. It just never crossed my mind.
Maw had lots of friends. Men friends that is to say. They was always comin’ up to the shack to pay her a visit. It must be real special to be a woman. Men come linin’ up for a visit, and then they give you money for to stay a spell.
One night while Maw was gone, I heard footsteps comin’ to the door. Quick like a copperhead’ll strike at your feet if you ain’t swift enough to get out of the way, I lit hurried under the bed, and froze while I waited for whoever it was to go their way. Suddenly, Aunt Mabel started yellin’ things like, “You ain’t got no business comin’ up around these here parts. This is my place. Now you get along. Just go on, and git.” I heard a man’s voice grumblin’ somethin’, I couldn’t tell much of it though, and then he slapped Aunt Mabel clean, and hard. Right across her quite surprised face. I felt this warm tingle come over me after that. If I knew then what I know’d now I would have realized that it was the spirit of God moving in mysterious ways.
That is how God does move, he moves in mysterious ways. Seems like he really gets a kick out of folks not understanding a darn thing he’s talkin’ about. Anyway, Aunt Mabel was really hollerin’ now, “You’ll be sorry for the harm you done to me this even.” She ran off, and that man then kicked down the door to that purty li’l home she had. I know’d it cause I was there. Kicked it clear in, but there was no need for him in doin’ that cause the door didn’t have a lock on it in the first place.
That man began to tear up the place even worse than it was already tored up. He smashed everything in sight, ‘cept not my periscope that I bought with the coupon from the back of my Captain America, and Bucky comic ’cause it was already stoled before this particular day.
That man then picked up the bed, and tossed it good. And there I was. I looked up at he, and he looked down at me. He said, “No boy of mine is gonna be livin’ in a house of sinnin’.” Then he said, “Boy, I come to take you away from all of this iniquity.” It was my Paw!
He dragged me through the woods, and down to the river, shoutin’ ‘bout somethin’ ‘bout, them bein’ folks livin’ in a den of thieves, and all the perditions thereof.
It wasn’t long before he tossed me into the river clothes, and all. Paw then pushed my head under water, and I thought this is it, he’s gonna drown me for sure. But before I knew it, he pulled me back up shoutin’, “Amen, and thank you Jesus.” He said somethin’ about an ax, and two thirty eights. But, I wasn’t payin’ too much attention to all of that as I was sure one way or the other, with that ax he was talking’ about, or one of ’em guns, he was gonna kill me, as sure as sure means sure.
Then Paw carried me like a sack of potatoes to his ol’ truck, and pitched me in it. I thought, me and Paw, we is adjacent towards each other. But I didn’t tell him that. What if Miss Pearl never told him what adjacent meant. He might have got real sore. So I never told him that we was adjacent towards each other.
Paw was mumblin’ somethin’ ‘bout gettin’ along when all of a sudden… Bang! Aunt Mabel stepped onto the front porch, and began takin’ shots at Paw’s truck with me in it! Paw then peeled out somethin’ fierce. That vehicle, it surged forward, and when it did, a book fell from the dashboard right into my lap. A book! Now, I ain’t read too many books on a count I can’t read very well. “Cept Captain America even though he was no longer with Bucky, who was froze somewhere in a block of ice. Mostly though, if I couldn’t read ’em words, I could figure out what was goin’ on by looking at the pictures. But, that book, one I had never seen before, just landed right there, smack dab in the middle of my lap.
And that is when I saw them words for the first time. Holy Bible! That’s what it said, plain as the nose on my face it did. Holy Bible. It was black as the Ace of Spades, and bound in real rawhide leather. Only a book as important as Holy Bible can be bound in real rawhide. Holy Bible! Yep, that is a real important word. Maybe more important than the word adjacent, I reckon.