by Eden Omari


Jimmy Carver and Lester Franklin wasn’t no regular boys growing up as sharecroppers or son and grandson of great men in the not southern, but southern acting, town of Oakfield. Between the two, they knew all of the towns people secrets, which was easy to know when they were fetched and made to stand around and the masters and mistresses act like you don’t understand English. They talk all they mess around you, and you learn all the goings on of the white people and of their ways. Oh, if they only knew how they all besmirched each other in their separate homes, nobody in the town would ever speak to each other again. You see it ain’t known yet, but Jimmy was the brother of George Washington. Not the President but George Washington Carver, a scientist who would become rich and famous and then famous and poor. Jimmy knew all there was to know about growing things in the earth from his brother George and they had dreams of learning big things and maybe a dream of attending one of those big schools. Where?..why in Washington D.C.! His brother George was kinda frail and sickly and spent most of his time helping his mother with chores around the cabin, so Jimmy did the heavy lifting in the fields. As babies, they was kidnaped from the Carver farm by one of the bands of slave raiders that roamed Missouri during the civil war era which is how they wounded up in Illinois. Nobody coulda knowed that George would be freed from slavery, never have no chilren, never marry and become famous for his land work and die as poor as he was born. But now Lester, well that’s another story entirely. He was high yella with red hair and you could see those little dots all over his face like some of the whites. He wasn’t an albino or nothin’ like that, but iffin his lips wasn’t so large and his nose wasn’t so wide, you would think that he was a white person from a distance. Now he got the last name Franklin but nobody else in his fambly got the name Franklin. Legend says that he is a direct descendant, and that Benjamin Franklin was is great granddaddy and that his grandmama was freed as a slave by Benjamin Franklin once he got a conscious and all, and that his grand momma forbid anybody to change his and his sons and daughters’ names for generations to come.

Yesterday when they was downtown, they seent Dora Ann Bunch. Dora Ann always lookin at Lester and smiling. I think she didn’t understand why he wasn’t all the way white and only halfway lookin. Today when Lester seent her, she looked different. And then Lester noticed the two bumps on the top of her shirt and knew what those was. He was so amazed by the sight that he didn’t notice that he had stopped mid step and was standing still and staring. Jimmy bumped him and said “come on” that’s when he knew he was standing still and staring and that he didn’t even notice the big, huge yellow sign announcing the Annual Picnic. He loved when it was Annual Picnic time. That’s the only day that the few slaves and free people could enjoy they picnic without worrying about those scary white men who would often come on horses and ruin it for them. They had theirs on the outskirts of town in a clear open field and he thought about how wonderful and glorious it will be just two days from now.

The Picnic 1847 (Inspired by a Magnolia tree)

By Eden Omari

(Narrated by Pete Wallart 3 years before he kilt hisself)

It’s a very languishing afternoon in Oakfield. The sun is softly touching the treetops on top of Growler Peak. The temperature is just right and there’s just the right number of clouds in the sky for a picnic. The wind wasn’t blowin too hard and the barbeque smoke was sailing high in the sky. The little children ran round and round the huge footed Magnolia tree singing and playing cocoa-leveo. The Great Magnolia, a glorious tree, was always the centerpiece of the ceremonious annual picnic and it is said that its seeds was planted by the doves that were released when our ancestors first arrived here on the Plymouth. It was so huge and grand that when you stood under it, it took a whole minute to come out. It is here on top of this rollin hill where we is right now with some other old but not so grand Magnolias and Maple Oaks that we have the picnic. Up here, you can see the river that run mighty wide on the outsida town. Many of the farmers have rolling fields of every shade of green and various colors that one could only imagine-huge plantations that were dwarfed by the longer and wider 80 acres they occupied. Over there atop of those boulders, you could see a sunset and a sunrise if you sat in the same spot all day and all night. Yonder left you can see Marcus Evans new modern four-story barn. It got windows on the top too. Juss about everybody in town is jealous about it. It stands white and glistening in the sun. It shines so much that at four o’clock in the afternoon it’ll hurt your eyes juss to look at it. Next to that, you can see Lizzie’s place. The moonshine in Lizzies place comes from the Evans barn-but we ain’t spose to know ‘bout that. Lizzies place is a show piece with two grand stairways that lead upstairs and a long, long bar that curves around the room with golden railings. There’re eight big, huge mirrors on the walls with the finest burgundy and gold wallpaper I ever seent. Fine velvet like. Georgie and Paulie is our towns finest carpenters. They could build anything. They built most a Lizzie’s Place-the large stage where there’s two grand pianos and places for a band to sit under those blood red curtains that you could see in the mirrors on the walls. There was every kinda of a fornication that happened at her place…and she been in business soo long. She dams near seventy years old. The townsfolk know what it is that Lizzie do, but they pretend they don’t cause Lizzie gives so much money to the church. While it is an establishment of ill repute and talked about a lot, its sure grand with its tall golden finial on top and its even taller silver spire and gables painted gold. Georgie and Paulie built that part out of remnants from Beau Wilkins house after it mostly all burnt down, and Beau never came out. It was strange. Only half his house burnt down, and he barn never caught on fire. And when Sherriff Wilkins went to check on everything, they fount some lady’s things and taught it mighty sad that Beau would keep his mama things out like that after so long she been dead. We like to think of Beau looking down on us from atop his favorite place in town. Lizzies place (laughing). He wouldn’t mind us jokin’ about that. Beau’s father was in the war and died and Beau juss never got over that. And then when his mama died, he spent more time at Lizzies than at work or church. He died of a broken heart; I think. He was only 45 when he got burnt to death. I think that maybe he set that fire and didn’t wanna come out to the life that it became. But I ain’t never said that to nobody out loud as I’m learning how to bite my tongue as I get closer to the Lords hebbenly gates. We got a small museum on the side of Maddie Mae’s place to showcase Oakfield’s history. It has Beau’s dad’s army purple medal of courage. It’s quite sentimental. I like it. When Lizzie comes to the picnic with all her girls, all the towns women get to see their unspoken rivals up close and pay close attention that they stay on their side of the picnic grounds but paying close attention to whose husband might be looking familiarly in their direction while all of their small daughters flock to them tugging on their dresses, touching their earrings, taking and donning their fancy hats, swiping at their rouge and sitting on their laps. All the mothers thinking in unison that their fine lace and velvet dress are totally inappropriate for our annual picnic.

So’s it’s here on top of Growler Peak, near and under this Great Grand Black Old Magnolia, is where we have our annual picnic for more in a hundred years.

