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!
Y'know, me and my mule Rosebud's been livin' up here in Gump Holler 'bout all our lives. It's a little out of the way. There ain't nobody that's just passin' through ever comes this way. Ain't nowheres to pass through to. The road goes up past Denver's house a ways and then just quits. Oh, it goes on, but it ain't much more'n a walkin' trail where it goes into the big woods. It comes out at Possum Creek, but if you was over there you still wouldn't be nowheres. There ain't nothin' there no more. Used to be a store and a post office, but not no more. So there ain't no traffic on this road up here atall. The only people that ever passes our house lives on up between here and the big woods. There's a lot of days when the only person we see on the road is Isaac, the mail man.
It's real peaceful. You can set out on the front porch and the only thing you'll hear is birds, bugs and ever now and then a dawg barkin'. You can hear the jar flies this time of year, talkin' to one another up and down the holler. You can hear ol' man Lankern acrost the hill hollerin' at ol' Jake, his mule, when they plow the garden. You can hear cow bells janglin' and can about tell what time it is by where they're at in the pasture.
When you live out in the country like this, you get to where you can tell a lot about what's goin' on just by listenin'. If a car's comin' you'll hear it a long time before you see it. If it's a strange car, the dawgs will wake up and commence to barkin'. They know who's s'posed to be up here and who ain't and if somebody comes along that ain't, they make shore everbody knows about it. And if somebody's in the woods, the birds and the bugs will tell you. They get real quiet, see. It's like if you was playin' the radio and when somebody come along, it turned off. You learn to pay attention to stuff like that when you live up here away from everthing.
So what I can't figger is how them soldiers got up here without nobody knowin' they was anywheres around. There was a dozen or more of 'em and the first anybody knowed about 'em was when Denver stumbled across where they was campin' down at the creek, down there by where the big water oak stands. I reckon Denver was comin' over here to the house and, as usual, he got to wanderin' around. He's like that. Ol' Denver don't never go anywheres in a straight line. If he was in the livin' room goin' to the kitchen, he'd as like as not take off out the front door and go around the house to get there. But that's just him. And this time it come in handy.
He told us they never seen him. Which ain't no surprise. That's another thing about livin' up here on the back side of nowhere. You learn to keep from bein' seen and to move around without makin' no noise. And when he spotted 'em down there by the creek, he said it looked to him like they might be somewheres that they wasn't s'posed to be at and might be doin' somethin' they ort not to be doin'. Anyways, he said he couldn't tell what they was up to and when you don't know somethin', you keep quiet. You take your time, you lay back and watch 'til you see what's goin' on. That's another thing you learn if you live up here. It ain't a good idea to go stickin' your nose in somewhere it don't belong.
I mean, what's a bunch of soldiers doin' way off up here in the holler? Used t'be that when gov'ment men showed up in the woods you knowed they was lookin' for somebody makin' moonshine whiskey. Nowadays they've quit makin' likker and took up growin' them mary-warner plants. That's what Denver was thinkin', that they was lookin' for mary-warner patches. Trouble is, you just don't know. So we got to talkin' about it, tryin' to figger it out. That's just the natcheral thing to do.
Rosebud was of a mind that they was huntin' a spy. She allus thinks spy. Maybe one got away from 'em and took off to the woods, she said. Or maybe they was lookin' for one that's been up here all the time. You can't be too careful 'bout spies, she says. Them commonest countries send in them sleepin' spies and they live for years just like reg'lar people. Then one day they'll get a post card, take a look at what's wrote on it and it and it turns 'em into spies. But everbody up here has been livin' up here forever. Some longer'n that.
Denver come up with a different idea. He thought maybe they was spies their own selves. He said you can't tell a commonest spy from a reg'lar human bein' just by lookin' at 'em. Not when they're dressed up in soldier suits like that. If you was to take and strip 'em down, he said, it might be different. Course there ain't no tellin' what one would look like if you stripped him down 'til he was buck nekkid.
And I got to thinkin' he might have somethin' there. Them boys he seen could be anybody. That's why we decided maybe we ort to separate one out from the pack. Not to hurt him, just throw a rope on him, drag him off a ways and ask him a few questions. We'd ask him nice-like, mind you, but we need to know what's goin' on down there. If you think about it, that'd be better'n havin' to learn how to talk Russhin later on.
(But we'll have to find out about that later on too)
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