This is an unedited portion of a story I am writing.

Copyright 2011 by Ken Anderson.


Part 1

Our little community was spread out below my all-seeing gaze; a few houses, barns, pens, and sheds but mostly family farmlands of pastures, meadows, and crops all interspersed with clumps of trees ranging in area from just two or three dotting the open lands on up to several acres of woodland on the larger homesteads. A winding road, sometimes graveled, sometimes mostly dirt, and many times squishy Tennessee brown mud, wound away between farms and from my vantage point of the high hill just east of the homes, looking much like a westerly snaking, tan stream as it crawled over low hills and through small valleys on this mid-summer day. An occasional vagrant breeze would kick up a small puff of dust from between the apple and black cherry trees which grew along fence rows on each side of the road. On fewer occasions, a car, truck, or farm tractor would mutter through the curves, raising a huge cloud of smothering powder which seemed to have a mind of its own and headed unerringly for the nearest house to settle on freshly hung Monday wash. I was a 13 year-old boy who was left to my own affairs much of the time and who had the deep pleasure of a world-encompassing imagination. No, I had a universal imagination; the planets, stars, and galaxies were merely places I knew well but I just had not lived long enough to visit them. I knew that someday I would be a famous space explorer, conquering far away worlds and bringing alien species into the light of the American way of life; at least as I knew the American experience such as consisted of all my years spent living in a small farming valley.

On this day, I was seeking another type of alien life form; one that lived in the community and had been underfoot for most of my years. She was Darla, a girl of 12 years whose clothing was beginning to push out in pleasing directions from the body of a skinny and freckled tomboy pest to that of a maturing young woman. Suddenly she had become pretty as her boyish short, brown hair had turned to blond during the past year. Like me, she was an only child and was my closest neighbor on the south side of the road, but in the country, living close by is a relative thing. Actually, she lived nearly a quarter of a mile from me in a small house with her parents. Her mom and dad worked at different textile mills in Booneville; her mom had gone to work when Darla reached 10 years old, and the girl was left to herself during the weekdays until they came home from their jobs. In the 1950’s, it was safe; nothing ever happened in our backward part of the Appalachian foothills but she was sternly warned not to allow anyone into the house; no one. Of the few boys in the community, she lived closest to me and for that reason I knew I should have first dibs on her.

I was astride my new Western Flyer bicycle (only sissy city boys called them “bikes”) which my dad had surprised me with on my just-past birthday, sitting in the mid-day shade of a huge oak tree which my imagination figured probably had been growing there when the pioneers pushed across the mountains 300 years ago. Darla’s Monday tasks were to wash the family clothes and pin them on the line to dry in the sun. Like most locals, they didn’t have a lot of clothing to wear but her task still took up all of the morning as she built a fire in the cook stove, hand-pumped water from the cistern, and heated much of it in the steamy kitchen. The hot water went into the ringer washing machine which was located in the converted smokehouse near the back door of the house, and the remainder of the water went into galvanized tubs where “delicates” were hand washed.

Being thoroughly interested in her budding anatomy and from weeks of careful observation, I found that Darla always carried more hot water to the smokehouse after she finished with the laundry, where she would shut the door and not emerge until about an hour later wearing a robe with a towel wrapped around her hair, and going directly to the clothesline to pin the clothes which she had been wearing and had just washed. It took a couple of secretive days of detecting, but I finally figured out that she was taking a bath while shut away behind the smokehouse door.

Smokehouses being what they were in this part of the world—places not to smoke and cure meat, but rather places to hang salt-cured or sugar-cured hog meat in sacks until it was needed for winter food by the family—airy from all the cracks and spaces between the siding and floor planks, soon led me to achieve an idea which turned out to be one of the best conceptions that would ever wind it’s snaily way through my convoluted brain; I would peek at Darla while she bathed.

Part 2

As luck would have it, Darla’s house was built alongside a patch of old woods with a separating hog-wire fence that was thickly covered in vines and tangles. When I figured it was about time for Darla to finish the washing chores, I rode nonchalantly past her house the same as I did a few times nearly everyday on my shiny red bike but this time I hid it in some brush along the road and about 50 yards from the smokehouse which was my target. I eased into the woods in a roundabout way, making toward the shed, sneaking from tree to tree. Soon, I was at the fence between the smokehouse and the outdoor toilet where I knew the wire had been mashed down by a long-ago heavy limb falling from a storm-wrenched tree. The fence and its burden of vines pushed against the unpainted planks and I had to get on my hands and knees to crawl to a place where I thought I could see without being seen. Easing along on the perpetually dank and moldy-smelling ground, I worked my way through spider webs and across decaying remains of whatever had decided to die there over the ages and was soon at my goal. I found a likely spot which offered a view inside through a small crack between boards where I figured if I was very quiet, she would not likely know of my presence.

In a short while, I heard the back screen door creak open and saw the smokehouse interior go dark as she closed its front door. In a moment, Darla came into view as both her eyes and mine became adjusted to the weak light streaming through the cracks and crevices in the siding. She poured two buckets of steaming hot water into the long, metal bathtub which she had previously partially filled with cold cistern water. She then turned to directly face my peephole, lifted her top off her shoulders, and and pulled off her shorts and panties. In a few seconds when my mind decided to re-register my whereabouts, she was saying as she turned and stepped into the bath, “I know you’re there, Billy Goins and I’m going to tell on you!”

To be continued …

Published in: on November 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Smart girl. I love her name: Darla. Many of words are new for me and I must check them in my dictionaries. I will come back here tomorrow (9.30 pm in Warsaw).
    It’s always so exciting when you put on your blog your new stories.

    • I wish I had the patience to write in my stories the details which most people seem to want to read. Amos Oz is very good at it even to the point of being boring at times. BTW, I am half-way through reading his book and have not skipped anything; he certainly comes from a family of special characters.
      Thanks, Jola. 🙂

  2. I agree with Jola. Your stories are like my hands on a new book. I like to read them several times over to absorb the nuiances.

    • Thanks for the encouraging words, Tammy. I am trying to make this my best written story yet.
      I must now look up the word ‘nuances’.
      Thanks, Tammy.

  3. You little devil. 🙂

    • Genuine fiction! 🙂

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