ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT
AND SOME THAT AIN'T
Howdy folks! This hereís olí Pete and Rosebud cominí at you again!
ďIíll tell you right now, they ainít no flies on me.Ē Thatís what the feller said that come walkiní up the road here the other day. He wasnít old but he wasnít no spring chicken neither, and looked like maybe heíd run outta luck somewheres along the way. He said he was lookiní for a job and was walkiní up and down the road out there, askiní at ever place he come to if they had any work. He wasnít askiní for no handout, he said. All he wanted was somethiní thatíd pay him a little somethiní and if he couldnít get money, heíd trade out work for somethiní to eat or maybe a place to stay. He had a family, he said, a wife and two little youngíuns, and they was neediní a place to stay, somewheres out of the cold and rain.
I didnít know what to think. Me and my mule Rosebud was standiní out there in the front yard when we seen him cominí down there. There ainít that many people lives on up past us here in the holler and we know íem all. So we knowed that he wasnít nobody from around here and we stood around actiní like we was doiní somethiní soís we could get a good look at him when he come by. Only he didnít. He come up and stopped. That throwed the whole thing outta kilter.
Iíve heared about people beiní homeless. They talk about it on the TV. They say theyíre thousands and thousands of íem in places like New York and Californy. But there ainít never been none around here. Ainít nobody up here in Gump Holler thatís got much, mind you. Weíre all pore folks, but there ainít none of us up here that ainít got a roof over our heads neither. Thereís a few of them roofs thatís purty leaky, but itís still a roof. Everbodyís got a place to call their own.
I never did think nothiní about people beiní homeless. I mean, ícept when they showed pitchers of íem on the TV. I remember they showed some that was liviní in one of them shelters one time. Lord, them shelters looked betterín what me and Rosebudís got! Or they showed pitchers of íem layiní out there on the sidewalk, all bundled up in big olí coats or hunkered up in pasteboard boxes. But they didnít look real. They didnít to me. They was just pitchers. I guess I knowed they was human beans, but it was like they didnít have nothiní to do with me. I didnít know nothiní about íem and couldnít do nothiní about emí if I did. Me and Rosebud ainít got nothiní. We get by, but thatís about all. And if we had a million dollars, it wouldnít go very far when it comes to feediní and takiní care of a hunnert thousand homeless people.
But this wasnít no hunnert thousand homeless people. It was one feller down on his luck. He had a wife and two youngíuns huddled up under a cedar tree down the road there and he was tryiní to find a place for íem to get in out of the rain and somethiní to go in their empty stomachs. And these we could do somethiní about.
This olí place weíve got ainít nothiní fancy. Itís old, it ainít very big and it wasnít nothiní fine the day it was built. Itís got two front rooms and a lean-to kitchen on the back. Thatís about all there is to it. I use the left hand front room for my bedroom and the otheríun is our liviní room. Rosebud geníally beds down in there when itís chilly. She lays in there by the fireplace or sometimes she just stands up to sleep. I donít know how she does that, sleep standiní up. I tried it once and fell over and like to broke my nose. In the summer, when itís warm, she goes out to the barn out there behind the house and sleeps out there.
We do have that little olí barn out there. It ainít much neither, just two stables with a shed built on the side of it. And itís in worse shape than the house is. Itís okay in the summer when itís hot, but you couldnít stand it out there in cold weather. Itís full of cracks and the wind just whistles through there. Weíve got a little olí hen house, too, but it ainít big enough for nothiní. And thereís the wood shed. It ainít nothiní but a few pieces of tin roofiní on a pole frame, like one of them carport things ícept it ainít as big. Itís just big enough to keep a rick or two of wood dry, and not very dry at that.
We put íem up down there in the barn. It ainít as much as some could do, I reckon, but it was betterín what they had, betterín nothiní. But they took and tacked pasteboard up on the walls to stop the cracks and swept the straw up, down to the bare dirt floor. We had this olí tin heater that we let íem have to help knock the chill off and we give íem some dried beans, a little corn meal, what we could spare. And they made íem a regílar little home down there in the barn.
Theyíre still down there. I ainít been down there much. I figger it ainít my place to go out there all the time soís theyíll feel obligated to tell me how much they ípreciate gettiní to live in our barn. But I see íem cominí and goiní, the man and his wife. I figger they find a little work here and there. I know theyíre tryiní real hard. Sooner or later theyíre gonna find good jobs and get íem a place of their own, maybe betterín what me and Rosebudís got. I hope they do.
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