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"A Truck Load Of Hard Times!"


Chapter 1
A Truck Load Of Hard Times !

By junglefighter

A special note to my friends: As I write chapter after chapter, I'll invite you to join in. My wish, "is to make you laugh and cry, while leaving you in a state of uncertainty of what will happen next." Hope you enjoy and best wishes wherever you are.

This story is true. It centers around my life at age seven, with my father, mother and sister on a sharecroppers farm in an economically depressed part of Tennessee. Although the years were extremely hard, we somehow managed, to fill the cupboard with food, lamps with oil, stockings on the mantel shelf and our hearts with the Spirit of Christmas.

Although we were dirt poor, our faith in God and trust in one another, gave us courage to face the difficult days ahead. Sharing the agonies and heartbreaks while appreciating the tranquility and family unity, truly bonded us, heart and soul.

Even today, when I'm feeling down and financially distraught, I will recall to mind the four of us sitting at the kitchen table, praying for better times and then eating leftovers from the night before.

Although the old home place burned to ashes when I was seven years old, the live oak tree in the yard stills stands. My initials carved in the bark are gone and yet, the memory of the happy years, are etched in my heart. We lived with grandpa and grandma in their little log cabin for six-months until we could rebuild. Of course, we were packed like sardines in a can and yet, we were close for hugging when needed. At times, I will quickly reflect back and forth to different scenes throughout the story.

Characters:
Billy (Bill), is the author and plays himself
Martha, Billy's mother
Marvin, his father
Laverne, his sister
Luther, his grandpa
Maggie, his grandma.
Mr. Cooper...is the gun shop owner
Taylor, the County Sheriff.
Mr. Jones, a Korean war veteran and Janice's father
Janice, Billy's school mate and close friend.
Mrs. Cooper, a school teacher and no relation to the gun shop owner
Burl, Carl and James Smith, are co-owners of the sharecropper's farm, pharmacy and jewelry store. James worked as an engineer at an automobile plant as well.
Dr. Smith, a family physician and not related to Burl, Carl or James.
Lightning, the family horse and is loved by all.
Only the names of characters leaving or entering into the story will be given in future chapters.


Chapter 1

"SOMEBODY PLEASE help! Can anyone hear me?"

My screams echoed across the snow covered ground of an early winter. Holding on to the trunk of a tree about ten feet above ground, I was freezing cold and in a state of panic. At the bottom of the tree, stood a bear bigger than my old blue mule. Why had my shotgun jammed? At that moment my arms weakened, and I began sliding downward, "inch after inch." God help me," I cried. And then waited for the onslaught.

"Wake up, Son. You're having a bad dream."

"It's a black bear, Mom, and it's gonna kill me."

"Calm down, Billy, it's gone now. Just relax and I'll warm some milk and honey on the hot coals. That always drove my bad dreams away."

"Black bears love milk and honey too. Are you sure it won't come back?"

"I'll bet you a good night's sleep it won't, Son."

I remember drinking the milk, then raising my bedroom window around an inch to get some fresh mountain air. Somewhere off in the night, a whippoorwill called for its mate. After getting no answer, it forgot the thought and went to sleep. And so did I!

Although I had no more bad dreams. I did reflect scenes of my past. I saw myself drawing water from the old stone well, my mother baking biscuits on the wood burning stove, my sister snapping pole beans underneath the porch and my father showing off the catfish he had caught for supper.

There were no scenes from my first, second, and third year as a boy, very few of my fourth and fifth, and most of my sixth were unclear and yet, I saw myself sitting on Santa's knee asking for a little red wagon.

"Wake up, Billy. It's 5:00 a. m. and time for breakfast."

Christmas day was my seventh birthday and I was getting a 20-Gage shotgun all of my own. After teaching me to hunt and shoot for two years, my father figured I was ready to go it alone. An eight point deer had been eating the tender corn near the woods and that was taking food away from our table. Therefore, I would shoot the critter, skin it out, cut it up and we'd have venison steak smothered in gravy with onions. Then of course, I would become a hero at school, my head would swell, and I'd brag to anyone within ear shot.

"I'm hitching up my overalls and on my way, Mom."

If you've ever smelled, or can imagine the smell, of hot oven baked buttermilk biscuits smothered in flour gravy, fresh barnyard eggs and hickory cured bacon sizzling on a wood burning stove, then you can relate to my hunger frustration. With that in mind, I headed for the kitchen.

The seating arrangement was the same as always, with exception to my father sitting at the opposite end, rather than the head of the table. To my surprise, Grandpa and Grandma were sitting at the table as well.

"Happy birthday, Son. Take the chair at the head of the table."

"But that's yours, Dad."

"Listen to your Father and sit down Boy. Your Grandma has prepared this meal especially for you."

After expressing my gratitude to Grandma for her kindness, I said, "I love you," and then began to eat.

"Hold on, Billy. Before we start eating a meal that I have prepared, your Grandpa always says grace. Well, Old Man."

"I'm sorry, Old Woman. Would everyone please bow your heads? Dear Lord, thank you for the food we're about to eat, and the Grandson you gave us seven years ago. Lead him through the years to the purpose of his life, and bless him along the way. I pray; 'that the hard times will get better, and then for courage to face the difficult days ahead.' Lastly, I ask for the stamina to accept them, as You will. Amen."

"Thanks, Grandpa. I never heard you pray before."

"It's a special occasion, Billy, now pass the biscuits."

I remember well our eating like little pigs. Grandma's cooking was something you didn't leave on the table. After finishing our meal, Grandma and Grandpa were tired.

"Billy, would you ask your Father to drive us home? I don't feel like driving my old truck any more."

"What are you gonna do with it, Grandpa?"

"Your Dad has a birthday in a week. Me and your Grandma has talked it over, and we have decided to give the old truck to him as a gift."

"Oh, my goodness! Does Daddy know?"

"Yes, boy! We told him tonight."

"Okay, Grandpa, I'll go tell him."

I found my dad in the barn, and couldn't believe he was doing my chores. What was the matter with him?

"Why are you doing my chores, Dad?"

"Because It's your Birthday, that's why."

Although I was only seven years old, I certainly wasn't a fool. To have argued with my dad, would've been silly.

"Grandpa and Grandma are ready to go home. He just told me he's gonna give you the old truck for your birthday next week. He said he didn't feel like driving it anymore. Is something wrong with Grandpa, Dad?"

"Well, Son, he don't see that well anymore, and your Grandma is afraid for him to drive it. Now, don't you go and tell your Grandpa what I said. Let's you and me keep this our secret,
okay?

"Okay, Dad."

"I'll drop them off then drive into town and buy that shotgun I promised you."

"But we can't afford it Dad."

"It's not about the money, Son. It's the principle behind the promise I made you. Mr. Cooper said I could pay for it with fresh pork when we kill hogs this winter."

"Now, there's a fine man, right, Dad?"

"One of the best."

The thought of getting my own shotgun, for my birthday, was in itself a special recognition for my mature nature. And the ability to act in a responsible manner. Of course, I felt comfortable with the idea. "You're blowing your horn, boy," my Grandpa would say.

My Birthday had been the best ever. I was tired and went straight to bed. Once again, the window was raised and the whippoorwill called for its mate. "Now there's a persistent old fellow," I thought and went to sleep.

I slept warm underneath a wool blanket my mother had placed on the bed. Of course, with the window slightly ajar, I needed it.

"Breakfast is on the table, son," my mother called.

Quickly rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I peeped out the window. The sky was a whole bunch of different shades of pink and red that bled into swatches of blue. "It's going to be a good day," I said to myself. I hitched my overalls and headed for the kitchen.

As always, my mother had prepared a scrumptious meal, and I wasted no time eating my share. Come to think of it, I ate more than that.

"Hurry along and finish your chores, Son. We'll be off to church soon."

After finishing up, I jumped into the tub and washed all the places I could reach. Afterwards, I dressed and by then, everyone was all prettied up and ready to go. Although my father had trusted me with a shotgun for my Birthday, he would not allow me to drive the old truck on the county road. Best I remember, it had something to do with Sheriff Taylor.

After church, we had dinner on the grounds, came home, enjoyed popcorn, peanuts roasted on the embers in the fireplace. Then, In the tranquility of the moment, we joined hands and thanked God for His blessings.

It had been a good day. After saying goodnight, I headed for bed. Once again, I stopped for a moment by the window. "Strange, the whippoorwill's not calling," I thought. Oh, well, he's probably making whoopee with his mate. A lone wolf howled in the night, and I whispered, "your girlfriend has a headache, so go to sleep." Oh, my goodness, the sheep are leaping the picket fence. I gotta keep count.

A "Salute!" To: FanArtReview.com for the Artwork.

Continued in chapter 2...






































