Waiting for Rosie’s Cafe

Note: What were the chances I would find the word Willy-nilly (daily post) in one of my writings? As my kids used to say, “Random!” But here it is!

 

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket by C. Dennis-Willingham

Mr. Leonard, Scooter, and Frank have already left the house for Rosie’s. It’s part of the plan. Mama squeezes her hands together while Miss Helen make-ups her face.

“Stop being so willy-nilly, Bernice. This will be a perfect evening. And for heaven’s sake, stay still!” Miss Helen says, winking at me.

Mama plants her hands on Miss Helen’s vanity. “I know. It’s just, well, there’s so much to say.”

“Then say it and put it behind you.” Miss Helen stands back and eyeballs her work. “You look beautiful, Bernice.”

“Better than beautiful, Mama,” I tell her.

“I’m in my slip for Christ’s sake. At least wait to compliment me until after I’m dressed.”

When Mama puts on her new dress, a pink taffeta with frilly layers, she says it’s too fancy for Rosie’s café. But she can’t stop looking in the mirror.

Too much spur

Dad says that Mr. Posey “is richer’n four feet up a bull’s butt.” But he doesn’t act anything like Uncle Will McCleskey. He’d never pull me off a horse with a walking stick, even if he had one.

Most of the time, we even get to have supper with them and since Mr. Posey talks almost as slow as Hoover, supper conversations take a long time. At least Dad isn’t doing us any harm while we’re here. Mr. Posey doesn’t go off half-cocked like Dad does. He doesn’t hit his wife or Hoover, so I guess Dad doesn’t want to be the only one who clobbers two outta three of his family members.

Hoover asked me to ride out with him on a couple of their horses. I was supposed to be chopping wood, but the idea of riding sounded like chocolate cake. We had a good time riding around their property. It made me think of riding with Ike, the sound of hooves, the click of his left cheek. I sure do miss him.

We were trotting along just fine until my horse swallowed his head and threw me off into a prickly pear cactus. I landed on my right hand and it smarted something awful.

“Cono,” said Hoover, “ I…think….you… gave…him…just…a little….too much…spur.” And right then, my laughter took over my pain.

Since then, I’ve been trying to hide my bad hand from Dad so he won’t catch on that I’d played hooky from my wood chopping. For the last couple of days I’ve even been chopping wood with my left hand until my right one starts to feel better. It’s safer that way.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper by C. Dennis-Willingham

Prickle- daily word prompt

Amen-er’s drinkin’ whiskey

Delma didn’t die. Every day my little sister got stronger and stronger and more and more like her old self again. Dad stayed about the same, hardly ever getting up outta bed. After the quarantine sign was pulled off our door and our prison sentence was over, Aunt Nolie moved from Ranger to Rotan and rescued us once again.   This time she wasn’t alone. She’d gotten herself a new husband by the name of Red Griffice. Back then I thought he was called “Red” since the name matched the color of his face after a few beers.

Bootlegging was their main business. I’m not sure who learned from who, but our neighbors, the Rushing’s and the Gallagher’s were bootleggers too. Mr. Gallagher owned a gas station off the side of the road, but I remember him only having gas in those pumps one or two times. It was a problem for the out of town customers, who pulled up for petrol and there was none. The bigger problem was when Sheriff P.V. Hail. He’d pull up to the “gas station” and Mr. Gallagher had to say, again, “ Ah hell, PV. Ya know how things are. Can ya believe that I’m still waitin’ on that delivery? I got plenty of RC Cola. Can I get one for ye? It’s on the house as always.”

When PV finally left, Mr. Gallagher would wipe his forehead and recheck his supply of beer and whiskey. Nobody, nobody in Rotan knew where he hid it.

When Aunt Nolie and Red would drive up to Sweetwater to stock up on their booze, it was only P.V. they had to watch out for as they crossed that county line from wet to dry. I even heard that on Sundays, somebody from town went to church and sold “eggs” to the Amen-ers. The “eggs” came either in tall bottles or short ones.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper, by C. Dennis-Willingham

Screenshot 2017-08-11 10.45.58.png
Cono’s (my father) Aunt Nolie rests in Ranger, Texas

 

Delivery – daily word prompt

Ike’s Spicy Tongue

scan0004 copy.jpg  Screenshot 2017-08-09 14.04.53.png

(pictures of my great-grandfather, Ike “Isaac Newton” Dennis)

Ike mounts his beans on top of his cornbread, takes a bite, then chomps off the end of his jalapeno. Sweat is just pouring off his forehead and tears have started to roll down his cheeks.

