by chandra mathis
Not For Sale
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Not For Sale
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written by Chandra Mathis
Grandpa Sledge, loves telling wild stories. There I was, sitting once again at the kitchen table listening, as he began to travel back into the ”good old days.”
“ Them’s were the best times,” he announced proudly. "Back then, me and Pauley would run the hills and creeks like a bunch of wild injun's.” Grandpa was getting into the story, his voice was a low growl. "This is my story telling voice.”
Grandma chimed in , “he uses it too, when he tells a lie.” I laugh as she corrects Grandpa, “ Now, Henry, that story is not true.”
“It was one Summer, me and Pauley went to the creek late one afternoon.” He raised his eyebrow, “ We were trying to catch some of those big bullfrogs. We would catch’em, and mama would cook’em,” then he laughed. His tone of voice turned serious. ”Then all of sudden thar it was," he swallowed hard, "thar was this big tent right thar in Mrs. Barker’s back yard. It was the color of faded yeller and had holes in it. I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things.” He reached over and acted like he was going to pinch grandma, “Then me and Pauley pinched one another to see, if we were dreaming. Nope, it was real.” The pupils of his eyes sparked, “Me and Pauley thought Mrs. Barker had been invaded by strange people, cause thar were some men right outside the tent dressed kinda peculiar. They were wearing all black.“ Grandpa knodded with self assurance. “We decided that we would take us a peek, but we had to wait till it got dark. I do declare, I never seen anything like it before.” He took a deep breath and continued. "That tent just sitting right thar in the wide open space. Just like that." Then Grandpa waved his arms in the air, trying to give me an idea how big it was.
“It finally got dark enough that me and Pauley could sneak across the creek without
anyone seeing us. We stayed low to the ground like a couple of coyotes. Before we got to the tent, we saw Mrs. Barker going in it. She was dressed up fer church." He stuck his thumbs in his coveralls and cocked his head, “This had us puzzled, cause we couldn’t figure out what was going on in thar. It was rightfully scary to the both of us.”
Grandma stood up from the table shaking her head, "these dishes won't wash themselves.
Grandpa slid his coffee cup toward her and continued, “Once we reached the back of the tent, we could hear all this music coming from within and shouting. Thar was a hole at the bottom where we were standing." He stomped his foot "I was first to peek. I looked in the hole and saw something terrible." Grandpa threw his hands up again and almost tipped over the chair. "I fell backwards with fear trying to scramble to my feet. Then Pauley took a turn, he was equally scared as me." He clapped his hands. "We both took off running fer our dear lives. “
Then, in the middle of the story Grandpa stoped talking. He leaned over close to my face and asked, "well don’t you wanna know what I seen?”
"You're making me nervous Grandpa. Yes, tell me what you and Pauley saw." I could feel my heart beating faster.
Grandpa started talking in his growling voice. “ When I was looking through that peep hole, The floor was covered in sawdust, I saw all them people acting strange. Some of them looked like they were having fits. They were rolling around on the ground, turning flips, and screaming.” Grandpa's hands were waving furiously around in front of him. "Then thar were some jumping on the pews. They had this wild look in their eyes.” Grandpa raised his eyebrows and his eys seemed to bulge. “Then I seen it, The devil himself! He was standing up on a wooden box and shaken his fists.” Grandpa pounded the table with his fist. "I could see he was all sweaty, face red. The man was screaming out hell fire and brimstone. He was saying, this is what folks would get for sinning. He said the world was coming to an end." He paused and put a finger to his chin, “ I thought, if that devil man found me and Pauley thar outside that tent, then we would be goner’s for sure. That’s when me and Pauley took off running through the woods. We got all scratched up from running into so many trees, cause we were running fast, like our britches were on fire.”
He took a deep breath. “ Mama was upset with us boys, cause our shirts were all torn and we were bloody. She thought we got in a fight of some sorts. We told her we had been tussling with one another, cause we didn’t want her to know what we had done.“
Grandma shook her head and banged a pan into the drainer.
Grandpa ignored her and continued, “That was the last time I ever thought about going to church and that is why I don’t go to this very day.”
Grandma stopped washing the dishes and turned toward the table, “now Henry, you know that is just some crazy excuse to keep from going to church." She wiped her hands on her apron. "All preachers are not like that.”
Grandpa folded his arms across his chest and leaned back in his chair, “think what you want to Eunice, but I know different. You will never convince me.”
We laugh and grandma shook her head.
"Thanks for the story Grandpa. I am going to church now." I stood up from the table and kissed grandpa on his forehead.
“I’m coming shortly.” Grandma hollered as I walked out of the kitchen. I felt grandpa's eyes following me. I turned to take another glance.
Grandpa smiled, “I love you Ladybug.“
"I love you too Grandpa."
- - - - -
The preacher began to preach from Revelation. Then I saw the image of the ”hell fire brimstone preacher" that Grandpa spoke of in his wild story. I chuckled to myself. Grandma looked at me and smiled.
Grandpa and his stories, life is sure interesting with Grandpa in it. Thank God for Grandpa!
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