Author Notes My cousin out in California is in the motion picture business. We were joined at the hips as kids growing up in Pigeon Forge, (Dollywood) Tennessee. We are meeting there to discuss filming a movie of my book. I'll be writing the chapters then posting them for review. As always, thanks for reading.


Chapter 2
Rabid Dog!

By junglefighter

A special note to my friends: As I write chapter after chapter, I invite you to join in. My wish, "is to make you laugh and cry, while leaving you in a state of uncertainty of what will happen next." Hope you enjoy and best wishes wherever you are.

Previously in chapter 1: It had been a good day. After saying goodnight, I headed for bed. I stopped for a moment at the window and wondered, "How strange? The whippoorwill's not calling tonight. Oh, well! He's probably making whoopee with his mate." Somewhere in the dark, a wolf howled. "What's a matter, old boy? Did your girlfriend run and hide?" Jumping beneath the cover, I thought, "Oh, my goodness! The sheep are leaping the picket fence and I gotta keep count."

Chapter 2

"THAT DOG IS RABID! Get it away."

"Wake up Billy! You're having a nightmare."

"But it seemed so real. I could see the dog on the bridge, drooling from the mouth and ready to leap. Why am I having nightmares, Mom?"

"That's something we'll ask Doctor Smith, Okay?" But in the meantime, breakfast is on the table. So go wash your face and let's eat. Are you going to Youth Night at Church?"

"Yes, ma'am. That is if you don't mind."

"Of course not. I'm happy to see you go. After supper, I'll remind you to take the coal-oil lantern and some matches. It gets pitch-black on the old dirt road."

The day passed, and before I knew it, it was time to head out for Church. Quickly filling the lantern, and my pocket with matches I headed out. Going to Youth Night gave me a break from getting all dressed-up. It was three miles from home to church and I dearly loved the walk. Sometimes, I would make a game of it by timing myself then try to better each record.

Once arriving at church, my friends and I gathered on the front steps and traded stories. As usual, the most exciting thing that had happened to anyone, other than myself, was killing a bird with their slingshot. Of course, my killing an eight-point buck-deer with my own shotgun, made me the hero throughout our community.

After bragging somewhat, I said goodnight to my friends, fired up the lantern and headed home. Normally, my steps would range from thirty to thirty-six inches. I would make a game of counting paces while doing the walk, and next week, I'd do less paces in the same time. My record time for the walk was twenty minutes. Of course tonight, the shadow cast by my lantern was more spooky, and it seemed as if something was behind me.

I heard hoof beats on the road ahead. Surely no one would be riding their horse in the pitch black night without a lantern for light. Quickly jumping clear of the road, I waited as the hoof beats, "came closer and closer." Just then, an old silver mule trotted past and disappeared into the night. Although I was guessing, I'd say it probably jumped the fence somewhere up the road and went looking for greener grass. After the scare, I couldn't remember how many steps I had taken since leaving church. Oh, well, I could do it again next week.

Taking everything into account, I had made good time thus far. As I approached the old wood bridge, I saw the reflection of automobile lights up the road. This late at night, it was strange for anyone to be out driving. "Who could it be?" I whispered. I waited for the vehicle to cross the bridge and then stop short. Of course, I could tell right off it was Sheriff Taylor.

"Is that you, Billy?"

"Yes, Sir."

"I stopped by and said hello to your Mom and Dad. They said you were walking home from church. And I just wanted to congratulate you on bagging the eight-point buck."

"Thanks, Sheriff Taylor. However, I didn't bag it, because it wouldn't fit in the bag. I loaded it up on the sled and my horse pulled it home. It's nothing to brag about."

"Wow, wish I could bag one that big. And it's okay to brag, Billy. I'll say goodnight now. So be careful and enjoy the walk home, okay?"

Sheriff Taylor had swollen my head, and I could see me becoming a celebrity in our county. But then, of course, I was eating it up like apple pie. Just then, the patter of dog feet on the bridge, "brought goosebumps to my skin." Raising the lantern above my head, I saw that the dog was heading straight toward me. Its tongue was swollen, and saliva was forming at the mouth. "This dog's rabid," I yelled. My nightmare had come true! Faced with the reality of it all, I panicked then waited for the onslaught.

"Get away from me," I yelled, and then swung the lantern in front of me. The dog stopped on the bridge, bared it's canines then began to growl. "It's not attacking," I whispered. Why. I asked myself? Oh, I know now, it's because of the flame from the lantern, I reasoned.

Grandpa told me once, "Rabid dogs are afraid of fire and water." With that in mind, I lowered the lantern to my knees, took one step forward then waved it back and forth. The dog whimpered then backed off. I tried to swallow but couldn't. "Thanks for being right, Grandpa," I whispered, and then slowly began to cross the bridge.

It's working, I thought, then moved slowly toward the dog. It growled once again then backed away. Quickly swinging the lantern in a circle, I proceeded toward the animal. And then, I lost my grip on the handle and the lantern fell into the creek. "Oh, God, what'll I do now, Grandpa," I screamed. The dog bared its canines once again, then came straight for me. Jumping to one side, the animal tumbled from the bridge into the creek.

For a seven- year-old, I was a pretty fast runner. The old wood bridge was around one mile from home, and with the incentive of my being scared to death, I would probably set a record time. The dirt road was pitch dark, and with my having slung the lantern into the creek at the bridge, I was running on instinct alone. Behind every stride I took, I felt the dog biting at my heels. "Help me, please help me someone," I cried.

At that moment, headlights from an automobile shone from behind and lit the road up ahead. Thank God, someone was coming to help me. Closer and closer it came, and the lights reflected brighter and brighter. I heard a familiar voice call out,

"Stop running, Billy. Its me, Sheriff Taylor."

"Oh, please, Sheriff. Shoot the rabid dog!"

"There's no dog, Son."

"Then where did it go?"

"Billy, what in the world is wrong with you?"

"Oh, it was so frightening, Sheriff. I dropped the lantern into the creek. The dog came at me. I jumped away. It fell into the creek, got out then came biting at my heels as I ran. It was bigger than a bear."

"Billy! There's no dog to be found. Now, just calm yourself, get into my automobile and I'll drive you on home."

"Yes, Sir, Sheriff Taylor."

On the way home, I felt weak. And then I remembered grandpa telling me, "When you get real frightened sometimes, your Adrenalin really starts pumping, and you are much stronger and can run faster. However, after the excitement is over, you feel weak and kind of worn out. The moral to my little story is remember to pump a gallon into your tank before you wonder out into the night alone. Grandpa was so smart knowing all about that stuff. "Well, tonight, I think I used two gallons, Grandpa," I whispered.

"Okay, Billy, we're home. Now, go and tell your mom and dad all about the rabid dog."

"Okay, Sir! Thank you for helping and bringing me home."
******
"For heaven's sake, Son. Calm down and tell us about what happened."

"I'm sorry Mom, but I met this rabid dog on the old bridge, and was so scared. I think it followed me home too."

Quickly getting his shotgun from above the fireplace, my father headed out for the barn. "Rabid dogs are known for biting the livestock," Grandpa had said as well. After about twenty minutes without finding the dog, my father came back inside and sat down.

"Tell us what really happened out there tonight, Son."

After calming down somewhat, I told my story, did some homework and then went off to bed. No one ever reported seeing the dog, dead or alive. Could it have been a figment of my imagination? Of course, not. What mattered to me was that my family believed my story. I didn't go to Youth Night at Church on Wednesdays for a little while. "A cowardly approach," I whispered to myself, then started back regularly.

A "Salute!" Mr Jones, for the Artwork.

Continued in chapter 3...








Author Notes My cousin out in California, is in the Motion Picture Business. He and I were joined at the hips as kids growing up in Pigeon Forge, (Dolly Wood) Tennessee. We're meeting there to discuss filming a movie of my book. I'll be editing the chapters then posting them for review.


Chapter 3
The Bumblebee!

By junglefighter

A special note to my friends: As I write chapter after chapter, I invite you to join in. My wish, "is to make you laugh and cry, while leaving you in a state of uncertainty of what will happen next." Hope you enjoy, and best wishes wherever you are.

Previously in chapter 2: After calming down somewhat, I told my story, did some homework then went off to bed. No one ever reported seeing the dog, dead or alive. Could it have been a figment of my imagination? Of course, not. What mattered to me was that my family truly believed my story. I didn't go to Youth Night at Church on Wednesday's for a little while. "A cowardly approach," I thought, then started back regularly.

Chapter 3

There were times that food was scarce on our little sharecroppers farm. Some days we ate leftovers from supper for breakfast. My mother managed food wisely all things considered. I remember well her saying, "Now, Son! What you don't eat, I'll put back on ice."

