Robert Leroy Jenks and Martha Lorraine Canary got married a month from the day they met. I asked why he was in such an all fired hurry to get hitched.
"Damn, Mr. Jenks a month ago you had two missions in life, to save up enough money to go live with your daughter in Oklahoma, and to warn everbody about the danger of using verbs in their speech. Now, here you are getting married. What's the hurry?"
I was helping with his collar after fixing his tie. He looked liked politician all dressed up with a suit and fresh shined shoes. Thurman had lathered him up good and proper and did the shaving so there were no tufts of stubborn beard sticking out of the crevices of his neck and face.
"Hell, I'm old, Billy John! I ain't got time to waste like a youngun trying to figure out if we are perfectly suited or not."
"Well, don't that give you no cause for worry? I mean she might be a little bit crazy or outright mean. Now, you'll be stuck with her."
"Naw, she ain't crazy, and she ain't mean either. She's old too. Everybody thinks when you get old all you lose is your physical skills, but what you really lose is your ability keep justifying why you ain't doing right about your life."
"You saying that I'll know what to do with my life when I get older."
"I'm wagering it'll be sooner rather than later. Don't think I ain't noticed you pining over that little girl."
I sighed, "Well, she ain't making shit easy. That's for damned sure."
He laughed and said, "Well, if you want things to be easy, you need stay away from women altogether."
"Yeah, but if I did that, I might end up out on the road shouting about how we need more prepositions or some adjectives.
He beamed when he got the joke and retorted, "Well, I'd not wish that fate on my worst enemy, but the world would be a much better place if we all used a few more adjectives, and one simply can never get enough prepositions." He wagged a finger at me as he spoke.
Out in back of the Corner Market, there was a huge cement slab. The Andersons volunteered it for the wedding. Everbody in the camp pitched in and decorated it all up with cloth covered tables, colored streamers, and colored lights strung from tree to tree, and brightly colored Chinese lanterns. Aunt Lou borrowed some folding chairs from the Concord Baptist Church, and Thurman and me fetched them and set them all up. The Reverend Cecil B. Johns did the marrying, and, all in all, it was a damn fine wedding.
Martha was wearing a brand new store bought dress and had her hair did up all fancy. She had even put on some lipstick and eyeshadow for the occasion. Mr. Jenks's face looked like a new morning sun. I had never seen a man's face so radiant and happy about getting hitched. Thurman stood in for the best man, and Burney served as the maid of honor. We had lifted a piano out of the Anderson's house and Mrs. Anderson played the wedding music on it. The weather cooperated immensely by providing a slight breeze that kept everthing nice and cool.
The people at the cardroom pitched in and hired a band of country pickers, so that everbody could dance, and Uncle Bill brought out a couple jugs of moonshine that he'd been saving for a special occasion.
He uncorked one and handed it to Thurman saying, "My daddy made that right before he got religion. These here jugs are the last whisky him and my uncle ever made. Hell, I bet you I could sell them for hundred bucks back home. They had quite the reputation for making that stuff.
Thurman was in a great mood and took a big swallow. He started choking and it was at least a minute before he could talk again. "Hot damn, Uncle Bill! That shit's smooth as hell going down, but once it hits bottom, it got a kick like a six legged mule."
It was magical evening. One of the best I ever knew, and I was really enjoying myself right up till the time that Sol and Susie Baker walked in and behind them came Jeannie Lazarus holding hands with with Sammie Ames. And let me tell, she had outdone herself in getting ready for this affair. Her long reddish brown hair was hanging down on her shoulders, and she must have brushed it a million strokes to make it shine the way it did. She had just enough make-up on to make her features stand out. I never could stand wanted that painted her face like a picture.
Jeannie was wearing a white peasant blouse that showed off her shoulders and an emerald necklace that matched her eyes. Her skirt was red and white and kind of tight and raised more than one eyebrow among the older folks. The younger ones were checking out how nice her legs looked in them red cowboy boots she was wearing. That damn Sammie Ames walked in looking like he was walking in with the prized peacock at a peacock judging contest.
The band kicked into a Emmett Miller song. I liked Emmett Miller. His music always made me want to dance. So, I stood up and walked over to where Linda Sue Lewis was sitting and asked her to dance. Linda Sue worked at the Five and Dime. She was blonde and pretty enough to be in pictures. She had always had a bit of a crush on me and was more than glad to dance. I think she was a little flattered that I had asked her first.
I saw the Bakers and Jeannie sit down at one of the tables on the opposite side from where I was sitting. Sammie appeared to be pulling on Jeannie's arm trying to get her to dance with him.
It ain't bragging to say that I was a pretty good dancer if I could back it up, and I could. I danced the hell out of that song and one more before I escorted Linda Sue back to her seat.
Thurman surprised us all by agreeing to sing a song. He got up on the makeshift stage and brought out his guitar and tuned it a bit before he started in strumming and singing an old blues song I knew called It Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do.
There ain't nothin' I can do nor nothin' I can say,
that folks don't criticize me
But I'm gonna do just as I want to anyway,
I don't care if they all despise me
Everbody got up and danced when he started singing. I saw Jenks and Martha tearing it up and even saw Aunt Lou and Uncle Bill waltzing around the floor. Then I saw Sammie Ames dancing with Linda Sue.
I looked across to the other side of floor and saw Jeannie sitting under a string of brightly colored Chinese lanterns looking forlornly back across at me.
A hundred damn thoughts at once ran through my head, not one of them stopping long enough to have a decent conversation. Our eyes linked for a moment. Then I got up from where I was sitting and walked into the darkness back towards home.
I didn't really want to go. There was nothing on this funny little planet that I wanted to do more than run grab her up and swing her around that dance floor, but I knew if I did that I would either have to cut her loose at some point, or put up with her childish ways for the length of our relationship. So, I did the one thing that was the hardest to do and left her sitting by herself. Truth be told, I was banking on the fact that she wasn't going to be too happy with Sammie for dancing with Linda Sue.
Feeling pretty sorry for myself, I trudged through the darkness mumbling to myself. Our cabin was only about a hundred yards away from the dancing, and I could still hear the music and the laughter. I was fighting myself the whole trying to not turn around and go back to the festivities. Then I saw something that I shouldn't oughta been seeing. There was flashlight moving around inside of our cabin!
I ran over to the corner of the cabin and snuck up to the bedroom window where I saw the light was moving around. I looked in a saw two figures. They were wearing dark masks, but it was easy to see that it was Oogie and Colton. There was another light coming from the living room, so I reckoned Oogie's dumbassed brother was with them. They were rummaging through the closets and the drawers looking for loot. I saw Colton reach into a drawer and pull out the pistol that Thurman had brought out from Oklahoma.
Normally, I would have done something rash and just barged in yelling and swinging, but there were three of them, so I figured it would be wiser if I went and got some help. I silently slid away from the window and started to head back to get Thurman when I bumped into the fourth thief, the one who was keeping guard and carrying a billy club.
I reckon it was him and that club that turned the lights out.