Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Whine (05/23/13)
TITLE: Unknown Gifts
By debbie edwards
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“Not really Grandma.” Johnny answered and reached in the silver bowl for more beans. “It’s nothing. I’m not good at anything.” Johnny said somberly.
Grandma looked up into the grove of Joshua trees and said,
“I recall when Daddy used to wind up the model “T”truck and make it go-start. After it started to sputter like a frog getting’ too much water then it would whine kinda like. Mama always said daddy done put a scorpion or two in the gas tank for paybacks after it stuck Mrs. Frost’s Dog Clarence. The dog lived ok. Daddy gave it a half a vest bottle of whisky. He figgered that either Clarence would die happy from all that whisky in him or it will chase the milk right out of him. In those days there wuz no vet to care for animals like Clarence. Why we had one year a vet and a doctor in one. As soon as Dr. Buttercup came in from delivering a baby at the Oaks place he was sent out again to deliver a horse being borned breach. That’s how it wuz in those days. It was the depression. We had to take things how they came. It was a whole new way of giving thanks. Daddy had a way with critters. He didn’t see it that way but it was a gift just the same. So, daddy took of his hat, gave thanks to Jesus then picked up the scorpions with his snake pickin’ up tongs and put them down in the gas tank just to get back at them. Mama said they rattled around for a while and the car started to whine ever since.” Grandma popped another raw string bean in her mouth then chewed it slowly. “We was migrant people from the dust bowl in Kansas. The Government swiped our land out from under us while Mama was pregnant with Suzy June. A northern city man came and bought up most of our stuff knowing we’d burn it before the Government got a hold of it. They gave us far less than the furniture and doo dads was worth but it gave us travelin’ money.”
“So how did you prairie folks end up in the desert?” Johnny asked her and reached for beans to snap.
“Well sir.” She answered and played with a skinny string bean. “Daddy couldn’t find work in California. We kids waz hungry. So, we found a shack in the desert we staked claims to. When we wuz settled Daddy drove to the only place open in town besides the tavern. He walked in the drug store and asked who owned the land with the shack. Mrs. Frost wuz jest walkin’ by our car with Clarence when folks said she owned the land. Daddy ran to her and asked her but she folded her arms and said no dust bowl migrant will settle here.” Jest then the scorpions stuck Clarence who let out a holler. Daddy grabbed the flax of whiskey from his pocket and emptied the rest of the bottle down Clarence’s gullet. After his miraculous healing and the droppin’ of scorpions in the gas tank so they wouldn’t bother any more Mrs. Frost give the land to daddy and all the furniture we needed extra plus the supplies to fix the shack.”
“What about the snakes Grandma?” Johnny asked, “You started saying something about the snakes.”
“Oh that.” Grandma giggled. “Well that’s how daddy earned his living. He would catch the snakes and milk the milk. Then he would sell it to labs for research. He made more money doing that than anyone in the depression. When sales wuz low he skinned the snakes to make doo dads to sell as desert souvenirs. So ya see, when ya think ya have no calling in life ya find it in the places you thought weren’t. Oh and the truck with the whine? Well I’m coming to that. Every time Daddy started that car with a rattle and a whine, it reminded him to be thankful to Jesus for teaching him how when you think you have nothin’ to give, you have everything even for the little critters.”
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