I did my chores at the crack of dawn, grabbed my lunchbox and was off to school. Our
closest neighbor, Mr. Jones, lived within a couple of miles. He was a World War II double amputee from the knees down. With exception of my father and grandpa, he was the finest man I had ever known. He had one daughter named Janice. She was the most beautiful seven-year-old girl in my world. Walking past, I saw Mr. Jones sitting on the porch in his wheelchair. I waved and he waved back.

"Billy! Would you walk Janice to school this morning" he asked.

I glanced at Janice; she smiled, then waved. "Beautiful smile, and well developed," I thought. It was last year that grandpa predicted a pretty girl would come into my life on my birthday. "Thank you Grandpa, for being right," I whispered.

"I'd be delighted to escort Janice to school, Mr. Jones."

Grandpa had explained what the word "escort" meant. So, why not impress her, with big words? After my theatrics, we headed out for school. Although I was only seven years old, I was already displaying a conventional masculine character, so to speak. Of course, when I was alone with girls my age, I had a tendency to be shy and retiring at times. Just then, a bumblebee flew into Janice's long red hair.

"Please, get it out, Billy!"

After gently brushing the bee from her hair, I reached down and touched her face. She quickly backed away then asked;

"What are you doing, Billy?"

After fumbling for an explanation, and making a fool out of myself, I finally answered; "I'm sorry, Janice." After a good laugh, we joined hands then continued on our walk to school. When we arrived, the last bell had rung, the door was shut, and class had begun.

Mrs. Cooper's policy on students being tardy, was effective for discouraging second offenders. Her procedures were to knock three times on the door, enter the classroom, identify yourself, explain why you were late, then apologize to your classmates for interrupting their study. Regardless of the formality, it was quite embarrassing for me, especially with Janice on my arm. Although we shared the blame for being late, It was me that did the knocking, introductions and apologizing.

My reasons for being late had drawn no remorse from Mrs. Cooper. It had however, generated an urge to laugh with my friends. What had started out to be a beautiful day, quickly became ugly. Considering my macho image had been clouded, I would deal with my snickering friends later.

"Billy, tell your mother about your being late this morning and why, okay?"

"Yes, Ma'am!"

"You may tell her as well, that you have satisfied my policy on making amends, and that you're back in good grace once again."

"Oh, I promise to tell her that right off. And thank you, Ma'am."

I didn't walk Janice to school in the mornings for a while. However, explain that I was only trying to keep something intact. And that was "my butt." After blushing, she smiled, then said, "I forgive you."

"Thanks for sharing your story with me, Billy. I wouldn't have heard it otherwise. Your confessing to being late, saying you were sorry for disrupting class, and then having the embarrassment of it all, was in itself enough discipline. If your apologies were accepted by Mrs. Cooper, then its "history with me."

"Okay, Mom! Is that saying that you won't tell Dad?"

"That's what I'm saying, Son. Because if I did, he would laugh himself silly."

"Thanks, Mom."

"May I ask, what took you so long to brush the bumblebee from Janice's hair? Well, on second thought, forget I asked."

"Yes, Ma'am. Do I have time to do the chores before supper?"

"If you hurry along. When you see your Dad, tell him that the fried chicken will be on the table in thirty-minutes."

"Okay, I promise."

After finishing my chores, and eating my fair share of chicken, I lit the lamp, did my homework from school, said goodnight to all then went to bed. The day had not gone well and I was crestfallen. Hopefully, tomorrow would be a better day, so I could flaunt my masculine character once again. As Grandpa would say, "Blow your horn, Billy."

Cool night air crept beneath my open window, the agonies of the day became less and less irrelevant. Somewhere off in the night, an ole owl called for its mate. I listened for an answer and hearing none, I began counting sheep as they jumped the picket fence.

The next three weeks of school seemed never ending. Having Mrs. Cooper leave for the Teachers Conference in Nashville would be a Godsend. Our School Superintendent had decided to close school, rather than employ a substitute teacher. A very smart move which allowed us to help in the fields. Regardless of how you slice it, I would be able to stash the books, forget homework then sleep in the mornings.

For those of you have tilled the rich soil, planted seed, watched them sprout and grow and yet, have the crops burn in the field, can certainly relate to an empty stomach. Thank God! We had saved enough money back, for the bare essentials.

Being early August, replanting our crops was out of the question. It really didn't matter because we had no money for the seed and fertilizer. I remember hiding in the shadows, and listening to my father and mother discussing our financial dilemma.

"The sad part of it all, is there's no money to support us much longer, Mother."

"Then, what are we to do, Father?"

"Please don't cry, I'll find work somewhere."

Having said that, he hugged my mother gently, wiped the tears from her face then walked away. Although we were dirt-poor, our faith in God and trust in one another gave us courage to face the uncertainty of the difficult days ahead. I remember trying to swallow and couldn't. Tears ran down my cheeks. I looked toward heaven and whispered, "Please, God, make work for my father."

A "Salute!" Alveria, for the Artwork.

Continued in chapter 4...




























Author Notes My cousin out in California is in the motion picture business. He and I were joined at the hips as kids growing up in Pigeon Forge, (Dollywood) Tennessee. We're meeting
there to discuss filming a movie of my book. I'll be editing the chapters, then posting
them for review.


Chapter 4
Coming home!

By junglefighter

Special Note to all my dear friends: As I write chapter and chapter, I invite you to join in. My wish, "is to make you laugh and cry, while leaving you in a state of uncertainty of what will happen next." Hope you enjoy and best wishes wherever you are.

Previously in Chapter 3: Having said that, he hugged my mother gently, wiped the tears from her face then walked away. Although we were dirt-poor, our faith in God and trust in one another, gave us courage to face the uncertainty of the difficult days ahead. I remember trying to swallow and couldn't. Tears ran down my cheeks, and I looked toward Heaven and whispered; "Please, God, make work for my father."

Chapter 4

Finding public work in an economically depressed part of Tennessee was difficult at any time. Of course, being a farmer and having lost your crop to the drought in late July made the task near impossible. With the thought in mind, I cranked up the old truck, pulled it around front, gave the wheel to my dad, and we headed out for town. Once arriving at the Unemployment Office, we found no job openings whatsoever.

"Kind of disappointing, huh, Dad?"

"It certainly is, Billy. You'll always find life full of disappointments. Remember, if the pill's too bitter to swallow, spit it out! But in the meantime don't you worry. I'll talk with Mr. Smith, and he'll help me find work, okay?"

"Okay, Dad. But remember, I'm out of school for two weeks, and if there's any way I can help, I will."

"Thanks, Son, you're my little man, and we'll talk about it later, okay?"

"Sure, Dad. I just wanted you to know that I was here for you."

Mr. Smith and his brother, Carl, owned the little farm we sharecropped, a pharmacy and jewelry store in town. Both shared similar interest and common goals. Most everyone held them in high regards because of their moral character and down to earth dispositions. Within reason, their making money was a number one priority. That's true with most of us, right? Of course it is. James, a third brother, had no interest in pills or jewelry.

After graduating from college, James started work in an automobile plant in Michigan and had risen in rank to Engineering Superintendent. That had taken a combination of strong determination and self-discipline despite the difficulties along the way. Not bad for a farm boy regardless of how you slice it. At one time I loved that phrase. Grandpa used it once, and I never forgot it. Not long ago, I tried impressing Janice by using it. She giggled then replied, "You're not talking about pie, you know?" I never used it again until now. There were times Grandpa could be so silly.

My father was only asking to work for three months until Christmas- then come home. He planned on saving back enough money to feed us, the livestock then buy seed and fertilizer for the spring planting. Keeping oil in the lamps until then, would get harder and harder. Grandpa had told me as well. "Boy, blow out the lamp when you finish your school work. That way, we save money on the oil then use it to buy food for the table."

Although he could be silly at times, he sure made sense at others. Of course, grandma would probably debate the issue. I love the word debate as well. Grandpa taught me that word and lot's more. God bless his Soul.

It was late August, and my seventh birthday was history. Mr. James Smith had agreed to hire my father for the ninety days. The working agreement was for five days a week, eight-hours per day, and the pay was $1.35 per hour, commencing the 1st of September. Although I was no expert in arithmetic, I did, however, figure out a mathematical solution of around $648.00 for the ninety days. Taking into consideration the year and economy, that much money was like finding a golden goose on an egg-laying frenzy. At least, for us it was.

My saying goodbye to Dad was heartbreaking and yet, it was financially essential for our survival through the hardship we faced. I remember well his embracing my mother, sister and myself then saying, "Our sharing the agonies and heartbreaks, while appreciating the tranquility and family unity during the hard times, shall truly bond us heart and soul."

