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    “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that is in the right and keeps on a-comin’.” Captain Bill McDonald, Texas Ranger.

    My Photo
    Location: Texas

    Good guys wear white hats. And they never run out of bullets.

    Tuesday, January 31, 2006

    A LittleTaste of What I'm Cooking.

    I know my posts have been a little inferior lately. It is because I have been preoccupied.
    Here is a very rough draft of chapter one.

    Most people call me Butch. I don’t know why. I don’t know who started calling me Butch. My mother named me Shannon. I don’t care for that name. I’m not a girl. I don’t like that girly name. So Butch is fine.

    I’m not like Butch on the li’l rascals. I’m not that tough. I used to think I was but I’m not. My daddy says a man has to know his limitations. Boy, is he right.

    My daddy works a lot. He works for Norton Drilling Company. They sponsor my football and baseball teams. He has a company pickup. It is a 1979 Chevy Silverado. I still don’t understand how it can be a 1979 model since it is still 1978. I hate riding in the bed. He has to haul Wooly Booger grease in the bed. Man, is it nasty back there.

    We live in a trailer house behind my Uncle David and Aunt Lilly. We all live close to the road. Grandpa William on the other hand lives in the middle of the farm in the old homestead house. People call him Dub. Our trailer is nice but it is next to the stables. Sometimes the horses get noisy at night. It could drive a man to drinking.

    Daddy was out working on a rig for three weeks. I was in the kitchen eating some raisin bran. Aunt Lilly was coming up to make sure I was up and getting ready for school. Our back porches face each other. There is a gazebo with a barbecue pit in the middle of the yard. That gazebo is pretty tall but, Aunt Lilly’s head is easily seen across it. She is very tall. But she doesn’t seem to like that. Uncle David says she is five foot thirteen inches. She poked her head in the screen door.

    “Butch honey, do you have clean clothes to wear?”

    “Yes ma’am. But, I need to do some laundry tonight.”

    “Honey, I’ll wash you clothes tonight. Right now I just want you ready for school.”

    “Don’t you think I can do it myself?”

    “I know you can baby. I’ll just watch to make sure you don’t mess up.”

    She doesn’t think I can do anything on my own. She thinks I’m a little kid. She walked into the kitchen. “You look very nice today Butch. And your dressed and ready early. I’m so proud of you. Bless your heart.” She has been blessing my heart in every conversation we have had since Mama left. I’m not sure how much blessing a heart can take. Daddy says she loves me like her own and I just have to live with that.

    I poured my milk into Trigger’s bowl. Trigger is the best cow dog on the farm. He may well be the best one in the county. He is a red heeler. One eye is brown. The other eye is blue on one side and green on the other. You should see him work. He is my dog but he works for my Uncle David and Grandpa William. Trigger has his own ramp onto our porch. It goes down under the trailer. I tell folks he lives downstairs.

    I put on my working boots and went to the stables. Uncle David was already there. He pushed up his hat and spoke, “You’re running late. Give ‘em all some sweet feed then change shoes and get on to school.” I was giving each horse a scoop of sweet feed and saw Paul getting on the bus.

    My cousin Paul is in seventh grade. He’s not just cool. He’s Fonzie cool. He is also pretty smart. I wish I could say the same for his little sisters.

    Aunt Lilly and the girls were running behind as usual. They ran out to the car as if that was saving any real amount of time. The problem is that Misti and Christi are so prissy that it takes them forever to get ready. They are the prissiest girls in the third grade. They may well be the prissiest girls in town. I don’t know how two farm girls can get that way but, they are.

    That Oldsmobile can sure kick up some dust. One long caliche cloud followed us to the highway. Then we started making real time. I know for certain, one of these days Aunt Lilly is going to get a ticket. Driving like this is why Uncle David and Daddy call her lead foot Lilly.

    It never fails. No matter how late we leave, we get to school on time. The girls go to meet their class at the back of the gym. I sit with my class at the front. Aunt Lilly goes directly to her classroom. She doesn’t stop to talk with the other teachers. She says most of them are a bunch of gossips. I believe her.

    I’m sick of school these days. I’m sick of the teachers looking at me and whispering. I’m sick of them constantly asking if I’m ok. The worst one is my teacher, Mrs. Abernathy. She is always hugging and kissing on me. She is always telling me things will be ok even when nothing is wrong.

    Mrs. Abernathy is the opposite of my aunt. Lilly has long blonde hair and Mrs. Abernathy has short black hair. Lilly wears dresses but my teacher wears pant suits. Lilly barely wears make up. She says she likes the little freckles on her nose. My teacher cakes on bunches of make up to cover up her freckles. The weird thing is how much they like each other. They have been best friends since kindergarten. They sit together in church. They eat lunch together too. Mrs. Abernathy’s name is Dorothy. They call each other Dot and Slats.

    It is kind of funny. How so many people have nicknames. I’m Butch. Grandpa is Dub. And my aunt and teacher are Dot and Slats. There is a kid in my class with a nickname too.

    His name is Ysidro. We all call him Punch. That is his nickname because that is what he likes to do. Man, he loves to fight.

    Punch was in my class but his older brother Jaime was in fifth grade. Jaime was thirteen. He flunked twice. Punch always knew that Jaime would beat up anybody that beat him in a fight. So Punch thought he could say or do anything he wanted.