Georgie and Paulie been best friends since they was knee high to a tadpole. They can build everything from a baby rocker to Lizzie’s rooftop and anything in between. They was takin they time as usual haulin up all the timber to be used for buildin’ the stage for the band, the pulpit for the Pastor and the altar for the dammed and of course their customary argument ensues. They bicker back and forth like old, widowed sisters. Paulie says, “Well Georgie, you know that post is just a little too high-a person might slide offa there and slide down and kill they selves.” Georgie responds in his dry raspy tipsy slur “OK then-just let the devils slide and ride right down inta the dirt-I don’t care.” Paulie says, “Well let’s hope it ain’t your sweet lil darlin’ Harriet be one a the ones that go slidin’ down inta the dirt, cause I’s shore to tell her that it was her “true hearted one” that done dirtied your dress Miss Harriet by not listening at my advice.” Georgie gives Paulie a raised eyebrow and then turns his back and goes back down the hill to drag up the last piece of lumber for the stage. He knows that Paulie been pining after his Harriet since he and Harriet tied the knot. He had tried askin her out juss before he hadda leave mid school and tend to his Granddaddy’s ranch outside of Perchsmith. He never did regain any confidence in hisself since then cause the kids teased him ‘bout his ragged dusty farm clothes and shoes and he never had no money to go do fun stuff with the other kids. When the Johnstones found out ‘bout that, and they begin to give Paulie money to join the other kids. And when the kids found out about that, they teased him even about that, so he just kinda worked on the farm and grew into a big strappin farm boy that all the girls was smitten to but he ain’t never married nary of ‘em and been single alla his life. Even in his sixties he still got that strong manly body. All the young men in town admire his physique and call him Strong Farmer John. And everyone in town know who they be talkin about. He left on a long train ride up to the north-Philadelphia-for quite some time and returned even more broken than when he left. But came back he did and turned that farm into a oasis of very kinda thing that can grow from the ground when his Granddaddy died. He even let Henrietta Harding grow a big, huge pepper field, peppers that they sold far and wide. So, he kind of a legend round here and the women all say “What a shame. All that strappin’ man gone to waste.’ His daddy was a Cathlic. That’s all we’s know.

Somewhere in between they bickering and brotherly affection Georgie and Paulie always come to a compromise and chose the best timber for the job. Georgie done already told his wife Harriet and his older children that Uncle Paulie might be they daddy one day iffen anything should happen to him. And he made Harriet promise to marry Paulie if that happened and after many times of him askin’, she agreed. Georgie always knew how hard it was for her to decide between the two and her love for Paulie ain’t never really gone completely away though she chose the one in the end that she really wanted…at the time. He couldn’t think of no better man he’d want in his bed after he was gone. Plus, he knew Paulie would love her and take care of his four children even more than he does now. And the kids adore they Uncle Paulie to deff. Georgie did all that more than a year ago after the doctor told him about the thing they found on those x-rays. He ain’t never told a soul. And he been feelin’ the most worse lately. Harriet ain’t never found the secret pills he hides behind the window curtains in the attic.

Oh, nobody don’t pay no attention to Georgie and Paulie during this part of the celebration, they too busy reveling in the fact that there’s gonna be picnic today and ain’t nobody payin’ no mind to Georgie and Paulie. The dogs are all scattering about and barking at their owners to give them a little scrap of this or that, and you can hear the band tuning up they’s fiddles. Margie gonna be playing the lead today. We likes it when Margie plays lead. She just gives it that extra little special something-especially when we havin a picnic. Some say she a witch ‘cause that fiddle has been known to be heard all the way over to Oak Brook in the middle of the night when Margie’s lights is on. And that sometimes when she be playin so fast, it’s like the fiddle bow just be standing still, but you know its movin’ but you can’t see it movin’ cause its goin’ so fast. Her and her mama didn’t get along a tall. For years you would hear them cursing and fighting drunk as two witches in a cauldron. They’d scream un-natural sounds that didn’t sound like screams but more like screeches that reminded me of what a Hyena might sound like if I ever heard one. Eight years ago, her mama drove herself offa Pikes Cliff during a rainstorm into the river. The car was found but never the body and of course the whole town made specalations about what might a happened. The sheriff’s office searched every piece of they land looking for the body and even pulled the foundation of the house apart lookin underneath. But Lenora ain’t never showed up nowhere. Margie probably turned her inta one a those Hyenas I was talking about. Margie, she sweet now and everything. She started wearing face powder and rouge and colors around her eyes to hide it, but you can’t get pass the fact that her face is like a bulldog with those low hanging jowls and large watery eyes she got. She short and round and her hair used to look like electricity ran through it. Now she visits Matties beauty shop and wears hair rollers and the like and her hair look nice and curly and fluffy. She look like a different person altogether. Lenora woulda hate that. Then Margie married Ben Carter. Lenora woulda hated that too. Some old folks think she casted a spell on him cause before that Ben ain’t never seem to look up much, never mind lookin up at Margie. It’s like she was the frog, and he kissed her cause everybody like Margie now. Seem Lenora ain’t want Margie to have no kinda life. When asked, Lenora told Margie that her daddy ran off and that she ain’t know where he at. Margie finding out that her momma used to work at Lizzies place back in the day made her hate her momma and made her feel like she was the towns secret love child of any one of these men in town. But no luck because none of them ain’t look like her. Nobody looked like Margie. When Ben lost his best friend Beau in that fire Margie was there to console him. But before that Margie and Ben had a big fight in private. She accused Beau of acting like a lost lover and that she had Ben now and he should get used to it. She threatened to take Ben away if he dared interfere with her plans and she did. She told Ben that Beau had made a pass at her and Ben just cut Beau off. Just like that. Without never a look back, although in private he yearned for Beau deep in his bones. In his mind, at the time, Margie was a trade he was willin’ to make. But that was the old mean Margie. She’s as lovely as a flower now and often wishes Beau were still alive so that her husband wouldn’t be so ever blue. She would have made up for the fight had he lived. She swears by it to herself.

Lenora seem went plum crazy right after she had give birth to Margie. She walked around town unkept and talkin to herself. Some of the women in town took to goin by her place to make sure the chickens and hogs was being fed and that she was being fed and that her house dint burn down with the baby in it. Some of the women took turns taking care of the baby. They did that for about three years. That’s how long it took for Lenora to come back to her senses. It seem like Lenora ain’t never ever really took to her own child. Never comin’ to any of the school pageants, never dressin’ her up for Easter or anything like that. Margie was the talk of the town but not for the reasons she was thinkin’. Margie playin’ lead today and the whole town excited ‘bout that.

And now here come the Boylston’s with those six children of theirs toting that fat pet hog they named Jethro that the whole town will feast on one day. It was bigger and wider than any hog you ever gone see. It were more like a baby bear with all that size and hair on it. Jethro knew word signals and would stomp on the ground and squeal whenever he heard a fiddle. It could chew its way through a cane stalk like a tooth straw. Alla these things made Jethro very entertain’ and well loved by the town. Mrs. Boylston was so tall and elegant and dignified you’d never tell she a farmer’s wife by lookin at her. She heavy bosomed with the most perfect shinin’ teeth framed with that orange lip rouge she wear-sometimes pink or red. She buy the finest of dresses from Lyla Bates stores and the finest, I think they call it millinary. She could hitch a carriage, bareback a horse, ride side saddle, chop a full cord a wood and even help her husband when it come to the gold mining and oil drilling on they land. Everyone calls her Lady Boylston. It just seems fittin’. They’s always a penny short and a minute late, but they a fun family and we love ‘em.

