Where a Pecker Begins
He taught me in Sunday School the year I was seven. I even got to the place where I liked it, listening to him spin his stories and watching his big belly shake when he laughed at his own jokes.Watching him stand on a rickety chair and spread his arms like a bird to part the waters of the Red Sea? If all my teachers poured that much passion into learning, I might stand in a different place today.
Being a boy, I particularly liked his cowboy skit, the one where he sang off-key about a bowl of butter beans before he shot someone with a cap gun and sent them screaming behind a styrofoam tombstone in the great beyond. I can still hear the levity in his voice, an apology to accompany the pretend explosion.
See that fella over there?
The tall one with the yella hair?
He’s not tall as he seems.
He’s just full of good ole butter beans.
What I most liked, though, was getting him cornered after class. He didn’t have to spout the Company Line or put on airs, and sometimes he’d walk with me through the echoing hallways of painted cinder block and concrete. I’d ask him questions about himself that he ignored in favor of the yarns he wanted to tell me. Stuff about how my not having a father didn’t matter, because his dad was a drunk ole peckerwood who cheated on his mother, and he turned out all right in spite of it. You don’t have to grow up and be your parents, Son. You just hafta be somebody you can live with. Answer for your actions, and don’t concern yourself with the fool things all them peckerwoods get into out there in life.
I couldn’t stay in that class forever, but I still talked to him every chance I got. At least, until my mother moved us across the country. I lost track of him. Lost track of me, actually. Disruption begets disruption sometimes.
Peckerwood is a series of fiction set off by my overactive imagination. To read the first post in the series, click here. In the comments, tell us: do you remember anyone from your childhood who tried to make a difference in your life?