Tuesday, December 4, 2012

when angels disguise themselves as neighbors

I answer the phone unsure of the number. He is returning my call.

Mr. Wilson, ohmygosh, thank you for returning my call. You most likely don't remember me, but my Daddy and I came to your last show. I pick up a pen with my other hand, look around my desk. There are three envelopes. I can write on their backs.

He hem haws a bit till I tell him Daddy's name, mention I had a camera then and took lots of pictures. Had talked to his wife, Mrs. Shirley, and gotten his number.

I tell him I can sweep or mop or help her clean dishes. Though I can drag a limb I'm not much at cutting  them. He laughs but tenderly. Talking on the phone with him is like going to his magic show.

Andy, center. Mrs. Annie to his far right.

He is a willing participant in an impromptu interview, You know this is our anniversary. It was a December back in 2007 that we had our first pickin'.

Oh wow. Five years, huh? I need to know why you built that place.

Well Andy and them were going to the second Friday night at the community center in Causeyville and in the summer of 2005 we were up in that place with so many people. There was hardly room for the band to play and only two air conditioners in the windows. I tell you it was hot up in there. That night I asked Andy if I built a place would he play. He said yes.

Is Andy the one who did most of the singing in November?


Is he a preacher?

No. Andy's a truck driver.

Dad and I coulda sworn he was our preacher.

Again he laughs. I smile 'cause I can't help it. Then, How long did it take you to build it?

About a year and half. It wasn't any money. The timbers came from the place and Mr. McElroy from Cuba, Alabama. You know him?

I don't think so.

Well. You've seen his trucks.

I had worked for him for over forty years and when that storm blew through he called me, knew I wouldn't tear up the place. And I tell ya', I got nine cuts to the first limb of a tree fallen on an old turn row. I brought 'em outta there with a dozer. That's how we made that porch, the floor joists and side walls.

I write as fast as I can, start on the second envelope.

Do you know Richard Bennifield?

No but Daddy might.

Well. He came every Saturday, and that's when we worked on it. We never dreamed it would be what it is.

I bet.

We got them stud walls up and were gonna put up the trusses. They had been given to me from an old building that was being torn down. But that's when the women got involved. My wife and some others. They stood out in the yard, talked amongst themselves and then said that the place would look like a dungeon. That's when we got them cathedral ceilings.

Well I was just in awe of the place, how Mrs. Shirley cleans everyone's dishes while they listen to the music.

Again with the laugh and my resulting smile. I am now Pavlov's dog.

He says, Yep.

Back in high school Wayne was my Daddy's football hero.

Rumor has it he can play nine instruments. I witnessed how he had mastered three.

Tyler Carroll graduated from the local high school, makes his own cane syrup and is attending Mississippi State University.  We could want less for our children but why would we.

Today I am grateful for people who take on a task and build a dream for those around them.

This Saturday the music will start around seven. There'll be a big crowd. The most he's ever had at one showing was forty musicians. They could play the yard, the porch, the building. Kids of all ages welcome, including us. If you come you don't owe anything but I can't imagine leaving without putting some money in the box, dropping a dollar or two in a hat. You'll see once you get there.

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