by my friend, Ben
Pa saw it first. He did. It were gettin’ real dark an’ he were comin’ from the barn after checkin’ on Flossie, our milk cow.
He come to the door an’ called to ma an’ me to come out on the porch. He did. He pointed back toward town an’ we saw it. It were one of them sights what made chills run up an’ down your back. It did. The sky were all red-like. It were. Somethin’ were burnin’ an’ burnin’ bad.
I reckon it were as much concern as it were curiosity what made us get into pa’s truck an’ head toward the glow what were lightin’ up the sky.
In town we could see the fire were somewhere out Greasy Ridge Road. It were. Now, Greasy Ridge were one of them roads what were as twisty as a snake. It were. There weren’t too many folks what lived back there no more. But at one time when the oil wells were pumpin’ night an day, it were almost a town itself. It were.
The red glow got bigger an’ bigger an pa said he wondered iffen it were it were across the county line. He did. He reckoned iffen it were them fire trucks from Tucker County wouldn’t even have a chance to get there in time. He did.
As we were comin’ round Penningtons Bend, a fire truck come up behind us an’ pa squeezed over to let it pass. He did. It were about then we could see the burin’ house. It were just a skeleton of flames. It were. The fire truck what were there already were just tryin’ to keep the barn an’ some sheds from burnin’ too. They were.
As we got closer, I heard ma say, “Oh my goodness! That’s the Miller place!” She did. I were surprised that ma knowed the Millers. I were. Course I reckon iffen anyone woulda knowed the Millers it would be ma. She would. It weren’t that ma were nosey or nothin’. It were just that ma were one of them folks what took an interest in other folks. She did. Iffen they needed a helpin’ hand, ma wanted to be able to treat ‘em like a good neighbor. She did.
I knowed them Millers from their two boys, Jeremy and Josh. There were also two sisters, Margie and Bertha, but they weren’t in school yet. They weren’t.
Now them Miller boys were knowed round about as bullies. They were. Most of the kids what were smaller’n them gave them a wide berth. They did. An’ I’d had my time with the two of ‘em. I did.
When pa parked the truck I could see them two girls cryin’ an’ huggin’ their ma. She were crying too. She were. Elwood Miller, the pa, were pacin’ back an’ forth in the yard, hollerin’ at the top of his voice. He were. He were lettin’ out a string a cuss words and profanity like I’d never heard before. I looked over at ma, hopin’ she were too occupied goin’ to comfort Elsie an’ the girls to hear. But she did. I reckon she were more upset by Elwood’s rage than she were his words. She were.
He were sayin’ somethin’ about them boys playin’ with his cigarette lighter an’ catchin’ the Christmas tree on fire. He were. He said iffen he found them he were gonna beat ‘em within an inch of their lives. He did.
When pa asked where them boys were, ol’ Elwood said they’d taken off somewhere. He did. It were right cold that night. Pa took me by the arm an’ said I should come with him. When we were outta hearin’ distance, he told me that in the firelight he’d seen the face of them boys hidin’ behind an ol’ broken-down dump truck what Elwood owned. He did.
Usin’ the shadows, me’n pa come up on Jeremy an’ Josh. We did. In a calm an’ quiet voice pa told ‘em he were just there to make sure they was alright. He did. They knowed iffen they ran the firelight would give ‘em away, so they stayed put. They did. Pa told ‘em he reckoned they’d have to face their pa now or later, an’ bein’s that we were there, it would be better to do it now. He did. They said their pa would near skin them alive, cause he’d done before. Pa told them he weren’t gonna let their pa hurt ‘em. An’ he gave ‘em his word. He did.
When ol’ Elwood saw me’n pa walkin’ with them boys, he come arunnin’ with his fists clenched. He did. I didn’t know iffen I were more scared of him or the things he were sayin’ he were gonna do to Jeremy an’ Josh.
Ol’ Elwood were comin’ so fast pa hardly had time to step between him an’ the boys, who were hunkerin’ down like lightenin’ were about to strike ‘em. They were.Pa raised his hand as iffen to tell ol’ Elwood to stop. But Elwood ran right into pa’s outstretched hand. His face were twisted like some kind of demon. “Git outta my way!” Pa never moved his hand. He said, “Elwood, beatin’ your boys won’t bring your house back, so I can’t let you do it. Look around you.” Elwood hadn’t noticed that cars full of folks from all around what had seen or heard about the fire were fillin’ up the field. Pa never lowed his hand from Elwood’s chest. “Elwood, do you know why they’re here?” Ol’ Elwood went kinda blank. “They’re your neighbors. An’ they want to help, if you’ll let ‘em. You don’t want them to see you beatin’ on your boys on Christmas eve, do you?”
Elwood’s shoulders dropped all hopeless-like. He never looked at the boys. He didn’t. He just walked over to Elsie an’ the girls an’ watched the house finish burnin’ He did
But before an hour or so, the preachers an’ town folk had them Milles a place to stay. They did. Ned Kingsley said he knowed a feller what had one of them steel buildin’s what he wanted to get rid of. It could be taken apart an’ turned into a right good house. It could. Course, it couldn’t be done til after Christmas, but they’d get it done. Iffen Elwood wanted it.
On the way’ home, ma said, “Christmas is what caused all this to turn out good. It is. It’s all because Jesus were born long, ago. That’s what causes folks to have special feelin’s for folks at Christmas.”
I reckon ma were right. She were.
CONCERNS: Judy McWhorter’s friends, the Thurstons, have had several painful family issues lately. Nathan Beach is recovering well from a heart issue. Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, (leukemia) Kim Hall’s friend, Mary, (MS) Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson and Gil Richardson. It was good to see Wayne Phlegar out Sunday. Rich Crites, Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood and Jenni Cullum. Helen Nicklas is not doing well. Remember Mary Smith, Tim Elder, Marie Barnett and her mother, as well as Mrs Mataro and Todd Baumgardner.
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 22-27
Monday: Isaiah 53:1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 28:1-20
Wednesday: Ezekiel 34:1-16
Thursday: Acts 15:1-11
Friday: Psalm 14:1-17
Saturday: Revelation 21:22-27
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 29-Jan 3
Monday: Psalm 139:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 8:1-13
Wednesday: Matthew 12:1-14
Thursday: Colossians 2:8-19
Friday: Revelation 2:1-11
Saturday: Matthew 16:13-28
Today is Super Sunday. Stay and enjoy the warm fire and good food following the service.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
The steering committee will meet in the library following the Super Sunday meal.
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE
The service Wednesday evening will be a Christmas service of songs and readings held in the auditorium. It will start at 6:00 PM and last about a half hour. There are a few folks who go out to eat following the service. If you want to join them, please do.
Megan and James Downing have given the church four long white table clothes. They are made of a type of material that resists stains and washes up well.
A NEW CLASS
As you can see by the posters, a new class will be starting on January 11th. This will give everyone time to get back in tune after the New Year Weekend. The class will be similar to a book or reading club format.
Each person will be reading the NIV New Testament at home, written without chapters and verses, and then sharing what they learned with the class. This will include several questions concerning the material.
Book are available and more can be ordered if the supply runs out. See Mike Branch or Susan Jordan for more details.
Erma Williams has informed us that her cousin, Eleanor Brezee has died. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family,
We hope to publish the new directory after the first of the year. We still have a few of you who have not filled out a new information card for the office file, and from which we will get the correct information for the directory. If you don’t remember if you filled out a card, ask Keith.
As soon as we have the information, pictures will start t be taken.
The poinsettias will be “adopted” on the eleventh of January. Please feel free to take one home, or to someone who will enjoy it.