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The Promise at Koonville
A Fictional Tale of a Promise that Could Not Be Broken
By C. Anthony Sherman
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 C. Anthony Sherman
All rights reserved.
Little Buddy was the fourth child in a very large family of eight, born and living in Pinewood, Texas. His daddy was a large burly man who had little patience for errors and often displayed a mean sullen side when he was off work--and at home. His mother was a quiet, loving woman of half Native American ancestry mixed with black. Although busy with her own children, she often devoted time to visit the sick and elderly in her small community and performed housekeeping duties for them when needed.
Lil Buddy was an active child and a leader among his other siblings which carried over to the rest of the kids in his small town. His older brother had moved out of the house when Lil Buddy was 12 years old because of a dispute with his father. Buddy's two older siblings were his sisters Rose and Shirley. The younger ones looked up to Lil Buddy because of his aggressiveness and boldness — a trait that was not approved by his daddy. Buddy had two younger brothers who followed him wherever he went. During the summertime, the brothers were often seen following Buddy into the woods to play make-believe cops and robbers when he was not at the park playing baseball or basketball.
Most of the residents of the place called Koonville were common, hard-working folk who went to church on Sunday and devoted the day to worshiping and fellowshipping with each other until well into the evening. The elder women in the community conversed with each other at the corner store or in one of their front yards. With the approach of fall, you could hear conversations centered around hog butchering time and discussions of how to divide the meat among participating families.
When one of the kids was seen fighting with another while playing at the park, it was common for one of them to call the parents and report what they witnessed. By the time play was over and the kids headed home, their mother was waiting for a report on the day's happenings? This was a place where people looked out for each other and for each other's kids.
Every Sunday, the pastor for the fifty-seat capacity church, came from another town located some 12 miles away, and usually arrived by 8 am. He had no administrative duties as they were taken from him after the church treasurer reported money that was not properly accounted for. The leader of the business ministry for the church was Amos Driver, Buddy's daddy. It was his insistence that the preacher should preach and leave the running of the church business to the deacons. The reverend offered no objection to the demand as he was the third pastor called to this church within the past three years. The last pastor wanted to control the offering plates and scheduled his own fundraisers of fish dinners, and devil and heaven socials with the help of the pastor's aides. The deacons had grown tired of his antics and on the 1st Sunday in July, they scheduled to have him removed, physically if he refused to resign. He declined to leave and Mr. Thompson, one of the church's deacons, walked up to him while he was in the middle of his sermon and threw him over the railing then grabbed him by his ankles and dragged him down the middle aisle for all to see. The preacher was kicking and screaming that God was on his side and they could not do this.
"Ya'll going to hell for this" he screamed.
Mr. Thompson drug him all the way through the double front doors and down the five steps where he landed on the gravel and dirt at the entrance of the church. Mr. Driver, following behind, threw him his hat while he was still on the ground, crying.
"Don't want to see you again, Rev. You come back and you might get hurt, you hear?" warned Thompson.
Lil Buddy, Bobbie and Pinkie came around the side of the church just in time to see the end of the action.
"Hey, Pinkie, there goes your favorite preacher. Man, he looks all dirty and mad, too," said one of the boys.
Old Rev. stumbled to his feet and made his way to his car and got in. He sat there for a few minutes — presumably to get his wits about him — then got out of his car and headed back towards the church. Mr. Driver cut him off at the stairs and again ordered him to leave.
"I told you not to come back here, Rev.! Now, you better get on your way before you really get hurt!" yelled Driver.
"I need to get my keys, deacon! My keys are in my office! ... Now, if you don't mind ..."
"I'll get his keys," offered Deacon Gillam. "You keep 'em there and I'll bring 'em to him."
"Hey Deacon Gillam, get his robe, too. We don't want to leave nothing that belongs to him. What else you got in there Rev.?" said Driver.
"My Bible is on the back table next to my reading glasses."
"Dammit, Gill, make sure you go through that office and get everything that looks like it belongs to him. We need to get this preacher down the road and outta here, now," said Driver.
Those boys were so stunned at the violent dismissal of a man of God, they couldn't help but start laughing. They were leaning against the side of the church laughing when their Sunday school teacher came behind them.
"Hey, you boys ... get back in here, now! You shouldn't be looking at any of this. Let's go ... come on ... come on," said the teacher.
The rest of the Sunday worship was something to behold. The deacons decided that it was their duty to carry on with the services, but they couldn't decide who would be in charge. Mrs. Driver suggested they sing an A & B selection of their favorite songs. Then they could have prayer and dismiss. The majority agreed and Mrs. Driver started singing 'This Little Light of Mine.'