And then there’s the ladies all lined up behind they table’s russlin’ up a little a little this and a little that for they men’s. And there’s the men’s who all just sorta mole about doin things like packin they pipes and smokin, stroking they dogs, and slappin they knees, laughin real loud and all but ignoring the ladies whose sweat should not be out matching theirs-but they do. Amelia Riggins and Lyla Bates have the prettiest tables of anybody. Lyla and her husband Delmont Bates got nine boys and no girls and Lyla pregnant again. I think they just gonna try juss one more time to get a girl. And iffin they do, she sure to be the most spoilt child Oakfield ever seent. Lyla been taken with Becky Wallart ever since she was a young girl-seein’ as Becky ain’t had no momma and all. Lyla also helped Pete get over the horrible way his wife died. Tragic circumstances. The Bates took to carin’ of they house and animals and all. Havin all the boys pitch in. They own the dress shop, the hardware store, the telegraph station, and the feed store. All they boys is all the smart types although they next to oldest boy Roscoe has a physical ailment-like one side of his body hangs down lower than the other and his face do too, and he’s real small in height, and width, but he the smartest of the whole eleven of ‘em and after a while you don’t even notice his affliction-much like Margie’s face. We call him Little Roscoe Bates and he don’t mind. He kinda snickles when you say it. He real nice too-just like his brother Percy Bates who is the oldest of the boys and the Don Juan of the town. Town say he gonna break every girl’s heart in this town till one day one of they daddies gone shoot him dead. Percy gives a lot of time to the church and helps out Old Man Johnson at home, so he got some real good qualities too. Well, Amelia Riggins and Lyla Bates, they been feudin’ like cats for years over whose cakes and pies is best. It got so bad that the cake judges had a secret meeting and decided to alternate the winner every year or so so’s to make them both equal, cause a few years back, Amelia’s husband Tiberius got so riled up that Amelia didn’t win the prize that he start to hollerin’ and screamin’ and discharged his rifle into the air when Lyla’s four-layer Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate cake won for the second year in a row. I’m sure Amelia put him up to it, cause as pretty as she is, she can be awful spiteful. Like the time when Dixie Elkins first pie won the pie challenge and Amelia, so jealous and petty and evil, went and put some bad tastin stuff on top of Dixies second pie when nobody but Henrietta Harding was watchin. At first, Henrietta thought Amelia was just tasting the fruit glaze on top but later when the contest came and all the judges spit out Dixies pie, Henrietta knew it was Amelia but couldn’t tell nobody bout it right at the time unlessin’ Tiberius might a gone hog wild mad and shot her. So, Henrietta waited and told the ladies at the Auxiliary meeting that next Wednesday when Amelia was absent, and they told they husbands and the nosy children all “over-heard”. So now Amelia and Tiberius got a real bad reputation in town-and they’s the last ones to know it. But for the moment, Lyla Bates won last year so we ain’t got to worry ‘bout Tiberius this year at least. Henrietta Harding is Oakfield’s finest seamstress, and she made every apron worn by the ladies today. Her white apron with those huge pink flowers is spectacular. We suspect that she always makes the worse one for Amelia and Amelia ain’t never said a word about it all these years-but many years in the future we know that Henrietta Harding will die from a heart attack at 38 years old while visiting with Amelia and that Amelia will buy her two sewing machines at Henrietta’s estate sale and that each year after that Amelia continued Henrietta’s tradition of making the aprons but she made the dullest aprons for all the ladies, whose politeness made them not refuse to wear the god awful things. No vibrancy, no padderns. Just plain colored smocks which the ladies all adorned with pins and flowers and things to pretty them up a little. The ladies only wore them as a tribute to Henrietta ‘cause they was made on Henrietta’s machines but Amelia didn’t know that fact as her evils ways just took pleasure in the act of getting back at them all, including Henrietta.

Suddenly there’s Otis Goodwin known as Old Man Goodwin shoutin “Ok. Let’s get goin now. Everybody gather round.” And all the towns people quickly wrapped up their meats and foods so’s the flies don’t get to ‘em and walked the 200 feet over to the stage that Georgie and Paulie set up underneath the ceremonial Great Grand Black Magnolia Tree that the children ran around earlier in the day. The scent of Magnolia filled the whole of Growler Peak the closer they got to the little stage under the tree and the band began to play. The animals all familiar with the change in the air all settled down to watch their masters simultaneously marching and dancing toward the tree. When they get to the center, the dosey do begins. “Take your partner and swing em around-take em to the well-make sure they don’t drown-now cross your partner by the way-hook em by the arm and do it this a way” and the merriment is everywhere. The little chilren follows the adults’ movements and the little boys is always shy ‘bout holding the girl’s hand to dance. Tiberius loves this song and by the looks of his jolly dance you would never guess he has a screw loose. He’s bigger and taller than any man you ever gonna meet. His momma died on the table givin birth to him. He was 13 pounds and a half plus a quarter. And right after that his daddy married Jenny Frey who raised him to be a wild rascal in a tent like her other 2 boys. Tiberius ain’t never stood a chance at being a decent man. Always at the ploy or the hand of a woman with no good intentions. He gave away a fortune to Lizzie before he had an awakening that the more, they made love the less money and things he had. Till one day he mentioned marriage and she became a wildcat in a barn-cussin and stompin the floor like he had asked her something else. He was baffled and never quite made out all she was sayin but knew that he should leave and never come back. For a time, Tiberius had a Negress that came to wash his clothes and cook his food. She sometimes spent nights there, but she came up with child and was big as a house, Tiberius never let her go. That woman worked there and for years brought the little very light toned baby boy with her to wash his clothes and cook his foods till one day they was just gone. And as I remember that was right about the time that Tiberius changed and began to drink a lot and turn into the man he is today. A big, gigantic walkin mess of danger and crazy and jolly as the day is long.

Clyde Foster beats his banjo to death on this song-his face shining with the joy of a tall skinny man/boy angel with no teeth and scraggily long hair but with all the love in the world in his heart. He got what they call mildly retarded. His momma and daddy died in the explosion when Mr. Foster tried making his own gun powder at home. Clyde was 17 when the explosion occurred. He was upstairs in his room with his tiny little dog named Pixie splayed across on his stomach sleeping thinking about Becky Wallart when it happened. You see, he and Becky did go all the way the third time that they messed around. She pulled him to her and grabbed him down there quicker than the Lord could whisper on a Sunday. He never knew that this was what it was. She put her mouth on him and put her finger at his backside and used her other hand to pull him back and forth over and over until he got the white lighting that came out him. The next times, she showed him how grown folks do it and that was what he thought it was. They did that more than five times. He was thinking about doing that again tonight when the explosion threw him up into a shattering of debris and then a huge cloud of white ashy smoke dropped him somewhere he didn’t know. The last thing he remembered was a pain deep inside his head, but he couldn’t see or hear. In one instant he never remembered Becky Wallart or many other things ever again. He was found the next day under all the piling only cause they heard him singing and pounding. Little Pixie must’ve unbecome unconscious as it started barking like a locomotive. Later we found out that the pounding was him imagining he was playing the banjo and it was so loud cause he couldn’t hear hisself-not knowing where he was or what had happened. The Boylston’s adopted him and the dog into they fambly and the Boylston kids take them all around with them. Becky would spend days and nights at the Boylston’s just make sure Clyde was comfortable and had the things that he needed to keep him tied to the present so the Boylston’s kinda adopted her too. Clyde’d be like to sit at the river all day and night and not go home for days. He just disappears. After a few days the Boylston’s take his little dog Pixie out to search for him and Pixie always is always able to locate him. He just be sittin there staring into the water rocking back and forth and singing and playing his banjo. Sometimes they’d find him sleeping, curled up in a ball right at the river’s edge out in the open for any wild animal to attack his laying prey. Sometimes they’d find him on top a Growlers Peak laying out in the open on the big, huge boulder rocks. The little dog was also affected by the explosion. It can’t hear a dam thing you scream at it. Clyde and the dog got some kinda hand signals they relate to. Neither of them speaks much anymore. Clyde just speaks in dips and drabs on some days but not most-though he understand you enough when you speak at him. The Boylston’s put a tie-on Pixie so that he can now walk and be with Clyde everywhere he goes and dang if that dog don’t bring him back every third night for food and a bath. They stay for two or three days and then gone for two or three days, except in the wintertime when they both snuggle in the barn most nights even though they got a room in the Boylston’s house.