Having said that, he smiled then disappeared among the passengers waiting to board the train. I could not remember what Grandpa had said about seven year old boy's crying in public. Oh, I remember now, he said, "Son, you ought to wait until you're out behind the barn." With that in mind, the tears would have to wait. Of course, you do understand?

The three months to follow were hard. My mother contributed to the family effort in her usual way, plus baking cookies and cakes to sell on consignment at the grocery stores. And, when not in school, my sister helped care for a disabled lady's physical, mental and general health, plus doing her regular chores. With my dad working away from home, I became the man of the house and felt responsible for my mother's and sister's welfare. Would you believe that swelled my head? Silly question, huh?

In addition to school and my regular chores, I hunted and killed wild game for our food, chopped fire for the stove, fireplace and all other things that needed doing. December finally arrived, the snow blanketed the rooftop, icicles glistened from the eaves, and, thank God, my dad was home. All things considered, sleigh bells were ringing once again. My mother and sister had worked diligently at preparing a welcome home dinner for dad and all of us. If you've ever eaten fried chicken smothered in gravy, buttermilk biscuits baked in the oven of a wood burning stove, sweet corn on the cob drowned in fresh butter, green tomatoes fried to a crisp, and then apple pie for dessert, then you can relate to our ravenous appetites. After sharing the things we all had done for the past three months, it became crystal clear that although we were dirt poor, our faith in God and trust in one another would give us courage to face the uncertainty of the difficult days ahead.

Our coming together once again had been blessed by our guardian Angel. After the day's activity, we were all exhausted and went off to bed early. My getting to sleep was much easier now that my Dad was home to take charge, so to speak. My theatrics toward being head of the household had been a macho trip for me. Oh, you knew that anyway, didn't you? I remember counting eight sheep as they jumped the picket fence. And I watched as the ninth one leaped. Poor thing, I fell asleep before it landed and left it suspended in midair. Oh, well, I'd get it down the next night.

A "Salute!" Alveria, for the Artwork.

Continued in chapter 5







Author Notes My cousin out in California is in the motion picture business. We were joined at the
hips as kids growing up in Pigeon Forge, (Dollywood) Tennessee. We are meeting
there to discuss filming a movie of my book. I'll be writing around 20-chapters, and after completing each will post them for your review.


Chapter 5
I'm freezing!

By junglefighter

A special note to my friends: As I write chapter after chapter, I invite you to join in. My wish, "is to make you laugh and cry, while leaving you in a state of uncertainty of what will happen next." Hope you enjoy and best wishes wherever you are.

Previously in chapter 4: Our coming together had been blessed by a guardian Angel. After the days activity, we were exhausted and went off to bed early. My dad, also home too take charge so to speak, made my falling to sleep much easier. Of course, my theatrics toward being head of the household had been a macho trip and I was walking in tall cotton. Of course, you knew that, didn't you? I remembered counting eight sheep as they jumped the picket fence. And I had watched the ninth one leap. Poor thing, I fell asleep before it landed, and left it suspended in midair. Oh, well, I'd get it down the next night.

Chapter 5

My, God! I could not believe it was 6:00 a. m. already. Leaping from bed, I ran to the window, watched the rays of sunrise march along the crystal white snow and then gently, "kiss my face." Oh, how wonderful having my dad home for Christmas.

Suddenly, I felt a void. "What's missing," I thought? Oh, I remember now, I had left the ninth sheep suspended in midair before falling asleep last night. Sorry, little fellow, just hang up there, and we'll get you down tonight. Okay?

"Rise and shine, Billy. It's Monday and things are back to normal. Dress warm for it's snowing outside. If you get right into your chores you'll finish before breakfast."

"I'm up already, Mom. And I'll put my long handles on to help keep warm."

Finishing my chores in the winter took less time than in summer. Why? Because the cows gave up their milk faster to avoid cold hands. As a matter of fact, I was finished up and back in front of the fireplace in a record time this morning. God, it was cold out there.

"Breakfast is on the table, Billy. Call your Dad, okay?"

"Yes, ma'am!"

Normally, we didn't eat fried chicken for breakfast. However, when you consider that it was smothered in flour-gravy, with oven baked biscuits on the side, then it became an exception to the rule. There were times of course, especially through the summer months, that we could not afford to buy ice blocks for the cooler. Therefore, our leftover's would spoil from the heat and we would feed them to the hog's. No problem, as grandpa said; "It'll all come back to us at slaughter time."

During our meal, we listened to the meteorologist on our old Smith field radio. Although the reception was weak with static, we managed to make out his predicting heavy snow for late afternoon. After finishing breakfast, I climbed into my foul-weather gear, grabbed my lunch box, and headed out for school.

The north wind was freezing cold. And walking through the snow drifts slowed me somewhat. The last bell was ringing for class when I reached school. After stashing my cold weather gear in the cloak room, I walked over to the potbelly stove to warm my hands and feet.

"Take your seats and listen up, children. Snowstorms are predicted for our area with temperatures in the upper twenties. Therefore, I am closing school at noontime until further notice."

Mrs. Cooper spent most of the morning assigning homework for us to complete while out of school. Supposedly, the weather front was moving in within 72-hours.

"Be sure and tell your parents that school will be out until further notice. Do any of you need help in getting home?"

Some kids answered yes, and others no. To admit I needed help, would certainly cloud my macho image. Therefore, I grabbed my coat, toboggan and lunch box then headed out for home. Of course, it didn't seem all that cold at first. However, having put my long-handles on was certainly helping hold my body heat.

Walking in ankle-deep snow, I approached the short-cut I always took home. By this time, the snow had almost covered the pathway through the woods that I normally used for navigating my way. Although, I had made no mental notes of other markers, I was confident that I could find my way through.

After walking for some time in the direction I thought was right, I became disoriented and exhausted. I passed by an old rusted out wood-burning stove that I had never seen before.
It was obvious that I was lost. The thought of my freezing to death started me shaking uncontrollably.

Reflecting back on what grandpa had told me to do, if lost in a snowstorm, I stopped abruptly behind a snowdrift, used my tin lunchbox to dig a hole for my lanky frame, hung the lunchbox from a forked limb as a marker for my body, jumped into the hole, and covered myself with snow with exception of my face. "If this worked for grandpa, it'll work for me," I thought. Having hunted these woods many a time, my dad would find me before I froze to death. To think otherwise, would be scary and unacceptable. Don't you agree?

The time of day, and I was guessing, was around 3:00 p.m. Settling down beneath the blanket of snow, I waited for any sight or sound of my dad combing the woods searching for me. Why, all of a sudden was I getting sleepy? I had slept well last night. And why was I feeling warm while buried in snow with the north wind blowing against my face? I heard a wolf howling somewhere in the woods.

My nose and face were numbed by the freezing wind. I tried moving my arms, legs and the effort failed. "Please, help me someone," I screamed. No one answered. "I'm here by the snowdrift," I yelled. Why, can't you hear me? "What a waste," I thought. My freezing to death at age seven when I had planned much more. "Wait a second," I whispered. How could I be freezing when I felt so warm? I was tired! Maybe a nap is what I needed. Slowly closing my eyes, I drifted off to sleep.

A "Salute!" Seshadri, for the Artwork.

Continued in chapter 6







Author Notes My cousin out in California is in the motion picture business. We were joined at the hips as kids growing up in Pigeon Forge, (Dollywood) Tennessee. We're meeting there to discuss filming a movie of my book. I'll be writing around twenty chapters. I shall post them for review, chapter after chapter.


Chapter 6
I've found Billy!

By junglefighter

A special note to my friends: As always, I ask that you join me in the story. My wish, "is to make you laugh and cry, while leaving you in a state of uncertainty of what will happen next." Hope you enjoy and best wishes wherever you are.

Previously in chapter 5: My nose and face were numb from the freezing wind. I tried moving my arms and legs and the effort failed. "Please, help me someone," I screamed and yet, no one answered. "I'm here by the snowdrift," I yelled. "Please, I'm freezing." Oh, why can't
someone hear me? What a waste, my freezing to death at seven-years-old. God! I had planned on so much more. "Wait a second!" How could I be freezing when I felt so warm? I'll just take a nap then go on home. Supper will get cold if I don't hurry and get to the table.

Chapter 6

"I've found Billy! Bring me the lantern quick. And I'll need the shovel from the wagon and a quilt. Please, hurry, I think he is still alive."

I awoke to the sound of my father's voice. I could hear him shoveling snow off my body. After wrapping me in a hand sewn quilt, he carried me to the wagon, climbed aboard, slapped the rawhide lines against the mules tails, and then yelled, "giddy-up!"

I don't remember much about the ride home and yet, I'll always remember, our old blue mules running lickety-split! Oh, I'm here to tell you, they were hauling tail. Once getting home, my father hitched the mules to a rail, carried me inside, put me on a small cot my mother had moved to the front of the fireplace then said, "Take care of him, Mother, I'm gonna get Doc Smith."