Within a month, the deacons had hired a new preacher in spite of his youth and inexperience. They needed to have a leader who was willing to have limited duties and would leave the single ladies alone.CHAPTER 2
A park, carved out of a triangle plot of land donated by the county, was the only place for the kids in Koonville to play. Partially surrounded by a dense forest of trees and bushes, the park was also the place where the adults went to have barbecues and gathered the community to socialize on the weekends. So, while the kids played on one end of the park, the cooks lined up on the other and began preparing ribs, briskets, chicken and sausage for their hungry neighbors. Sometimes the park would house the whole village of a hundred and twenty-five individuals — each family bringing their favorite side dish to go along with the meats.
Lil Buddy, whose real name was Amos Jr., was of average size compared to his playmates. However, when it came to competing against his friends in basketball, he was as fast and feisty as them all. He played hard and was a ferocious defender. There was one problem he had that none of his friends had — asthma. So, after about five minutes of hard play, he had to sit out and rest for a half hour or so. He often suffered asthma attacks and gasped for his breath several times a day. His mother had treated him with skunk cabbage which was used by the Dakota and Winnebago tribes to stimulate removal of phlegm from the lungs. Aside from the taste and pungent aroma of the plant, it was efficient and offered him relief for weeks on end. The problem was getting Lil Buddy to recognize when he needed to slow down his athletic activities. Oh, no, Lil Buddy was behind in the game by four points and he did not want to look like a quitter, so, he overplayed until he had to be taken off the playground and placed on a bench to rest.
Meanwhile, the game continued without him. Buddy felt the urge to go pee, but the nearest house was Pinkie's and it was too far to travel. He decided to go into the wooded area surrounding the park and relieve himself. He managed to slip into an opening where they had gone before and was soon out of sight of the others.
Phew, he thought ... I made it.
He fumbled around in his pants until he latched on to his private part and whipped it out.
Geez that feels good, he uttered out loud.
At the end of doing his business, he glanced to his right and noticed movement in the bushes. He sensed that someone was watching him and quickly tucked everything away and zipped up his jeans. Standing quietly, he waited to hear some noise, but there was too much coming from the park to make anything out. He slowly started walking towards the area where he saw the bushes moving. He heard a rushing in the brush as something was running away. He paused to see if he could make out what it was. Not hearing anything else, Buddy continued to walk in the direction he heard the noise coming from until he suddenly came to a fallen tree. Jumping up from the other side of the tree was a boy, about the same age as Buddy, looking rather disheveled and disoriented. Buddy was surprised to see him as much as the boy was.
"Hey, what you doing here?" asked Buddy.
"I'm leaving ... I just needed to pee, but I'm finished now," the boy responded.
"Oh, it's okay, you scared me at first cause I thought you were a bear or a wolf or something," said Buddy.
"Oh, no ... You live around here?"
"Yeah, I do. Where do you live?"
"I live in Boone Harbor. It's about an hour from here. What's the name of this place?"
"This is Koonville."
"Did you say Coonville?"
"Yeah, but with a 'K'," answered Buddy. "This was a settlement started by a man named Orvis Koon who came from somewhere up north. His family built the first five houses and then other people came over 'cause it was close to the ship channel."
"How do you know all that?"
"I like reading a lot ... how 'bout you?"
"Naw, I hate reading and math, too. The only thing I like about school is recess."
"Okay, so how did you get in here?"
"My daddy got a fruit stand up the road a piece and I couldn't wait to get back there to pee. So my uncle--who was driving--let me out here so I wouldn't pee in his truck. Then when I was in here for a minute, I saw him take off. Then I started smelling something that really smelled good. I tried to get closer to see what it was, and that's when I saw you coming towards me. So, I hid."
"Oh, I see! Well, you want to come on over to get something to eat? I know you can have some of my daddy's brisket."
"Are you sure? I mean, I don't know anybody over there."
"Naw, man ... You with me. There won't be no problem. By the way, what's your name?"
"My name is Robert Lee Calhoun. What's yours?"
"My name is Amos Lee Driver, Jr., but everybody calls me little Buddy ... You can just call me, Buddy."
"Okay, Buddy, that's funny how we got the same middle name. Are you sure I won't get in trouble, huh?"
"I'm sure. Let's go."
Buddy came from the woods with Robert Lee following closely behind. As they drew close, the other boys stopped playing basketball to try to figure out what Buddy was up to.
"What tha' heck did you find in there, Buddy? Where'd that white boy come from?" asked Pinkie.
"They grow 'em in all those trees in there, Pink. Go in there and get you one off of that big oak tree," said Buddy, sarcastically.
"No, seriously Buddy, what's up with him?"
"He's my new friend, guys. He was in there doing what I went in there to do and that's when we saw each other. I'm going to take him over to get something to eat. Come on, guys, he won't bite ... you can shake his hand."
"Hey, what's up?" Pinkie greeted.
"Hi!" Robert Lee responded.
