Twice Born A Vagabond
By D. DeWitt Thomas
A Novel [Copr. 2008]
IN THE MOUNTAINS
My name is Margo Copperhill. I don't like writing stories because I am not a writer but I'll do the best I can. In these circumstances, I didn't have any other choice because the truth must be told. There is some difficulty about writing words that seem to get in the way of the truth. Truth flows from a primal source that words can't describe. Truth is what is happening...now. Truth feels the moment. I would be freed from the task of writing about the truth if I had never learned to read or write, but, there again, I didn't have any other choice. Conversations are more like the truth because they occur in real time, however, writing requires a pre-determined viewpoint. Here, I will attempt to write as flowingly as I can as if I am engaging in a conversation and to tell the truth. Here is how it all began.
I saw my Mom open the door to the fire box on the cast iron stove, stoke the fire, and throw in another piece of cord wood. As I stood next to the sink, I leaned an elbow on the countertop and asked her, "Where is Ernie?" She looked up with an expression that was a mixture of sadness and frustration quickly jerking her head to the side and said said, "I have not seen him today." On occasion Ernie was known to disappear for days on end. She put her head on my shoulder and continued in desperation, "Your daddy didn't come home again last night." I could see that she had bruises on her arms where he grabbed her yesterday. "We had another fight. Now go and get your brothers and sisters together and get ready for the school bus."
Ernie was never home very much but when he was at home he always had a peculiar stench of alchohol about him. Not that he had been drinking alchohol because I never saw Ernie take a drink of moonshine. He would buy it from one of his bootlegger friends or brew it himself back down in the woods by the creek and sell it to the neighbors who did drink it. Times were hard and work that paid a wage was not easy to find so every bit of extra money helped. Ernie would beat the hell out of us for no good reason. We never knew when to expect it. One time he hit me so hard that it threw my jaw out of joint. Mom had to apply pressure on it to snap it back together in place. I gathered my six brothers and sisters around the breakfast table. It was one of those expandable kitchen tables with a watermellon colored formica top and shiney chrome trim. Mom brought in a big tray of steaming hot jack cakes and set it in the middle of the table between all of us next to the butter and maple syrup. Earlier, I had run down to the cold water mountain creek in the back of the house where we kept the milk in Mason jars and brought a couple back for breakfast. Mom poured everyone a glass full all the way to the rim. It was delicious. After a while, we were all stuffed. I cleaned the dishes and then I dressed for school in my flannel shirt and overalls. I pulled on my warm wool sox and laced up my hightop shoes as we all sat on the porch and waited for the school bus. The rosey light of morning filtered through the leaves of the big pecan tree in the front yard.
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