“NOW take your partner up the latter-make sure your heart go pitty patter and turn-and turn”, Dancing is the best part next to eating and the final ceremony. The dancing part is the best though. That Little Roscoe Bates sure can cut a rug. Better even than the normal boys. Little Roscoe grabs Becky Wallart to dance just before his brother Percy come and swoops her away. You had to be lookin real hard to see that suddenly there-suddenly gone flicker of anger go across Roscoe’s black eyes. Becky howled as Percy swung her to and fro. Becky only sixteen but she 35 at the top. Becky be behaving most of the time like she gon be one a Lizzies girl one day. Talk is that she done winked at most of the grown men in town and it’s rumored that a few of ‘em even took to her although no body don’t know exactly who- but otherwise, how a rumor like that ever begin? Becky been noticing a change to her body. She don’t quite know what it is but she been feeling sick in the mornings. Percy Bates took one last look at the top of Becky Wallart and went to dancing with Betty McMinnville and saw her daddy watching him while grittin his teeth and just as fast he dosey doed round over to Madeline Farmer whose daddy was dead and stayed dancing with her. “Now dosey do your way around-don’t stop till the sun go down.” It don’t stop till Clyde Fosters right hand starts to bleeding, knuckles scrapped to the flesh and dripping blood from the frantic playing. Becky notices this and that’s when the band takes a break. Sweatin and panting, everybody returns to the tables and takes some spirits or lemon with sugar drink and cools off before the next part and you can see Lady Boylston cleanin and caring to Clyde’s fingers.

The music stops completely, and a few seconds later BettyAnn Goodwins husband Ted takes the horn and shouts to the towns people at the tables, “Ok now everybody c’mon over. C’mon y’all.” and everyone returns to the tree with children in tow. “Settle down now-settle down. Before we begin, we gon ask Pastor Reverend Hatch to bluss us with a prayer. Pastor.” Pastor Hatch has been in Oakfield since his birth eighty-eight years ago. He tall and fat and huge. Not a tall as Tiberius but fatter and wider. He only got hair on each side of his head and I reckon he always wears big western hats to cover up the fact. He still climbs the butte every morning and can still box for a few minutes and do eight push-ups before his beath takes over him. He been married to God all his life. Never a woman in town who could tolerate his faith in..well…everything. I think the word they use for him zealut or sealut or zelklot or something like that. But he is fire and brimstone walking on two legs. He scares the daylights outta me. That spirit that takes over his body has slanted possessed looking eyes. I don’t much like it. Many says he is one of Gods miracles. A scary miracle. He and Ted Goodwins granddaddy all but built the towns church-so Ted got an affection for him. BettyAnn, Teds wife, works for Lizzie at her place where Lizzie runs the show and holds the secrets of many of the men in town. Everybody wonders why Ted would let his wife BettyAnn work at Lizzies when Ted is such a God-fearing man. It’s a mystery.

Pastor Reverend Hatch began “Last week over there in Gibson County when we pulled them sixteen niggers from outta that jail and sent them to the Lord, that was the night that all the niggers trying to get revenge, cause of they ignence about who in charge around here, had they guns taken from ‘em. They kin send they Fredrick Douglas fella to hell wid ‘em too. He ain’t no Jesse James. Silence. You could hear the sound that the trees make when they are blowin their leaves against each other and the dull distant steady clumpt-clumpt from the coal mine across the valley and suddenly small gusts of wind began blowing the banners on the stage. Pastor continues, “What happened out on Huntingdon Road was God’s mercy on our sovereign town. Err body knows that when the time come to say who makes this land rich and abundant and GLORIOUS as it is, niggers ain’t had nothing to do wit it. Now, Imma tell y’all that when the Lord says love thyne enemy it also says to protect your home and family. Isaiah 41:11 says “BEHOLD! The Lord is with them that uphold my soul. Unless thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing: and they that shall survive with thee shall perish. Matthew 10:28 says, and fear not them which kill the body, both soul and body in hell are not able to kill but rather fear him, which is able to destroy, and finally Deuteronomy 20:3 And I shall say unto them, Hear O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, let fear not tremble neither be ye terrified because of them.” BEHOLD! God of ours. The Lord is with them that uphold my soul. Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in hell. In whom we have boldness and access with confidence, by faith in him. Yet see the poor on high from affliction and maketh him families like a flock. The wicked are overthrown and naught but the house of the righteous shall stand. STAND PEOPLE! And take part in the Lord’s celebration today. AMEM O GOD IN Heaven. AMEN!! AMEN O PRECIOUS LORD!!” The crowd gave a tattered applause, and you could see Old Lady Werner with her red handkerchief dabbing at her eyes and the tears rolling down underneath the glasses of Georgina Beauregard, our towns only piano player. She the only one cause can’t nobody afford to pay for the lessons AND ain’t nobody got the time. All the children works these days. Times is hard round here with crops not flourishing like the used to and the smoke from those fires in Chicagi than ran across the entire valley or the bomb cyclone that would come in November of this year or the drought the year before. Plus, Georgina ain’t got no kids of her own and she ain’t really got no type of personality for kids. She don’t never come round the other women to bake no pies or participate in organizing the spelling bee or any of the little shows down at Mattie’s place. It’s a secret that the men’s will never know about. She grow her own flowers, lots of ‘em and sells ‘em but pretty much stay to herself. Other than her friendship with Henrietta she don’t seem to care much ‘bout socializing, although she been known to visit Lizzie’s and she come to church every Christmas and during weddings where she displays her grandest flowers for a small fee.