The other players remained frozen on the court while the two new friends headed straight to Mr. Driver's smoke pit. His pit was one cut out of an old barrel, hinged at the middle with a thick wire grill where the meat was placed. He controlled the fire by raising the top and squirting water on the fire to cool it down. When Buddy and Robert approached the cooking spot, smoke was engulfing Mr. Driver as he tried to wave some of it off.
"Hey, daddy, this is my friend, Robert. I just met him over there in the woods," said Buddy.
Waving his hands back and forth, fanning the smoke, Mr. Driver managed to get a glimpse of the two standing on the side of him.
"You met a boy in the woods just now, and that's your friend? ... How did that happen, Buddy?"
"Well, his name is Robert Lee Calhoun, and his daddy owns a fruit stand up the road a piece."
"Hello, Robert Lee Calhoun ... so, you and Buddy are friends ... is that right?"
"Yes, sir. Well, I had to pee, and he had to do the same and that's where we met in the woods ... peeing."
"Ya'll didn't pee on each other, I hope!"
"Ah, no, sir ... I had finished before he got there," responded Robert with a laugh.
"We'll okay, friends ... what can I do for you?"
"Ah, he was wondering if he could have some of your brisket since he could smell it from the woods. He was hungry and figured he might ask for a sandwich if he could, daddy. Is it ready?"
"No, the brisket ain't ready yet, but I got some chicken that's ready. You want some chicken, Robert Lee?"
"Yes, sir. That smells good, too."
Mr. Driver hooked a half chicken off the grill and placed it on the prep table. He sliced and diced the meat into a hefty pile of boneless chicken and put it on top of a slice of white bread. It was stacked three inches high as Buddy and Robert Lee looked with their eyes and mouths wide open. Then Mr. Driver poured some of his home-made sauce on top of it and wrapped it up in some aluminum foil.
"You want some pickles and onions to go with that, Robert Lee?" asked Mr. Driver.
"Yes, sir, thank you."
"Alright, here you go. Now you don't waste none of my gold-medal chicken, you hear?"
"No, sir, I won't. I'll eat it all, that's for sure. I need to get back to the fruit stand before my daddy starts worrying about me."
"How did you get here?" asked Mr. Driver.
"His uncle let him out of the truck so he could go pee and left him there as a joke," explained Buddy.
"Well, how are you gonna get home, son?"
"I guess I'll have to walk to the fruit stand since he left me."
"Daddy, can you give him a ride back, please?"
"I'm in the middle of cooking, son. Well ... I guess I can run him over there for a few minutes. You ready to go now, son?"
"Yes, sir, I'm ready."
"Buddy, go over there and ask your momma to come here and watch this meat for me. Let me get my key to the truck and I'll take you to your daddy, Robert Lee."
"I sure appreciate it, Mr. Driver. I appreciate everything you and Buddy are doing for me."
Buddy and Robert Lee jumped in the back of Mr. Driver's old Chevy truck. They pushed aside an old barrel that was going to be a second barbecue pit when he got around to it. They sat as still as they could considering the rough road they had to travel to get to the fruit stand. About half way there, Robert Lee reached into his pocket and pulled out a Case pocket knife. He reached out to Buddy and gave the knife to him. Buddy was surprised at Robert Lee's gesture. He opened the four-inch knife and closed it several times.
"I want you to have it," shouted Robert Lee.
"Ah, man, are you sure? ... A Case knife?" responded Buddy.
"Yeah, 'cause you're my friend, right?"
"Yep, we're friends ... thanks!"
Mr. Driver drove up to the fruit stand and was met by Robert's uncle who left him in the woods earlier. The uncle didn't see the boys in the back of the truck at first and thought Mr. Driver was a customer. Robert's daddy was standing near the office leaning against the watermelon cage with a towel draped around his neck. He looked to be in his late fifties and had a short-beard speckled with gray. The uncle came to the driver's side of the truck.
"What can I get for you today?"
"Oh, I'm okay ... I think you may want something I got in the back of my truck, though," responded Mr. Driver.
The uncle took a couple of steps toward the rear of the truck and was surprised to see Robert.
"Whoa ... there you are ... what happened to you?"
"You know what happened, Uncle Junior ... you left me in the woods!" answered Robert. "Why did you leave me out there in the middle of nowhere?"
"Well, you made it alright, didn't you?"
"Yeah, thanks to my friend here, and his daddy. This is Mr. Driver, and this is my friend, Buddy. He saved me from the wolves and bears out there in the woods."
"How did he do that?" asked Franklin Calhoun, Robert's father., as he walked up to the truck. "They were having a barbecue in the park near the woods and Buddy, here, was in the woods peeing when we saw each other. Then he offered me some of the food that smelled so good. That's when Mr. Driver gave me this chicken sandwich."
Excerpted from The Promise at Koonville by C. Anthony Sherman. Copyright © 2015 C. Anthony Sherman. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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