Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Family Reunion (06/05/08)
- TITLE: Trust Me On This One
By Sheri Gordon
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“First, it’s not a hoedown, it’s a barbeque. And second, I haven’t seen these relatives in years and I thought you should see where the other half of me comes from.” As we made the right turn onto Main Street, Sandi lowered the visor on the rented Infiniti and began applying a fresh coat of pale pink lipstick.
“Besides,” Sandi continued, brushing her auburn hair into a ponytail, “we’re only staying a short time—how bad can it be?”
I pulled the silver sedan off the two-lane road and came to a stop next to a mature oak tree. Behind the tree stood a large white mansion.
“Why are you stopping here?” Sandi stuffed the lipstick and brush back into her purse.
“This is the address you put into the GPS system.”
Sandi peered out her window. “Daddy said they added on, and that I might not recognize the old ranch house, but…wow.
We exited the car and Sandi walked toward the old oak. “This tree is the same one we used to climb, so we’re definitely at the right place.”
“Guess discovering natural gas on your property brings some changes with it, huh?” I took Sandi’s hand and headed up the dirt driveway. “Wonder why they didn’t put in a cement drive?”
“You’ll understand when you meet my uncle. He’s very...simple. The house was my aunt’s idea.”
“Well lookie here—if it ain’t little Sandi Sue, all grown up.” I stopped short as a burly, bona fide hick came into sight from behind the mansion.
“Uncle Ernie, it’s so good to mmph…mmph.” Sandi’s words were lost when her face was crushed into Uncle Ernie’s timeworn overalls.
“And who’s this feller you brought with ya?”
“Uncle Ernie, this is my husband, Randy.”
Randy? I haven’t been called that since I was a kid.
“Glad to meet ya, son.”
“Nice to meet you, sir.”
Ignoring my outstretched hand, Uncle Ernie pulled me into a suffocating bear hug.
“Ya’ll come ‘round back and meet the rest of the folks. Steaks and catfish are jist about done cookin’.”
As Uncle Ernie led the way, we hung back long enough for me to whisper to Sandi.
“Why did you introduce me as Randy?”
“Honey, you don’t want them knowing your name is Randall. Trust me on this one.”
‘Round back was not the palatial, manicured backyard I expected to see. Instead, I found myself standing in the middle of a pasture of dying something—I learned later it was watermelon vines— surrounded by a scene from The Beverly Hillbillies—before they moved to Beverly Hills.
“Hey ya’ll—look what the cat drug in. And this here’s Sandi’s fella, Randy.” Uncle Ernie commanded the attention of the entire brood who all responded with a “Howdy” in unison. “Mama, get these kids some iced tea. Randy here looks mighty parched.”
Sandi’s Aunt Opal appeared with two glasses of black liquid with ice cubes. I started to politely decline, hoping for some bottled water instead, but Sandi muttered, “Trust me on this one,” as she sipped her tea. I followed Sandi’s lead and cautiously sipped the darkest, sweetest iced tea I had ever drunk.
My protesting palate was saved by Uncle Ernie clanging on a pot and asking us all to bow our heads. As he finished with, “In Precious Jesus’ name, Amen,” Aunt Opal handed Sandi and me full plates of barbeque.
Sitting across the picnic table from Sandi, I was flanked by two of her beefy cousins. Johnnie introduced himself as a propane truck driver and part-time cowboy. His brother Jimmy informed us that Johnnie was the calf roping champion of Parker County, and was heading to state finals. Jimmy is a professional cowboy—I didn’t know there was such a thing—and was state bull riding champion for five years running.
“And what about yerself?” Jimmy inquired.
“Me? I’m a dan…”
“Dangerous stunt pilot,” Sandi animatedly interrupted. “But we really need to go, so Randy will have to tell ya’ll about it some other time.”
Driving back to the airport, I queried Sandi.
“Dangerous stunt pilot?”
“You can’t tell hick cowboys that ya’ll are a professional dancer. Trust me on this one.”
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