"Doctor Smith should be home by now, Father. Please, hurry on, okay?"

After throwing some logs on the fire, my father headed out to the wagon, climbed aboard and was off in a heartbeat. Quickly removing my wet clothing, mother wrapped me in a warm flannel blanket, threw two heavy quilts over me then ran off to the kitchen.

"I'm making some hot soup, Billy," she called.

"Oh, please, Mom, I don't think I can eat right now."

God! Please, don't tell anyone, my friends, that my mother hand fed me "tablespoon after tablespoon," of the hot soup. Thank, goodness, Janice didn't see this. Why? Because she would have said, "Poor, Billy, he's still nursing on mommy!" There were times, Janice could be a whippersnapper. But then of course, so could I. How bout you, my friends? Shivering like a dog in the cold water of winter, I could not control the involuntary muscular contractions. What a time to get sick.

My mother grabbed a warm quilt from the back of the chair by the fire, wrapped me, then began feeding me soup again. Oh, God, get me through this spoon full, and I shall never swallow another. Although somehow, it tastes somewhat better than before. A short time later, the shivering stopped and I drifted off to sleep.

"Wake up, Billy! Doctor Smith is here to see you."

"What seems to be the problem, Son?"

"I'm okay, Doctor. Just got lost in the woods and awfully cold."

"Well, I'll just take a look now that I'm here, okay?"

"Well, if you want to."

Doctor Smith started his examination in the same way he always did by saying, "Now, let's see, uh huh, seems about right." For the life of me, I could not figure out, what he saw or seemed about right. And that started me to wonder. Here I was busting my butt at plowing the fields, planting the crops then harvesting them all. That was if the drought hadn't burn them in the fields. And I didn't have a penny to my name. Now, all Doc Smith did for a living was say, "Now, let's see, uh huh and it seems about right." And he was making bunches of money in doing so. Well, my mother wasn't raising a fool, so I'll have someone save me a seat in medical school. But, surely, there is more to it than that. I'll do some checking, and I bet you would as well.

Although, Doc Smith found no frostbitten tissue, he did diagnose me with pneumonia, and started me on whatever they were giving at the time. My Mom's home remedy consisted of layering my chest with Vic's Vapor Rub, covering it with a hot steaming towel, then pouring hot soup down me. Would you believe Campbell's ran out? Do you know why? "Because mom poured it all down my craw." God bless her!

Grandpa and Grandma took care of me through my recovery and as well, worked their tails off doing my chores. Grandpa would chop wood and build the fire, and take care of the livestock, while Grandma would cook our meals and mend our clothes. After being pampered for a couple of weeks, I was back in school and yet, I was sure spoiled by the pampering.

It was Friday and I was ecstatic. Mrs. Cooper had let us out of school at noon, so she could attend a Teachers Conference in Nashville. My father had promised to let me go hunting on the next Friday we were out early. Wow, and this was it! Once getting home, I found a note on the table that read, "We're over at your grandparents. Be real careful with your shotgun this afternoon and be home to do your chores." The way I figured it, I could hunt for around three hours, and then finish my chores before dark.

Oh, I was so hungry, and my belly was growling so loud. It sounded like a mama bear that was having me for supper. I gobbled down a drumstick from the cooler, chased it down with a big glass of milk, dressed for the cold, picked up my twenty-gauge, filled my pockets with shells, and then headed out for the woods. Luckily, I would kill some wild game for the table and help my dad save money for seed and fertilizer for the spring planting.

Within three hours, I had bagged five rabbits, four squirrels and two turkeys. I had certainly earned the right, "to blow my horn!" I headed home to do my barnyard chores. And after finishing them, I grabbed the double bladed ax, raised it high above my head and brought it down hard into the oak wood. Within fifteen minutes, I had split enough sticks for the fireplace and kitchen stove.

"Not bad for a seven year old having had pneumonia three weeks ago," I bragged. Although my mother had made a mistaken perception of my physical stamina, I would most certainly keep it to myself. You do understand of course? As the golden flames leaped high up the chimney, I looked out the window. Frosty, the Snow Man stood in an old black wash kettle, wearing a black crowned hat, yellow carrot nose and smoking a corncob pipe. My eye lids were heavy, and I pushed back in the rocking chair by the fire.

"Wake-up, Billy! And go get your long handles on before you catch pneumonia again."

"Oh, my goodness, I didn't mean to fall asleep, Mom. Where's Dad?"

"Out in the barn unhitching and feeding the mules. He'll be in directly."

Sitting down to eat, we shared the tranquility of being together, thanked God for the peace and comfort in our lives, and prayed for guidance along our journey, beyond the hard times. After finishing our meal, we shared our dreams of tomorrow, then went off to bed.

The golden rays of an early morning sunrise, warmed and kissed my face. Why was I smelling smoke? Oh, my Lord! I remembered my not placing the screen protector in front of the fireplace before going to bed. As I ran into the living room I saw the orange flames leaping high from the floor. I felt so guilty. What in the world would we do? "Please, God! Forgive me for forgetting," I screamed.

A "Salute!" Determination, for the Artwork.

Continued in chapter 7...











Author Notes My cousin out in California is in the motion picture business. We were joined at the hips as kids growing up in Pigeon Forge, (Dollywood) Tennessee. We're meeting there to discuss filming a movie of my book. I'll be writing the chapters, then posting them for review as I finish.


Chapter 7
The Fire!

By junglefighter

A special note to my friends: As always, I ask that you join me in the story. My wish, "is to make you laugh and cry, while leaving you in a state of uncertainty of what will happen next." Hope you enjoy and best wishes wherever you are.

Previously in Chapter 6: The rays of an early morning sunrise kissed my face. Why was I smelling smoke? Oh, my Lord! I did not place the screen protector in front of the fireplace before going to bed. I ran into the living room, saw orange flames leaping high from the floor and felt so guilty. What in the world would we do? "Please, God! Forgive me for forgetting." I prayed.

Chapter 7

The fire spread quickly, and I stood there blabbering incoherently while acting like a baby. I was seven-years-old, owned a twenty-gauge shotgun, had killed a deer with more points than Shaffer had pens in its factory and yet, I was in a full state of panic when my family needed me most. Once dealing with the reality of it all, I yelled, "Wake-up, everybody, the house is on fire." Dad started toward the room and yet, stopped short when he saw the fire was burning out of control.

"Son, what happened?" He asked.

"Please, forgive me, Dad? It's all my fault. I forgot to put the screen in front of the fireplace before going to bed. I'm so sorry! I'll draw water from the well and put it out, okay?"

"It's too late for that, Billy and much too dangerous. Tell your mother and sister to get out and go to the smokehouse. You grab some quilts, the lantern, then join them out there. I'll be closing the room off to contain the fire as best I can. Its spreading fast. So hurry, Son."

"Okay, Dad! I'll fill my pockets with matches. What else can I do?"

"Mind what I say and hustle along. I'll be along directly."

I did as dad asked, then joined my mother and sister. The old smokehouse was away from the fire. Grandpa had said, "Play with fire and get burned." He had looked at Grandma and winked. Oh, Lord! She beat his tail with a broom. Although, he said, "I'm gonna leave you, Old Woman," he was always there for supper. Grandpa was a mess and yet, I loved him dearly. Oh, you knew that, didn't you?

In early November, we killed hogs, dressed four out, hung them by their shanks over the stone pit, and smoked them with hickory wood. Although we were homeless, our having the smokehouse for shelter was a Godsend. Considering there were four of us and four hogs to share the space, we would still fit like sardines in a can.

I do remember, that our poll-china hog suffered with claustrophobia. Oh, by-the-way, Grandma taught me that big word. She knew a lot more and yet, never used them. Grandpa always thought she was cussing at him if she did. Of course, our poor old hog wasn't afraid of tight places any longer, was he? We were lucky to have the hickory sticks and kindling left from the hog smoking for a fire to keep us warm.

The flames burned higher and higher, and on through the roof of the house. Where was my, Dad? "I'll be along directly," he had said. Although my grammar was not always an accepted standard for correctness, I did understand that directly meant without changing directions or stopping. Grandma explained that word when Grandpa wasn't listening. Its plain, my mother, sister and me, were in a near state of panic thinking my Dad was trapped by the fire and was not coming out.

"Where are you going, Billy?"

"To get my Dad out of the house before he burns to death, Mom."

"Wait-up, Son! He is coming out the kitchen door now."

"What's that he's carrying?"

"Our old black trunk!"

"What's in it?"

"Not too much, Son. Just a whole lot of good memories and money he made while working away."

