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!
Well, I got in trouble last week. I said somethin' when I ort to have kept my mouth shut. Do you 'member me talkin' about 'em buildin' that tower up there to the head of the holler? Rosebud said she thought it might be one of them cell phone towers, but couldn't be shore. Ain't nobody knows for shore. Said it might be the gov'ment puttin' up somethin' to keep up with what's goin' on up here. Then I said that if that's what it is, they could just ask ol' lady Hoover down there at the crossroads, that she already knows everthing about everthing up this way. I didn't mean nothin' by it. It was just one of them things you say when you ain't got nothin' better to say. But, shore 'nuff, she heared about me sayin' it and got mad.
Ain't that just the way of it, though? You say somethin' snotty like that to somebody and you'd think they'd have sense enough to keep it to theirself. But, no-o-o! They don't let their shirttail hit their hind end till they run down there and tell her what I said. If I'd of said she was God's gift to Gump Holler, do you think anybody would've trotted off down there and told her? No, not hardly. They don't spread the good stuff around. They only tell the stuff that stirs up trouble.
And this was some serious stirrin'. The next time me and Rosebud was down there at Silas's store, she cornered me up and jumped my case about it. I was all the way in the back of the store gettin' me a sody water, not a thought in my head, and here she comes up behind me and commenced doggin' me like I was the sorriest thing in the world.
"What's this I hear," she said, "about you goin' around bad mouthin' me?" She pointed her gnarled ol' fanger at the tip of my nose. Made me feel about two inches tall.
"But, ma'am. . . " By now I had started to sweat.
"Your pore mama," she said. "God rest her soul, I'm just glad she ain't here to hear the terrible things you've been sayin' about me."
Leave my mama outta this, I'm thinkin'.
". . . and me one of the best friends she ever had in this holler."
And with me standin' there knowin' that wasn't so! Mamma didn't like her no better'n nobody else did. Wasn't nobody up here liked her that I ever heard about.
"And you go and turn against me," she said, "against a pore helpless ol' widder woman who can't help herself!"
"But, ma'am . . . "
Everbody was stretchin' their necks and lookin' at me, tryin' to figger out what terrible thing I'd done. She knowed everbody was watchin'. She seen 'em and kinda hunkered down like she was afraid I was gonna hit her. Oh, I'm tellin' you that ol' woman knows how to work to a crowd!
"Shame!" she said, shakin' that ol' fanger under my nose. "Shame, I say! Your pore mama would turn over in her grave if she knowed you was spreadin' them vicious lies about me."
Lies? I know I prob'ly ort not to have said what I did, but lies? There wasn't no lie about it! Everthing I said was the gospel truth and everbody standin' around there at the store that day knowed it. There ain't nobody up here that ain't had to put up with one of her tongue lashin' sometime or other.
"You know I ain't like that," she said.
I just stood there with my head ducked down. There wasn't nothin' I could say that wouldn't just make it worser.
"I just do the best a ol' widder-woman like me can do, tendin' to my own bizness and leavin' other folks alone."
A little crocodile tear rolled down her wrinkled ol' cheek. I couldn't take my eye off of it, that one little bitty tear rollin' ever so slow down her cheek and drippin' off her chin with me and everbody else standin' there knowin' it's fake. There ain't nothin' ever happens up here in Gump Holler that she ain't got her nose stuck a foot deep in. She's the nosiest, gossipinest ol' woman that ever drawed a breath.
But I didn't say nothin'. Nope, not a word. I just stood there and took my medicine. The worst part of it was, I couldn't get away. If it'd been out in the open somewhere, I'd have sidled on over and put some space between us, but she had me cornered up against the sody water cooler. I didn't have no choice but to stand there and let her chew on me. That ol' woman's worser'n a bulldog when she gets aholt of you. She chewed on me for half a hour before I could get away.
There's one good thing come out of it, though. I learnt my lesson about talkin' about people. You ain't ever gonna hear me say nary thing about nobody no more. Not nobody. Specially that ol' biddy. She had a right to be mad at me. Just 'cause she bad-mouths everbody up here, it don't give me no right to make cracks about her bein' like that. She was right. I was wrong. I should have kept my mouth shut.
If you ever hear anything said about her from now on, there is one thing you can count on. It shore ain't gonna be comin' outta my mouth.
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