Ted Bunch takes the horn from Pastor Reverend Hatch just as a fierce wind blew thru for minute and proceeds: “Now, these two that we got up here, Jimmy Carter and Lester Franklin, well, one of them looked at my Dora Ann just a dam bit too hard day before yesterday and I seent that look in his eyes.” The crowd came closer. Ted continued “And the other one? Well, he was with him, so he up there too.” Lizzie Bell cried out “Paulie! Georgie! Better move that grill away from the stage. You don’t wanna be fryin none of them niggers up there” and the whole crowd burst into laughter. Young Johnny Boylston shouted, “Don’t need to grab no more wood for the fire ‘cause they already black as tar.” As the crowd roared, Paulie couldn’t help himself and shouted “Yeh. We was gonna serve y’all nigger fingers last year” and the crowd hooted and hollered a loud ear shattering roar. The howling stopped as the sudden bursts of wind began to quicken, and all the ladies’ skirts begin whipping around their legs and the dust from the dry dirt was blown into their eyes and in their noses. They all turned around and watched as the paper plates and cups and napkins on the tables flew about as if in a tornado and all the table bows and festive ornaments flew about like decorations in the air. All the children and all the dogs and Jethro just barked and squealed as much as the wind was blowing and the two bodies in the Great Black Magnolia swang back and forth, whipped around like rag dolls from the force of the gust. Petals from the Great Magnolia were whipped from their stems and fell like wild rocking doves onto and across the ground. The ladies fancy hats all flew off they heads, and all blown in the direction of the river like a flock of colorful birds flying somewhere. Some people ran to the tables to rescue whatever they could but were pushed down to the ground by the wind and only wound up with more dirt in their mouths and their eyes-eyes that could hardly blink from the dry dirt encrusting them, tasting the earth, and breathing it in too far before stumbling to the ground, the wind covering them in their own clothing all totally dusted in dirt. Ted tried saving Reverend Pastor Hatch from being blown off the stage but failed. Pastor Hatch’s hat went over the broken railing of the stage before he did. Ted on top of the stage turned to hold onto to the rail before he slipped, banged his head, and was knocked unconscious. He fortunately missed seeing see Old Man Werner on the ground behind the stage, trying to break the Reverends fall and was crushed under the Reverends weight. Old lady Werner was seen holding onto Betty McMinville who was holdin’ on to Percy and Percy was touching Betty in places that she didn’t feel as the wind blew in turmoil around them. The wind began making that whistling sound before it ripped a huge limb off the Great Grand Magnolia tree and blew things even further away. A little rain came and then it was all over. And when it was over, the scene was a big mess of everything. Ham and fried chicken on the ground being greedily attacked by the wild angry and growling dogs who were in a frenzy. Lyla’s cakes, most was forced off their serving platters and you couldn’t tell where her Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate cake ended, and the dirt began. The beer jugs and paper cups went rolling on the ground in every which direction. There weren’t much left of anything still standin except the tables and the beer kegs. That delighted the men. Then Amelia Riggins shouted “Thank the Lord we ain’t lit the fire yet” and everyone within earshot laughed. Lyla Bates gave a scoff thinkn’ “That dam Amelia always got something to say. Dam Hussy.”

After the windstorm passes and the children are all collected and calmed down, Jethro was found underneath a turned over table sloppin’ down all of Dixie Cortlandt’s potato salad and a ham..a ham. It took quite a spell before everything could be put back in place. Many of the ladies were in a fret of tears and sorrow and inconsolable. Most of their years’ work gone in a blast of wind. The children looking like they just came out of a coal mine, snuck, and joined the animal’s merrymaking stuffing foods from the ground into their mouths with their muddied hands while their parents plodded around in a windswept daze. The Pastor Reverend Hatch sits on the ground behind the stage praying over Old Man Werner before he comes around to the front of the stage and sees the wrath that the devil has placed upon this blessed event and curses Satan with the hair on both sides of his head hangin wet over his ears. He decides to wait until after the ceremony before revealing the demise of Old Man Werner. Something tells him to look up and he sees his hat hanging off a branch up high in the tree. Facing the towns people without his hat will be an embarrassment but the Lord tells him that he must do it. He quickly takes to what’s left of the stage to tell of God’s message to the righteous and that the band should begin to take their places. After some time when the tables are looking like a sad Sunday, they all return to the tree. Margie ain’t got no highchair no more so she gotta stand up. The bulldog look had returned to her face without that makeup in place and she was mad as a cat in a pail. The Reverend Pastor Hatch calls on Ted Goodwin to light the ceremonial stick of fire which Ted tosses atop the brindle under the feet of the two men swinging in the Great Grand Magnolia. It gets real quiet as those first flames start to lick at the tree. The flickering flames rise on up onto the men’s shoes and then their pant hems and not much is said after that. Margie grasps her fiddle white knuckles. The crowd just stands around and just…look…look at it silently watching as the softer wind blows the smoke way over to Wheaton County carrying the unmistakable smell of burning flesh that signifies to every other Darkie that this is what you will smell like if you don’t keep in line and mind your manners. Yet, that same smell bringing comfort and tranquility to all the towns folks who couldn’t make it today, who nod to themselves thinkin, “Oh well. We got rid of another one today. Thank the Lord.” It’s not until the torsos of the men are engulfed in flames that the crowd begins to cheer. Margie’s fiddle begins with a slow twine and can be seen moving above the crowd. The tree gives a loud POP and then there comes a wild surge of hootin’ and hollerin that frightens the smallest of the children as the bow of Margie’s fiddle begins dancing faster and faster, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. The adults, all drunk on the type of delight of a child on Christmas morning. The fire reflected in the eyes of Ben Carter and his contorted face as he screamed but could not match the wail that emanated from BettyAnn Goodwin as she and her husband Ted gripped each other’s hands in a fierce battle of the condemned. Tiberius Riggins shot shots into the torsos of the two men from his rifle causing them to jerk backward at each shot, but nobody heard the shots above the wailing and screaming. Amelia Riggins grin spread wide across her face reaching her ears on both sides before she let out an unhuman sound. The drool mixing with the dirt on her face causing a sight like loose running poop down her face. Her husband Tiberius lifting her onto his left shoulder then firing the rifle again with his right hand. Big and drunken, amplified pouring sweat with his dark hair plastered to his face. Then, the half body half slanted Little Roscoe Boylston threw a gas-soaked rag into the fire causing a huge flare of fire that possessed the crowd and they all surged forward drawn to the crackling flames. Percy Bates was screaming so loud that no sound came out of his mouth. His beautiful boyish face gorged with blood causing his red face, blood shot eyes and veins sitting on the outside of his neck. His temples so thick and pulsing they seemed to wanna break outta his skin. He was screaming so loud and shakin his head so hard that his blond hair tousled about his head in a flurry, and he began shouting “OAKFIELD! OAKFIELD! OAKLFIELD! OAKFIELD!” And everyone joined in OAKFEILD OAKFEILD! OAKFEILD! The older children, who by now seems enraptured like ghosts moved closer and closer to the flames, a few disappearing. The bands drums beat louder and Margie’s pace on the fiddle quickened until the possession was complete. Spit flew from her mouth as she began making those sounds that sounded like words but wasn’t and her bow moved with such speed it now seemingly remained motionless above the crowd, but it was that long high pitched screeching syncopated sound that let you know it was movin’. Margie was no longer with us but was somewhere else. The Pastor Reverend could be seen with his hands raised to heaven as if to welcome in the thunder that soon hit the sky with three loud bangs and the sky darkened and a rain shower began. You could see Jethro stompin’ on the ground with its head up in the air squealing with something bloody hanging whipping about his snout. Henrietta Harding was seen down on the ground in the dirt shaking her head from side to side and screaming. Her white apron with those pink flowers hung limp with mud. Old Widow Werner’s red handkerchief could be seen waving in the air sweeping side to side in her bony hand scourged with dark brown age marks singing a hem she made up herself. Dixie Cortlandt was pullin at the rope hoping it would snap so’s the two men could fall right down into the fire. And when she couldn’t do it, she decided to add some fire to the rope to burn it down. The heavy corded braid fell off and struck her in the head catching her hair on fire. She was smackin at her head so hard that she fell to the ground unconscious. Jethro came chewing at her hands till Becky Wallart pounded it with a stick and it ran off. Lyla Bates was singing with her face up to the sky -rain melting that black makeup that she wore around her eyes. She never even noticed the blood that was running from between her legs soaking the ground while the Boylston pig greedily slurped it up. Georgie was so riled up that he can be seen jumping higher in the air than he should be and begins breathin real hard. Becky Wallart could be seen ferociously beating a stick onto the ground while Lizzie threw alcohol into the fire. The “swoosh” getting so close that her eyes and face got too warm from the heat of the sudden flames. And when she looked up at the men, she couldn’t see them and went grabbing at anything nearby. No one noticed the ghastly melted drooping skin on her face or that her hair was all gone. She flattened to the ground close to the fire and passed out. Becky Wallart looked up at the two men. She cursed and spat on the ground and spun around with a feral blackened look in her eyes. She saw Jethro shakin’ Lizzies foot in its mouth. She reached over, snatched Tiberius’ rifle who was passed out, and shot it before she rammed it into the flames hearing its writhing squealing shriek. Then she dropped to the ground yowling on both knees with her long black hair scrapping back and forth in the mud. Lady Boylston fought the rain and mayhem and found her way to the top of what was left of the stage and just then, the dank rain coming down, began to lessen.