Ordinarily, it was pitch-dark at 3:30 a.m. and yet, the golden flames lit the darkness like a harvest moon as they leaped into heaven above our modest little home. The sadness on my Fathers face glowed like a fire-fly in the night as he came closer and closer carrying our old trunk in his arms. Oh, God! I felt so ashamed and remorseful.

"Please, Dad! Forgive me for what I've done? I didn't mean to forget. I promise, I'll pick cotton, chop wood, shovel manure from the stables, or anything else. I wanna help raise money to build another home. Are you gonna whup me, huh?"

"God, no, Billy! It is not a matter of forgetting, feeling ashamed or guilty. It's a matter of our working through our loss as a family and sticking together like glue. Your mother and sister are getting cold. Let's go build a fire in the stone pit of the ole smokehouse."

"Oh, my goodness! Thanks for understanding, Dad. I know there are times I'm a little bit of
a whippersnapper and yet, I don't mean to be. I try and be good."

Once building a fire, we all wrapped ourselves in the blankets, then slept as best we could. The old red rooster was crowing on the picket fence when I awoke. I put on my long-handles, went outside, then saw the remains of our home smoldering in ashes. Tears of sadness filled my eyes and yet, the sweet memory of our old homeplace was etched in my heart. I looked toward heaven and prayed; "Thank you, God! For the good times we shared together in our little home. Please, help us to build another."

"Will Grandpa and Grandma have room for us all, Dad?"

"Oh, yes! They'll make room, Son. Your mother and sister shall share a bed, and you and me will sleep on a straw-mattress on the floor. Although we'll be jammed together, it'll work out fine. And if you're wondering why? It'll be because we're closer for hugging."

"Hadn't thought about that, Dad! Oh! What'll we do about the mules, cows and chickens? There's no place to keep them at Grandpas."

"We'll tend to them here at the barnyard, Billy. And just as soon as Mr. Smith collects money from his insurance, your uncle and I will build our new home."

"I'd like to help and all, Dad. Could I please? I can carry lumber from the old truck, bring you all Grandma's hot vittles from the stove and many other things. Can I, huh? For after all, if it wasn't for me, we'd still have a home."

"I'll not hear your being sorry for yourself again, Billy. You are my little man, so please, act like it. Okay, Son? I made my mistakes along the way, we all have. Even Jesus flogged the evil men on earth."

"Was that a mistake, Dad?"

"That, you'll need to ask Him, Billy. You'll not have time for helping much after doing your barnyard chores, homework and going to school. Once school is out, you can help, okay?"

"Oh, boy! I will feel so much better helping out. Would you do me a favor, Dad?"

"Of course, Son. What is it?"

"Please, ask Mom not to tell Janice I started the fire."

"You didn't start the fire, Billy. Do you understand that, Son?"

"Yes, Sir! I'm sorry, Dad."

As we arrived at Grandpas, Grandma came running up to the old truck. Her face was pale and she was in a near state of panic.

"Oh, God! What is the matter?" my mother asked.

"Grandpas laying out back by the old fish pond. He's been bitten by a Copperhead Snake."

As we ran to Grandpa, we saw him twitching. His hand and arm were swollen bad. He told me once, "Billy! If you're ever bitten by a Copperhead, stay calm. Because if you get all excited, the poison will reach your heart faster and you'll die."

"What's a matter, Grandpa? Didn't you remember what you told me?" I cried.

I remember well, my dad driving the old truck lickety-split on the old country road. I rode in back and held grandpa's head in my lap. Would we ever get to Doctor Smiths? I wondered.

"Won't this old truck run any faster?" I yelled.

My heart was breaking into pieces, like a lamp-globe having fallen to the floor. My eyes were filled with tears and yet, scenes from the past became crystal clear, and I could hear grandpa say;
******
"Billy! It's your seventh birthday. My, God! How the time has flown. Seems like only yesterday, you were just a tow headed child. Remember my taking you fishing on the mill pond, and you catching a catfish almost as big as my ole blue mule? God! Those were good times, huh? I only wish we could reach out, touch, and hold on to them forever."
******
Thank, God! We were here. I jumped from the truck, ran inside and said;

"Grandpa's been bitten by a Copperhead Snake. Please, keep him alive. Because, I don't
wanna live without him. Do you hear me?"

A "Salute!" Supergold for the Artwork.

Oh! I told you, "I'd leave you hanging!"

Continued in Chapter 8...







Author Notes My cousin out in California is in the motion picture business. We were joined-at-the- hips, as kids growing up in Pigeon Forge, (Dollywood) Tennessee. We're meeting there to discuss filming a movie of my Book. I'll be writing the chapters, then posting them for your review. As always, thanks for reading, and best wishes wherever you are.


Chapter 8
Saying goodbye to Grandpa!

By junglefighter

A special note to my friends: As always, I ask that you join me in the story. My wish, "is to make you laugh and cry, while leaving you in a state of uncertainty of what will happen next." Hope you enjoy and best wishes wherever you are.

Previously in Chapter 7:

"Happy birthday, Billy. Gee-whiz! Its hard to believe you are seven-year's old today. Seems like only yesterday I took you fishing on the old mill pond. You were so little that I had to bait your hook and help hold your pole and yet, when the catfish swallowed the worm, we got him. And he was a whopper too. Why, he was almost as big as my ole blue mule. I remember you saying, 'Grandpa, I did most of the catching, didn't I?' My, God! If time had a tail like a cat, I'd grab hold and stop it in it's tracks. I'm so proud of you, Billy. And I love you so much. Please, remember that, as you journey through life.

Chapter 8

Why was I hearing Grandpa's voice? I jumped from the truck, ran inside and screamed, "Grandpa's dying out there. Do you hear me? Please, keep him alive for me!" As I watched them carry Grandpa into the doctor's office on the stretcher, I felt faint. My legs began to wobble, cold sweat ran down my nose and darkness surrounded me. "God, how strange," I thought. Scenes flashed back and forward before my eyes.
******
Bouncing like a rubber ball in the wagon, I continued slapping rawhide to the mules' tails. The dirt road was bumpy, it had been washed out in places by the early winter rains, and since I was hauling-buggy, I was asking for trouble. "So what?" I thought. My getting to Grandpa's before he died, was all that mattered to me at the moment. "Giddy up, mule's," I cried.

Lather ran from underneath their harnesses, and foam from their mouths. My brown mule stepped into a hole, broke his leg at the knee, and tumbled to the ground. "My, God! What have I done?" I said. "Why me, Lord?" I prayed. Here I was trying to get home for Grandpa, my mule's knee was all busted up and he was rolling on the ground whinnying in pain. "God, will it ever end?" I prayed.

I watched my mule raise his head, vomit then crash to the ground in agony. I wouldn't let him suffer any longer. I always carried my 20-gauge shotgun when I was alone in the wagon. Reaching underneath the seat, I picked it up, removed the case, loaded up a shell then stopped short.

"Wait a minute," I thought. I couldn't shoot the poor creature while my other mule stood watching. Grandpa said once, "Billy, if you shoot an animal for mercy sake, do it in private." "God, I almost forgot, Grandpa," I whispered. I unhitched Ole Blue from the singletree, walked him out behind a high bank of dirt, hitched him to a bush, then returned to my duties at hand.

"Lord, grant me the strength to do what I must," I prayed. Flipping the safety off, I placed the barrel of my gun to Browns head, pulled the trigger and watched him die. I know there's mules in Heaven. Grandpa told me, "Jesus rode an ass while preaching to His Disciples." As I rode away on Ole Blue, I heard a voice, "Thank you, Billy, for remembering."
*********
The scenes vanished from my eyes. I saw my father standing outside Doctor Smith's office. His face was pale and he looked so tired. My mother, sister and grandma were crying their hearts out. Putting his arm around my shoulder, my father said,

"Grandpa's gone, Billy."

"Please, don't say that. He's just taking a nap. And once he wakes up, we're gonna go fishing. He promised me yesterday."

"I'm sorry, Son, but he's with Jesus now. Grab hold of yourself, you'll need to be strong for your mother, sister and grandma. And remember! As you walk the pathway of life, he'll be there guiding you to the goodness in the world. Remember him saying, "Billy, when men cry, they go out behind the barn?"

"But I'm not a man, I'm a little boy! And there's no barn around."

"Then cry little one. Grandpa will understand."

"How much more have I gotta take?"

"Just bring your sorrows to me, Son. My shoulders are wider."

"Do I sound like a baby?"

"No, you don't. You sound like my little man."

"Thanks', Dad, because I'm really trying."

"I love you, Billy. The pain shall go away and you'll smile again."

"Did you hear what my dad said? He said I sounded like my little man."

Throwing my shoulders back, I walked into the cabin, hugged everyone and told them,

"It'll be alright now. Grandpa is fishing with Jesus. And I bet he'll catch a whopper."

