Now, I admit, the sight of the holler all prettied up in strings of twinklin’ lights always gets me a bit sentimental. We hope for snow to cover up the sad-looking trees we had to look at all fall… and, I admit, so we can see deer tracks huntin’ season.
Well, afore I get too far off on a tangent, let me get back to my point about sentimentality. Twinklin’ lights make me think of Christmases with Ma, Pa—afore they were Granny Beth and Poppy Lloyd—my older brother, Virgil, and my younger sister, Ginny.
Especially one: When Virge and I met our future brother-in-law, Aaron.
Truth is, we weren’t too keen when we heard Ginny was bringing some boy she met at college home. We knew in our hearts of hearts that Ginny had a soft spot for them who ain’t never seen the country, but we had hope this one wasn’t like the last, what with his intolerance to moonshine. And when I say intolerance, I mean poor Gin was holding that poor SOB’s hair while he heaved over the porcelain throne.
Then we met the new lanky cuss—clean-cut, dressed in khakis, and studying—you guessed it—litter-rich-ure.
“I’d like you to meet Aaron.” Ginny beamed.
Even had a girl’s name. Don’t you get me started on his full name: Aaron Marion Warren.
Don’t get me wrong. John Wayne’s real name was Marion, but he changed that, knowing that wouldn’t get him far in life. Shit, if Aaron’s parents wanted to give him something to aspire to, they would’ve used Wayne or something like that.
Virge and I had to see what city boy was made of. It was a given. A brother’s duty, even. Virge and I were all about doing our brotherly duty for our poor misguided sister.
So we woke Aaron up at five the next morning, tossing some bibs and coat at him. He looked at us cross-eyed, wiping drool off his chin. “Time to get the turkey. Leavin’ in five.”
Out he came dragging his skinny, camo-clothed ass, still confuddled as hell.
We drove him out to the blind, handing him a Bowie and Gin’s ol’ 12-gauge, empty.
“Let us know if you get something. We’ll do the same,” Virge instructed as we drove off, trying not to laugh until we were well away.
Virge and I headed to Maude’s for some coffee. We sat there for a few hours, shooting the shit with ol’ Maude and Billie, her daughter, then headed back.
But no sign of Aaron.
Thinking we done got him lost or killed, we got to searching. A bear mighta got him or a pissed off buck or a Bigfoot.
And don’t tell me ’squatch don’t exist. Uncle Eddie seen one with his own eyes in the fall of ’65, down by the fishing hole. We think that’s what got him to drinking like he did. Never talked about what happened exactly, but every time he saw a big pair a shoes somewhere, he’d get to hugging himself and crying like a baby. And nothing Auntie Gris would do helped, well, except slapping him, but we don’t discuss that in polite company.
Anyway, I digress.
Dejected, Virge and I headed home, not seeing any trace of ol’ Aaron anywhere. Not even a piece. Ginny’d be madder than a rattlesnake when she figured out what we done.
Ginny stood on the porch, arms crossed and head shaking. She was going to kill us good. “Ya’ll are the dumbest shits.” In we followed, waiting for the worst.
Aaron Marion Warren was tougher stock than we realized.
Aaron sat next to Pa at the kitchen table, drinking home brew and bullshitting like old pals, while Ma plucked the feathers from a fat bird.
Seems that after an hour and a half with nothing but frozen toes, he started for home and ran across a flock a geese. Thinking it would be a good substitute for turkey, he done raised that shotgun and pulled the trigger. A course nothing happened, on account of us not loading it, and the noise he made when nothing happened caught the attention of the birds. Them geese hissed and charged him afore he knew what was happening. Aaron did the only thing he could: grabbed the Bowie at his side and started swinging.
Aaron stumbled back to the holler covered in feathers, clothes shredded, a black eye, and missing some skin… a goose in each hand.
Virge and I started hootin’ then and ol’ Aaron joined on in, grabbing his sides where a goose had given him a wallop or two. Pa slapped him across the back.
“All ya’ll… The dumbest shits…” Ginny sighed, looking over a Ma who just shook her head and smiled.
Well, we called him Goose from then on and didn’t much mind when he gave Gin that fancy ring Christmas morn. Truth is, Virge and I couldn’t ask for a better brother-in-law… and boy, did he get us back later… but that’s a story for another time.
Merry Christmas from our holler to yours!