The roarin’ and the hollerin’ goes on for quite some time after that until there ain’t nothin more to be seen of the two men. Way above the crowd their souls igniting in two celestial nova’s. The sogginess that assisted the spirit of the two men’s ascension, extinguished the flames until all that could be seen were two charred smokestacks hanging from the Great Grand Old Black Magnolia softly swaying in the parting breeze. Everyone begins chattering and staggering back to their tables, temporarily blind to the devastating carnage surrounding them, to square away more of the wind’s disaster, muster what’s left to eat and officially begin the picnic. You can hear the two axes of Paulie and Georgie chopping down the stage until only one ax can be heard. And then there’s Margie…and the fiddle begins.


Pete Wallart shot himself in the head right after shooting Percy Bates dead.

Pete Wallart nearly beat his daughter Becky to death with a horse strap until she told Pete who the daddy was. Becky knew that whoever she said the daddy was was gonna get shot dead and she loved Clyde even in his present state. But she never got over the betrayal of Percy when he two timed on her with Dora Ann. She was devasted at first, but when Pete actually left Becky for Dora Ann, a deep and dark depression gutted her for almost a year..seeing him with her. With each whip of the lash, she became closer and closer to her baby dying. The names of the many men in town she’d been with swirled around in her head. They mostly all had families and she didn’t want her daddy killin’ any of them, plus they was all nice to her in the end. They gave her things other than just money. She loved Clyde. She always would. Remembering his innocence and boyish charm. She felt her stomach tighten as Pete slashed her again with the horse rubber and her memories screamed out the name PERCY! PERCY DADDY!! PERCY BATES! And just like that Percy’s demise came from the shot gun of a daddy just like I said, even though he ain’t did it, it goes to show that breakin hearts is an awful thing to do to somebody. And Pete did it to most every pretty girl in town. We never even got to see his pretty face one last time through the closed casket. Seems Pete chose to use his huntin’ rifle on young Peter Boylston. How fittin’.

One winter Clyde went off missin’. Took Pixie off her tie and vanished. The whole town went lookin’ all a yonder for him. The town put up signs in all the surroundin’ towns for months on end. After the First winter passed and spring came you could see Becky Wallart walkin’ that dog all around callin’ out Clyde’s name. And when the next winter came, they finally had a memorial for him and put up his picture image in Maddie Mae’s town museum. They put him in the history section with and ending that he was roaming the valley to hills yet unknown. They named the boulder rocks under the Great Grand Old Magnolia after him with a plaque and everything. It Read “The mountains are calling and I must go.” Sometime right after that Becky married Little Roscoe who had become filthy rich when his brother Percy died, and he took over the family business. His family now had stores in every county for miles around. The houses he built was stupendous and all the cars and the fancy restaurant they opened that all the hoity toity people came from miles around to experience. French cook and everything. There was a lot of Bates, generations of ‘em, so they pretty much owned the whole town and with young Alan Bates now being the town and all Mayor, well… Roscoe bought Becky Wallart even though he loved her all the way from the time they first danced under the great Magnolia tree at the Annual Picnic all those many years ago. Even though he wished he wouldn’ta never told Pete Wallart about Becky and his brother Percy, Percy never seemed to care about nobody else so what’s he care if Pete gets mad and stops doing business with Percy. Becky was now a different person. She was so refined and cultured. Roscoe raised Becky’s baby as if it was his own, all the time knowin that it was his brother Percy’s baby he cared for. You see he put the two and two together. From the time Becky was depressed and ain’t no body seent her for a year and his brother Percy startin to go out with Dora Ann. He knew how his brother was and what he was doin and that he got Becky pregnant and stomped on her heart and left her. But when it came to Becky, Roscoe’s anger and intent on revenge never wavered. But Roscoe was wrong. Becky never told Roscoe about her daddy’s whippin’ that night eight years ago. She also never told him about Clyde. She let him believe what he because Clyde was her secret to keep. To cherish. To never have tarnished by anyone else’s mirror. Her and Clyde’s baby will never know that kind of sorrow.

The Bates had the whole three counties tied down until the Radcliffe’s came down from Boston and made Roscoe Little Roscoe all over again. Clifton Radcliffe managed to outmaneuver the Bates every turn. The Radcliffe’s sold everything the Bates sold at a cheaper price. They opened better hotels, better restaurants, built larger homes, larger stores that all had the most modern conveniences and more inviting atmosphere. The Redcliffe’s also outnumbered the Bates. They had 12 children aging from ten to thirty. They all went to school up north and became so popular in town that the whole town started looking to them.. for everything. And when Matthew Radcliffe unseated Alan Bates as Mayor the whole town rejoiced.

From the moment Clifton Radcliffe saw and heard Becky Bates, he was determined to posses her. They way she moved, her elegant carriage and how her hands, so petite and with such expression touched her face when she laughed. Her white porcelain neck and wide smiling eyes captivated and tortured him even in his dreams. He lusted for her endlessly.

On the day that Becky Wallart said “I do” to Clifton Radcliffe, Roscoe Bates hung himself from The Great Grand Old Magnolia tree atop Growlers Peak. He chose a limb right under Clyde’s memorial plaque so that Becky would be haunted forever at the image and the thought and would always wonder how long he knew about Clyde and that that would tear her into pieces making her live in sorrow and lament for the rest of her natural born days. You see, Becky never knew that Roscoe had discovered her diaries in a box hidden between the closet and the chairs. Four years ago. He relished reading her entries but did not enjoy knowing of the few men in town he should be jealous of or want to shoot. She speaks of him with gratitude and thankfulness but not in terms that make him feel like a loving or attractive husband and his physical demeanor strikes him more at each entry. She never initiates love making but never refuses him when he does. He will never know that it is not because of his smallness but because of Clyde’s memorable largeness that she merely succumbs to no pleasure. One of the last entries was about Clifford Radcliffe. Roscoe just attributed it to all the women in town admiring the new handsome stranger. And then all the entries abruptly stopped. It wasn’t until two years ago that Becky made that entry about Clyde. He had to read it several times to believe the words. Was he seeing them, correct? Is he having a brain tumor? He was not raising his brother’s child as he’d thought all these years. The knowledge shot a blazing heat through him. He had to sit down. Suddenly he struggled to breathe. He lost his vision and fell to the bed. Unable to speak his body convulsed savagely and he fell off onto the wood floor. His epilepsy returned in an instant and he went to the ground unable to scream. When Becky heard the commotion, she ran upstairs to find Roscoe on the floor slathering from the mouth gasping for air with her diaries shrewn around his head and the rest out of the box. She was frozen. Her thoughts capsized her. The guilt like a tightening vice around her torso. Her head spinning, she thought she would faint and held onto the door frame. Her horrible thoughts matching her terrible exposure. If she did nothing, she’d be rid of him and be rich with three children. If she did do that, she could never live with herself. She ran down the stairs and out of the house screaming in the street for someone to fetch the Doctor. The towns people unaccustomed to seeing Becky Bates in such an unrefined state all quickly dispatched the message through town to Doc Holly who came and administered to Roscoe. Roscoe asked the doctor to admit him to the hospital just so’s he’d have time to not face Becky’s embarrassment and figure out what to do about these new revelations. His life is over now.

