Tuesday, December 11, 2012

warden of the game

In the sweetest way Mr. Hoyet is saying,
No. I am not your Papaw. I am not old enough to be your Papaw. Why are you following me?

I am at the Grand Oaks Bluegrass Gospel Hall walking around the yard at night taking pictures of all the lights because, like the owner's wife says, He takes notes from Clark Griswold. There are Christmas disco balls lining the drive, the woods dotted with trees lit. The place is glowing.

Mr. Hoyet is sitting at a picnic table, his wife is walking back into the building to get some dessert. I spot him and smile. He returns the favor. I say, I bet you don't know who I am.

He nods and laughs so I grab his wife by the arm, You know I am in love with your husband, right?

She grins, We were wondering if y'all were here.

Obviously a photo from early stalkings when I would just hide in the bush.

Mr. Hoyet Mathis was the one who had finally divulged the secret of this place through his daughter Lisa. I had searched for it for at least six weeks, stopped at strangers' homes on the side of the road, asked a woman at the bank. One day I was at the family store talking about it for the umpteenth time when finally Lisa called him. She knew her Daddy went there and he'd know. And he told her they met the second Saturday of every month which was good since I was beginning to think people were trying to keep secrets from me and paranoia is not cool.

He probably heard me since I am not known for being subtle.

I'm going to go ahead and say it. Mr. Hoyet reminds me of my Mom's Dad and his brothers, of Tim Conway on the Carol Burnett show, of a stock of men like my Dad, Donnie Parker, Roger Kennedy, Bryant Slay, Carter Jones, Johnny Mack Milam, Sam Haskins, Walt Vinzant, Ronnie Carter, Rex Yancey, Donnie Todd, CP Crimm and the list goes on of a certain breed, a knowing, a smile, the actual origin of a twinkle in the eye. They are the Paul Newmans, the Robert Redfords of our time. The stars.

Oh, don't be silly. Mr. Hoyet knows I'm there. He's just asking his son Randy when I'm gonna leave.

Later Mr. Hoyet, Daddy and I are listening to the music. Daddy tells me Mr. Hoyet used to be a game warden and a good one at that. Then it all makes sense, what I see. Game wardens are the law of this land and can take away your truck, your four wheeler, any guns you have. Mr. Hoyet would work with a man if he saw it was possible. He wielded his power with common sense and figured whoever he was looking at may just not have been taught.

On Thanksgiving Day Mr. Hoyet had his hand chewed on by a raccoon. Mrs. Mathis called Randy and Lisa to let them know she was going to have to stop cooking and take their Daddy to the emergency room. A couple of hours later when their kids couldn't find them 'cause in the rush Hoyet and his wife had left their cell phones on the kitchen table, Randy called a guy he knew had been around when the coon mutilation took place. The guy told him, We put that coon in a feed sack and your Daddy took it with him. Randy panicked thinking that coon had chewed his way out of that sack and caused his Mom and Dad to wreck until he heard, No, your Daddy killed that thing before we put it in the sack.

Sorry, PETA. Judge and jury on this one says self defense.

Mr. Hoyet ended up being fine so Randy and Lisa went ahead and put the dinner in the oven and figured their parents could eat when they got home.

When he got to the hospital they asked Mr. Hoyet when was the last time he had a tetanus shot.
His reply.

Years ago when I got bit by that gator.

Today I am grateful for those men who live their lives as an example and for the kindness Mr. Hoyet shows me by allowing me to follow him.


Chantel said...

What character you capture, my dear! Here's to a life well-lived!

Shea Goff said...

I'll toast to that, my friend.