My mother, sister and grandma smiled then grandma whispered,

"I bet so too, Billy."

"Of course, there's a whole bunch of angels in heaven, Grandma. And if one whopper won't feed 'em all, he'll catch another. He always made sure, plenty of food was on the table."

"I know, Billy. Thank you for consoling us. You're such a little man."

"My dad said that too, Grandma."

We gave grandpa a funeral on Friday, and there were so many who came. There were farmers in overalls, white shirts and ties. Their wives wore pleated skirts, white blouses and bonnets of many colors. Golly, I almost forgot. I counted seven poodles on leashes wearing red bows on their heads. I thought it was so funny, for I was used to seeing ole hound dogs with floppy ears. Of course, this old world has room for them all. Grandpa always said, "I want to rest at the old cemetery in the hollow, before fishing in Jesus's pond."

We buried him late in the afternoon, and I placed a single flower on his headstone. I was a little man in my black suit and tie. I looked all around, no one was looking. Raising my head toward Heaven, tears ran down my face as I prayed, "Grandpa! I'm crying now. Please, understand these are happy-tears. Do you know why? Because, Dad told me, I was his little man. And little men don't cry sad tears, only happy ones."

I went back to grandma's little log cabin, ran out behind the barn, looked toward Heaven and prayed, "Dear, Lord! I don't think I fooled anybody by not crying sad tears. Of course, You knew that already, didn't You?" I beat my fist on the side of the barn. A plank broke loose, and I kicked it with my foot. I ran around, jumped up and down and cried happy tears for hours.

Later on, around dusky dark, I went back to where Grandpa was sleeping. Somewhere off in the night, I heard a whippoorwill calling for its mate. And after getting no answer, It seemed to say, "Billy, would you get on home, you're frightening my mate away." I turned, said goodnight to Grandpa then started back. It was dark and I was frightened. "Dear, God! What was that sound I just heard? Sweet Jesus! It's a Mountain Lion. As I waited for the inevitable, I prayed, "Please, wait up for me Grandpa? For I'll be joining you now." I whispered.

A "Salute!" Lilibug6, for the Artwork.

Oh! I told you, "I'd leave you hanging!"

Continued in chapter 9...

Author Notes My cousin out in California is in the motion picture business. We were joined at the hips as kid's growing up in Pigeon Forge, (Dollywood) Tennessee. We're meeting there to discuss filming a movie of my Book. I'll be writing the chapters, then posting them for review. As always, thanks for reading and best wishes wherever you are.


Chapter 9
Mangled!

By junglefighter

A special note to my friends: As always, I ask that you join me in the story. My wish, "is to make you laugh and cry, while leaving you in a state of uncertainty of what will happen next."
Hope you enjoy, and best wishes wherever you are.

Previously in Chapter 8: Later on, around dusky dark, I went back to where Grandpa was sleeping. Somewhere off in the night, I heard a whippoorwill calling for his mate. After getting no answer, he seemed to say, "Billy! Would you get on home, for you're frightening my mate away." I turned, said goodnight to Grandpa then started back. It was pitch dark, and I was frightened. "Dear God! What was that sound? Oh, Sweet Jesus, it's a Mountain Lion.
Please, Lord, I'm too young to die," I cried. As I waited for the inevitable to happen, I called out, "Please, Grandpa, wait up for me. Because, I'm coming to join you."

Chapter 9

The Mountain Lion hit me hard. I screamed, "Please, Lord, spare me the agony of suffering and take me to Grandpa." I tried to cover my face with my hand and yet, the effort failed. I remember the fierce growling sounds and felt its canines sink deep into my flesh. "Please, God, have mercy!" I screamed. And then, darkness, crept over me.
**********
I awoke to the sound of my father's voice, "Come quick Mother, Billy's still alive." Blood covered my body, and I tried moving my arms and legs and yet, I couldn't. The pain was excruciating and I cried, "Why me, Lord?" "How strange," I thought. The pain was gone and I was getting very sleepy? "Nothing wrong in my taking a nap," I whispered. As I slept, I dreamed of Grandpa and reflected the good times.
**********

"Wake up, Billy, did you forget that we're going Turkey hunting today?"

"No, Grandpa, I was just tired and resting up a little," I replied.

"The temperature dropped to 29-degrees during the night. So out of bed, put your cold weather gear on, grab the 20-gauge and stuff your pockets with shells. The Ole Gobbler is probably strutting around in the woods already. Grandma's waiting breakfast, so hustle along, okay?"

As far back as I remember, Grandma always cooked breakfast at the crack of dawn. And if you wanted to see her mad, just be late getting to the table. I was always first getting there and last to leave. You do understand?

"Grandpa, would you say grace?"

"I will! Dear Lord, bless this Old Woman I married, and the food she has prepared for us this morning. Bless those that are sick, hungry, homeless or abandoned. Please, heal, feed, give refuge too and comfort those unfortunate Souls. And as well, guide the pellets from the gun when Billy shoots the Gobbler. For there are times, he gets so excited and misses. Amen!"

"Who's an Old Woman, Old Man?"

"Sorry, Woman! Just a bad choice of words."

At breakfast, Grandpa and me planned our strategy for today's big kill. After figuring we had dotted all of the I's and crossed the T's, we loaded up and skedaddled. A heavy snow had fallen overnight. Of course, by now, the temperature had risen to 32-degrees Fahrenheit. Once reaching the woods, we made little or no noise as we slipped from tree to tree hopefully escaping notice.

Quickly digging a trench in the snow next to an old dead tree stump, we climbed in and began making our turkey calls. An answer came quicker than we expected. Not more than 40-yards away, the Grand Pappy of all Gobblers began his strutting ritual, thus making his presence known. "Too easy," I thought. Was I dreaming? After completing his second performance, I forgot the dreaming part, looked down my sight, pulled the trigger and the feathers flew.

"Way too go, Billy! I couldn't have done better myself. God, your grandma's gonna be so proud of you. Can't you just smell it roasting in the stove."

"He's a whopper ain't he, Grandpa? I think he is bigger than the one you shot and killed for last Thanksgiving."

"Blow your horn, Billy. I do believe he is."

As far back as I remember, we always ate turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And what we didn't eat, we sold at the market to buy essentials to live on. At times, our crops failed in the field, and we could not afford the money to feed the turkey. Of course hunting, and shooting them, cost less money and was certainly more fun.

After bragging somewhat, Grandpa and me headed out for home. I was certainly looking forward to tooting my horn at school, and becoming a hero with the girls. Of course, I would say, "Ah, it was really nothing, but he was bigger than Grandpa's."

"What a beautiful turkey, Billy. Why, he's bigger than Grandpa shot last Thanksgiving."

"Would you shut your mouth, Old Woman? You need to start roasting it you know."

"Don't you think you and Billy should clean it first, Old Man?"

After calling Grandma an Old Woman, he ran from the kitchen before she could whoop him with her broom. There were times, she busted his tail. I asked him once, "Grandpa, why do you and Grandma act like kids?" He answered, "Because, we never had the time to be kids when we were kid's." Self-pity was not the norm for Grandpa. Therefore, I'm gonna whiteout those words.
********
Suddenly, I awoke to my father's voice. "Billy's gone into shock, Mother. He's lost so much blood. Get the blanket and let's load him into the truck. God, hasn't he been through enough? Let's pray that Dr. Smith is home."

Why were my mom and dad getting so upset? For after all, I had just bagged a Gobbler the size of Texas, tooted my horn at school to my friends, and had become a hero for Janice. I glanced down and saw blood covering my body. Darkness crept over me, once again.

Oh! I told you, "I'd leave you hanging!"

A "Salute!" Lilibug6, for the Artwork.

Continued in Chapter 10






Author Notes A cousin of mine out in California is in the motion picture business. He and I were joined at the hips as kids growing up in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. We are considering doing a movie of my book once finished. I'm starting on chapter 10 of 20. The footage will be shot in and around Pigeon Forge, (Dollywood) Tennessee. I am writing the novel, "chapter by chapter," and shall be posting them for your review. Thanks, for reading my little story, and best wishes, wherever you are.
Bill


Chapter 10
A Brown Recluse for Billy!

By junglefighter

A Special note to my friends: As always, I ask that you join me in the story. My wish, "Is to make you laugh and cry, while leaving you in a state of uncertainty, as to what will happen next." Hope you enjoy my little story, and best wishes wherever you are.

Previously in Chapter 9:

Why were my mom and dad getting so upset? For after all, I had bagged a Gobbler almost as big as Texas, tooted my horn at school to my classmates, and had become a hero for Janice. Looking down, I saw blood covering my body. Darkness crept over me, once again.

Chapter 10

"Oh, my God! Is Billy dead, Doctor Smith? He lost so much blood before we could get him here."