Clifford Radcliffe’s older children never forgave Becky Bates for destroying their mother’s contentment and certainty. They despised her yonder of reason. In the near future, Becky Bates will know how much hate and revenge their money can buy. Together, with Doc Holly and their mother Nancy Radcliffe guiding them the entire way, they will succeed in driving Becky Wallart Bates Radcliffe totally and irreversibly insane.

Paulie married Harriet. Georgie’s kids all called him Daddo. Paulie brutally raped Harriet every night for almost two years till he got full enough and now doesn’t touch her that way anymore when he does. It had been 40 years since he been with a woman. He was thirsty and endless. Never enough water in the well. In truth Harriet found herself surprised by the amount of pain but satisfaction that accompanied the various acts as of Paulie. Georgie was just the opposite. She never knew about thrusting or sodomy until Paulie. She prayed about it each Sunday in church. The fact that she enjoyed it. There’s not a day goes by that Paulie don’t mention Georgie’s name. He more heartbroken and torn than a widow. Harriet was too old to think about havin another baby with Paulie, so the family got a dog and named it Baby and they all treated it like the baby of the family. Teehee.

On that blistering night many years ago at the annual picnic when the Boylston’s hog Jethro ate off Lizzies foot, she was lucky that Doctor March was in town to stop the bleeding and keep out the pig blood from infecting her more. In the end he had to cut it off and she been done had a club foot every since then. It did kinda stomp on the floor when she first got it. You could hear her coming when she was. Behind the bar it was wood on wood and sounded like a hard knock on the door, but everybody got used to the sound till you practically didn’t even notice it anymore above all the noise inside. She wore special spectacles that the doctor painted black so’s you couldn’t see her no eyes. Her skin on her face was so wrinkled up, she looked to be 200 years old. At first, she’d rule the place from behind the bar on a tall stool so nobody can’t see her feet listening to all the comings and goings. By and by, BettyAnn Goodwin took over running the place. Her and Ted had a quick and fast ending. Ted went along with everything BettyAnn wanted ‘cause he knew that she would tell his shameful secrets. When they divorced, the church folk all turnt they back’s on BetttyAnn.

The townsfolk all voted Ted the new Pastor after Pastor Hatch died when he went to check on Old Man Werner behind the stage and had a heart attack when he saw Jethro gnawing on Old man Werner’s head. After causin all that ruckus at the Annual Picnic that nobody ain’t ever forgot about. At his funeral, Old Lady Werner had a spell and died while grieving, laying across top of his casket. She plum fell right in. It was young Jimmy Fallon’s fault ‘cause he wasn’t holdin’ her up right in the first place. I believe’s, but ain’t never said to nobody that I believes that Old Lady Werner and Pastor Hatch did more in juss accounting and sweeping out the church. All of that time she was waving that red handkerchief she was waving’ her heart and that was they secret way of her saying love. She couldn’t bear to live one day without. BettyAnn wondered if Pastor Hatch knew of the devils that walked with Ted in the dark when he went to visit his wife’s bed. Some of them that shamed her so deep she unconsciously went the opposite direction and did those things to the men and the women at Lizzies place.

Margie’s postpartum depression after havin’ her and Ben’s baby caused her face to go right back to what it used to look like. The whole town was whispering whether it was gonna look like Margie or Elenora, who nobody ain’t forgot about, and prayed for Ben’s sake that it took after his side of the family. But as it turns out, luck was not on their side and that baby, they named Bridgette, was pushed about in a buggy that hardly nobody waited to push the cover back for. And when they did, they could only say what they would say to any new mother in joy, but in this case, the awful truth, “Oh my. Why bless your heart. She looks just like you.” Saying anything else would give them reason to pray harder come church On Sunday and give an extra donation for lyin’.

When Beau died in that fire and never came out and Lenora went off the cliff at Pikes Peak and was never found, it was because they planned it that way. Lenora’s death insurance policy named Beau as the sole beneficiary with instructions that no one, not even Margie know about the policy upon her death except Beau. But since there was never no body found, Beau had to wait three years after her death before the insurance company would pay out. Lenora hid out in Beau’s barn for the entire that entire time. Many times, the two, sneaking off to nearby towns in the middle of the night, just to breath some freedom. In between that time their love makin was the things of legends and promises made forever. Beau made sure that Lenora had everything she needed. He served her like a queen. Sometimes Lenora was so happy she wanted to cry. How could she be so lucky. There wasn’t nothin’ Beau wouldn’t do for her, so when Beau confessed to Lenora what Margie threatened him over Ben, it angered her to the point of Lenora screaming to the tops of her lungs inside the barn and Beau did everything her could to quiet her down without shoutin’ hisself. That Margie did this to the man she loves, now gave them both ample reason and time to plan Margie’s death.

Three years to the day of Lenora’s death Beau had the insurance money. That was the same day he burned down his place. He and Lenora went to live the highlife before returning with their plan to burn down her house with her inside. It represented the hate they both had for sweet Margie. They wanted her to suffer as bad as she could. They waited days on days, surveyin ‘and watchin’ the wood framed house. On the first day that Ben left the house alone with Bridgette and Margie stayed behind their hearts quickened in jubilation. Lenora, watchin’ her baby granddaughter, never knowin her name was Bridgette, the granddaughter that she would never smell, touch, or hold, doubled Lenora’s bitterness as she watched the wagon pull away. They swiftly tarred the doors and three windows at the bottom and poured the moonshine all around the house. When Lenora lit the flame onto the first door frame she wept in vexation. She went around the side, doused, and lit the clothesline connected to the little house, the fire shot like a rocket to the roof hang causing a whoosh sound that engulfed the upper half of the house. She heard Margie scream and some many seconds passed before Margie is upstairs and breaks out a window. The plumes of darkened black smoke that ran out of the window engulfed her entire torso. Lenora sees Margie leaning out onto the window frame screaming waited for her to jump. Lenora steps out. Margie sees her mother standing there and thinks that she is hallucinating.The figure waves at her and grins just as the fire hit her legs and torches up her back. Margie jumps from the window falling into the flames. Her body lands atop the grape arbor and then flopping onto her back she hits the ground paralyzed and broken breathing in the black smoke and looking up at the sky feeling her hair burn her face and body tighten in a wretched hot red flaring pain all over-millions of hot pricking needles digging deep into her flesh all at once all over. She can’t breathe from the burning of the fire, feeling her flesh shrinking around her face and the fire in her mouth before she screamed one short scream like an animal, and she was quickly dead.

