A True Run-in with Bonnie and Clyde

While in the midst of writing No Hill for a Stepper, my father recounted this event. Here is the excerpt:

Delma and me come home from school and can’t find Mother anywhere. She’s always home when we come home from school, so we start to get a little worried until we see her talking to our Tourist Court neighbor on her front porch.

Miss Essie stoops over her cane and is a least a hundred years old if she’s a day.   “C’mon ov’r here, kids, I wanna tell ye what I jes’t tol’ yer mother,” she says, using her cane like a big hand to wave us over. We sit on her step and look up at the old lady sitting in her wobbly porch chair.

“Well, my nephew took me into Sweetwater t’day, ya know, ta do a little shoppin’?”

Oh sweet Jesus, I have to hear a shopping story.

“Well, I was at the Five and Dime and I got in line to pay for the odds and ends I’d picked up, ye know like a new hair bonnet, a few necessary toiletries. What else did I get now?” She looks up at the sky like she’s waiting for Jesus to remind her. Delma and me look up too but we don’t hear any loud voice coming from heaven. That doesn’t surprise me none.

“Oh, some of that sweet smelling toilet water they sell up by the front counter. What’s it called again, Elnora?” This time she doesn’t look up. Mother shakes her head back and forth to say she doesn’t know, while I take my mind to anywhere but shopping in Sweetwater with Miss Essie.

She grunts as she stands up from her chair. So I think she’s forgotten and is going inside and I can get on with my day, but she keeps going.

“Then I see this gal in front’a me with a stack’a clothes piled up on the counter, ‘nuff fer three families, mind ye, three families. Well, the clerk starts ringin’ up them clothes, but the gal says, now listen to this children, the gal says, ‘I ain’t payin’. Jes’t put ‘em in a bag. I’m Bonnie Parker.’ Kin ye imagine, I was standing right next to Bonnie Parker herself. I could’a been kilt right then and there, right then and there.” Then she fans the heat and fear off herself and sits down in her rickety porch chair like she’s about to faint.

“Bonnie Parker?” I say. “Like Bonnie and Clyde Parker?”

“One’n the same.”

“Who’s Bonnie and Clyde Parker?” Delma asks.

“Barrow,” Mother says. “Clyde Barrow.”

“Who’s Bonnie and Clyde Barrow?” she asks again.

“Never ye mind Delma,” says Mother.

“I’ll tell ye later,” I whisper to Sis.

But Miss Essie says, “Killers, that’s what they are. Natural born killers.” She keeps fanning like she’s trying to air herself away from being dead.

I sat there thinking on what it would be like to meet Bonnie and Clyde. All the kids talk about them and sometimes, when our parents don’t know, we pretend we’re holding up banks just like they do.

The sun is starting to set as the wind starts to pick up, making whirlwinds in the dust. Mother walks out into the street and stares up to the sky. I follow her and see strange looking clouds that start on the ground and go up instead of the other way around like they’re supposed to.

“Miss Essie, yer nephew gonna be home soon?” I hear Mother ask.

“Should be home any time now. Why?”

“Cause I think we’re about to have ourselves a sand storm.”

“Oh, Lordy, what a day! First a brush with death and now a sand storm!”

Unknown

 

photo credit

Daily word prompt: faint

Not Meddlin’ with Bonnie Parker

Bonnie-Parker-bonnie-parker-2891314-315-405.jpg

Miss Essie stoops over her cane and is a least a hundred years old if she’s a day.  “C’mon ov’r here, kids, I wanna tell ye what I jes’t tol’ yer mother,” she says, using her cane like a big hand to wave us over. We sit on her step and look up at the old lady sitting in her wobbly porch chair.

“Well, my nephew took me into Sweetwater t’day, ya know, ta do a little shoppin’?” Oh sweet Jesus, I have to hear a shopping story.

“Well, I was at the Five and Dime and I got in line to pay for the odds and ends I’d picked up, ye know like a new hair bonnet, a few necessary toiletries. What else did I get now?” She looks up at the sky like she’s waiting for Jesus to remind her. Delma and me look up too but we don’t hear any loud voice coming from heaven. That doesn’t surprise me none.

“Oh, some of that sweet smelling toilet water they sell up by the front counter. What’s it called again, Elnora?” This time she doesn’t look up. Mother shakes her head back and forth to say she doesn’t know, while I take my mind to anywhere but shopping in Sweetwater with Miss Essie.

She grunts as she stands up from her chair. So I think she’s forgotten and is going inside and I can get on with my day, but she keeps going.

“I wadn’t Meddlein’ or nothing, but I see this gal in front’a me with a stack’a clothes piled up on the counter, ‘nuff fer three families, mind ye, three families. Well, the clerk starts ringin’ up them clothes, but the gal says, now listen to this children, the gal says, ‘I ain’t payin’. Jes’t put ‘em in a bag. I’m Bonnie Parker.’ Kin ye imagine, I was standing right next to Bonnie Parker herself. I could’a been kilt right then and there, right then and there.” Then she fans the heat and fear off herself and sits down in her rickety porch chair like she’s about to faint.

“Bonnie Parker?” I say. “Like Bonnie and Clyde Parker?”

“One’n the same.”

“Who’s Bonnie and Clyde Parker?” Delma asks.

“Barrow,” Mother says. “Clyde Barrow.”

“Who’s Bonnie and Clyde Barrow?” she asks again.

“Never ye mind Delma,” says Mother.

“I’ll tell ye later,” I whisper to Sis.

But Miss Essie says, “Killers, that’s what they are. Natural born killers.” She keeps fanning like she’s trying to air herself away from being dead.

I sat there thinking on what it would be like to meet Bonnie and Clyde. All the kids talk about them and sometimes, when our parents don’t know, we pretend we’re holding up banks just like they do.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper

Daily word prompt: Meddle

Bonnie and Clyde and Amelia Earhart?

            I don’t know why, but it makes me kinda proud that Clyde’s best weapon came from the town where I was born. Bonnie and Clyde entered my life several times one way or the other  before the Texas Rangers finally gunned them down.

          In February 1934, right after we moved to Rotan, Bonnie and Clyde robbed the National Guard Armory in Ranger. The armory was where Clyde got his favorite weapon, an Automatic rifle. He cut off part of the barrel, got three ammo clips and welded them together so it would shoot fifty-six times without reloading. That’s why Clyde called it his scatter-gun.

         Amelia Earhart was another celebrity who came through Ranger. She landed her Autogyro at the Ranger airfield in 1931. It’s a shame that she went missing just six years later and that we still can’t find her.

            But for me, the real celebrities from Ranger are Ma and Pa.

         I close my eyes again but it’s no use. My seat companion says, “You ain’t done yet, Cono.” Again, I give in to the nudge and open up that old cigar box of things I don’t care to see. I picture that tiny little girl sock, the one that used to be in the box of specials, the one that belonged to my kidnapped little sister.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper, a story about my father