"Billy's alive, Ma'am. However, he's in shock, and his blood-pressure is very low. He will need blood and to be transferred to the county hospital. I shall do everything possible to save him. However, I must be completely honest and say, that he is in critical condition and needs all of our prayers."

"Dear Jesus! Did you see Billy raise his hand? It's like he heard what you said about our prayers. Can he hear what we are saying Doctor?"

"God only knows the answer to that. There is a possibility he may hear us."

"Oh, I can hear you! What's the matter with everybody? There is nothing wrong with my ears. Oh, yes! I can hear you, Doctor." My voice echoed like I was in a tunnel. Why, couldn't I move my legs? As the darkness filled my eyes once again, I felt myself slipping back in time.
*******

"Grandpa, you promised you'd tell me a story about Santa when I was six-years old. Well, I am six today."

"Of course, you are, Billy. Golly-gee! How about me telling you the story of Ole Santa getting his belly stuck in the chimney on his way back up to the roof top?"

"Okay, Grandpa. But why did he get his belly stuck?"

"Well, it seems as though, on his way down the chimney he found his treats on the fireplace hearth, ate four-dozen chocolate cookies, drank a gallon of milk and his belly swelled so big, he got stuck."

"Oh, my goodness, Grandpa! He didn't do that. Sometimes you act like a silly-gander, do you know that?"

"Why, of course, Billy. Grandma has pulled my feathers many a times."

"That was a short story. Would you tell me another? Would you, huh?"

"One more, Billy."

"Goody! But before you start, I have a question. Just the other day, I heard a boy say, kids who are six-years-old and still believe in Santa, are silly. So I wanna know, is Santa real, Grandpa?"

"Billy, Santa is real today, was yesterday, and always shall be as long as you want to believe in him. What's more, you should encourage as many boys and girls to believe in the magical things of Christmas as you can. Will you do that, Son?"

"I'll try, Grandpa. But please, don't use big ole words in your story."

"Okay, I promise, Billy. Now where was I? Oh, I remember now. Just a week ago, I was walking through the park in town and saw Santa sitting on a corner bench by the trail. A boy your age and size, walked up to Santa and asked, 'Are you really Santa Claus?' Well, Santa pulled his long silver beard, kind of chuckled then replied, 'I am as long as you want to believe I am, Son.'"

"Now, as for myself, I remember well, sitting in Santa's lap when I was your age, and his asking me what I wanted most for Christmas? 'A little red bicycle,' I quickly replied. Once hearing that, he started laughing his head off. 'What's so funny, Santa,' I asked? Well, he chuckled once again then replied, 'Of all the different colored bicycles you could have chosen, it was the red one with flat tires. However, that'll work. Because, I'll have my Elf air em up.'"
********
"Thank God! Billy is moving both of his legs, Doctor. Is he gonna live? He has been unconscious for over two-hours. Please, tell me he's gonna be alright."

"Miracles do happen now and then, Ma'am. And Billy is one of those miracles. His blood-pressure is almost back to normal, and there's color in his skin once again. Yes, Ma'am! Billy's gonna live. And I'll bet, he'll be fussing at you directly."

"Why am I still in this bed? I gotta go kill some rabbits for supper. Do all of you hear me? Grandpa's gonna skin and dress em, and Grandma's gonna fry em in the pan. So I'll be getting my 20-gauge shotgun, a pocket full of shells, then go shoot em full of holes. Oh, I know what the limit is on killing rabbits. Grandpa told me, 'Don't kill no more than you can carry in a sack.'"

"Are you believing this Father?"

"Oh, yes, I am Mother. For Billy is made outta strong stuff."

"What kind of stuff, Dad? Is it kinda like the stuff Grandpa was made outta?"

"You betcha, Son! Now, bow your head while Reverend Moore gives thanks to Jesus for giving you back to us, OK?

"OK, Dad!"

"O Lord, lead Billy outta here, and on to the purpose in his life. Deliver him from the selfish temptation of killing all the rabbits in the Smoky's, and save some for other hungry folks. Touch his eye as he aims through the sight on his shotgun, and make strong his finger on the trigger. Teach him to walk softly and yet, leave his footprints in the sand. And above all other, bless him with good health and happiness along his journey to you."

"Oh, my goodness! Thank you Mr. Moore. I didn't understand all of it, but what I did, it sounded mighty good."

"Its Reverend Moore, Billy. And I shall explain the big words to you later, OK?"

"When will Billy be strong enough to go home, Doctor Smith?"

"Probably tomorrow morning, Ma'am. He is doing much better, and if he continues to get stronger, I'll release him to your care."

"Thank you, Doctor. What time will you be here in the morning?"

"At 9:00 a. m. , God willing."

"We'll be here Doctor, and thank you for giving Billy back to us."

"You are welcome, Ma'am. However, you might mention your thanks to God as well."

"I already have, Doctor. A thousand times over."

Mom and dad took me home this morning, and I feel so much better . A week passed faster than I could say, "Jackrabbit," and I felt strong enough to whup an ole black bear. Dad told me, "Billy! If you'll chop enough wood for the fire today, you can go rabbit hunting early tomorrow morning." And guess what? There's not a log left in the Smoky's to be found.

I had no problem sleeping when I went off to bed. I had dug a pair of long-handle pajamas outta my footlocker, crawled inside and buttoned the flap on the back side of my tail. I usually count at least six-sheep as they jump across the picket fence and yet, tonight all of em must of been grazing in the field. A wolf howled for his mate and she answered, "I gotta headache, go on to bed." I pulled up the blanket around my shoulders and it felt toasty warm. Darkness crept slowly into my eyes.

I awoke bright and early. The ole red rooster was crowing his heart out. "Gotta get up and go kill some rabbits," I said to myself. "Ouch! What in the world is biting my foot?" I wondered. Jumping outta bed, I unbuttoned my long-handles in front and jumped out of em. "Gee-whiz, what a big brown spider on the toe of my pajamas," I yelled. As I stood watching, it crawled under the bed.

"Why are you yelling, Billy? Your dad and me were asleep."

"I didn't mean to Mom, but a big ole brown spider bit my foot and run under the bed."

"Come quick, Father! Billy's been bitten by a spider."

My dad came running into the bedroom like a bagel hound dog after a rabbit. He glanced at my foot, shook his head, dropped to his knees and looked under the bed. Gee-whiz! My foot
was burning like logs on the fire. Although, I would not let on, because dad had told mom, I
was made outta strong stuff.

"Go get me the broom, Mother. I have found the spider, and it is a whopper."

"Here's the broom, Father. What kind of spider is it? Or do you know?"

"Yes, I know what it is. It's a Brown Recluse. Just stand back away from the bed, and I'll sweep it out and kill the thing."

I could not stand the pain any longer. I screamed so loud, I scared myself. "Please, Jesus! Make the pain go away. Wasn't my suffering from the lion's biting me enough? What have I done to deserve this? Please, help me, for it hurts so bad. And I gotta go and kill some rabbits for supper."

"I have killed the spider, Mother. Go mix some Epsom Salt with water, take a towel and soak
it for a minute, then wrap it around his foot. I'm gonna crank up the old truck, bring it around front and we'll get Billy to Doctor Smith's in a hurry."

As our ole truck, sputtered, backfired, and bounced down the dirt road, I heard my mom say, "My God, Father! Won't this ole truck go any faster?"
********
"My, goodness! It is getting so dark, I can't see the sights on my shotgun. Oh, that'll be alright though. I'll just take me a nap, and when I wake up, I'll shoot more rabbit's, than Carter has pills," I whispered.
********
"I brought along the dead spider that bit Billy, Doctor, Smith. And I'm thinking it is a Brown Recluse."

"It is, Sir! How did this happen?"

"Well, Billy put on his long-handle drawers before going to bed, and the spider was making them his home. Early this morning, the spider bit his foot."

"I'm gonna give Billy a shot. The venom has already started eating away the flesh beneath his skin. God willing, the antidote I am using, will block the poison from his heart."

"And what will happen if it don't, Doctor?"

"As I said once before, Ma'am, only God has an answer for that question."

"Oh, Dear Jesus! Why little Billy again? I am so angry with You, God! Have you no mercy for
our little boy? He is all we have! Please, give him back to us, do You hear me?"

Oh, I told you! "That I'd leave you hanging."

A "Salute," to:helvi2, for the Artwork

Continued in Chapter 11

Author Notes My cousin out in California is in the motion picture business, and is a Director for MGM Studios. We were joined-at-the-hips as kids growing up in the Smoky Mountains, at Pigeon Forge, (Dollywood) Tennessee. We're meeting there to discuss filming a movie of my Book. I'll be writing the chapters, then posting them for your review and comments. As always, thanks for reading my work and best wishes wherever you are.


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