Ecstatic and in ecstasy, her face glistening with moisture and eyes red from the smoke, she had forgotten all about Beau. She had fully entered her hatred. Lenora turns around to rejoice with Beau who raises the gun and shoots her twice in the head and then throws her body into the flames with a look of surprise frozen on her face. Now he’s rid of them all, except Ben whom he will reunite with when he suddenly returns to town from death with a cash load to last a lifetime.

The two boys Jimmy Carver and Lester Franklin, had they lived, would have changed the world we live in. Jimmy alongside his brother George would have scientifically isolated the DNA of live algae amoeba, developing technology that would have increased the grow rate of organic matter in living organisms by 27 percent. The world as we know it would now, would never exist. We would have been able to grow trees and algae’s that guaranteed climate stability, reproductive and stem cell technology increasing the human life span and intelligence by seventy-five years, endless food production and the ability to create only diseases beneficial to human reproduction although death would still occur by old age That Little Roscoe sure can cut a rug. Better even than the normal boys. He would have also discovered why gold was used by the ancient Egyptians and Ancient Kingdoms and applied that knowledge to our current day technologies eliminating the need for fossil fuel usage by humans to power practically anything made by man that moves. Those would have been discoveries of his own. Together with his brother George on March 18, 1934, at 2 a.m. the invention of Aybastran would have been developed but not acknowledged by the U.S. government until 2109. It is a combination of chemicals that when mixed in a solid compound and placed onto the surface of any object, would defy Newtons law of gravity, and propel the object small as a peanut or large as a fleet ship to rise into the air. It would have eventually been sabotaged compromising warfare, and global security to the point that no one would have even been safe even sitting in their own homes.

Lester Franklin would have had a son, who would have had a daughter who had another daughter. Her name would have been Faith Evans. When Faith was almost fourteen, she had a dream she’d always remember. She was swinging in a garden of golden flowers. There were several young children below her singing songs. A large silvery white bird flew from the heavens. It’s wings as wide as a rooftop opened and she was guided onto them where she fell into a spaceship and was immediately floating in the air on her back endlessly in delight, when she was suddenly shocked and jerked by the pain entering her vagina. She woke up on a hospital bed bleeding with her first menstruation. She had been unconscious for 3 days. When she had her first child, named Calvin, the circumstances surrounding his arrival were bizarre and unusual. Faith experienced no pain at all. The doctor and nurses saw that her placenta was almost iridescent. When the nurses to place some in the urn, they felt and saw several tiny golden kernels hard as sand. When the nurses cut the umbilical cord, Calvin’s limbs all stretched out and stiffened forming the perfect shape of a 5-pointed star for a good twenty seconds. One nurse audibly gasped and almost dropped him. Then he went totally limp and wailed loudly like any newborn baby.

Faith Evans would have become the first Leader of META-G (META GLOBAL) a global network of governments. META-G would allow everyone everywhere full access to visual and auditory 3D anywhere on the planet. You could see a single grain of rice in a rice paddy in Vietnam if desired. It would foster global friendships, making it impossible to harm another living creature. She would have been the first political figure to ever to be a polyglot speaking thirteen languages and the only to order a world system of government that abolishes nuclear weapons. She would have had a son named Calvin Evans who would work with what formerly known as NASA, now World Science Federation (WSF) to develop an aerosol that deactivates any nuclear device once flown through or placed through the aerosol space. It would have been named Caldecolage. NASA will never develop this advance without his birth. He would also have been the first human to confer directly with our Celestial neighbors. Upon his death, he would be given an all-ALL-STAR funeral by the WSF. All of the global META-G monitors would tune into his homegoing. Calvin Evans would request an open casket funeral, but not because he was outstandingly handsome. He would have planned every note of the horn for this event. At the end of all the eulogies, after the cannon salutes and the placing of the ring of flowers, his daughter Alva would ring the golden bell lined with green amethyst at the bottom with the golden tong following his written instructions. She would ring the bell six times in exactly eighteen second increments. On the sixth gong on the bell, her right hand holding the tong began vibrating and she could not let go of it. She lost her vision and was instantaneously simultaneously inside of her father, his spirit, his soul. She would drop to her knees and begin a slow breathless stream of tears. Calvin Evans body would emanate a golden light from his casket with and accompanying sound like fire crackling and then totally vanish. The world would be astounded. The documents found in his safe chambers would supply the world with precise coordinates, scientific data and technologies needed to be developed on Earth for time and distance travel. They would also instruct on where and how to find him and the reasons the Celestials would not cojoin our worlds. Without the advent of his birth, these technologies will not be developed until September 30, 3056.t17

When the bolt of lightning struck the Great Grand Black Old Magnolia tree, there was just a loud pop and some smoke that nobody saw or heard. They next day when the wind and the rains and the thunder and lightning returned, the town heard a strange thud, but it was so dark and murky from the cascade of pouring rain, one could hardly see anything out their windows. When the morning came, and the rain had stopped, they all woke up at the same time to a loud scream heard in the distance and murmuring, like a hundred people all whispering at once. As they each came out of their front doors, they just followed each other toward and up the hill, all the time mumbling about what could have come about. When they almost reached the top, the sun began shining so bright that they all had to shade their eyes with their hands. They looked up at the hill. The sun was like a big, huge warm white whole covering the sky where the Great Magnolia should be. When the sun proceeded and they could un-shield their eyes, they all stood unable to speak. It was soundless you could hear the sun shining and the leaves blowing on the tree. The Great Grand Old Magnolia Tree was half standing and half laying out on the ground. Split straight down the middle. There was a tall V shape cut right down the center like a tunnel. You could see clear from one side of the tree to the other without moving. The old town folks stood stunned and devasted. Some of them wailing sounds like you might hear at a funeral. You could hear the wind in your ears. Growlers Peak will from here on out, never be the same. The newcomers stood silent for a while but began chattering about the storm- interrupting the moment of reverence. Pastor Ted Goodwin, now greying at the temples, shouted at the newcomers to all shut the hell up. He led a prayer and thanked God for the time the tree was with us and when he finished, people began telling stories about their time under the Great Magnolia. By the time noon time come, they were all, the whole town, children, dogs, pigs, goats and some hogs and chickens circled around the monstrous trunk. It was now tripled in its size laying out across the top of the hill. The animals and children went running all in and out of the huge fallen limbs squealing, clucking, and bleating while the adults ran gleefully fetching them in this new wonderous environment of many hiding places. Clyde’s memorial plaque can be seen perfectly framed by the fallen leaves and before you knew it, it was noontime. People were bringing food and beer and wine and song. Tiberius, big as a house but still drinking mightily at his old age, made it up the hillside step by step, huffin’ and puffin’ the whole way. He was breathin’ so hard he sounded like a fat hog with influenza. He couldn’t make it all the way and fell onto the ground right at the crest of the hill and immediately fired three shots in the air to announce his arrival. Poor Amelia woulda probably be more embarrassed of him now than when she was alive. Lizzie died last May from pneumonia, but BeckyAnn’s girls came on out a little later on.

And then there’s Bridgette…and the fiddle begins.

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