    Daddy tells me that nobody can push people around too long. He says there is always somebody meaner than the meanest man you know. He told me this to explain some songs. Daddy and Uncle David like Jim Croce music. We sit on the porch sing and play sometimes when Daddy is home. Daddy and Uncle David play their guitars. They like Jim Croce music. Their favorites are Bad Bad Leroy Brown and Don’t Mess around with Jim.

    So I knew all along that somebody would give Punch a real whippin’ one day. I just had no idea who it would be.

    At lunch time we get to go play as soon as we finish eating. Today we were playing soccer. We chose teams. While we were choosing I saw punch looking across at me. I knew he was going to cover me. He started calling us names. At first the names were innocent enough. Then he called me by name, “Butch, tu ma es ……” I didn’t let him finish. You can call me what you want but leave my mama out of it. I punched him in the nose while he was still talking. I watched him fight a hundred times. He always does the same thing first. He pushes both shoulders then punches to the face. As soon as he came to push me my father’s voice rang in my head. “Back Stance!” I turned sideways. Punch moved forward but didn’t have anywhere to push me. “Push and Shoot!” My front hand flew into his throat. I held on and moved forward to grab his knee. Punch fell with a thud. “Mount him!” I jumped on to him straddling his chest. I started punching. I could not believe I was winning. Then up I flew.

    Coach Stuart had grabbed me from behind. He lifted me up with one hand and I hung limp like a ragdoll. He grabbed Punch with the other hand and carried us dangling from his hands. He put us on the stairs and said, “Go to the office!”

    The walk down the hall was long. I looked at Punch. His mouth and nose were bleeding. I felt sort of guilty. I tried to say I was sorry but sorry didn’t come out. All that came out was, “Don’t talk about my Mama.”

    The nurse came out into the hall and pulled Punch into her office. I just kept walking to the principal’s office. When I got there a first grader was sitting on the bench ahead of me. Some parents were in with the principal and they were arguing. I knew this would take a while. I decided to have a little fun with the kid.

    I asked him, “What did you do?”
    He answered, “I said the S word.”
    “Oh. That may merit the electric paddle. It really hurts. I cried for three days straight when he used it on me.”

    The door opened. Principal Watkins walked out with his arms around a couple I do not know. They smiled and said thank you. Then he turned to the little guy and said come with me. I didn’t hear a paddle but the door opened in no time. The little fella had peed his pants. Now I feel sorry for him. Nothing is more humiliating than peeing your pants at school. The nurse came in and traded Punch for the little fella. Punch had an icepack on his face. He went in first. It did not take long. Three smacking noises came from behind the door. I knew what was in store for me. The kid who starts the fight always gets five licks. Punch had already made up Mr. Watkins’ mind. Punch came out and returned to class.

    “Butch, come in here.” I walked into the office. “Have a seat.” “Why did you beat up Punch?” I told him about what punch said. He paddled me five times and sent me into the little room next to his office. It has two desks. I knew I wasn’t going back to class.

    Mrs. Abernathy brought my work down. I finished it pretty quick in that quiet little room. The day lasted forever. I knew I would get spanked again by Uncle David. I was not looking forward to it.

    School let out. I was going to stay for an hour after. Aunt Lilly had work to do. If you get in trouble at school, you can’t go to football practice. So I walked out to the fence that divides the playground from the Middle School practice field. Paul and the other seventh graders looked good. I hope I can run like Paul when I am in seventh grade.

    There was a hand on my shoulder. It was Jaime. He spun me around and started punching. I couldn’t even get my hands up. He just kept punching. Suddenly he was on top of me. He still kept punching. Then he stopped. I heard the click of his belt scabbard unsnapping. Then I heard the familiar click of a knife locking.

    SMACK! Jaime fell off to one side. There was Paul in all his pads. He hit Jaime with his helmet. “Pick on somebody your own size.” Punch ran at Paul. One swift kick between the legs bent Punch in half.

    The whole seventh grade team was standing around us. I could hear Coach Espinosa holler at them as he got there. “Ten laps for all of you except Paul and Troy.” Before the team started running, one of them exclaimed, “Butch whizzed his pants!” It was true. Coach Espinosa barked to Troy, “Go get Principal Watkins. Tell the secretary to call the police.” Troy ran to the office. I stood there pants wet and bleeding from my mouth. The coach wouldn’t let us go. I started checking my teeth with my tongue.

    We were going nowhere for quite some time. I knew each time the team ran by they would see my wet britches. The only reason they weren’t saying it was because of Coach Espinosa. I was sure I would never live it down.

    Mr. Watkins, Aunt Lilly, Coach Espinosa, Chief Dean and some woman I never met talked to us all and talked to each other. Punch and Jaime left with the woman.

    Daddy drove up with a pair of pants for me. He sent me to the truck to change. “Butch, wait in the truck for me. We are going to have a little talk.” Daddy was talking to the chief. I changed my pants. I threw my wet ones in the bed. I sat in the truck, put my head in my hands and started to cry. When Daddy got to the pick up, he didn’t try to stop me. He started driving and talked as I cried. “I’ll have to go back to the location in the morning. You and Paul are playing hookie for a couple of days. You get it out. We have all night to talk.”

    Daddy is always right. A man does have to know his limitations. I think I walked right over mine.