posted on Jun, 6 2006 @ 06:18 PM
“Oh, Marlene, do you think we’ll be meetin’ up with the devil today? Do you think he’s gonna swallow us up and drag us down to the pits of
The anguish in her 9-year old voice was irritatin’ me to no end.
I tell her, “I don’t know Petey, Paw Paw said we need to go to church and pray somethin’ fierce.”
Since I’m almost 6 months older than Petey, I always think I need to share with her my vast wisdom as much as possible. We had just arrived at Paw
Paw and Granny’s small house smack-dab in the middle of Florida last week after school let out.
Me and Petey were ponderin’ the world layed before us high up in the sycamore tree like we always do. We climb up there on many occasion to talk
about all the things little girls fill up in their heads. We let it spill out to each other in giggly whispers of mischief. But today our moods were
low with all the wild grownup talk of our possible everlastin’ damnation.
Ever since me and Petey arrived, Paw Paw’s sermons at the Jesus Christ Holy Ghost Missionary Primitive Baptist Church of God have been especially
scary. He keeps on talking about this day that Granny’s got marked in a big red circle on the refrigerator calendar.
I tell her, “Petey, Paw Paw’s been preachin’ on the Lord and the devil ever since he shot his hand off 10 years ago so he should know what
he’s talkin’ about. He says as long as the Holy Ghost surrounds us then we got nothin’ to worry about.”
You see, Paw Paw told me he found Jesus one night in the hospital after he blew two fingers off with his shotgun. He said he’d been drinkin’ the
devil’s piss when it happened. I don’t reckon I’ve ever seen devil piss since I’m only 10 years old but I surely know I don’t want to come
into acquaintance with it anytime soon if it makes you shoot off your body parts.
Paw Paw yelled to us from the house, “Girls, get down outta that there tree and come inside. This is the devil’s day and we need to be prayin’
from sunup to sundown.”
Petey and I were not expecting marathon prayers and everlastin’ damnation preachin’ when were shipped down here by our parents. Our summers with
our grandparents usually consisted of watermelon, running through Granny’s sprinklers and churnin’ homemade peach ice cream.
Paw Paw and Granny told us that we should prepare to meet the Lord and that we needed to find Jesus real soon. They keep talking about this day, June
6, 2006, ever since we dropped our suitcases in the spare bedroom.
Seems to me their leavin’ out some important instructions for me and Cousin Petey. They never even told us where to go to “find” Jesus. Me and
Petey reckon we can just go down to the Shop & Go where we buy pop rock candy and get directions to His house. Or maybe we can sit at the end of the
dirt drive and wait for Him to drive by. Surely he’s gonna notice two little sunburned, barefoot heathen girls sittin’ by the road and give us the
salvation that Paw Paw’s aways blustering about in his pulpit til his face turns red as a pickle beet.
“Let’s go inside Petey or Granny will break a switch off on our tails.”
Speakin’ of whoopins, I can truly say that we have become master switch-pickers. Whenever we hear Granny call us “heathen’ children” we just
know that the switch is comin’. She even makes us go out to the switch bush and pick the implement of our hurt. Needless to say, we take a real long
time pickin’ our switch.
We climb down from the sycamore and walk as slowly as possible to the house. We just know our necks are about get that “cricked” feeling on
account of all the prayin’ we’re gonna be doing.
Paw Paw tells us as we arrive at the front door, “Girls, don’t ya know sittin’ up in that there tree is the very last thing ya’ll should be
doing today. You should be busy upon finding Jesus and cleanin’ your souls so that everlastin’ damnation doesn’t fall upon you. Today is the
last day of your sweet little lives and you two are in the tree talkin’ ‘bout kissin’ Timmy Jenkins down the road.”
We look at each other with wide eyes….How did he know that?
He tells us as we flop on the couch, “Now, let’s bow our heads and pray.”
They grab our dusty hands and squeeze tight. I’m supposed to have my eyes shut prayin’ hard but I can’t stop starin’ at that hair comin’
outta Granny’s chin mole. I just know I’m goin’ straight to hell if I can’t even study on the Lord for two seconds without a mole hair
distracting me from everlastin’ damnation with all the other sinners.
We finish our prayers and Granny says, “Now girls, get ready for church and put on your best dresses.”
This is the worst thing Granny can do to us. I would rather scrabble in the dirt with Lucifer’s legion of demons than put on pantyhose and a dress.
We do as we’re told so that we don’t have to make a trip to the switch bush.
After we dressed in our torture attire, me and Petey grab our sandals by the door and head to the creaky lawn chairs out front to wait for Paw Paw and
Petey tells me, “Marlene, I really don’t feel like scrappin’ with the devil today, do you? I just got a brand new set of crayons with the
sharpener built right in the box. As I see it, the end of days just can’t happen right now til I get home and use ‘em.”
I tell her, “No Petey, somethin’ tells me we got plenty o’ more days ahead of us to deal with the devil.”
We strip off the pantyhose and climb our sacred sycamore like an ascent to heaven.
“I don’t know about you Petey but I feel Jesus the most right up here in this tree talkin’ with you.”
I watch as her eyes turn and look over the oaks with their moss whispering gospels to us in the breeze.
“Yeah, so do I Marlene.”
We continue talking over the prospect of kissing Timmy Jenkins as the world ends below us.