ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT
AND SOME THAT AIN'T
Howdy folks! This here's ol' Pete and Rosebud comin' at you again!
We had some strange goin's on up here the other night. Ain't much ever happens up here but somebody come a-knockin' on the door in the middle of the night. I was asleep. I went to bed along about eight o'clock, my usual goin' to bed time, and my mule Rosebud had hunkered up in there in the livin' room. She's sorta like an ol' hound dawg. It was coolish and if its airy bit cool, she likes to put a little fire in the fireplace and settles in for the night stretched out in front of it. It ain't as bad as it used to be, though. Used t'be, she'd drop off standin' up.
She don't do it no more, but I don't see how she ever done it. I tried it once, goin' to sleep standin' up like that, but I fell over as soon as I dozed off. I like to broke my nose. I don't know what got into me even tryin' such a thing. Anyhow, that ain't neither here nor there. The thing is, me and her was both asleep when the poundin' on the front door started up. I don't know about you, but knockin' on my door will wake me up quicker'n about anything. I know right off that it ain't nobody from around here. People up here in the holler don't go around knockin' on other people's doors after dark.
If there's some reason you've got to get somebody up after dark, you walk up in the yard a little ways and stand there and holler 'til you wake somebody up. People don't like for you to walk right up on their porch and go to knockin'. They want to get a look at you while you're still a good ways back from the house. I know it sounds strange, but there's a good reason for it. Y'see, if they decided to shoot you they won't have to clean up the blood and stuff off the porch.
No, I'm just kiddin' about that, but there is a good reason for it. Most people up around here's got five or six dawgs and most of 'em sleep up in under the front porch. So you don't want to go staggerin' up on somebody's porch and wake up half a dozen big ol' mean dawgs. If they wake up and find you messin' around up there on their porch where, as far as they know, you ain't got no business, what do they do? I'll tell you. They bite first and axe questions later. No, you don't go messin' with people's dawgs up here in Gump Holler.
Me and Rosebud ain't got no dawgs. Rosebud don't much like 'em and, if the truth be told, as long as I've got her around I don't need no watchdawg. She makes a good'un. Her hearin's purty sharp and can tell when there's somethin' around before human beans can. But somehow she let this'un get by. She didn't know there was a soul on the place 'til the knockin' commenced. But when it did, she was up in a flash.
That's the first thing I remember hearin', the knockin' on the door. Then Rosebud started scrabblin' around, makin' a lot of noise. I think she jumped up when the knockin' started and lost her footin' on the floor. It's hard to get a foothold on a plank floor when you're wearin' iron mule shoes. Anyways, her feet slid out from under her, she fell, couldn't get back up and started kickin' things over. It sounded like she was tearin' the house down with her kickin' and pawin'.
It prob'ly sounded a lot worser out there on the porch than it did in the house. Picture this up in your head: You go up to a dark house in the middle of the night and knock on the door. You're standin' there scared, waitin' for the dawgs to get you, when you hear what sounds like somebody throwin' the kitchen stove plum acrost the house. Then the door flies open and a mule sticks her head out.
That'd clabber your milk, don't you know? It shore would mine. And it must've shook up whoever was out there purty bad 'cause by the time she got the door, Rosebud said all she could make out was somebody runnin' down the road. It was too dark to make out who it was. By now I'm out there on the porch too and the hair's standin' up on her back and her teeth are bared. She puts me in mind of one of them gargles like they put on them old timey buildin's in the cities, standin' there peerin' off down the road. I don't see nothin'. They ain't nothin' to see. Whoever it was, she's done scared 'em off.
There ain't nothin' no worser'n bein' woke up in the middle of the night like that. You don't know who it is or what's the matter. You can't just go back to sleep. You've gotta find out what's goin' on Maybe it was somebody that come to you for help. There might be somebody sick and their kinfolks has come down here for help or somethin'. Or it could be that somebody's had a wreck and is halfway addled and wandered off up here.
It could be anything. You just don't know what it is. And that's the worst part. You just don't know.
One thing I did know. There wouldn't be no sleep that night. Not 'til me and Rosebud found out what was goin' on. If we didn't, we'd set up all night talkin' about it, tryin' to figger it out. We decided we had to walk down the road a piece and see if we could find whoever it was that was out there. Yeah, we needed to find out what was goin' on.
(But we'll have to tell you about that next time.)
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