         “Damn, that’s good,” he says, “A good go for short dough.”

         We all laugh, even Ike, about how something that hurts so bad can also be so good at the same time.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper by C.Dennis-Willingham (my father’s story)

 

Screenshot 2017-08-09 14.05.58.png

daily word prompt: Spicy

Still stupid

Now, the Charleston ends. Victor Victrola’s needle ch-ch, ch-ch, ch-ch’s searching for something that’s already been used up. Like my memory at the end of carnival night. And Beauty was wrong. My worries are still here.

Big Chief Tablet glares at me from the kitchen table. I tell it to shut up, that homework can wait till I’m good and ready.

I’m extra careful when I plant the needle on the beginning of a different recording. I turn the crank again. The green and yellow squares of our sitting room rug melt together as I spin, and my braid pings one shoulder then the next like two different suitors asking to be my dance Partner. My skirt puffs up like a wild mushroom and it’s swoosh seems to say, “Everything will be right again, Emma June.”

“How do you know that when I can’t even remember?” I yell. Then I jump up and down trying to stomp out my stupid. It’s still there.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket by C. Dennis-Willingham

 

daily prompt: Partner

A Poisoned Past

The door, closed, Sofie could hear Meta resuming the piano, another ragtime piece, people clapping. Pacing the room a few times, she downed a glass of whiskey, the whiskey she had taken from the shining closet when no one was looking. Her mind was foggy. Thoughts separated themselves into tiny bubbles on the murky, poisoned pond of what she assumed was her mind. Sofie lay on her bed and stared at the clock. Tick Tock. Tick Tock, the pendulum pacing like her mother had so long ago across their small family room.

Sofie, what are you doing! Her mother’s voice.

Sofie, what a stupid mistake you’ve made. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Do you think money is easy to come by? Do you, Sofie? Sometimes you have to make hard choices just to survive. I told you not to sing, and look, you’ve gone and made a fool of yourself! A fool!

Sofie looked down at the shattered clock on the floor before her. She vaguely remembered throwing it there.

Excerpt from Naked, She Lies, by C. Dennis-Willingham

Foggy– Daily word prompt

The Devil’s Horns

1931: Busted Toothbrushes and Beaten Backsides

I stack up these Devil’s Horns, so I can see how high they’ll go up before they all fall back down again. Here at Ma and Pa’s farm just outside of Ranger where we’re living now, Devil’s Horns are everywhere. They started out as pink wild flowers, but always end up looking like a dry piece of horned wood. I like to match them up to see if any of them are exactly the same. I try to find the small ones, the middle-sized ones, and then the biggest, the King of all Devil’s Claws. So far, they all seem about the same, so I just keep stacking them up. Sometimes, if you ain’t paying any attention, one will snag you around your ankle and make you think you’ve been bitten by a ratt’ler. I like to collect Devil’s Horns, but I can’t bring them in the house ‘cause Dad says, “Their ain’t no room in the house for more weeds.”

“Cono? Cono? Where the hell are ya?” Like Ma says, speak of the Devil.

“Over here,” I say, getting up and dusting off my britches.

“I got ya somethin’ today.”

Dad never brings me nothing. Ever. Not even a stick of chewing gum. But now he’s standing in front of me, dressed as always in his khakis and clean short-sleeved button down shirt. His big hand reaches into the sack from Adams Grocers and pulls out a brand new toothbrush. I’ve seen Mother and Dad use one before, so I guess that I must be big enough now to use one too, since I’m a big brother and all. I want to show Dad how grown up I am.

I look at that shiny white Toothbrush like it’s a precious jewel, like I should be saving it for a Sunday.

“Well now, go ahead on. Give it a shot.” I stick it in my mouth and chomp on it like it’s one of Ma’s old biscuits. I hear a crack. The handle comes out, but the brush part stays in.

Dad can catch a housefly in one hand without blinking, so it shouldn’t have surprised me none that his open palm slams fast across my face.

As I put my hand to my face he says, “Oh fer cryin’ out loud, Cono! I’ll swannin’, ye bit it in two! Can’t ye do…”

I don’t hear the rest of what he’s saying, since he’s walking away from me shaking his head back and forth. Half of my face stinging like it’s been resting on a yeller-jacket’s nest. The other half just feels sorry. How can you build up something so high, just to watch it fall down so hard? With the brush part still inside my mouth and its handle still in my hand, I think maybe I’m not so big after all. I guess I’ve found the baby Devil’s Claw after all. It’s me. I’m the baby.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper, my father’s story.

 

Toothbrush– daily word prompt